A gypsy at heart, photographer Jodie Baker has an unconventional eye for sights and scenes that capture the human spirit. Behnaz Sanjana chats to her about her craft and why people are talking about it.
As a 10-year old, Jodie remembers doing a school project on Egypt and promising herself that, some day, she’d visit the pyramids. This New South Wales Australian was probably born with wanderlust, leading her to resign from corporate life in Sydney to pack her bag and experience the world. “I made Ireland my base, where I worked for over four years. My professional experience landed me a good job, which allowed me to travel all over Europe and America,” she says.
Jodie bought herself a camera to capture the different cultural experiences she’d anticipated, and auto mode was the way for the novice to go. “I remember thinking that the images were not coming off the way I actually saw them. I wanted to capture not just the print of the image but the essence of that moment,” she says. So she started educating herself about the craft, undergoing training and using trial and error to hone her photographic skills.
Her love for images continued to bloom as she experienced strange places and new things, which strengthened her drive to capture moments for their simple beauty.
“If you want to ‘expand’ yourself, getting up and travelling the world is the best thing you can do,” she advocates. When she decided to head back home, the intrepid traveller took, of course, the scenic route. “I went through Egypt, India, Nepal and other parts of Asia. These countries are so different, and they gave me the opportunity to walk up to complete strangers and capture their life stories, narrated in all of five minutes.”
Once back in Australia, and seriously committed to her craft, Jodie also learnt dark room exposure, which she loved, as it enabled her to tangibly change an image during its developing, bringing out just the effect she wanted.
Last year she arrived in Bahrain with her husband and adores the island for its accepting, kind and tolerant populace. “People here willingly pose for pictures and love sharing their stories with me; so I’m quite at home here!” she laughs.
Jodie’s street photography, displayed on her Instagram handle @jodiebakerphotography, is getting lots of attention on social media. She says: “I’ve had messages from former expatriates from all over pouring in, telling me how much they miss Bahrain and how my photos made them feel they were right here again. It’s nice when you can touch somebody somewhere in the world just through a photograph – it is immensely satisfying.”
She has also focused her lens on a number of weddings, engagements, births, family and commercial photo shoots. “Each of the Arabic weddings I have shot have been unique in their own way, and I vividly remember every single one of them. I collaborate with other photographers, too, like for Hindu weddings, which are massive events spread over a few days and are great fun. Clicking personal moments of the bride and groom on their special day feels great. The day goes by so fast for them, but when I present my work to them, they live the day again through my pictures,” she says, getting goosebumps as she speaks.
On what inspires her, her answer is as thoughtful as her pictures: “The inspiration is life, in general. Everyone is so different, and I quite like to celebrate that. Whether it’s the couple about to be married, or the man walking the street collecting cardboard or the vendor at the market – it’s the essence that goes with it that inspires me. My pictures tell a story, rather than being just ink on paper.”