Today’s interview is with Emma Wood!
Tell us briefly how you became interested in photography and got your start.
I’ve always been interested in photography and drawn to the camera. I guess this journey began a long time ago when I tried my hand at modelling. Capturing images and photography intrigued me, what I didn’t realise was that I should have been behind the camera and not in front of it, where I just felt awkward nervous and not myself. I really only discovered my love for photography about 17 months ago when I stumbled across Clickin Moms. I joined and felt as though I’d truly ‘come home’. After spending hours in what I can only describe as my own ‘open University’, learning and inhaling all that the forum could offer me, I soon discovered my passion and love for this art.
I think everyone is wondering this right now but being a mother of 7 how on earth do you find the time to focus on photography?
I’ve gotten pretty good at snatching moments. I beg, borrow and steal them! I’ll trade a half hour here, a half hour there with my Hubby for jobs that he doesn’t like or ask the teens to help out if I need a bit of time doing some editing or work. Another little ploy that works well is to designate ‘coffee and tea breaks’ as my computer time….I drink a lot of tea! I think that finding the time to shoot is often easier (if it’s home based). I’m able to be with the kids at the same time and like to involve them as much as possible. I’m also a night owl, so I’ll happily work into the night, when all others are sleeping around me.
You’re obviously a naturally talented photography but everyone needs to be educated along the way. What methods did you use to learn?
I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that the only learning I’ve done has been on the Clickin Moms forum. There is such a wealth of information in there that there hasn’t been any need for me to look elsewhere…and actually I still haven’t got through it all. I know there are tutorials that I still need to get to. The CM workshops have been invaluable to my progression. I know that we don’t all have the funds to take lots of workshops but my first one was a Birthday gift and it was one of the best I’ve ever received. But apart from that, it’s practice. I pick up my camera every single day. I feel empty if there is a day that goes by when I haven’t taken a shot, whether I like the results or not…part of the enjoyment is in the practice of the art.
What is one piece of advice that you’ve received along the way that seems to stick in the back of your mind?
The best advice I’ve ever received came from Sarah Wilkerson. She once told me to be true to myself and shoot what I love and what makes me happy, instead of trying to be something I wasn’t. I realised very soon after that that I didn’t want to go into business, that I loved teaching and being involved in the learning process but that family photoshoots with strangers probably weren’t for me.
Your images are full of stories yet so simple at the same time. How do you maintain that balance?
I think the balance comes with the intensity of emotion combined with a simple concept or edit. My images are very much focused on my subject, with not a lot else going on in the frame or background. This is how I prefer to shoot and edit, it’s something that I naturally gravitate to without even thinking about it.
I love your use of light in your photography. Before you ever take a picture, what do you look for when finding good light? What makes that light good to you?
I love light. The more dramatic and diverse the better. I’m not a fan of flat light and really don’t use it much. For me, light is the most important part of my image and the fact that different light translates in so many ways, is just one of the things that I adore about it. Any light is good light, but it’s what you do with it that makes the difference.
Do you feel like the light you choose emphasizes the story that you’re telling?
Oh absolutely. I usually have an idea of what I want to shoot and waiting for the right time of day, position of light is something that I always consider. The light that I choose has a huge impact on the story as a whole and depending on when and how I shoot, it can totally dictate the feel of the image.
What does a photograph mean to you?
A photograph to me means that I have a piece of history frozen in time forever. I know that I can look upon an image of my child, long after they have grown and flown the nest and remember that curl, the way they glance at me sideways, the way their dimples form when they cry, the way they stand on one foot slightly turned inwards. I’ll never forget that first missing tooth, Christmas in Oz, The Queensland Floods in 2011, and how my kids interact together. I will forever have the details right there in front of me whenever I want them and that makes me a bit less panicky about them growing up – just a bit.
You do black and white photography beautifully. How do you determine what makes a good black and white image? Are there particular elements you look for either before taking the picture or in post?
There are elements that I look for in black and white photography, and since most of my images end up that way I’ve learned to see through my lens in black and white. Its a combination of seeing the world and what is in front of you in light, shade, and shapes. It’s a pretty simple concept and one that comes more easily with practice. I explain a bit more about that in my breakout session.
Do you process all your black and white images the same or does it depend on the overall story?
All my images are processed depending on the mood and the light. Each one I treat as an individual and the final edit will not only depend on how and when I shot them, but also what mood I’m in at the time. I’m a very emotional person and so this can vary a lot.
What is it about black and white photographs that draw you in?
It’s been a long standing love affair, as a child I must have watched every black and white movie made, I was pretty obsessed by them, and I guess I still am. I actually find it hard to put into words what exactly I love so much about it, probably because I could talk about this subject all day. But to put it simply, it’s the breakdown of everything except the exact form in front of you. By stripping away color it gives me the chance to really concentrate on my subject, leaving me with an intensity that I often don’t get with color. There is a timelessness and a rawness that black and white that adore. The simplicity of it appeals hugely and quite simply black and white images make me feel calm.
Is there anything exciting happening for Emma Wood Photography in 2012?
I would love to teach a workshop at Clickin Moms, and I’m hoping that it’s something that will happen sometime this year. I have a breakout session coming out very soon and a few personal projects and commissioned pieces lined up that I’m very excited about. Moving across the world will also have a huge effect, and I can’t wait to explore the light and beautiful countryside that England has to offer.
Thank you so much for sharing your insight and talent with us Emma!