Jo Fields is one of the photographers whose work was selected in the 2019 Rfotofolio Call. We are pleased to share her work here on Rfotofolio.
“What a fantastic day! The artist is so right in viewing this as a serendipitous opportunity. Beautifully photographed with very important shallow depth of field, I particularly like the tone of the monochromatic prints. Bravo, what a great gift from nature!” Brian Taylor
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I have lived most of my life in Nashville, TN. I am married, with one daughter who is now in graduate school. I majored in music in college, but then became a computer programmer and project manager in healthcare IT.
Where did you get your photographic training?
I am mostly self-taught from reading or videos. I’ve taken two Photoshop classes recently to better understand image processing and open possibilities for creation.
Why do you create?
It’s an innate and integral part of who I am. Growing up, my family was always creating: gardens, woodworking, music, crafts, sewing, needlework. I am a flutist, so music was my creative outlet for many years, but after the sudden, unexpected death of my mother and decline and death of my father, music just brought out the sadness of grief. I had been interested in photography for a long time, but it became a cathartic process to work through the process of grief.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
It might be easier to say – who hasn’t? I’ve been trying to be a ‘sponge’ the last few years observing and learning. There are so many photographers whose work I admire.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
I’ll choose one from a couple of years ago. I love images that evoke emotion. I saw the Anne Berry “Behind Glass” series and thought she had captured, by her observation and photographic process, such a distillation of what it must feel like to not be free, to have a life behind bars. They have just stuck in the back of my mind ever since.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
I’ve always loved nature photography, and this was one of the first images that I’ve reworked multiple times as I learned about image processing and, I hope, improving each time. A lot of photography is about capturing that instant that is here now and won’t be there the next instant. This feather was about how life can be intimate, ephemeral, glorious in its delicate beauty and gone in the next moment. It’s about the importance of “now”; taking time to slow down, find and appreciate gifts that come your way. Also photography is be about observing and developing what you love and find beautiful or meaningful in life.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
I love to go out exploring and find something new to photograph, it’s like a treasure hunt with your observation skills as the search process. Then I like to work with the images on the computer to represent what I felt as I was taking them. When I feel the creative process has come full circle and the image has meaning for me, that’s a good day.
Please tell us about the work you submitted for the Rfotofolio Call.
These images were one of those ‘gifts’ presented in life. I was walking in a nearby park on one of the first warm days of spring. A lady coming toward me saw that I had a camera around my neck and told me, pointing, “you need to go over there, there’s snakes in the trees”. Normally, I’m very wary of snakes, but was told these were rat snakes and not venomous. Furthermore they had just come out of brumation (reptile partial hibernation) so they were kind of sleepy and calm.
There were five snakes – I stayed in the area photographing them for over an hour, and enjoyed the varied reactions as people walked by. It made me think of how often humans react negatively out of fear and don’t take the time to get past their fear to gain a new understanding. Although I work digitally, I love the way the palladium toning enhanced the shaping of light on the scales and the similarity of tones brought the aspects of the images together to give a sense of mystery and wonder and what it’s like to live in that unusual and suspended world. The shapes, sizes, arrangements and expressions of the snakes were fascinating as well. It was a wonderful opportunity to see how beautiful they actually were.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
I think I would have to say Vincent Van Gogh – there is so much mystery and sadness surrounding him, and yet he changed art forever. The impressionist movement was about showing how something felt rather than a realistic depiction. I’m an ‘impressionist’ at heart; it is my favorite music (Debussy, Ravel, Satie) and painting style, so it would be interesting to experience how he saw the world.
How important is the photographic community to you?
It’s been essential: In 2016, I decided it was the year of “why not” and started challenging myself to overcome my fears and show my work more. With every step, I have been welcomed and supported by other photographers. I found community in the shared love of photography and expression. I love the insight and inspiration gained by interacting and seeing the creative processes of others. I found kindred spirits that share in the love of light and shadow and noticing beauty that others walk past. It has been like finding the solution to a missing link in me that I didn’t even know I had.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
A few years ago I transitioned to a Fuji mirrorless camera and began investing in lenses and found that I loved prime, macro and Lensbaby lenses.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
I’d love to photograph people more. In the past, I was seeking solitude and introspection, I’d like to collaborate more.
What’s on the horizon?
I’m exploring: interesting lenses (holga, pinhole and helios lenses are on my wish list), Photoshop techniques, and road trips to my places from childhood to revisit memories.
Thank you Jo. To learn more about the work of Jo Fields please visit her site at Jo Fields.