CHARLOTTE J WARD PHOTOGRAPHY
Charlotte J Ward is a photographer who’s work I came across during a holiday in Pantelleria this summer. She is half British half French, and grew up between Lyon and Paris until she moved to the English countryside at 17. I’ve been following her work on instagram and love how her visuals have a journalistic feel with a raw but feminine eye.
Tell us more about yourself Charlotte, and how you came into Photography?
My interest for photography began in my childhood years, during the time spent with my British grandfather – Michael Ward. He was a photographer for the Sunday Times, and I used to love spending afternoons with him in his dark room anytime we went to visit him in the UK.
I shot my first series of photographs at the age of 14, during a family trip to Senegal and Guinea Bissau. I remember feeling fascinated and inspired by the exoticism of life over there – how different it all was from what I was used to. Being able to witness and document it through the lens made me feel at home. My work has grown in this way ever since. After finishing school, I went to London where I graduated from the London College of Communication with a Photography BA (Hons), in June 2014. I’ve been loosely based there ever since, all the while living the life of a nomad, which has not only allowed me to produce more work, but also considerably fed my practice.
Achievements so far?
Some of the projects I feel proudest of so far are the ongoing body of work I have been shooting in India for the past three years, which consists of various series documenting life and traditions in different places around the country – from the tribal communities of Nagaland, to the new age community of Auroville in Tamil Nadu going through the sacred city of Varanasi…
One of my favourite series I shot was on the north-eastern coast of Sri Lanka in February 2016. It shows elderly Nepali Buddhist pilgrims coming out of the ocean after having had their first ever sea bath. I remember them singing with joy, and clapping their hands with excitement on our way there. When we finally arrived, the bravest ones ran straight in, while the others held hands as they slowly approached the ocean. The rest of the group preferred to stay away from the salty waters and started building ‘sand Stupas’ on the beach instead. It was a very touching scene to witness and I couldn’t help but get my camera out to capture them as they came out of the water – after their first dip.
What or who are your greatest inspirations or influences?
My grandfather will always be one of my greatest inspirations in this field. He’s given me the best advice I’ve ever had so far – “never go anywhere without your camera” - simple but crucial. And then of course the world around me, especially when it is exotic, unknown to my senses. So travel is what inspires me most when it comes to photography. That is when I am the most productive, and when the ideas start flowing in.
Most interesting response to your work you have heard so far?
People usually enjoy the rawness and honesty of my photographs – especially the portraits. I hardly, if not at all, edit my photographs and people can feel that quality and most of the time appreciate it. I wish to show the world the way I witness it, without trying to embellish it or make it look fantastical in any kind of way. I see myself and my lens as simple vehicles of the world around me.
What would be a dream shoot for you?
Spending a few months immersed in a community in a country I’ve never been to – photographing and recording people’s lives, experiences, points of views, their environment, their homes... which is what I’m about to do in Brazil soon!
Favourite websites, publications or social media handles you enjoy to follow?
To be very honest I don’t look at websites that much when it comes to seeking inspiration. The world around me is far more stimulating for that. But I occasionally check out :The British Journal of Photography, It’s Nice That, National Geographic reportages and of course the infinite amount of photography/er’s Instagram accounts.
Tell us more at the retreats you organize on Traditional Ceremonies
In the past year I have been developing a relationship with two female students of pajés (shamans) from the Yawanawa indigenous tribe of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest – Asi Rua and Hukena Yawanawa. They have been coming to Europe for the past five years to share their knowledge, healing practices and plant medicines with people across the ocean. This summer I had the honour of organising one of these healing retreats in the UK, and I am now about to travel over to Brazil with them, with the aim to deepen my understanding of their spiritual practices, as well as document them and their people through photography. I will also be helping in the organisation of a ten-day retreat in Mutum – one of the tribe’s villages – during the second half of January.
Asi Rua and Hukena Yawanawa will be back in Europe in the Spring of 2019. ( *For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Anything else you would like to share?
Gratitude for the world around me, for my grandfather and for this opportunity to share a little bit about my work.