Jessica spent much of her childhood wandering around museums with a sketchbook, copying paintings. This traditional artistic preparation took an unexpected course when she started making photographs as a teenager, but the familiar canvases of her childhood heroes -John Singer Sargent, Whistler, Vermeer- still have their influences today: she is interested in making intimate, psychological portraits, where environment plays a large role.
Jessica's work is a 2016 prizewinner for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery “best of contemporary portraiture” Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and recently appeared in museums across the country in “Masterpieces of American Photography”, George Eastman Museum’s traveling exhibit of work from their collection.
Jessica's work was also selected for the The National Portrait Gallery in London, UK 's "best of contemporary portaiture" for their 2016-2017 “best of contemporary photographic portraiture” show the Taylor Wessing Portrait Competition. Harper's work is featured in the show (and accompanying catalog) at the McNay Museum called Telling Tales: Contemporary Narrative Photography; there are 16 bodies of work, including those of Gregory Crewdson, Tina Barney, Jeff Wall, and Nan Goldin. Jessica's work is also prominently featured in Thames and Hudson's 2016 anthology "Family Photography Now".
The sold out "Interior Exposure" (Damiani 2008) and her latest book were both first place prizewinners in the International Photography Awards and won recognition from sources as varied as Oprah Magazine, PDN, CNN, The New Yorker, Book Forum and the NY Photo Festival. Harper received her BA in history of art from Bryn Mawr College and her MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has taught at The ICP, Haverford College and Swarthmore College.
Editorial clients include New York Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Die Zeit Literatur and Newsweek. Her work won a first place for the 2010 Society of Publication Designers competition.
A New York Photo Festival award winner (Best Fine Art Image) and a recipient of a PA Council for the Arts Grant, Harper has been invited to talk about her work at such places as The International Center for Photography, New York, NY; Google Headquarters, Palo Alto, CA and Aperture Gallery, New York, NY. She was a project competition winner at Center, Santa Fe and one of “PDN’s 30: Our Choice of Emerging Photographers to Watch”. In 2014 she was a silver medalist for the Prix de la Photographie