June 12, 2020



Photography by Jo Kalinowski
Interview by Karin Svadlenak Gomez

For Australian photographer Jo Kalinowski, her photographs are a process of understanding parts of her life that have been defined by living or existing in different places. Isolated feelings and experiences that do not necessarily need to be attached to a particular place or location. By creating compositions of everyday things and the study of human life through her images, Jo has allowed herself to discover an emotion or thought that has connected her past to her present. Jo has fused her worlds together, subconsciously disconnecting fragments of time.

"For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity."
Henri Cartier Bresson

TPL: Jo, when did you start getting interested in photography?

JK: I was surrounded by art and photography from a young age, though my own personal journey as a photographer began only four years ago.

TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?

JK: I find my inspiration all around me. I am inspired emotionally and visually from everyday scenes, music, interactions. I am inspired by light, shadow, color and forms, finding the beauty in the most ordinary. Connecting with fellow photographers all over the world has been hugely inspiring. A strong visual literacy has continued to build through relationships with these photographers whose practices vary in content and technique.

TPL: Your images share a feeling of intimacy. How do you manage to achieve this so consistently?

JK: Gosh that's a hard one! I aim to create scenes around the concept I am investigating. The intimacy comes from the need to express ideas with a creative approach to getting at something deeper than our common notions of family photographs.

TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?

JK: Artists such as Rothko, Jeffrey Smart and Matisse are just a few that have inspired me greatly. Photographers such as Martin Parr known for his photographic projects that take an intimate and gentle satirical take on people and their cultures. Nan Goldin, known for her deeply personal and candid portraiture, Sam Abell, and the list goes on...

TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?

JK: My style of shooting has most definitely changed. When I first began this journey a few years ago I created minimal and urban images, finding that beauty in the mundane. These days I am drawn to documentary photography. Creating scenes around a concept I am investigating, capturing candid moments that tell a story, preferably triggering the viewers mind to see something beyond the image itself. My style is constantly evolving.

TPL: Where is your most favourite place to photograph?

JK: I love the challenge of shooting in different environments. It is how I have learnt different skills. I honestly don’t have a favourite place to shoot.

TPL: What characteristics are needed to become a good photographer?

JK: Imagination, curiosity and a creative mind.

TPL: You told us that you once were a hair stylist and an artistic director for 15 years involved in shows and magazine work. Do you think that influenced your focus on details that is evident in your photography?

JK: Hairdressing was definitely my first creative journey and one that certainly sparked my eye for fine details. More recently I have been influenced through my own personal photographic journey creating minimalist style fine art photography. Connecting with fellow photographers all over the world has been a real joy. A strong visual literacy has continued to build through relationships with these photographers whose practices vary in content and technique.

TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your photographic vision? What would you say to someone just starting out?

JK: I use a Canon 6D with a 50mm lens or my new favourite 28mm lens. I use a Canon Speedlite 430EX 111 flash when I want to add a sense of dramatic lighting making the photo seem more theatrical. To someone starting out I would say the camera does not make the photographer!

TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on?

JK: At present I am working on an ongoing project connected to my work in a residential aged care facility. Capturing still life moments, I aim share aspects of lives of residents through images of their personal treasures, to share the beauty and the riches or their unnoticed worlds.

TPL: "If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...

JK: When not photographing I am working; a mother of two teenage girls and being a wife!