Jenny Riffle was born in Washington State in 1979. She received her MFA in Photo, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in 2011 and her BA in photography from Bard College in 2001. Recent awards include The Pilkington Prize, 2015, PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch 2014, Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship 2013, and the juror’s award at Newspace Center for Photography’s 2012 juried show for her project Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting. A book of the Scavenger photographs was published by Zatara Press in the fall of 2015. Riffle lives in Seattle where she teaches at the Photo Center Northwest.
Why do you photograph on film?
Part of my love for photography is in the mystery and magic of the process. There is an unknown aspect to using film instead of digital, once you click the shutter you can not see the image you captured until you have developed the film, for me usually days later. It creates a different way of making images, more careful because each frame costs money, and also it allows for something magic to happen. You make less mistakes and take less images because each one counts so each frame is metered and composed well, nothing wasted. I love the way color film looks, how it exposes and the range of overexposure you get. I also love how when shooting with film you have a physical object that is tangible, instead of a digital file that is so easily lost.
What is your work about?
The Sound of Wind is a re-appreciation of the Pacific Northwest through my memories of growing up there and my present experiences. I took for granted my surroundings until I left home and lived elsewhere. Every time I came back I would see it with new eyes. It seemed that every place I went contained some memory of childhood forgotten and unappreciated. After moving back to the northwest I started photographing landscape and the people inhabiting it. I am drawn to the places in between dreams and reality, somewhere between memory and the present experience. I walk around and look out into the woods, seeing them anew and seeing them through the veil of memories at the same time. I look up at the moss covered branches and I remember nights spent sleeping outside in the dark looking up to see a thousand hairy spider legs instead of branches and quickly hiding under the covers. I remember ants crawling all over my feet and my father trying to calm me down, telling me that they will not bite. A photograph exists somewhere between reality and dreams, I capture a frozen moment with the click of the shutter, but the narrative held within is alive, changing with everyone that sees it, unfrozen and fluid in the mind of the viewer.