We sit down with photographer Pauline Fowler.
Your work is beautifully textured and layered, and you describe your work as “textural photography.” Can you describe your process?
I use multiple photographs ( all my own nowadays unless stated! ) to overlay on to my original image and create an atmosphere and story. I often do water colour washes on paper, photograph them, and add them as textural layers....you could call it mixed media! The layers should enhance, not overtake, the original image, and the original image is the most important part!
I love the backgrounds of your work. I like the fact that the subject seems to glow and be the center of light, and the background has a muted, classical quality. Do you take the backgrounds from other images? Do you “paint” them?
I never ‘paint ‘ them using computer programs - all my backgrounds are either from real photographs that I take myself, or from water colour washes that I paint myself on paper. I have a huge and abiding love of early animals in art and strive to get a little bit of that wonderful storytelling quality into my pictures. And of course, light is and always will be the most important part of any image for me - if done correctly it can really boost a three dimensional quality to the image.
You say you’re a sculptor by profession. What kind of sculpture do you make? Did you go to art school? Did you train in photography?
I actually trained as a ceramicist in the Royal College of Art in London where I got my masters degree, but I am a sculptor in the film industry now, well, have been for 30 years! Photography however I picked up all on my lonesome - I taught myself how to use my camera via youtube lessons, ( many late nights doing that!!) and joined as many online photography sites as I could manage to pick up as much inspiration as I could.
I love the fact that all of your pictures of animals look like portraits. They’re so full of personality, and the animals all seem to have almost posed for you, even the wildest of them. How do you manage this? Where do you find the animals you shoot? How long does it take to get a shot you can use?
I photograph animals anywhere and everywhere! If I can’t photograph them in the wild I go to zoos, if I can’t get to a zoo I will phone a farmer…..!!! Hours and hours and hours of waiting poised and ready, mostly with an aching back! Sometimes I see an animal make a movement or look in a certain way and miss the shot, so if I can I will go back again and again to try and capture it! Actually, most of the time I end up with something other than I set out for, but isn’t that part of the fun? I went to Namibia at Christmas, and I am lucky enough to be off to Costa Rica in April…watch this space …!
Everyone gets one question from the Proust Questionnaire, and here’s yours. If not yourself, who would you be?
Hmmm……Albrecht Durer ….we have the same birthday but I sadly lack his drawing skills!