Through a lens, brightly – The Reporter
Local photographer Jodi Webber doesn’t travel as much anymore.
The 45-year-old Suisun City resident loves travel photography, some of which will be on display at the Solano Town Center Gallery beginning Wednesday. But since she and her husband, Adam, had their two boys, Sterling, age 7, and Preston, age 4, their lives have changed dramatically.
Both boys have autism. Sterling also has two congenital heart defects and has had three open-heart surgeries.
“He’s a tough little dude,” she said of Sterling. “After he was born, one of us had to quit our job because special needs daycare costs more than we both made together before taxes. I had way better healthcare coverage, so Adam had to become a stay-at-home dad.”
Jodi has worked for Kaiser for almost 25 years as an ophthalmic technician, the imaging of eyes.
“It was really rough for the first couple of years,” she said of the time after Sterling was born. “My son was immune-compromised so we couldn’t leave the house. We lived in a bubble for about two years. It was a huge adjustment to go from two incomes down to one. But now that we’d adjusted to that it’s not too bad.
“With two kids I don’t travel anywhere as much as I did before I got married. I used to go one to two places a year that I’ve never been. And now I end up going about every two years, smaller trips around California.”
She has combined vacations with her love of photography to take pictures throughout Europe and the United Kingdom, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, both coasts of the United States and many other destinations.
“I love to travel around the world and take photos of things that I’ve only seen in movies or in pictures,” she said.
She gravitates toward flowers and water.
“I love to take pictures of flowers and I also have a weakness for water in general,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it is waterfalls, lakes, streams, puddles. I tend to really have a thing for water as well.”
Travel, water, flowers — all those elements will be on display in her show at Solano Town Center.
“It really started with going camping as a family,” said Weber of her photography. “We’d go for Father’s Day every year to Yosemite for a week. It was my mom’s whole side of the family with all my cousins. There are only so many years you can go before you start finding ways to entertain yourself. Back in those days, my cousins and I were basically allowed to just run wild all around the valley. So we would hop on the bus, go over to Curry Village, and I’d always wander through the Ansel Adams gallery. When I got my first camera, I would go and find a particular photo, and I would try to find the exact spot he was standing and take the photo.”
She got her first camera when she was 12.
“It was a 35mm and it was basically one step up from a disposable camera,” Webber recalled. “It had a flash that you had to charge up with a battery. It had a manual wind and in order to use the zoom lens you had to flip down a magnifying glass into the camera. It came with a four-page little pamphlet on how to take pictures. So that was my intro to photography, this very basic camera and a very basic pamphlet.”
Webber is completely self-taught as a photographer. She didn’t take her first photography class until last year after buying a DSLR camera the year before.
“Basically all I learned was a bunch of vocabulary because I had already figured out a lot of the stuff by just playing around with different things (on her new camera),” she said. “I had an SLR camera before but it was film and it was from the 50s and it weighed a ton. I could probably run that thing over with my car and it would still work. But it’s just way too stinking heavy to carry around and still be functional.”
The only other classes she has taken since have been those that give her access before regular hours to places like the Sacramento Zoo. Preston loves animals and Jodi frequently takes pictures there for him to post on his bedroom wall.
She got two art certificates in high school and in college was a biology major with a minor in art. She has knowledge of ocular anatomy and physiology, which helps her in her job, where she takes photos of the patients’ eyes so that the doctors can share with them immediately any problems that the images reveal. She said that with digital advances, her job has become somewhat routine, which is why she so enjoys her creative photography on the side.
“The first trip I took I went to Europe,” she remembered. “I really wanted to see a lot of the artwork that I had only seen in books. They had just got done renovating the Sistine Chapel and opened it back up. In person it was a million times more amazing than I had ever seen in pictures because all of the layers of grime from the smoke from the candles was off. It was so much brighter and more vibrant than I’d ever imagined.”
She said she tends to do her photography according to what mood she is in.
“Sometimes I set out and explore a new area,” she explained. “I’ll take a road that I’ve never taken before or I’ll go to a city I’ve never been to before. Or I’ll go on a hike, usually to a waterfall or lake, and I’ll have ideas in mind of what I want to do. And then if I see other things on the way there, I’ll go with it.”
Her photographs have appeared not only locally but in exhibits worldwide.
She hopes to travel to Joshua Tree National Park in the fall as well as to the Sierras for the autumn colors. She is hoping to photograph the Northern Lights in February but has to wait and see whether COVID-19 will disrupt her plans.
In the meantime, you can view her work at the Solano Town Center exhibit, which will also feature an “Electric Words” show by members of the Fairfield-Suisun City Visual Arts Association (FSVAA)
What are electric words in art? Visual representations of something shocking, according to Dennis Ariza, FSVAA president and gallery director. It could be something current based on words like COVID, election, Trump, Black Lives Matter, death, protest, lies, mask, freedom, six feet, money, crash and fraud.
The show premieres at 11 a.m. Wednesday and ends August 22.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m.
The exhibit is free to the public.
For more information, visit www.fsvaa.com or call Dennis Ariza at 688-8889.
You can see more of Jodi Webber’s work at www.jodiwebberphotography.com.
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