In a world where every cellphone is equipped with an artificially intelligent camera capable of taking photos in any setting, in any lighting situation, and almost without any active participation, photography as an art form is somewhat misplaced, perhaps even overlooked.
The work of Jenny Kirkpatrick cannot be ignored. Over her long studies as a professional photographer, Jenny has found a way to tame light as it pours through her lens and transform shape, colour, and image into startling revelations of stillness, beauty, and poetry.
Any fledgling photographer soon learns the challenge of trying to seize the moment. Within the field of ordinary human vision, so much information is being processed, continually flooding our perception from which we make choices or stand in wonder. The technical aspects to composing still photography can often seem overwhelming. The triad of exposure—aperture, shutter speed, and ISO—along with the focal length of a particular lens, lighting, and framing the shot all take years, and often a lifetime, to master. Yet for students of the art, the passion to catch light through a camera is as relentless as those who paint, sculpt, or act. Finding truth, feeling, or immediacy in an image is a pursuit worthy of any artist, however humbling the endeavour might be.
Jenny Kirkpatrick began her love of photo imagery very early in life, first as a hobbyist. But in preparation for a fortuitous journey with her husband, Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick, to Papua New Guinea, Jenny took some preliminary courses. Coming out of university to find herself in such exotic surroundings opened up her heart to the lure of the craft. Focused primarily on medical photography in support of her husband’s work, she left that adventure stirred with an expanding enthusiasm for the craft.
Settling in Huntsville with her family, Jenny was an avid shutterbug, enthralled with taking pictures of her children. While processing film through Cavalcade Color Lab, she was presented with an opportunity to become their new portrait photographer. After a few years of working there, she decided to open a studio in her home in 1996 where she could work not only on family, wedding, and personal portraits, but also where she could explore elements of modern visual arts and her growing interest in forms of expression dearest to her heart.
Having established a successful commercial enterprise, Jenny began to experiment with other approaches that allowed her to enhance her shots and reframe the outcome of the finished image. Techniques such as “sandwiching slides together, using intentional camera movement to create a different feeling and multiple exposures” began a path toward art. In many ways, these discoveries were like finding her “voice” in her work. Something uniquely her own began to emerge. Jenny has devoted her attention to these varying formats and dedicates her work efforts to nature and “art” photos, as she blithely refers to them.
Her works, of course, cannot be described without having the chance to see them, and like most of us she uses social media as her ongoing, living gallery. Although she has produced one show in Toronto, and locally at Deerhurst Resort and a few other local workshops, Kirkpatrick’s images displayed on her Facebook page are as vibrant and evocative as great paintings, filling the imagination with unexpected tones and textures as she bends and stretches the hues, tints, and contrast reflected from her chosen subject. This is what is so impressive about her style and gift as an artist. While her techniques are not necessarily wholly original, or of her own innovation, her application of these practices creates imagery that is stunning and distinctively her own.
Learning initially through film and using slides, Jenny fully embraced the digital revolution that has overtaken photo imagery but her command of the instruments was well developed by then. Despite the remarkable capabilities of digital cameras, she uses tried and true practices, and to this day still operates her camera with manual settings only. This allows her to direct the composition yet involves her deeply in the intimate nature that the photographer achieves while working through a viewfinder. Something remains of that connection between the subject and observer, something intangible yet discernable.
During her commercial work, Jenny began exploring some advanced shooting parameters, initially using infrared black and white film, a very sensitive and painstakingly arduous form of film which creates stunning high-contrast images but needs adroit skill to manage and excel at. She also began to experiment with moving the camera while shooting, which creates a soft blurred focus. At the same time, she began to print on watercolour paper, which adds depth and an almost impressionistic feel to the picture. It’s almost as if the eye is tricked into seeing anew.
Jenny employs what is referred to as the Orton Effect to accomplish this type of visual, but she has developed her own creative freedom in its application. Indeed, she has found some staggering advancements of her own that she uses in abstract collages and her use of open shutter speeds against fixed objects.
In the past few years, since she retired from her professional studio work, Jenny has concentrated her efforts to improve and to expand her portfolio. While she has done workshops and some teaching in the past, the last year has been focused on progressing her skills. Most of her work is centered on the ability of the camera, lens, and filters to establish the foundation of her pictures, but she has also made continuous learning in postproduction methodologies.
Above all, Jenny Kirkpatrick strives to see with feeling and to feel what she sees, as she prepares to pull the infinite into the finite moment she shares with those willing to see along with her.
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