Ventura Breeze

WAV artist: Jacqueline Woods
Photographer Jacqueline Woods poses next to her recent exhibit entitled “Nine Standing Women,” developed from a photographic process that dates back to 1839.

WĀV Artist Interviews: Jacqueline Woods

By Tim Pompey

Jacqueline Woods describes herself as a “conceptual artist still practicing in the traditional photographic processes.” In lay terms, she lives, works, and creates photographs the old-fashioned way: in a dark room with paper, water, and the alchemy of light. By using what’s termed a “paper negative,” she traces her technique back to the infancy of photography, before film was even invented.

Her fascination with the camera, which began in a high school photo class, has blossomed into a  thirty-year passion. Since graduating with a B.S. in Applied Art and Design from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1988, she has worked as a photographer, a custom picture framer, and an archivist for photo collections. Her work is held in museums, corporate, and private collections.

Woods considers traditional photography to be a “supernatural” medium—a complex combination of magic and chemistry. “I have a deep respect for the genius of photography and its power of representation,” she says. “My work explores memory and identity, both personal and collective.” The experience of making hand-made prints is quite meditative. As she describes it: “When I’m in the dark room, I’m transported to another realm.”

Her current exhibit, “Standing Women,” transforms found photographs of anonymous women using paper negatives. After five years on this project, Woods has a personal connection to each woman. “I want to keep them all safe,” she says, “and preserve them because this is proof that each of the women, now dead, once existed.”

Illustrating these women is Woods’ way of capturing and holding onto their past, recognizing their contribution, perhaps even documenting her own. “For one instant, when the shutter opens” she says, “they’re floating forever in this emulsion.”

For more information about Woods photography, e-mail her at

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