francesca and photography


A friend of mine was looking for a unique gift for a wedding present for an ‘artistic person in the movie industry who has everything.”

I had a couple of ideas and one was a fabulous coffee table book of Francesca Woodman’s photography. And I was a little surprised he didn’t know who Francesca Woodman was.

So … here we go (in case you don’t know who she is).

Francesca Woodman committed suicide at 22 (in 1981). She was a photographer. And it would be natural to think at 22 she wouldn’t have produced anything worthwhile let alone had time to realize her full potential <of which she may have not which is scary when you see how good she was>.

She was a very very good photographer. The images she created shows she was able to do things with the camera that can haunts you a little and yet you look at the nuance. Oh. And I believe every woman, young and old, should be familiar with her portfolio of work.  Because of the camera she used it is almost all small photographs <which is kind of interesting>. And pretty much all the photography is dealing with an interesting insight into an ordinary woman perspective into self-esteem and ordinariness. By using different, sometimes strange,  poses she created with women models – including herself – you … well … feel something … which I believe is just about all any photographer ever really wants to create. Regardless … there is a starkness that seems to shine a light into the ordinary woman’s soul. Her photography kind of cracks them open so you can see inside. I love her work.

And within all her photographs there is a beautiful use of architectural space.

Most of her photos were taken in remote gothic like areas or in her own private studio. Here is another blogger who did a really nice overview of her work:

I have always loved the starkness and complexity of thought within a pretty simple photo … and her usage of the space <to me> is what truly differentiated her from an amateur. And the space itself was important to her:

“I am interested in the way people relate to space. The best way to do this to depict their interactions to the boundaries of these spaces.”

Woodman sometimes used models but most of the photos are herself (I hesitate to say self portraits … she had a nice way of using herself simply as a model for the idea she had in her head) … and she usually staged the person interacting in some way with the environment around her.

“Francesca was ashamed that she took so many pictures of herself and irritated by the simplistic self-portrait label attached to her work. She tried using models over and over – but the reality was she was her own best model because she alone knew what she was after.” – Betsy Berne (friend of Woodman)


Her work really does tell what she was after … in my own non-critic experienced eye … a story of a young woman struggling to find herself. In my words … she captures the demons I believe every young woman probably faces in trying to find herself.

Her work brings up a lot of stuff mentally & psychologically.

The web today allows us to get many glimpses of the high school girl mind through tumblr & facebook & now pinterest.

Think of Francesca Woodman as having the ability to take the best of the best through the worldwide web and all by herself … creating a portfolio of beautifully photographed thoughtful images.


As one critic said (Robert Boyd) “…another thing many might feel looking at her work is jealousy. She was producing brilliant photos when she was still in high school.”

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Written by Bruce