Despite only starting her photography journey in 2013, our latest Zoom speaker, Jo Knight, DPAGB BPE1* QPSA EFIAP, has already attracted considerable international acclaim for her unique creative fine art images. We were enthralled and enthused after her first presentation to the Society in March and couldn’t wait to have her back for this season. In the new presentation, titled Promoting Passion, Jo convincingly demonstrated the truth of her aphorism of do what you love and love what you do. Jo has chosen a photographic path in which she single-mindedly pursues the style of photography which resonates with her artistic sense regardless of more conservative and restrictive external judgements.
Much of her work involves constructing photographs by combining a number of her images in Photoshop, such that she spends almost as much time in front of a computer screen as in front of the camera viewfinder. Not that this applies to her first love of wildlife photography in which she sensitively brings out the character of birds and animals in their natural setting, although she is not averse to improving the backgrounds for pictorial effect.
Jo has had to overcome many obstacles in her all-consuming passion for photography, not least that she has invisible painful neurological disabilities which limit her mobility. So the majority of her images are taken within 10 miles of her home in the Eden Valley and she has to use herself as the model for her creations. Her composite image called On The Shelf has her own figure positioned on the shelf in her hallway to metaphorically address an implied critical comment by a friend as to why she was still single in middle age.
The image illustrates her way of working in which a long time is spent developing the concept of the story she wants to tell and then she takes the various photographs to produce a compositionally strong and effectively-lit image in the computer, including adding shadows by hand. The On The Shelf image took two years from conception to creation but the effort was rewarded by it being selected for the exclusive Master of Print award of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain as well as gaining a gold medal in the 2019 Scottish International Salon.
Jo became the Lady of the Lake only by immersing herself in her bathtub clutching a sword and with the camera suspended from the bathroom ceiling. The background was taken at the local River Eden.
While not actually confining herself to a bird cage, she created Life Behind Bars in which the birds are the ones looking in, in a series of thematically connected images commentating on the way we keep animals in solitary confinement.
The series was nominated for an award from 5000 entries to the 2021 Fine Art Photography Awards. The Enemy Outside shows her trapped during lockdown behind a window (salvaged from house demolition in her village) which is being beseiged by red Covid viral particles. This was the global winning entry of a Covid-19 lockdown competition attracting over 6000 entries from 90 countries and was shown in a large outdoor exhibition held at the Beijing World Art Museum.
Jo highlighted other obstacles which rang true with our own female members. Camouflage wear for wildlife photography comes in pink for women! Adventure watches hang off the wrists of the fairer sex and hides have viewing holes beyond the reach of any but six-footers. She also has her own sad tale of male harassment and champions the cause of gender equality in a number of her composite photographs, including a literal Breaking The Glass Ceiling and a hard-hitting image titled Child Bride. Equally poignant was her image of Evacuee showing a young girl with a teddy bear and with a disappearing railway line added to the background.
These and other images of social commentary and of personal tribulation show Jo to be an outstandingly unique photographer with a gift of being able to translate the stories conceived in her mind into striking creative fine art representations. She certainly lives up to her mantra of Have The Courage To Tell Your Own Story and the exquisite and moving photographs that we were treated to in her presentation certainly justified the enthusiastic reception she was given by members at the end of an unforgettable evening.