A picture tells a thousand words

28 Apr, 2012 02:00 AM

WHEN you ask Kalannie photographer Jo Ashworth what type of photography she specialises in, she can't tell you.

I'll tell you that the answer is everything - Jo takes an amazing photo, the kind that gives you goose bumps - but what she really prides herself on is her ability to connect, both with people and the landscape.

Jo lives with her husband Wal and their three kids, Morgan (13), Hugh (10) and Rex (4) on their farm in Kalannie.

After having her third child and being far too busy being a mum to go back to her previous job, Jo found herself wanting to learn a new skill.

Photography was the chosen art that Jo threw herself into and it soon became apparent that she had found her calling.

It started as on online course, but it was nearly three years ago when Jo started taking photos professionally.

A background in project management and farm business experience was invaluable establishing herself in the photography industry and Jo was glad to be able to combine this knowledge with something that made her so happy.

"When you find the right thing it just resonates with you," Jo said.

"Opportunities started falling in my lap and it just grew from there."

Business is booming for Jo, well as much as she allows it to with the constraints of their location and prioritising family first, as well as marketing the wheat and doing the farm bookkeeping.

Considering an average shoot involves a 400 kilometre round trip, there is a lot of work involved, but Jo is driven by sheer passion.

She's been as far as Brisbane for her work, but locally to Geraldton, Narrogin, Wagin, Perth, Yerecoin, Jurien Bay and everywhere in between.

There is so much travel involved because Jo likes to photograph families in their own environment, on their own farms or at meaningful locations to them.

Much of Jo's work is photographing families and extended families, but she doesn't limit herself and will happily take on any challenge.

More recently, she has also started doing weddings but will only commit to one per month, in order to give her clients the full attention they deserve.

"I think what I really specialise in is connection," Jo said.

"When we see an image as a viewer we want to connect with the image.

"We want to truly see the person in the photograph, or feel the landscape - this is what I aim to do on a daily basis, because that viewer is us or one of my clients, and I want them to connect with their loved ones in the images we create together.

"I just really love spending time with people."

Jo practices the 'beloved' style of photography, which she describes as creating authentic images of muses relaxed and being themselves.

When they interact with their loved ones in a genuine way, the result is an image with natural expressions on their faces that show their true character, and this can be seen and appreciated by the viewer.

"Beloved gives people a space, an opportunity to tell people how they feel about them, because it's not something we do that often, so when it does happen, it's really special," Jo said.

"There is always plenty of laughter and tears in these sessions, from me as well as everyone else!

"Especially in extended family sessions, parents share with their children their wishes, adult children share stories of their childhood with their par ents and sometimes parents discover new things about their adult children.

"Couples share special moments between each other and children get to see their parents in love. Children get so much pleasure from seeing images of their parents laughing together.

"I challenge you to look at an image of your own parents where they are happy, together, and not smile.

"The images I produce are very relaxed and natural, I do pose people in a flattering way so they look good while they are interacting, but then I just go with the flow and they often forget I am even there."

Jo is one of a number of extremely talented country photographers and they are a close-knit bunch, supportive of one another and keen to push each other to keep learning and improving.

She encourages people to consider opting for a country photographer and have photos taken in their own surroundings, rather than having photos in a studio in the city.

"There is nothing wrong with studio images and I do them myself in some instances, but we'd like people in the country especially to consider having a country photographer come to them in a location that means something to them and create with them images that become memories of their life, rather than in a black and white studio in Perth," Jo said.

"You will find our pricing highly competitive and we are great value for money."

Jo said she was constantly learning new things about photography and often did workshops and courses, but she had also learnt a lot from her clients.

She said connecting with people through her shoots and inviting them to interact genuinely had more impact on her portraiture than anything else.

"I actually learn a lot from my clients, I love spending time with them," Jo said.

"I often come home and am just blown away by how beautiful they are with their children.

"I love editing a family's gallery, re-living the whole experience of my time with them, and I often catch myself smiling, life doesn't get much better than that.

"I think being a mum has helped me in many ways, such as being patient and tolerant, but I think I learn more from my clients about parenting by both talking with them and just observing them."



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