Jane Alynn was born in Portland, Oregon. Early in her long career as a psychotherapist she began photographing seriously, studying the work of masters and taking workshops with gifted teachers. She also led creative vision workshops in Washington, Canada, and in the Southwest. In 1999, having moved to the Skagit Valley, she retired from her practice to devote full time to making art. In 2002, she received an M.F.A. in poetry, published in the next eight years two books of poetry, and then turned her poetic impulse back to making photographs. Her photographs are exhibited regularly and are collected in the New Mexico History Museum, Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in Western Washington University. Among her awards, she was recognized in 2013 with a Women in Photography award by the Larson Gallery in Yakima, WA, and she was selected in 2014 as a finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass.
I grew up in the woods of northwest Portland—exploring, observing, learning the vicissitudes of nature—developing a deep affinity for the natural world. From the beginning, and now for over thirty years, I have photographed the living landscape—its light and shadow, delicacy and tenacity, life and decay. These days, in response to our changing environment, I have also been photographing landscapes in transition and the traces left behind. These images explore what the human has brought to the natural world. They are meant as metaphor for our ephemeral existence, reminders that what we think is fixed is bound to disappear.
My early photographic influences are Minor White, Paul Caponigro, and early 20th century pictorial photographers, such as Edward Steichen, whose images are imbued with subtle tonal and tactile aspects and impressionistic soft focus, often strikingly ambiguous, painterly and poetic.
To satisfy my own poetic impulse, I use a camera with a zone plate, a simple, non-lens optical device that diffracts light, which softens the image and creates a glow or “halo” that infuses forms with a glint of the numinous. When used with high-grain film, it introduces ambiguity and nudges the boundaries of abstraction, helping to shift perception toward a sensual experience and tempt the imagination to see beyond the literal.
I love the sense of the fragile, fleeting, ethereal, the glimmer of dream and memory, mystery and dark beauty, these lensless images convey visually. And I love that I’m often surprised the prints reveal something that was not visible in the viewfinder.