Sunday, June 14, 2009

Janet Waters, macro photographer extraordinaire [Sunday shout-out]

I love cafes that serve tea in clear mugs because that gives me an additional view as the milk swirls in. So imagine my delight at finding the work of Janet Waters, who specializes in macro photography of liquids. Swirls and bubbles all day!

Janet finds grace and mystery in the combination of everyday liquids. Each of her compositions tells a new story. Take a look:  

Division, by Janet Waters (jedw.40cat on Flickr).

Heliosphere, from the "Greetings from Jupiter" series.

Shoot, from the "Cosmic girl" series.

Being, from the "Figurative" series.

Janet was kind enough to answer a few questions in addition to letting me use her photos here. After you read the interview, be sure to check out the rest of her photos on her Flickr site.

BMCB: How did you get your start in photography?

JW: I began taking photos from a young age - more seriously when I was about 11. I always thought of it as a hobby and didn't really make a connection with earning a living! It was only when a very dear friend of mine suggested I should go to College (at the age of 25!) that I decided I was going to try to make a career out of it. So I got accepted for a foundation course in art and from there went on to do a degree in Documentary Photography - both at Newport Uni, Wales. I then went on to complete a PGCE in secondary education at Bristol UWE.

Have you always been drawn to macro photography?

I only recently started enjoying macro photography - because I bought a Ricoh GX100 and discovered the amazing macro range it has.

What inspired you to start taking photos of liquids?

I was experimenting with light and texture to begin with. Then, one day I was having a bubble bath and realised how odd-looking the foam was. This inspired me to set up a shoot immediately after the bath and try to capture what I had seen….

I suppose it was a natural progression to begin using liquids - I wanted to capture bubbles and their intricate structure, but incorporating colour - and liquids seemed the best way forward.

What goes into one of your liquids & bubbles series photos? How planned are they?

I have always enjoyed painting, but lack the discipline and perserverence necessary to become accomplished. I also get frustrated because I cannot translate my ideas easily onto canvas. 
Using liquids as my "photographic paint" has opened up the best of both worlds for me.

When I'm thinking about a new series of shots - I go shopping! I investigate and buy cheap liquids available at my local pound shops and then play around with them to see how they react with each other. If something interesting happens, I spend a couple of hours playing with the medium and trying out colours, etc.

What's the creative process like for you in general?

Generally, I have spurts of huge creativity and then a couple of weeks or even months when I produce nothing. I can physically feel the ideas building up within me...

Who are your artistic influences?

My influences come from numerous sources. Parr, Lux, Pollock, Rothko, Monet, Meyerowitz, Van Gogh - anywhere and everywhere. I am also hugely into quantum mechanics/physics (although my depth of knowledge is extremely shallow) and the writings of the wonderful Deepak Chopra. There are too many influences to name - my students often play a part. They can inspire me to come up with ideas and suggest new approaches.

Do you have any advice for the beginning photographer?

First and foremost advice to budding photographers is to take A LOT of photos. Get used to trying out different compositions, move the camera around the subject, play with your white balance and shutter speeds. Don't be afraid to try out ideas - it doesn't matter if it doesn't work as long as you understand WHY it doesn't work.

Oh, and get used to using tripods - they can make such a difference to any type of image.

Finally - photography is the best skill I ever learnt. It has stood me in good stead - and earnt me good money too. It is a fantastic hobby and you can pick it up whenever you feel like it.

Anything else you'd like to share with my readers?

I would recommend taking photos to everyone. My dad didn't start til he was 60 - now he is 74 and retired, but has so much [to] work on, he has to turn jobs down!


Past Sunday shout-outs:


  1. Wendy, These are fascinating! Your Sunday shout outs are always so great!



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