Seductive and rich, mysterious and ethereal. Images to sink into and wallow in, like the softness of a half-awake dream. A blanket of solitude. I can’t get enough. There is something of the Mark Rothko about these images – bands of blurred colour, little details to contemplate. Intended to be viewed LARGE. Such are the photographs by Nadine Boyd, the person behind Walter Helena Photography.
For all their expansiveness and seductiveness, collecting these images is only part of Nadine’s life. In another part, she works in industrial design, and used to work in publishing. Although perhaps it may be different one day. “I like to imagine a day when my career might solely be my photography, but presently I like the diversion of interests – conscious focus in different directions can add to the creative soul rather than take away from it.”
She started Walter Helena Photography [WHP] in 2009 but had loved photography for a long time before that. “My parents are both talented home photographers. I have a black and white print of ducklings taken by my mother when she was young; she gave it to me when I was also young. Her pride in that image and that she kept it all those years adds a special patina where meaning and history have more to do with my enjoyment of it than the actual image itself. I think all art is like this – you find something in it for you and you alone and it becomes bigger than ever intended.
“My family home was always a free space to interact creatively. We had no television and little money – the best tools to an inventive and wholesome upbringing. My mother made watercolour cards and dyed silk scarves next to jars of sprouts in the sink. My father would endlessly doodle cartoons for us on post-it notes during family meals and later took up soap stone carving. Their home fireplace mantel is filled with a veritable parade of abstract beasts, smooth and shining with their oiled stone.”
Nadine’s images are not organised, but appear to her by chance, and are collected. But there is great care taken in the collection of them, and in their preparation for distribution once collected. She says of her working method, “It is not at all distilled. Perhaps some people thrive within their creativity by organizing it, but I am quite the opposite. I see chance and dreaming and opportunity within the unexpected. So I suppose my method would be to remain as uncontrived as possible. And there is always more to do (or not do) to that end.
“I try to remove expectation when I am out shooting. When there is little expectation, it is hard to be disappointed in an experience that goes awry. Artistically, diverted paths are what I look for. Only in the undiscovered can you learn. And for me, learning and expanding is where my desire in creating is based.
“On the technical side, I seek perfection in all post-processing. I want to ensure that my vision is received by my clients in the most flawless way so that nothing interrupts the interpretation of my work. The quality in this area is vital to how my work is represented. But perfection leaves room for frustration. I have learned to diminish my frustration by taking great care with each detail of the process. That includes everything from my relationship to my off-site printer, my understanding of the computer programs I use, how different paper stocks react to ink long-term, how I ship my work, the speed in which I collaborate and communicate. In a word: to be an authentic professional with quality and heart.”
Her worst experience? “There have been small bumps along the way, but I have left room to learn. I believe strongly that a business gains life-long clients through customer care – and this care is no better shown than in mending an unfortunate situation. For instance, I had a client who received a print with a corner damaged from shipping. She happened to be an art caretaker at a museum and offered me advice on how they ship antique pieces. I learned from her, sent her a new print using her shipping technique, and thanked her profusely. The best way to move through rough patches and progress forwards is to put ego aside.”
It is this kind of feedback that has also been the most wonderful part of the business for her. “Positive communication and response from clients is one of the most invigorating experiences I have known. And it enlivens me right back outdoors with camera in hand.”
With thanks to Nadine for sharing her words and images.