Jane Olin – Featured LACP Member, May 2019
Jane Olin has worked as a photographer in California’s Monterey Bay area for over twenty-five years. Living at the epicenter for the West Coast photography movement, she learned the skills of straight photography from the assistants and students of Ansel Adams, and alternative methods in numerous photographic workshops.
Olin works with series of related images, a method that allows for extended explorations of her subject. She photographs with film and consistently experiments both in-camera and in the darkroom, pushing the limits of focus, exposure, and printing technique. Her most recent work, a series of striking abstractions, arose through a fortuitous accident that generated a new way of working. Process takes precedence over preconceived idea as Olin purposely applies chemicals onto exposed gelatin silver paper, manipulating and closely monitoring effects with an alchemist’s attention to detail. She continues to innovate in this vein, trying out new subjects and processing the images with her distinctive progression of steps.
My relationship with trees began in childhood, while playing under the majestic Douglas firs near my home in the Pacific Northwest. Ever since that early experience, I’ve been in love with trees. So, it was a natural progression to turn to them as a subject for my newest work, Intimate Conversation. I have been further inspired by Peter Wohlleben’s incredible book, The Hidden Life of Trees. He argues that, “to save the world’s forests we must first recognize that trees are ‘wonderful beings’ with innate adaptability, intelligence, and the capacity to communicate with—and heal—other trees.” With this perspective in mind, I strive to make images that invite deeper speculation into the nature of trees, and that emphasize their individuality, complexity and imposing presence. The world as we know it would not exist without them, and I want to convey this sense of kinship in my work.
To create my photographs, I work in a traditional wet darkroom with negatives, using chemicals in an unorthodox way. Through long hours of experimentation, I have developed a technique that enables freedom to explore the limits of analog printing and to take advantage of whatever accident or chance events may occur. It’s exhilarating (and at times challenging) to work in a liminal space that requires moment-by-moment, and often intuitive, decision-making. Process printing means maintaining a fearless attitude towards an unknowable outcome, and finding pleasure in creating in the moment.