Category Archives: Inspiration


It’s hard to believe that three weeks have passed since we returned home from our Ecuador adventure. I had hoped to get some images posted sooner than this, but a long, particularly vicious bout of food poisoning (courtesy of the Mexico City airport) and a couple of upcoming exhibitions, which required my immediate attention, threw sand in the gears. Also, by choosing to travel without my computer, my normal process of downloading images everyday to manage my work flow was severely hobbled, and by the time I got home, with two full camera cards, I felt completely overwhelmed by the task of dealing with all those images.

Yet, I made a start.

Here are some of the colors of Ecuador and the beauty of the indigenous people that caught my eye on the streets of Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the Andean highlands; in the coastal town of Puerto Lopez; and at the archeological site of Ingapirca, ruins that were originally used by the Cañari people as an observatory.

Also posted in Fine Art Photography, Photographs, Travel Tagged , , , , , |


Patrick in South Bend, Washington

Patrick. Photo © Jane Alynn.

























It’s been quiet on this blog for awhile now. I admit it, I’m not one of those photographer-writers who posts while on the road. A big part of traveling, for me, is disconnection from the usual routines, the habits of daily life, the dullness of familiarity. I like being lost.

I like losing myself amid abandoned structures in the middle of nowhere, in the tangle of weeds in the forefront of an urban skyline, in the street life of any town or city. I’d just as soon lose myself in the changing clouds, in the ripples on Roosevelt Lake, or in the cacophony of color on Baker Street than to lose myself in my computer screen.

But in my recent travels I discovered a new way to lose myself.

Wherever we went it was the characters who fascinated me. Though I’ve been a people-watcher for a very long time, I haven’t been a people photographer. But why not? Portraits have an an important place in photographic history. And anything that fascinates is a good subject.

So now I’m thinking about a new project: a series of images of people that tell a story about who they were at that moment in their lives. Patrick is a good beginning.

Also posted in Fine Art Photography, Travel Tagged , , , , |


Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA

Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA. Photo © Jane Alynn.

“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”
⁓ William Least Heat Moon

tasting the berries
greeting the bluejays
learning and loving the whole terrain
⁓ Gary Snyder, from The Old Ways

“Most of us have a fire in the belly, a passion or desire that burns brightest in us. It’s the heat and energy from this fire that moves us forward, gives momentum to our projects, and authenticity to our voice…. Don’t you dare neglect feeding the fire in your soul; don’t for a moment allow the embers to grow cold. It’s never worth the sacrifice.”
David DuChemin, from “Tend the Fire,” posted April 1, 2015

Shortly after this post hits the ether, we’ll be on the road again. Some recent events woke me up to the fact that life cannot be taken for granted. If the things that stoke the fire in my soul are traveling and working on photographic projects that excite me, then now is the time. Not tomorrow, not later—now!

As a blogger, I know that consistency matters, and that long absences will lop off most of your readers. To my mind, the greater urgency is making the work. Doing work that matters imparts new vigor to the work and to your mind. And if that means being unplugged for awhile, so be it.

We’ll be traveling for about four weeks, exploring northeastern Washington State and the Canadian Okanagan Valley. Those old towns and abandoned mining sites have interested me for some time. Mostly, I’ll be using my medium format film camera fit with a zone plate to capture their place in time and timelessness, the ephemerality of dreams and memory, the dark beauty of decay.

There are certain images, of course, that are better conveyed as “straight”: the odd juxtaposition, the absurd, the ironic, the out-of-place-out-of-time characters, structures, and details. So I’ll be bringing a digital camera, too.

Just so you know, I’m still a bit of a simpleton about digital file management, and I have no experience in getting my photographs into Lightroom while I’m on the road. So I cannot promise any posts. However, I just opened an Instagram account and will at least try to post some iPhone images. You can follow me on Instagram at janealynn_photography.


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Gelatin silver photographic print of stumps titled "Remains"

Remains, 2012, gelatin silver print.

Though I consciously have avoided the political in my photographs (and my poems), more and more I am drawn to projects that involve moral issues. Confronted daily with images that convey the dismantling of our human values, the death of society, destruction by killings and war, the collapse of our planet, I am led to wrestle with my own notions of what it means to bear witness and to create work that matters. What will I make of this pounding on the doors of perception, this battering of rationality? Increasingly, I think these things must work their way into my image-making. And I find myself excited by the idea of engaging new directions.

I am reminded of a poem by a brilliant poet, whose work I love:

Wislawa Szymborska


We are children of our age,
it’s a political age.

All day long, all through the night,
all affairs—yours, ours, theirs—
are political affairs.

Whether you like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin, a political cast,
your eyes, a political slant.

Whatever you say reverberates,
whatever you don’t say speaks for itself.
So either way you’re talking politics.

Even when you take to the woods,
you’re taking political steps,
on political grounds.

Apolitical poems are also political,
and above us shines a moon
no longer purely lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
And though it troubles the digestion
it’s a question, as always, of politics.

To acquire a political meaning
you don’t even have to be human.
Raw material will do,
or protein feed, or crude oil,

or a conference table whose shape
was quarreled over for months:
Should we arbitrate life and death
at a round table or a square one.

Meanwhile, people perished,
animals died,
houses burned,
and the fields ran wild
just as in times immemorial
and less political.

Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh

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“Ansel [Adams] once said to somebody that I [Cunningham] was versatile, but what he really meant was that I jump around. I’m never satisfied staying in one spot very long, I couldn’t stay with the mountains and I couldn’t stay with the trees and I couldn’t stay with the rivers. But I can always stay with people, because they really are different.”
⁓ Imogen Cunningham, Dialogue With Photography by Paul Hill

On this day, in 1976, the world lost a very important figure in photography, Imogen Cunningham.

In an amazing career that spanned nearly 70 years she worked in almost every area of photography, and her imagery explored a broad range of photographic styles, from early Pictorialism, architectural landscapes, modern portraits, nude studies, botanicals, and later social documentary or street photography.

Bowed stump in the Mount Baker forest.

“Bowed.” Photo © Jane Alynn.

My admiration runs deep for Imogen Cunningham. I wish I’d known her as my husband did. But I had a close encounter. When my husband and I were in San Francisco he wanted to find the house where she lived when he had visited her. We followed a vague recollection and by some miracle happened upon it. There was no structure left, but in the middle of the lot we found a bold and prickly plant — an Acanthus — thriving among the overgrown weeds. Ironically, this plant symbolizes immortality in Mediterranean countries. Its architectural leaves surely were considered as subjects for her botanical images.

We took a cutting, and carefully packed it in an empty cup along with some of her soil. Once we were back home and got it in the ground, we named it Imogen.

Cunningham was fiercely independent and achieved what was nearly unimaginable for a woman of the 1900s. For her, gender barriers didn’t exit. She photographed whatever caught her imagination.

Photographer and writer friend Steve Meltzer, in “A Woman’s Eye: How Imogen Cunningham broke through gender barriers to help redefine modern photography,” writes: “She photographed the world with a woman’s eye, from a viewpoint far different than that of the male dominated photographic world of her time and ours. Cunningham was a true original and an essential part of the development of modern photography in America. And all her life she fought against a glass (plate) ceiling and she never gave up.”

Ancient bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, CA

Ancient bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, CA. Photo © Jane Alynn

To see archives of Imogen’s wonderful photographs, visit the Imogen Cunningham Trust archive.

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” ⁓ Imogen Cunningham, Interviews With Master Photographers : Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Cornell Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman, Lord Snowdon, Brett Weston by James Danziger

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Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series (1841)

Dawn sky in Walla Walla, Washington

Morning came.

I stumbled into the dawn. It was an unusual sky, a strange firmament of flame-shaped clouds against the still-dark yonder, a display so strange it was as if the northern lights had slipped southward to put on an aurora show.

As I stood there, looking, Minor White’s words came to mind: “One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.”

Flames, waves, or maybe wings, I gave the heaven’s grand spectacle a few moments of my time. And then the sky changed.

Also posted in Fine Art Photography, Photographs, Poetry, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , |


Rural Road, Douglas County, Washington

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself, Leaves of Grass

Also posted in Photographs, Poetry, Travel, Uncategorized


When you make an image, is it of what’s in front of the camera or what’s four inches behind it?” ~ Dewitt Jones


I read this story long ago in a Dewitt Jones column, and I have never forgotten it. A stranger encounters two old stonemasons at work. “What are you doing?” he asked each of them. “Laying stones,” the first mason said. “Building a cathedral,” the second mason said. The first had a job; the second had vision.

Last week I mentioned why photographic vision matters. It defines the work we do and why we do it the way we do. It determines the artistic choices we make. And I think that when we clarify our photographic vision we become better photographers.

Photographs come from who we are. They reflect our way of thinking, seeing, and being. When we define our vision, we understand what we are trying to capture in an image and become more mindful in our approach to making that image, increasing the likelihood of expressing the image we saw in our mind’s eye and conveying our intended meaning. We frame that cathedral.

When I first began to photograph, my images were all about passion, play, and mindful seeing. Beyond that, I spent no time at all thinking about what I was doing or why I was doing it. It took some time before I realized I needed to commit to a personal vision quest.

For this journey I set out to explore some questions:

Who I am? Why am I doing this? What interests me? What is it I want to capture? What has personal meaning for me? What do I want to achieve in my work?

Over the years my photographic vision has changed. That is to be expected as we grow as photographers. These days my work mostly reflects my love of the pointillist-inspired photogravures of early twentieth century pictorial photographers, their subtle tonal and tactile aspects and impressionistic soft focus, often strikingly ambiguous. Using a zone plate (with high-grain film) rather than a lens enables me to explore my interest in dream states, liminality, memory, and metaphor. By introducing ambiguity, it nudges the boundaries of abstraction and helps to shift perception toward a sensual experience, tempting the imagination to see beyond the literal. Drawn to the obscure, the element of enigma, I love the mystery and dark beauty these lensless images convey visually.

But I have a second interest in powerful compositions of human moments and images that capture the ironic, the absurd, the misplaced, and the wit and play of contradiction. What has remained consistent is my goal to create effective, meaningful, unforgettable images that entice viewers to look and then to look again.

What is your photographic vision?

Also posted in Fine Art Photography, Photographs, Stories, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , |


Ghost Tree, Salton Sea

One of my favorite photographer-bloggers is David DuChemin. Just after I had read his recent blog post, “Image or Imagery?”, written (and tagged by him as a bit of a rant) in response to questions about his gear, beginning with What camera do you use?, I received a kind invitation to participate in an interview. Ironically, the first question was, What equipment do you use? What camera?

Don’t get me wrong, questions that get me thinking about making images interest me a lot. But equipment, gear, and gadgets? Not so much. They are mere tools that can help us convey our personal, distinct photographic vision. Vision is what I am passionate about.

What is photographic vision? It defines the work we do and why we do it the way we do. It determines the artistic choices we make. And I think that when we clarify our photographic vision we become better photographers.

I will have more to say about developing photographic vision in a follow-up post. Meanwhile, I want to let you in on the interview with Karla Locke. You can read my responses and see my work here in Anacortes Magazine or here on Blame It On the Light.

Thank you, Karla Locke.

Also posted in Creative Process, Fine Art Photography, Photographs Tagged , , , , , , |


Reflection; the act of, not the image of, is a way of reconsidering where we are in relation to reality. ~ Joel Meyerowitz

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