Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work of Jodie Hulden. Jodie was one of the 2018 Rfotofolio Selections. 

Would you tell us a little about yourself?

I have lived in San Diego all my life. My family lived near the ocean when I was growing up, but most of our vacations and holidays were spent camping in Yosemite or renting a cabin in the mountains nearby. My fondest memories are of those times spent in the mountains and forests. I have a vivid memory of crying out the rear window of our car when it was time to go home, watching the pine trees disappear as we went down the mountain. I was heartbroken to leave the trees and that beauty. That love of wilderness that I had as a child permeates my photography today.

My father was a photographer and had a dark room in the garage. He temporarily worked as a claims adjuster and took photographs of car wrecks. I remember watching enraptured as photos of mangled cars appeared in the developer.

I received a Bachelor’s in Fine Art Degree from San Diego State University. My emphasis was in textiles and fiber arts. At that time (this was in the early 70’s) the photography department was not a part of the Art Department, but rather under the Industrial Arts Department. For that reason I didn’t consider pursuing photography at that time. My other interest was Asian Studies, especially Asian art and philosophy. I took every class I could in those subjects. I ended up becoming a teacher of intellectually impaired students, by first getting a position teaching arts and crafts to sheltered workshop adolescents. Teaching became my “day job” for 30 years. It was during this time that I developed a love for film photography, taking black and white landscape photographs whenever I could. I had a portable darkroom that I would put up during the weekends in our laundry room. In 2001, I switched to digital photography because it was such an easier process for me. And when I retired from teaching I started to pursue photography on a more full-time basis.

Where did you get your photographic training?

The seed was planted by my father, from all the time I spent watching him work in his darkroom developing photographs. My first camera was a Brownie Hawkeye. But it wasn’t until I was married that I truly got hooked. A young man was buying our VW Bug and gave us his OM-1 camera as partial payment. On a trip to Yosemite it took my husband at the time about 10 minutes to teach me the interplay of aperture and shutter speed. That trip cemented my passion for photography. From there I enrolled in a mail course from the New York Institute of Photography. Those courses were the foundation of my photography education. From there it was only a small large step to Fred Picker and the Zone System!

Why do you create?

I don’t feel I have a choice in that matter. I create because it is a joyful activity. When I create images, all other concerns fall by the wayside. I also love beauty and can’t help but try to make things that I feel speak to its existence.

Who has had an influence on your creative process?

I would say that the biggest influence on my creative process would be the Chinese and Japanese landscape painters and poets of the past. And in that sphere would also be Taoism and Zen Buddhism. I almost cannot separate that aesthetic from my own visual process.

The photographer who has influenced me the most would be Ansel Adams. Other influences would be Minor White, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Curtis, the Pictorialists and George DeWolfe, who was my mentor for a year. I can’t leave out the major influence of poetry, especially haiku, on my work. It continually inspires me and gives me direction. During fallow periods when I am not sure what the next step is, I read poetry. Some door always opens.

Edward S. Curtis (American, 1868 – 1952) [Hopi, Watching the Dancers], 1906, Gelatin silver print or platinum print 19.7 × 14.7 cm (7 3:4 × 5 13:16 in.), 85.XM.241.2 The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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

There are, of course, many that are touchstones for me. Most are from Ansel Adams, but the one that stands out for me is by Edward Curtis. It is called “Watching the Dancers”, and is of young Hopi girls watching a ceremony from a pueblo rooftop. For me it is a haunting image with a haunting composition. And I always become very quiet and still when I look at it.

November 2 © Jodie Hulden

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

I have always thought of myself as primarily a black and white landscape photographer and still do. However I had the opportunity to photograph the interiors of the abandoned homes and buildings in Bodie CA. I went with the idea of turning those images into black and white. But when I did, they did not speak to how I felt when I was inside those rooms. I turned them back into color and turned the color saturation down. Once I did that the images came to life and evoked the old faded, muted quality of the dusty rooms. I learned that I can’t peg myself by one definition as an artist and that was a surprise for me. This image is called “November2nd” (for the writing on the wallpaper in the upper left corner) and is from that series.

What makes a good day for your creatively speaking?

I would say that a good day for me is one where I have had the gumption to get up really early, face the traffic to get to a desired location and then spend several hours there making images and knowing that exhilaration and peace of being in a beautiful place. It may be a long while before the images that I made on that day start coming to life on my computer and from my printer. But the day itself, the quiet joy of it, is the true gift.

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

Ansel Adams or Minor White.

How important is the photographic community to you?

It is extremely important to me because I am continually amazed at the creativity and vision of other photographers. I belong to several local photographic groups and I have to say, that the other members of these groups are a vital source of inspiration, personal challenge and new and intriguing ideas. I cherish my times with them.

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

My tripod, Lightroom and my wonderful printer. I print my own work and consider pulling a good print from the printer just as exciting as making the image in the first place.

Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?

I have just started delving into the world of platinum palladium. It seems a good fit with my type of photographs.


What’s on the horizon?

Two things come to mind: First is doing what is necessary to be able to continue with platinum palladium here in my studio and see where it leads me. Second is exploring more the marriage of visual imagery with poetry. Photography is for me a spiritual endeavor, as is poetry. And somehow I want to be brave enough to dive into the mysterious alchemy that happens when they are paired with one another.

Thank you Jodie, to learn more about the work of Jodie Hulden please visit her site at Jodie Hulden. 

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