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Please introduce yourself – where do you live, what do you do, how should we pronounce your last name, and what is your favorite ice-cream flavor?

Firstly I just wanted to thank you for interviewing me, it is an absolute thrill. I live in Canberra, Australia which is 2 hours from the ski fields, and 2 hours from the beach. In Canberra we get the best of both worlds. My last name is pronounced “you’ll”…which is Dutch and I believe means owl. Though I’m not 100% sure, I think that might account for why there are so many owl ornaments at the in-laws house. I love ice cream ... any will do! Although with these late nights, something with caffeine will do the trick.

I understand that professional photography is a somewhat recent endeavor for you. What did you do in your former life, and how did you make the change to photography?

I started ‘professionally’ taking pics about 2 years ago. It all started because of my photoblog. I was documenting the lives of my littlies and clicking away madly at whatever was in front me. I started to get approached by others to take photographs. It all kind of fell into place for me because I use to work as a child care worker with under 5’s and spent many years training and working within that field. It has been such a great base and I think it has helped me a lot when working with kids today. However, I haven’t always worked with children. Later on, with the internet being all new, I was able to get hold of a position working as a tech support person for an internet provider. I guess that is where I learned how to build a website!

Our BLM theme this month is "worth a thousand words." Every picture tells a story, but so many of your images transcend the subject of the photo. That is to say, they draw the viewer into the story of childhood itself - what do you find most fascinating about childhood?

Oooh you know, I think it’s the kids! They tell terrific stories. I just have to be there to capture it. Kids walk round, touching, feeling, smelling, pulling, tasting, exploring and testing. And they do it with such conviction! There are a thousand little stories to be told in a little ones day … they can’t even stand still for a moment without wiggling. I feel so lucky to photograph them. Really, I feel like I’m privileged to be welcomed into their little lives for a few hours. Kids are so real, gritty and raw. (sounds like high iso film. how’s that for a parallel).

Tell us about your family and their role in your work.

They are everything. Jinky Art wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t started snapping away at my girls. But more so they are my inspiration. My husband has been so supportive of this crazy career of mine. He is a stay at home dad now, and really is the backbone to everything I do.

Where did the name JinkyArt originate?

Jinky is my online ‘persona’ and my husband’s is ‘art’. We met online playing the computer game ‘quake’. I’m hopeless with names, so much so my husband had to name our girls. So when it came time to put together a name for our photoblog, I simply named it after us . . . and the business followed suit.

Your photography is characterized by the use of natural light, brilliant color, and fabulously creative situations. But in my mind, the most unique technical aspect of your work is the extreme crop. We see a set of stocking legs without a body, a headless child wading through a river, and toes, toes, everywhere! How do you ignore the thousand other elements in a scene to capture these amazing details?

There’s something to be said for a kid’s point of view. And I really try to capture that in my photographs. Its not something that I’ve found easily comes to me. My husband told me once that there is a photograph in everything . . . we just have to see it. So, I spend a lot of my time trying to see it and capture things from a different point of view. Sometimes it works… sometimes it’s a disaster.

You only use natural light for your work – there have to be times you wish you had a flash or think “this is terrible light.” Yet in your pictures the lighting is always perfect. Would you share your magic formula?

YES! I’ve considered using a flash many times. The whole bulkiness of it tends to make me steer clear. I wish it was compact and less . . . deer in the headlight. It’s like having a big zoom lens. They are big and obvious. I just started using the Canon L 24-70mm, and I’m convinced it is too big and bulky for kids. They are so much more aware of me and the camera if it has got all these fan-dangle things coming off of it. So, I stick to the old fashioned sunlight. Its fun to find and fun to play with . . . and sometimes I do tend to get carried away with ‘playing with the light’.

I love the simple collage presentation of your images. Why have you chosen to arrange your work in such a way?

Story boards! They are so fun to build. I originally started popping them on my website to help tell the story . . . just like a collage . . . or the storyboards that are put together in the darkroom. They are fun on walls too . . . and really help to put the complete story together.

You recently finished a trip to America. Would you share some highlights from your journey?

I’m still reeling from my trip to America. I had a ball, and can’t wait to return. I think the highlight was that while I was traveling around doing sessions, I had the opportunity to photograph and meet so many fantastic photographers along the way. It was such a blast. We of course did Disneyland and all the touristy things. Oooh ‘The Tower of Terror’ at the new California Park. Ooh man. That was GREAT and unexpected. If you're in the near area and haven’t been on that ride, it’s a must.

Who are your photographic influences?

Where do I start. Well, I think first, I get inspired by photobloggers every day. Every single day they blow me away. Photoblogs.org is truly one of the most real and inspiring places on the net to me. Photographers from all walks of life and from all over the world. Amazing. I also follow a lot of wedding photographer’s blogs, and other child photographers. I do have the standard big name influences, however I find that more than anything I love spending my down time surfing around and looking at all the talented stuff going on out there on the net.

A photograph contains the vision, personality, and style of the photographer. Consequently, I picture you living in a sort of neverland - a dream-world of beauty, color, and endless childhood. Is this true?

I had to giggle because my husband often tells me I’m in ‘la la land’… does that count? But really my house is in a constant state of dismay. Apart from the usual kids mess, there’s now the business mess as my lounge room is my office. It would be nice if it were neverland’ish’ … wouldn’t it. Though, I must admit that having kids is great as it fills our house with giggles and troubles all day long.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

When I was 4 years old I ran away from home. I went next door and stole all the gnomes from their garden. I decided there were far too many for me alone and started knocking on all the doors of my neighbors and handed them out to anyone who had kids. My mum told me that after I had handed those out, I went to my brother’s room and took his toy soldiers and proceeded to hand those out as well. I remember the gnome part, but not the toy soldier part.

I have a cute little girl, and of course I would love to take some unique pictures of her. Would you offer me several tips on how to create great photographic moments, Jinky-style?

Have fun and enjoy her every tiny moment. I really find that I get my most fav pics when I’m just hanging out and having fun. Kids are so ridiculously silly, and fantastically creative… just standing by and being ready does the trick.

Thank you so much Barb! Is there anything you would like to say to your fans? Fans?! Wowee ... thank you!!!!! And thank you for interviewing me!

Barb Uil is an Australian photographer whose passion for photos and love of children has blossomed into a professional career. She has been mentioned in numerous publications, including Family Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald. You can visit her online at: www.jinkyart.com.

© All photos and articles retain the copyright of the contributing artist. Everything else is copyright Bending Light Magazine 2006. No text or image from Bending Light Magazine may be used without written permission.