Welcome to our ongoing articles where we spotlight a photographer.
This month we chat to Virginia Woods-Jack, founder of Women in Photography and photographic artist.
Please tell us a little bit about who you are and your photographic experience?
Hi, I am Virginia Woods-Jack, English born and raised and was introduced to photography through my amazing Grandpa when I was about 12 years old and have had a camera with me ever since. I studied Photography at the University of Creative Arts in the UK and got my Masters at CoCA at Massey here in Wellington. My experience spans both art, editorial and commerce. I have worked in some amazing places around the world with some awesome people but I would say that I am now firmly grounded in my art practice.
What are your main reasons for shooting film?
I love the diversity and malleability of film, I am a hands-on kind of photographer and have always loved pushing the medium and experimenting and film allows me that versatility.
What’s the split of shooting digital vs film?
That's a good question, I always have my trusty phone and a film camera with me and I love them both, they both have their place in my practice. If it comes down to cameras it would always be my film cameras that I go to first.
Are you influenced by what is popular in photography?
I wouldn’t say so no, the way I work and what I am drawn to is so intuitive that sometimes it is in line with what is popular but mostly it isn’t.
Does your shooting style change when shooting analogue versus digital?
I would say that there is always going to be an inherent difference but I only really engaged with digital when I felt like I was able to shoot in a way that felt very much in sync with using my 35mm film camera. I definitely think differently with different film cameras and my approach there varies depending on the camera and the format of the film.
The images on your Instagram are very ethereal and emotive. Do you think you could achieve this with shooting digital or does the texture of film fit well with your style?
I have always seen photography as an extension of myself and regardless of what I am using to create my images they all look distinctly like my work from shots on my phone to medium format film. I haven’t delved much into how I achieve that technically as it’s not how I work. Saying that I suppose I have been working with this medium for over 30 years now and I will always default to film as it has always been the cornerstone of my practice but I love digital too, or digital the way I use it anyway.
Your family also play a large part in your photography as muses, are these planned shoots/shots or just because they’re with you when you’re photographing?
I would say this is a 50/50 split. When my children were small they were always with me and I always had a camera with me now they are teens there is more talk around what I am doing and why they are a part of that. Nothing is done without their consent and collaboration.
Please tell us a bit about Woman in Photography?
Women in Photography is a platform I founded last year as I could see a real gap in opportunities for female and non-binary creators working in lens based arts in NZ and AU to share their work. I wanted to create something with others and was very happy that Caroline McQuarrie and Christine McFetridge were keen to collaborate on this with me. So it is we three creating somewhere, online only at the moment, to connect and collaborate. We did a great IG take over on @rps100heroines where we showcased the work of 6 artists and have had some great takeovers on our account also. We are currently working on an exhibition proposal and have other projects in the pipelines. Mainly we want to showcase great work and open up opportunities to discussion, debate and community that we can all benefit from.
As a female photographer have you found it to be a male dominated field?
Most definitely but then that can’t come as much of a surprise. I have had some amazing male mentors and have also had some pretty shitty experiences but I am good at standing up for myself and rising above the bullshit.
Who are some analogue photogs we should follow and interview next?
Benji Hartfield but he has just come off Social Media which would make it tricky, there is this awesome woman in Whanganui but I am unsure if her work is analogue! Tia Ranganui. Also loving Constance MacDonald’s work.
I also love the cameraless work of Poppy Lekner ...that's taking analogue to another level.
Quick fire round
35mm or 120?
Colour or B&W?
Zoom Lenses or Fixed?
Prime! Have never owned a zoom!
Portrait or Landscape (Orientation)?
At one point I was landscape predominantly but now I am both….such hard questions!
Flash or Natural Light?
Always natural!! But occasionally I do enjoy using the on camera flash!
SLR (or TLR) or Rangefinder or Point and Shoot?
I have them all!
Must be razor sharp or more about the aesthetic?
Aesthetic all the way
That's like asking me which of my children is my favourite but I do love my Fuji GA645
This is the unanswerable question as I just love discovering photographers old and new who are making amazing work. The list would be endless! Saul Leiter, Roni Horn, Nan Goldin, William Eggleston are among some of the well known faves and then there are others like Elena Helfrecht, Michiko Hayashi, Freja Najade, Nicholas Hughes...really there are so many and I am discovering new people all the time.
Favourite Photo Book?
I was totally blown away by so many of the photobooks I saw at The Photobook NZ Festival last year, I could have spent a fortune. My attention was drawn in particular to the Japanese photobooks that were on show at The Engine Room from Yumi Goto’s students, they were all handmade and incredible. There was one in particular that I missed out on and I am kicking myself that I hesitated and is now top of my wish list and that is Michiko Hayashi’s Artist book “Hodophylax : The Guardian of the Path” all about the legend of the Japanese Wolf. It is so beautifully put together both from the perspective of an object and also how the story is told visually, it really expanded my vision around what a photobook can be. Here is a clip about the work.