Janice Willson Biography

   Janice Willson is largely a self-taught photographer and creator. She has been known to draw, paint, knit, and make jewelry in addition to her photography. She worked for Koyman Galleries and Terence Robert Gallery in Ottawa and Toronto for over 12 years; working as the galleries’ main visual merchandiser organizing and hanging artists’ work.

Janice’s young life was spent moving around Canada with her family and this led to her seeing the world as an observer. She spent much of her time occupied by drawing, painting and assorted handcrafts. Photography came to her in her 30’s as a vehicle to capture the beauty around her, to later draw and paint. Once she discovered that she preferred the photographs to many of her own paintings, photography became her main form of expression.

Believing that people are an integral part of nature, Janice and her husband, Russell spend their time off out in it. While camping, hiking and paddling, she captures the science that occurs in the natural world. Macro photography is where she finds the intricacies of all things whether she is in the field or in the lab.

My Process: I have always had a fascination with nature and science and the “way that things work”. In the field, I will get up close and personal with plants, rocks, ice, etcetera to show the intricacies of these things. These miniature landscapes can be as fascinating as their larger counterparts. Many people never stop to consider all the small parts that go into making the whole. As an example, an area of moss covered ground, when viewed up close, resembles a forest of coniferous trees or some type of alien world where you would expect some creature to ramble out of the shadows. Capturing ice formations and crystallizations is another favourite of mine because you usually only have a very short amount of time to do so before the frost melts or before the weather changes and these formations are lost.

The photos that are “engineered” in the lab are sometimes conceptualized before starting, sometimes they occur more organically, but both ways never turn out exactly how you would think they would. When photographing water droplets and movement, I will change the height from which the drops fall, the viscosity of the drops and the liquid into which drops fall, and/or the movement of the water in the catch receptacle. The transparency of the liquids, the coloured pigments used, and the angle and distance from the subject at which I place my camera can change the outcome of the photographs. Photographing water drops and bubbles can be fun and frustrating all at the same time. Capturing a splash or a breaking bubble that happens at a fraction of a second is difficult but when you do get it, it is exhilarating; to catch the changing prism of colour that dances over the surface of bubble is like magic.