About Lisa Wiltse
Current location is Queenstown, New Zealand. Relocating to NYC in APRIL 2012
Lisa Wiltse was born in Weston, Connecticut, USA and graduated from the Art Institute of Boston with a BFA in photography. In 2004 she moved to Sydney, Australia where she worked as a staff photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2008, she decided to pursue her freelance career and in 2009 moved to La Paz, Bolivia. She has traveled extensively, focusing on documenting everyday life in marginalized communities in places such as Bangladesh, Uganda, Philippines, Bolivia, New Zealand and the USA. She is currently a contributor with Getty reportage and based in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Since I was a child I had wanted to pursue social work, however, I changed my focus to photography when I realized that change could be effected through this medium in a powerful way.
Photography is a passport to other worlds. Being a privileged person, I want to understand the life of those less privileged. Being a female I want to try to understand the hardships of women and maternal health. Being a humanist, I want to understand and consequently shine a light on the plight of suffering children. It is this desire to dabble in, to experience and try to understand things other than what I know that informs my work.
I am always seeking stories that are out of the international media spotlight. This commission is important to me as I expand my research into poverty and social issues into the Western world, an often-overlooked topic. It is important for me to highlight such issues because it challenges my own perceptions on how I live and in effect, how we as humans live. The only way for me to gain a greater understanding is to go deeper into all facets of society.
I am primarily a documentary photographer, working in the broad field of social and cultural study, with an emphasis on socially disadvantaged communities and ways of living. Central to my practice are the artistic principals of narrative, emotive resonance and overall aesthetic appeal brought about through the study of light, color and composition. It is from this place that I produce my work, rather than simply through intent to document.
As a documentary photographer, I believe my role is to be fully present, aware and patient. I love to study people and the way they interact with each other and with their environment. I wait for visual narratives and unedited human emotion to unfold.
I thrive on the element of surprise. I try not to go into a situation with a script or visual in my head when I am about to photograph. I will research as much as needed and leave the rest to experience first hand. I try to keep an open mind and allow the story to unfold as I tell it. Photography constantly renews my perspective on the way we live and who we are. This inspiration comes from the vast community of passionate photographers and most importantly from the people whose stories I have the privilege to tell.
I choose my camera equipment according to the possibilities and limitations of the context I am working in. My camera has to fit the project rather than the project fitting the camera. I don’t want to get fixed to any one style: for me, every project brings a new esthetic approach to explore.”
I understand that there is a degree of influence as a photographer but I prefer my stories to unfold naturally without setting up or arranging people. I enjoy the imperfections and spontaneity of letting the situation guide me rather than control things; to keep things natural. I enjoy the challenge. I am not there to rearrange the scene, but to try to capture their life as best I can with as much compassion as I can. Life is perfect in all its imperfections and love playing with all the chaos and subtle simplicity within the frame.
I like to be close with my subjects and focus on longer term stories, all of which are personal. It is so important for me to have my own projects because that is what I am passionate about. The more time you spend on a story the more it evolves, your view changes and you develop a relationship with the subjects. Details emerge, subtle emotions surface.