Born in the Canadian prairies, Liz Wolfe studied photography at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts in Toronto. Since starting out in 2004, Liz has become known for creating colorful, fantastical worlds out of everyday objects. In 2009, she exhibited her work at the Architecture + Design Museum (Los Angeles), the Gladstone Hotel (Toronto) and Project Basho Gallery (Philadelphia). She has also exhibited at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Pikto Gallery, and other locations in Canada, USA, Portugal and Australia. Liz currently lives in Toronto.
You must get some really fun commissions considering the nature of your work. What are some of the more interesting projects you have been asked to photograph?
‘One of the most amusing projects I’ve done was for Chronicle Books. They commissioned me to shoot an entire book of Peeps-themed recipes and crafts. I had never heard of marshmallow Peeps, I knew nothing about the obsessive Peeps fan culture that exists in America, I had no idea how simultaneously hilarious and surreal life could get.
‘And when I awoke, as if from a nightmare, to find myself crouched on the floor, covered in a stickiness that can not be removed with domestic cleaning products, my arms coated in sugar, my fingers placing a miniature veil ever-so-gently on the head of a marshmallow chick bride, preparing her for her imminent role as one half of a wedding cake topper, I finally understood what people mean when they say you never know where photography will take you’.
How much of your work evolves from experimentation and how much is carefully thought out from the beginning?
‘I only experiment in the pre-production stage, never during shooting. Occasional scenarios have arisen in which I’ve altered elements of the photograph slightly during shooting, but these situations are extremely rare. Typically, everything is sketched out, color-coded, planned in advance. I know exactly what the final photograph is going to look like before I start shooting. And I mean exactly! (Not just because I’m a control freak, but also because I like to shoot on film and I try to keep my shooting ratio as low as possible.)
‘Though I have incredible respect for people who take full advantage of photography’s inherently spontaneous qualities, for me, photography is not a spontaneous medium. It is a recording device and very little else; the most practical way for me to translate the images from my mind into reality’.
A lot of your work is available for sale through your site. What made you decide to sell your work in this way and is this proving to be lucrative?
‘I sell inexpensive open edition prints through my site; it’s not lucrative, but it’s the best way to keep things accessible, so people have an affordable option for purchasing work. It’s important to me, to have photographs for people who would love something for their walls, but have no interest in exclusivity or collecting art in the traditional sense’.
Do you usually work alone or is there also a stylist that you work with?
‘When I’m creating photographs for exhibitions, I usually work alone. When I’m shooting commercial work, I consider it essential (and also very fun) to work with stylists’.