Jane Olin has lived and worked as a photographer in California’s Monterey Bay area for over twenty-five years. She brought her full attention to photography after creating a successful business with her husband and raising her children. Living at the epicenter for the West Coast photography movement, she learned the skills of straight photography and the tenets of the historic Group f/64 from the assistants and students of Ansel Adams. She participated in workshops with prestigious photographers including Ruth Bernhard, John Sexton, Joyce Tenneson, Brian Taylor, Martha Casanave, Holly Roberts, and Christopher James, which enriched and broadened her perspective.
Olin’s childhood years were spent in Steilacoom, a tranquil village overlooking Puget Sound in Washington State. Her introduction to photography came in high school where she fell in love with the darkroom experience. To her regret she did not pursue an arts education and it was many years before she rediscovered her passion for photography. During the interval she traveled widely for business. Japan, of all countries she visited, had the most profound impact, and its aesthetics and its Zen Buddhism resonated deeply with her. The cultural emphasis on beauty found in nature, and in simplicity, in the imperfect, the transient, and the values of grace and subtlety suited her own. She maintains a mindfulness practice today, and present moment awareness is imbedded in her photographic process.
Although some of Olin’s early work was influenced by straight photography, she has developed a distinctly personal vision. Her photographs originate from internal questioning and personal experience, and rely often on intuition. She works in series of related images, a method that allows for extended explorations of her subject.
An adventurer, Olin continues to push conventional boundaries in both the camera and the darkroom. In two earlier bodies of work, Greta and Thirteen Crows, her ingenious handling of the pinhole camera and darkroom enlarger challenged traditional expectations of focus and exposure, to enhance mystery and tension in her images. Her first series of abstractions, Site Sight Unseen, came about due to an unfixed print mistakenly abandoned in the darkroom sink. When rediscovered, its unexpected beauty prompted a new way of working, in which process rather than a preconceived idea took precedence. Pushing the boundaries of analog photography, Olin purposely pours, sprays, and drips chemicals onto her exposed gelatin silver paper, manipulating and closely monitoring changing effects with an alchemist’s attention to detail. These one of a kind silver gelatin images are enlarged and printed using the digital process. Olin continues to innovate in this vein, experimenting with new subjects and approaches and processing images with her distinctive progression of steps, as in her recent series Intimate Conversation.
Jane Olin has actively exhibited her photography for many years, and is the recipient of numerous jurors’ awards, including a first place from Roy DeCarava in the Juried Photography Exhibition at Pen and Brush Gallery in New York. Her series Site Sight Unseen was featured in a two-person exhibition at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA in January 2016. In 2018, the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, CA hosted Beyond My Reasonable Self a solo exhibition featuring the series Site Sight Unseen and Intimate Conversation. Also in 2018 new work from Intimate Conversation was highlighted in The Ethereal Zone at the Monterey Museum of Art in Monterey, CA, which also included the work of the five other member artists of Salon Jane, the photography collective she founded