Florida based photographer Twyla Jones is guided by moments in life that really speak to her, creating images that resonate with others. Twyla made her transition working as a Biologist at a Pathology Lab to a full time photographer. She decided photography was what she wanted to do when she started documenting moments with her own children. Twyla’s work is both honest and surreal to me; it evokes emotions that hit you deep down and leave an imprint.
Twyla will be speaking at at Choo Choo Camp this October, 10 - 13th 2016, in NYC! If you want to hear her speak, sign up and confirm your ticket here.
1. What do making images mean to you?
I’m choosing the moments in life that really speak to me that I want to live on. Moments I feel are so powerful they deserve to be felt again. More often than not these moments are originating from embraces, glances, fleeting moments that have never been photographed but that I’ve experienced and feel compelled to share.
2. What is life to you? What it should be?
Life to me is pursuing what it is that makes me feel like I am living. For me this is being with my children and watching as they discover new amazing things every day. This is also the pursuit of adventure and beauty through all living things. Creating images that speak to me and seeing them resonate with someone else is incredibly fulfilling.
3. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
I honestly just stumbled into it. I have a degree in Human Biology and have been working at a Pathology Lab in my hometown for ages. As long as I can remember I’ve had some type of camera in my hand attempting to record the events around me. Once my children were born I finally decided to get serious and have some say in how my images looked beyond what i was seeing in the frame. After a few months a friend asked me to photograph her son and I’ve just said yes to everything since that day. I have been so fortunate to receive some incredible support from my family and friends, without which I could not have obsessively taken on this craft.
4. How much is your family an influence on the way you view life, see things?
In absolutely every single way. I’ve always kind of felt like I was still living in my little kid head (something my mother nurtured incredibly well) so it’s a pleasure having my little boys to share things with. I’m still fascinated by bugs and berries and anything under a rock. There is something so powerful that happens after you have children and every embrace and tug and plea seems incredibly precious and I think I have a heightened awareness of that now.
5. Are you creativity satisfied at the moment?
Incredibly. I’ve found that shooting for myself has been the best thing I have done in my photographic journey, better than any holdfast or preset even. There is something so freeing about getting as weird as you want and having the courage to shoot in new kinds of light and settings.
6. What music are you listening to?
The dreamiest of dreamy music, haha. My favourite at the moment is GAPS - I know it’s you but i also listen to a lot of José González, Alt-J, and Bon Iver, with a little Portishead and Flaming Lips mixed in to keep it weird. I like for my images to feel the way this music makes me feel. If you’d like to fall asleep you can find my dreamy playlist on Spotify.
7. Describe your path to what you’re doing now.
I am really trying to listen to what is in my head and heart and I have to remark that sometimes that can be incredibly difficult to do being inundated by such incredible images day in and day out. I think it’s important to let that inspiration just flow through you. Whatever sparked something within you will stay with you and you have to trust that all the right things will be conjured up in a unique way just for you when the moment presents itself.
8. Have you had any mentors along the way?
I actually haven’t really even had any photographer friends until just recently and that is such an incredible thing to finally be a part of. My friend Anne has been an incredible support to me navigating through the world of websites and branding, weird ideas and terrible pictures, amazing brides and whatever you’d like to call the opposite of that, haha. She was brave enough to pick up a camera and second shoot some weddings with me with only a very brief photography lesson from me and she really has been all around amazing. Sometimes just having someone around to tell you you’re not awful when you’re afraid you might be is all you need.
9. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
I had to take a picture to know, it’s the right!
10. Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?
Hopefully doing a lot more of this but in some more amazing places! I want to see and experience everything. I’m dying to share new cultures and experiences with my children. I would like to become more of an asset to the photography community and have something of value to contribute. It can be so difficult pouring yourself into your work and i think it’s incredibly important that we are here for one another and cheering each other on to be better every day. Everyone needs that.
Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
To an extent. I think i can still express emotion with the camera on my phone but to really take you into the moment i just need a lens to take me around 1.8 Of course I have gear I prefer to do this with and that make it a lot easier. My gear of choice at the moment is a nikon d750 and sigma art 35. I have other cameras and lenses but this is really all i want. The freedom i have when i’m not tied down with other lenses and accessories allows me to really focus on the moment. Oh-My-God. I also have to mention the amazing little couch editing desk my fiancé Gary made me. I learned everything I know sitting at this thing while nursing an infant and to this day I’m way more productive editing from a couch than a desk.