Photographer’s Eye: Janie Airey

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Janie Airey

Website: http://janie-airey.com/

Shooting for 15 years as a lifestyle and corporate photographer based in London, Janie’s work is mostly commissions for variety of clients and design agencies in the UK and internationally.

JanieAirey - Headshot

A shot of a single object that expresses a powerful memory/event?

My Rollieflex because it was a gift from CQ my first boss who I worked for when I was 19. 

He was an encouraging influence to travel and work and believed you could do whatever you set your mind to. 

Janie Airey - Rollieflex

Three books that have inspired you?

Photography books:

The Complete Pirelli calendars over 50 years (Thames & Hudson)

Inferno, photographs by James Natcheway  (Phaidon)

RFK Funeral train,  photographs by Paul Fusco (Magnum)

Novels:

Dirt Music by Tim Winton

All men are mortal by Simone De Beauvoir

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Favourite photo you have taken?

My favourite shot from an image library shoot has to be woman wrapped in white sheet.

The make up artist and stylist were really late getting to the location but we had models and a room to shoot in so had fun wrapping up one of our models in a sheet.  Love the outcomes of freestyling on job and Creative Review ran it which was a bonus.

JaireyBedsheet

Who are the women that inspire you, what is it that they have achieved that appeals?

Georgia OKeeffe – not necessarily biggest fan of all of her paintings but her lifestyle and dedication were appealing,  as well as her need to constantly create,  working well into her 90’s in New Mexico, a beautiful landscape.

Zaha Hadid – she was not an especially likeable character but a really bold and innovative architect who has created some of the most inspirational buildings.  A successful strong woman in a historically fairly male dominated environment.

Vivian Maier – American street photographer who was prolific, and in her lifetime was undiscovered and unpublished.  She has since risen to fame after her work was discovered in an auction.   Her life story is really interesting and I admire her dedication to the medium.  She had a great eye and ability to get close to her subjects without intruding.

Tell us about a project that you’re currently working on…

Commissioned project:  a lovely commission by the Art Fund to capture gallery spaces and people / public interaction with art work in various forms – sculpture, installations paintings etc.

Image Library: a project with Sarah called from Farm to Fork, shooting on a lovely small holding in Cornwall.

Women’s roles in Photography, both in front of and behind the camera, have changed dramatically over the years. How have these changes impacted the way you work and what you have chosen to photograph? 

I’m not sure if our roles behind the camera have changed… I think accessibility to the medium and industry has changed.  Women are more empowered.  it’s a difficult question to answer…(unless you mean technically – the kit making it more accessible to more people / more women?)…. I believe women have always created / worked in the arts and in photography (Vivian Maier a great example of this) but the opportunities weren’t available in the more patriarchal society….but now women have more validity in the commercial and art world .. gender is not questioned.  

I guess this has all happened over the last 50-80 years… and I take for granted that there is a better regard / acceptance for women working in the medium. I don’t encounter any differences or think I work in a gender imbalanced profession.

I’m fortunate to work in an environment and era where you don’t question if it’s do-able.. it just is.    On a practical level with such incredible choice of kit  / recording devices it’s a medium that is completely accessible to all and being published / getting your work out there has never been easier so being seen is no biggie, it’s standing out that’s the challenge.

With regard to women in front of the lens.. I’m not sure if that has changed all that much or to the same degree as working behind the camera.  The quantity of material is infantimtamessible (not sure if that’s a real word ) … self image and societal pressure to look good is the same, sexualisation will always exist but I think women now have more say in it.  .. or perhaps that’s naïve.

What words of wisdom from an aunt, a grandmother, or a sister can you impart on us?

My rather feisty Cornish grandmother taught me from a young age that everyone is important and that there are always wiser,  greater and more interesting people so  I guess from that she taught me to ‘listen’ and try never to have an ego.  She made me learn a piece of prose / poetry called “Desiderata or Go Placidly” ..  although I had to be bribed 50p to learn it – the words are pretty cool though.

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