A Dream of Far Away Places @ Jacqueline Walters

Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work of photographer Jacqueline Walters.

Could you please tell us a little about yourself?

Born in Cambridge, England, I am a fine art photographer based in San Francisco.

I did not become a serious student of photography until my late 40s. I had a passion for expatriate literature from Paris of the 20s and 30s, and in my early 40s, while working on my master’s degree in English literature, I discovered the world of photography.  Inevitably, any discussion of Paris at this time included references to May Ray, Gisele Freund, Lee Miller, Eugene Atget, Berenice Abbott, and Brassai, among others. With time I begun to make my own photographs, and one passion turned into another as my world of words became a world of images. In the process, I discovered that photography is about finding the story I had to tell. Above all, it is about seeing, being patient, and being forever humbled. It is an endless journey of discovery.

Where did you get your photographic training?

My photographic training was haphazard at best. I would begin classes, but never finish them; however, I was captivated by the magic of the darkroom. I would read about various printing techniques, and spend hours there. I found workshops and mentorships were a better way for me to learn. Four people come to mind as being particularly instrumental in my photographic/artistic journey: Frank Espada, and Amie Potsic in the early years; Laura Valenti, and Douglas Beasley in the past few.

Early on I was fortunate enough to learn printing from Frank Espada. Frank was a documentary photographer. His book “The Puerto Rican Disapora. Themes in the Survival of a People”, has a special place in my book case. I took a number of workshops with Frank, and while documentary and/or the photo essay were not to be my path, Frank’s passion for his cause left an indelible mark on me. I then took private workshops with Amie Potsic, who introduced me to “The Solitude of 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. In recent times, Laura Valenti’s gentle voice offered me encouragement, as I began my long term series, “Here and Elsewhere”. Earlier in 2018, a workshop in China with Douglas Beasley helped me renew my artistic soul.

A Dream of Far Away Places © Jacqueline Walters
A Dream of Far Away Places © Jacqueline Walters

Why do you photograph?

I photograph because of a desire to express myself artistically.

Who has had an influence on your creative process?

The following are but a few of the people who inspire me: The photography of Sarah Moon, Heinrich Kuehn, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Bill Brandt’s Isle of Hebrides work, Masahisa Fukase, Masao Yamamoto, Ren Hang, and Hai Bo. The paintings of Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Miro, 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”. These influences have taught me to listen, and to look again.

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.

Bill Brandt, “Gull’s nest, Isle of Skye, 1947″.  The juxtaposition of the detail of bird’s nest in the foreground, and the mountain range as but a shape in the background, is an elegant and compelling composition. Over the years since I first saw this image, it has always lingered in my mind.

What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson? 

City I (Bauhaus Musings) © Jacqueline Walters

An image that taught me an important lesson was a double exposure. It taught me how text can overpower an image if that is not the author’s intention. This revelation was important in initial work for my ongoing series, “Here and Elsewhere”.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

What I call being in the zone, or perhaps to put it another way, being fully present in the moment of what I am doing, whether it be sipping coffee and enjoying the morning light, writing free verse, or making a print.

If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?

Hiroshi Sugimoto, because his work is the antithesis of mine.

What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?

I have been shooting with a Holga since 2004, and ZeroImage since 2006. More recently, the iPhone  has become part of my tool kit.

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.

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)

Using the ZeroImage, I love the direct relationship of light on the film, whether it be using pinhole or zone plate.

Whats hangs on your walls?

Work of friends.

Whats on the horizon?

To continue working on three series that are in various stages of completion: “At The Edge of the Fens”;  “A Dream Of A Faraway Place”; and “Somewhere Between Here And There”. The final presentation of these portfolios is yet to be determined, but I will experiment with handmade books, digital transfers, and liquid emulsion.

Thank you Jacqueline to learn more about the work of Jacqueline Walters please visit her site at Jacqueline Walters. 

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