Interview with multiple Head On Portrait Award winner Fiona Wolf | Head On Photo Festival

Interview with multiple Head On Portrait Award winner Fiona Wolf

Image credit: The Gift, RHW - Fiona Wolf

We’re excited to bring you an interview with Fiona Wolf - a long-time Head On Photo Festival supporter and multiple-winner of our Portrait Award, including last year’s with her stunning photo entitled “The Gift, RHW”. 

Please tell us a bit about yourself - what is your background and how did you come to photography/art?   

I’m a photographer, photographic educator and exhibiting Artist based in Sydney. I also play cello and I am a mother.  

Born in 1976 in Sydney and raised in Germany, I returned to Sydney in 2005 with experience working as a Sound Engineer, for German television, as a photo editor all in my hometown Hamburg and as finally Creative Manager for Universal Music, Berlin. My love for photography and visual art was triggered by a retrospective exhibition by Irving Penn. I started experimenting with film cameras and darkroom work. As a photo editor, I went nuts printing photographs and pinning them all over my office and home. I relocated to Sydney in 2005 with a suitcase full of exhibition ready prints and have been making my mark in the photographic world ever since.  


Crowned Madonna - Head On Portrait Award Finalist 2014, Fiona Wolf

Tell us about your work - what does it aim to say or how does it address contemporary social or political issues?   

When I started out, I was beautifully fresh and naive. I didn’t think too much about why and what I was shooting or where and how I was presenting my work as long as I was clicking the button. Now, I tend to be quite considerate and almost stifled by the fact that everything has been done or need a sense and deeper meaning. Otherwise, it’s not worth picking up the camera. That’s when I remind myself that photography is my personal outlet and happy space. My stories are about women. I use photography as a soundboard. The people I meet echo my own life and journey.  

To me, photography is the most literal art form and it is as pragmatic as I am too. You see what you get and you get what you see. Honest yet full of depth and storytelling. The role of the female in society will always be in my focus and I find women who impress me or touch me with their stories. Gender equality, body image and the female way of life is what my work describes. Even when I address social injustice in a housing estate in Sydney, you will see the red thread of looking for the females, families, children and how they are affected especially. 


From the series girls n cars - Fiona Wolf

Who or what influences your work?   

I influence my work. My life and my journey is ever-changing and this has been the biggest influence. The people who come and go during this journey and especially those who stay forever. That’s my biggest influence and I try to go with the flow and accept as much as possible my limitations and catalysts likewise. I have had wonderful mentors. I love speaking to other artists and looking at work of a diverse range in galleries, books and online. I tend to look back to the old masters more than any new trendy Instagram heroes. 

How do you know when a body of work is finished?   

It never is. As much as I like finalising a project and ticking the box. The longer I practice, the more I understand that your body of work is and will be your life as a photographer. I can look back on some work now and can see how it is making sense in the “bigger picture” of my practice. 


Jacqui - Head On Portrait Award Winner 2010, Fiona Wolf

How do you seek out opportunities?   

Networking and talking to people. I like collaborating with other artists who may be into fashion or music. 


In the shadow of the king - Head On Portrait Award Finalist 2012, Fiona Wolf

How have you developed your career?    

I have done courses and have participated in workshops and talks. Assisting was a crucial part of emerging into the commercial world of photography. A plunge into teaching was a huge door opener of a different path of photography which has become a big passion of mine. I enjoy elevating others. 

Big thanks to Fiona for sharing these insights with us. You can find more of Fiona’s work on her website.

We hope that reading about Fiona's wonderful career, and seeing her striking images, has inspired you to take the leap and enter your own photographs into this year's Head On Photo Awards.  Be quick though - entries close on 31 May.

 

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2021