The Intimate Work of Jenny Woods (NSFW)

This article contains images and/or video that the editors have flagged as NSFW (Not Safe for Work).
To view this content you must be logged in to your Fstoppers account.
The Intimate Work of Jenny Woods (NSFW)

Sometimes a Journey song can wax poetic. “Small town girl…lonely world.” We’ve heard it before. But for whatever reason, it’s the song I can’t get out of my head while I’m sitting with Jenny Woods in a small, Persian restaurant in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Standing a towering five-foot-nothing and with a demeanor that couldn’t ruffle a sleeping kitten, Jenny, or Bunny Jenny, as she goes by, is a photographer from a very small town in Florida. She represents a new breed of photographer - one that couldn’t have existed ten years ago. Although to be fair, ten years ago, she wasn’t out of elementary school.

Jenny doesn’t consider herself a very technical shooter. In fact, her images can both frustrate and amaze those who are. There is an inherent sophistication in her images, and they have the power make you feel like you know what it’s actually like inside a sad girl’s mind. It’s easy to see that sad, lonely girl in her images…but you also see someone who dreams.

And this is why she and others like her are so important. For the first time, technology has put the power to create anything in the hands of everyone. This has allowed young photographers to use their imagination to share their perspective on the world - a perspective that has been in the hands of people who were typically older and, let’s be honest, sometimes jaded. Of course, this creates a polarization in the photographic community. Those who have spent years of their lives learning techniques that can now be done almost instantly and those who are able to do those techniques almost instantly. It is also worth noting that the latter group tends to romanticize the imperfections and looks of old film – the very things that many have developed a personal distaste for.

Jenny reaches down into her bag for her camera; she is excited to show me some street images she took earlier in the day. She says this is her first time falling in love with New York. Her camera reminds me of the guitar of an old blues musician. It’s a Canon Rebel with a rubber grip that has fallen off. She owns one lens – a 50mm with a broken autofocus. It looks like it has seen war. All this, and she still does what she does…blues music in photographic form – leaning on the improvisation for its soul.

I ask her if she reads a lot of Sylvia Plath. She laughs, but admits that she has started to recently. But where Sylvia Plath was alone, Jenny is not; she has a pretty sizable Tumblr and Flickr following. “[Social media] has connected me to beautiful strangers. It’s much easier for me to keep faith in myself with an entire fan base behind me, believing in everything I’m doing. I’m thankful for those people.”

It’s not a path towards a career for her, although she wouldn’t mind. But in ten years? “It doesn’t matter what I end up doing. I just want to be living in New York and happy.”

We eventually leave and part ways – she has a date with the city, camera in hand.

It was all a little inspiring actually, to be around someone with that much passion for what they create. I realize, though, she was right when she said she wasn’t a photographer.

She is an artist.

 
Log in or register to post comments

9 Comments

Great words and photos Chris

OMG Photoshop is totally ruining photography today... /endsarcasm

great work

Wow, Chris, nice interview man :) It's not photoshop, it's something called Lightroom :) 

My daughter turns out images everyday that I would have placed into my portfolio in my day. However, she shoots 4 hrs and then spends 4 days on the computer to get them. She also thinks nothing of knocking out 2000 frames for a wedding. That would have certainly not have been possible with film, even with contact proofing. Digital has made us more prolific, and that's a good thing. We are just a step away from picking our "ideal" images from continuous video which will not care if uncle Fred blinks because it will catch the moments on either side of that blink. I'm anxious to see what that does for the more freestyle photographers and their art.

dave crook's picture

 you can already grab images from Digital Video... however beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so what she took 100 images to get one repro image - Picasso did a hundred sketches before painting a canvas.

oldngrumpy...I love your username. :-)

Many people consider Alois Riegl responsible for starting what is now considered the discipline of Art History. He began by identifying three main stages of representation that are generally present in all works in all time periods..

1st stage - depiction of objects
2nd stage - depiction of transitory nature
3rd stage - depiction of structures of relations

The 3rd stage is associated with all of the highest periods of art like Classical Greece and the Renaissance. Expression in art is based on the ability to metaphorically represent structures of relations (like balance, harmony, repetition, movement etc)

The reason for bringing this up is that you're correct that digital has made photography more "prolific." However, the majority of photographs being produced are just simple depictions of objects (persons, places, things) or depictions of transitory nature (events, gestures, appearances). It's fair to say that almost NONE of the digital images being produced today by the modern generation of digital "photographers" ever express the structures of relations that are necessary for the 3rd and highest stages of art.

Also, the modern generation impresses me as a prideful bunch. They're pretty full of themselves when describing how technology has made it easy for them to do what "old guys" struggled to do. But that's simply not true. Technology has only made it easier for them to enter the 1st and 2nd stages of representation. The 3rd stage is out of their reach (and probably will always be) unless they learn to humble themselves and admit that technology gives them no advantage whatsoever when it comes to expression in high art.

That's some sweet work although not my favorite one.

just a small town girl.. living in a lonely "world"...

Did you not watch the series finale to the Sopranos? ;-)