Heidi Romano • Curator and Photographer, Australia

Full Time Dreamer

Landscape Stories: What movement or artist influenced the most your beginnings? Where can the roots of your work be found?
Heidi Romano: I fell in love with Edward Weston's images and his dedication to a single subject, ie. the bell peppers. His way of capturing beauty appealed and still appeals to my aesthetic.


Landscape Stories: You have some ideas you want realize. How do you develop your project? How do you approach the landscape while working on your project?
Heidi Romano: Until now I have always just followed the whim of an idea. If it held my attention and made my afternoon more pleasurable, took me on adventures and made me discover new things, well... sometimes that was all it took to start a project and follow it through. I love taking photos, most of the times much more so then editing the work, putting it on my website, promoting it and so on. It's funny, in my mind I have these projects and how they could look, along with stories to go with them, but when it comes down to it, I never actually take those images. But at the same time – I have them with me all the time.
Landscape Stories: The use of light is very important. Does the light help to the creation of your project?
Heidi Romano: Light brings it all together. Without good light the best composition would fall flat and look uninspiring. I only work with available light and have learned to be patient... sometimes it all can happen in an afternoon and other times you have to wait for months to get the light you need to make an image work. With Mercury, light literally made me see rain drops in a new way.


Landscape Stories: Why is your attention often turned towards the details?
Heidi Romano: This is a very good question. Even now when I start a project I think I will use a bigger/wider view point, but in the end I seem to get side tracked with detail. I started Murmering roughly 18 months ago. Once again I had in mind how the images would unfold, but the more I worked on the project, the more it came down to a fascination with a single area of sharpness. Natural light + a macro lens can transform the image into something else. I am simply fascinated with the details I discover, and with the way an image can be completely transformed with the tiniest shift of focus. I find it fascinating to see an image transform from something mundane into an abstract, almost unrecognisable shape. Personally I find that more fascinating then the complete view... Like I said – I am trying to get away from details, but something keeps calling me back to simplify and almost find the essence of that subject.


Landscape Stories: How was the idea of Garden of Knowledge born? 
Could you describe this work?
Heidi Romano: This is a little long story... First I photographed a series of seaweed. Strange subject, I know, but again when you look very closely you can transform something like seaweed into an abstract painting, full of form, texture and colour. It didn't matter that it was seaweed, I saw landscapes and mountains lined with bizarre trees. Hills to explore and colours to get close to. So this was in 2006 and then in 2009 I finally followed through on my idea to approach the Herbarium once again to photograph the plants explorers had collected. Again, I was lucky to gain entry to the Melbourne University Herbarium.
I felt very fortunate to be there, with all the archive boxes of plants collected hundreds of years ago. My imagination ran wild with looking through cupboards filled with treasures. I really enjoyed spending time there, and offered to volunteer once a week for 12 weeks, in exchange for me to browse through the collections.
By putting away specimens – used in a lecture, by scientists, or museums, I also learned about their locations, where they were collected and by whom. It made those plants even more interesting collecting the history associated with them.
So while I was putting specimens back into the collections, I photographed some, rummaged through boxes, files and enjoyed the quiet time I had away from my design studio.


Landscape Stories: Could you tell us something more about how Tales Of Light and Unless You Will started?
Heidi Romano: Ohh the conundrum of names... I collect words, put them together and make up titles.
Tales of light started as a website for my photography. I wanted it to be separate from threestones, my design studio, as I never felt I was taken seriously when it was on my design website. Then unless you will was invented and again I thought it needed to stand by itself, otherwise people might get confused... Now I have a problem that I have three websites, but in the end it is me doing all of the work... threestones was always intended to bring art, photography and design together...


Landscape Stories: Can the work you do as a graphic designer and art director be an inspiration for new directions in your own photography?
Heidi Romano: I do not think that being an art director makes me a better photographer, but I think design is an important tool to have, when it comes to the presentation of work. How to communicate, simplify, draw attention to various elements and perhaps to make it more accessible to a larger audience.
Landscape Stories: What has been the last photo book you bought?
Heidi Romano: Being a struggling artist at the moment, I haven't bought a book for myself recently, but bought Camera Obscura by Abelardo Morell for a friend of mine.

Interview by Gianpaolo Arena