ode boutique

Artist Interview

Joanna Chattman

July 11, 2014

Joanna Chattman is EVERYTHING. Fashion, art, beauty, and heart. Ode's best friend and ever-Muse. She seeks out, inhabits, and creates worlds in which we all want to exist--dreamy places suffused with light. There's a wilderness to Jo. She'll wrangle frogs, set fire to foliage, stand knee-deep in a snowdrift or bog, all for a chance to capture the perfect moment. Her body of work is the quintessential ode: it is a celebration full of reverence and wonderment for the living world. We're so excited to be carrying exclusive prints and posters from her on-going Wilderness Series. Meet Jo (and follow her adventures at http://instagram.com/jochat). 

What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty can be so many things...a certain quality of light, how a person carries themselves and treats others, a good story. In the literal sense I would say I find children, nature and animals the most captivating and fascinating. I love scars, moles, freckles, a wild mop of hair, wrinkles, and wild eyebrows. 

What album are you playing on repeat this summer?
Tennis or anything by Otis Redding - I like a lot of Motown artists. The other day I heard Little Bitty Pretty One on the car radio, and it's about the happiest song I know...it's impossible to to not be in a good mood while listening to it.

What face would you love to photograph? 
As far as famous people go…I love Bridgette Bardot’s face, and also probably Grace Kelly. For a guy, Robert Mitchum or Elvis.

You’re ever-adventuring around Western Mass. What are your top 5 places to go?  
1. All along Route 2 heading into the mountains and just a little past North Adams there’s lots of lush hillsides and pretty little foot paths that you can easily find.
2. If you go down along Plain Rd. in Greenfield and keep going until it turns into a dirt road  along the river,  there’s so many good river lagoons and swim spots there and the light is always  beautiful.
3. I love Warner Farm for the best strawberry picking and Quonquont Farm for apple and blueberry picking. The strawberries are so beautiful I feel bad eating them and Quonquont Farm is always inspiring to wander around in the orchards with my camera.  
4. The Quabbin Resevoir has many beautiful spots, impossible to pick just one.
5. Goulds Sugar Shack is a rustic cabin that reminds of my log cabin in Idaho so I always love going there...and it has the best pancakes.  I try to take everyone that visits me there if they’re open.
6. The Natural Bridge in North Adams is a place our family wandered into last summer and it’s very cool to wander though.  Lots of textured stone, wooden walkways, caverns, and waterfalls...reminded me of the tv show Lost a bit.
7. The Bookmill is also a favorite.

Gould's Sugar Shack

What’s the perfect time of day?
I love the early morning when it’s all misty and foggy and the evening when the light turns a little blue.  Or right after a huge summer storm when the light is silvery and soft.

Who/what are your muses?
All of the Ode ladies of course!  My first muse was my little sister Julie. I think she was 12 and I was 16 when we started our photo shoot projects.   She has always enthusiastically let me rope her into any crazy photo shoot idea that I’ve had...like going in freezing water for an Opehlia shoot, venturing into a field of skunk cabbage, or posing in her backyard with a hundred of her horses from her Breyer collection. She’s always been up for being dressed up and going someplace on an adventure with me and she has the best hair of anyone I know...like one of the girls in a John Waterhouse painting. So I think I’m always looking for that sort of  spirit and feeling of comradery in my muses. More than a few of my favorite muses are animals.  

What’s your spirit animal and why?
I keep getting the butterfly as my spirit animal whenever I take a quiz. Agh!!!! Why can’t I be the tiger?

Photo of a collection of butterfly wings via Joanna's Instagram feed. 

What’s the driving force behind your art?
I think photography was a form of escapism for me when I was young and still is to some point.  More recently though I feel I get to connect with so many different parts of the world in a somewhat random fashion and I really love that. I love all the worlds I get invited to come into.  One day I’ll be photographing for an interior designer in some Connecticut mansion and the next day I’ll be covered in mud and burrs out in a field scouting a location for an Ode shoot. Also photography can help people see themselves differently, and that’s a powerful thing.  

Can you show us a photo of something that inspires you and why? 
These are two of Sally Mann's images. She is pretty much my idol. This just reminds me so much of my best childhood memories which often had to do with jumping in rivers from a tree.

The second image is just so other wordly and dreamy.  It has such richness and depth, almost like a 3D image.  I would just like to wander inside her pictures as a little figure.










This just reminds me so much of my best childhood memories which often had to do with jumping  in rivers from a tree.  The second image is just so other wordly and dreamy.  It has such richness and depth, almost like a 3D image.  I would just like to wander inside her pictures as a little figure.

You ALWAYS smell good. What would your eponymous perfume smell like?
Smell is so powerful to me.  Did you know that photographers tend to smell everything? I pick up everything and the first thing I do is smell it. I tend to go by season as far as scent. In the summer I like the Kai scent or on hot, dry, sunny days I like Tom Dao by Diptyque, in the fall I like Burberry Brit, in the winter I usually wear Hermes merveilles, and in spring I like Jo Malone Fressia and Pear. I also really love the Portland General Store Whiskey aftershave scent. I steal it from my husband and put a dab on my wrists. It smells woodsy and amazing!

You can have dinner with 5 people—from any time/place—who would they be?
John Bellairs one of my favorite writers from when I was young, Edward Gorey because we could both wear amazing big fur coats at either end of a long dining table, my grandmother, Marie Antoinette, and Hildegard of Bingen.

What’s your death-row meal?  
An amazing wedge salad and a steak.

What’s the best part of the body to photograph?  
Impossible to pick.  Depends entirely on who it is!!!

Joanna's sister, Julie.

How would one take the perfect selfie?
Ahhh.  Some of the best portrait light can often be found right under an overhang or door way so there’s soft shade light and the light can kind of fall off on the sides of your face.  An open garage that’s dark inside  or doorway can work well.  Or if you face away from the sun and are backlit, you’ll have a heavenly glow with soft light. A slightly above angle is flattering on most people. Knowing your angles helps as well! You’ll probably still have to take a million before you get one good one, so don’t be discouraged it takes more than a few tries.

If you were a piece of clothing, what would it be?
A Payal Luthra cashmere scarf. It’s so comfy and soft! I have one and I wear it everyday when it’s cold and it looks amazing with everything. I never tire of it.

Guilty pleasure(s)?
Prop shopping for future shoots. Examples: I might never need this bag of 500 pheasant feathers, but I think I should get it just in case. Do I really need a golden bow and arrow? In the cart! Even though I have a million chairs in my house I really need this peacock chair from the 70’s….It’s more under control than it used to be. I also have a weakness for beautiful cofffee table books.  

Whose wedding would you pay to photograph?
Daenerys and Khal Drogo is the ONLY wedding I would consider.

Describe your perfect day: 
Sleeping late with the dogs and my husband, having my son jump on us, going out to the Brass Buckle for a late breakfast, puttering around the garden with the dogs, going swimming in a lake or river nearby, taking pictures with a girlfriend, going out for a cocktail, taking  a bath and then getting into bed with the windows open on a 68 degree, breezy night.