I am a big fan of Jacqueline's work and her "Poetics of the Landscape" series is simply stunning. I hope you all enjoy this interview. Thank you Jacqueline for taking the time to share all of this with us!
Jacqueline Walters is a black and white fine art photographer based in San Francisco. Through a passion for expatriate literature from Paris of the 20s and 30s, she discovered the world of photography. One passion turned into another as her world of words became a world of images. Thus, began her journey from the textual to the visual, from one form of storytelling to another. She began to see the world anew and allowed herself to be led in unexpected directions. She discovered that photography is about being open to new possibilities. It is about seeing, being patient, and being forever humbled.
Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in invitational group exhibitions and juried exhibitions. She is a gallery artist with Corden|Potts Gallery, San Francisco.
A selection of work from “Poetics of the Landscape” will be included in a three person show “Quietude” at Corden|Potts Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Suite 410, San Francisco, California in 2014. The show opens January 16th with a reception on February 6th from 5:30-7:30pm, and closes March 1.
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How did you get introduced to your first Holga and how long have you been shooting?
I have been shooting with a Holga since 2004.
In the early 2000s, several friends were using plastic cameras, but at the time I was still shooting 35mm, searching for the story I wanted to tell. I was not ready to move into the world of medium format. Ironically, I switched to the Holga soon after buying a Hasselblad. Within a similar time frame I was introduced to “The Solitude of the Ravens” by Masahisa Fukase. This book had a profound effect on me, and influenced my decision to work with the Holga. Yet I have always been at a loss as to why. I just know that after seeing this book and viewing the first prints from my Holga negatives I knew I had found the emotional quality and tonality for which I had been searching.
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What is it about the Holga that draws you to it? Why do you shoot with it?
Like many Holga users I am drawn to the ethereal, soft-focus images it produces. As someone who wears glasses I feel it matches my natural vision of the world as well as my artistic one. I have never been someone who wants to see every blade of grass in a field, or to have every leaf on a tree in focus.
Why I shoot with a Holga is best summed up in the following comment about Andre Kertesz and the Polaroid camera.
“Kertesz always relied on his own sense of what a camera could or couldn’t do; his past experiences had taught him that he was most successful when he attempted to push a camera beyond its capabilities and embraced its flaws.” (p.24 Andre Kertesz, The Polaroids)
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Please tell me a bit about your Poetics of the Landscape series in which you use a Holga
I am inspired by late autumn northern European light and mist. As so often happens, one particular image pointed me in a direction, and my current series “Poetics of the Landscape” began to evolve. I started to explore the manner in which the mist hovering over the countryside both obscured and gave form, revealing the geometry of the dormant land. I noticed how trees without their leaves had become graceful silhouettes, and began to see how muddy tracks revealed not only a path to a destination, but also a pattern of intricate forms. The autumn mist taught me to see the landscape anew.
This project originated in The Netherlands, and is a work in progress. Next year I will return for a third time to add to this series. Once I am drawn to a place, it is my habit to return over and over so that I start to develop a feel for the place that moves beyond the surface.
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What are some of your biggest challenges shooting with a Holga and do you have any tips for overcoming them?
Some of the biggest challenges concern framing and weather.
For the former, follow the advice in the instructions for the camera. Namely, before clicking the shutter step into the scene, because the chances are the subject is too far away. If there is a physical barrier, I learn forward and extend my arms.
For the latter, learn the weather conditions that work best for your particular film and Holga.
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What is your biggest piece of advice for someone just starting out with a Holga?
Test, test, test before travelling. Always shoot at least one roll of film to discover some of the quirks of your particular Holga. I didn’t do this on several occasions and wasted much film and suffered much disappointment.
What other cameras do you have in your arsenal?
Zero Image medium format; Zero Image 4x5; Hasselblad
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Favourite photo film(s)?
What inspires you?
People, and of course, late autumn Northern European light.
The following are but a few of the people who inspire me: The photography of Sarah Moon, Heinrich Kuehn, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Bill Brandt’s Isle of Hebrides work. The paintings of Richard Diebenkorn and Vermeer. The Bach Cello Suites played by Mstislav Rostropovich and The Elgar Cell Concerto played by Jacqueline du Pre. The voices of Elly Ameling, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone. The writing of Djuna Barnes. Leonard Cohen “Live in London”.
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