"Whether something is alive or dead or crumpled or whole or in bloom is nothing in the face of what does not die. It’s all held in life." Read an interview with Jasmin Lace about her photography, and see a gallery of her recent work.
When you first meet Jasmin Lace she seems shy, briefly meeting your eye with an intelligent gaze, and then ducking behind her mane of light curls. Beneath that there is a deeply sensitive, playful, passionate Aussie, who is not afraid to speak her mind, and stay true to what moves her.
Behind a camera she is equally passionate and determined, and having the lens to look through seems to embolden her. Clear presence and exquisite tenderness are what characterize Jasmin's photography. She has a way of making you see things from a completely fresh perspective – the many shades of grass by the road, the tiny dew drops on a sheet of moss, or the beauty in the curled tail of a dead bee. If you really look at one of her photographs, you'll see something you never expected to see: not just a poppy or a fallen leaf, but a moment of intimate connection, an unwavering commitment to that exact moment in which nothing else exists.
Perhaps because of the saturated skies of her Australian childhood, or her time at art school (although she is entirely self-taught when it comes to photography), Jasmin has a boldness with color and light. She's also not afraid of subjects that might usually be thought less appealing, like the shriveled form of a day-old lily, or the decomposing body of an insect. What's most evident in all of her work is what you get to know in meeting her: an unabashed transmission of love. Not the sappy kind, but the ruthless certainty of a clear, innocent heart.
Interview with Harriet Watson, GF Staff
Harriet: What do you want people to see or receive from your photos?
Jasmin: For me it’s always about the essential, the most potent. It’s about seeing from the heart of love, showing the isness or essence of whatever I am photographing. Anyone can look at a flower for themselves, or a drop of water, or a blade of grass. With most of my nature/macro photography there is just one place in the image that I focus the camera on, and the rest is out of focus. Your eye doesn’t see that way, so I can show you something that you can’t see with your eye. It relaxes the mind, so you can receive the essence of a poppy, or the isness of a blade of grass, rather than the full focus, crisp, botanical image…which can also be very beautiful.
My main interest is sharing the beauty that I experience. I can go into a kind of ecstatic state of almost childlike wonderment just at the summer grasses along the trail I walk. People are walking past, and to them it’s just grass. But there are purple grasses, and pink grasses, and golden grasses, and white grasses. Its just so stunningly beautiful. To be able to get close up to something so that I can show you what is so exquisite, so full of life – that is the reason I take photos.
HW: Recently you have been photographing “dead things.” What attracts you to that?
Jasmin: I don’t necessarily distinguish between dead and alive. Everything is held in life. It may be the dead body of a bird, but it’s just the body that is dead. It is still about the beauty and the essence of life. It is hard to talk about, but that is so moving to me.
We often have an aversion to even looking at something dead. I take pictures of autumn leaves that have fallen off the tree. I don’t see them as dead things. To me the transmission is just as beautiful as when it was on the tree. Beauty is beauty to me, whether the thing is alive, or has just died, or died five days ago, or is on the ground dying now.
Whether something is alive, or dead, or crumpled, or whole, or in bloom is nothing in the face of what does not die. It’s all held in life.
HW: Can you say what beauty is to you?
Jasmin: Beauty truly is in the “I” of the beholder. It is essence meeting itself. When there is no mind, no thought, and you meet the isness of that thing in front of you, amazement and delight are possible. That to me is beauty. The flavor of beauty I share might be particular to me and what I meet in the heart of love, in a flower or a leaf. If it amazes me I have to share it.
I love light. Light is so essential to photography. But darkness is essential too. You have to have both to make an image. But I am always noticing light, wherever I go. There are particular places I go where the light is – different bodies of water, different creeks and streams, places in the park where there is a magic that happens with color and light.
HW: Do you think that the way you see or the things that you capture has evolved?
Jasmin: Yes I think so. The way I see is still full of the same wonderment, but as I understand the technicalities of photography more, I have broadened my subject matter. When I first started digital photography I was chasing sunsets and sticking my camera into the heart of flowers. This lasted for many, many years. I didn’t understand aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. Now I study photography constantly. I think its beneficial to know the technical and historical aspects of whatever it is you are doing, whether it’s painting, or drawing, or photography. To have those basics down helps me in truly being able to create abstract images and to broaden my view as an artist.
There are "rules" in photography. Once you have learned them you can disregard them or use them to push the boundaries. I am always trying to see just how close can my camera get. My lens is only supposed to be able get so close, but how close can I actually get it, and what is the effect of that?
When you get out of the way, that is when the magic happens. I am not even there in those ecstatic moments of taking the image. I merge with the light, the form, the flower, even a still life that is set up on a table. I may have an idea about how it should go, but then I just get out of the way.
HW: There is definitely a recognizable “you-ness” in how you see things that gets transmitted through your photographs. There is a kind of innocence and clarity, that combines precision with knowledge and skill.
Jasmin: Yes, it is that innocence that none of us have lost, that is still there, no matter what has happened to us in our lives, and no matter how damaged we might feel. There is still that innocence, and I do feel that and see it. The purity is in the essence, even in something that is rotting, like the recent image of a day lily I took. They last for one day and die every night. There is as much beauty in the form and color of that as there is in something that is bursting open like a spring blossom.
HW: How does Gangaji's presence in your life inspire your work?
Jasmin: Because of the luck of my upbringing, there was always the encouragement from early childhood to live a poetic, artistic life surrounded by beauty. When I met Gangaji, I gave my whole life to the truth, to satsang, to what I had realized. Seeing the world from the heart of love got amped up in that meeting. That surrender and that givenness essentially inspires my art and my whole life. That is the place I see from and that is all I want to transmit.