My relationship with trees began in childhood, while playing under the majestic Douglas Firs near my home in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve loved trees ever since, so it was a natural progression to turn to them as a subject for my newest work, Intimate Conversation. I have also been inspired by the books The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben and Finding the Mother Tree by Dr. Suzanne Simard. In these books, trees are revealed to create interdependent relationships through underground fungal networks, exchanging nutrients and chemical information in support of their seedling offspring and other neighboring trees. Working from this perspective, 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 kinship in my work.
To create my photographs, I work in a traditional wet darkroom with negatives. I use chemicals in unorthodox ways, letting the developing process take precedence over preconceived ideas. This technique gives me freedom to explore the limits of analog printing and take advantage of whatever chance events may occur. I have no interest in making or even enhancing images with a computer; the wet darkroom is where I thrive. It’s exhilarating (and at times challenging) to work in a liminal space that requires moment-by-moment and often intuitive decision-making. I enlarge and print my finished gelatin silver prints digitally—my sole nod to the digital revolution. For me, process printing means maintaining a fearless attitude towards an unknowable outcome and finding pleasure in creating in the moment.
Jane Olin has worked as a photographer in California’s Monterey Bay area for over thirty years. Living at the epicenter of West Coast photography, she learned the skills of “straight” photography and tenets of the historic Group f/64 from many of the assistants and students of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Since that time she has gone on to develop a distinctly personal vision, exploring the limits of focus and composition with a pinhole camera and darkroom enlarger, and over the last several years, with the gelatin silver developing process itself.
Raised in Steilacoom, overlooking Puget Sound in Washington State, Olin grew up surrounded by forests. She has traveled extensively, and is especially drawn to Japan–both its aesthetics and its Zen Buddhism. She maintains a mindfulness practice, and present moment awareness is imbedded in her photographic process. Her choice of subject originates in internal questioning, personal experience, and often relies heavily on intuition. She works in series of related images, a method that allows for extended explorations of her subject.
Olin has actively exhibited her photography for many years. Her work has been the subject of group and solo exhibitions at the Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, all in California. In 2022, she will be featured in a solo exhibition at NUMU, New Museum Los Gatos, CA, and a group exhibition at Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ. She has won numerous juror awards, including a 2021 IPA International Photography Award Best of Show. Her work is held in the collections of Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento, and Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, all in California. A lifelong champion of women in the arts, Olin founded Salon Jane, a women’s photography collective, in 2014.
To see more of Jane’s work, please visit her website: janeolin.com