Fiona Wolf is a professional photographer and award-winning exhibiting artist based in Sydney’s Inner West. In 2009 she established Wolfwerk Photography, offering a range of photography services including family photography, corporate photography and mentoring. From maternity and newborn shoots to family portraits, Fiona loves working with families to capture those beautiful fleeting moments.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a 41-year-old mother to my son Ryder, wife to my husband Sandy and professional photographer. My roots are German Irish, and I was born in Australia. However, when I wasn’t even one year old, my family and I left for Germany, where I grew up.
I have two passions: music and photography. Motherhood has been a very important part of my life and has validated womanhood for me. I have embraced this in my personal work which has been exhibited and part of several art prizes.
What did you do prior to becoming a professional photographer?
I went to school and started my career in Germany. I never had the patience to study long term, though; I am a very pragmatic person and just wanted to be earn a living and be independent. I studied audio engineering for a short time to get into TV in Hamburg. I moved on to become a picture editor for a publishing house, including several magazines, and then a creative manager for Universal Music in Berlin.
What inspired you to become a professional photographer?
While I was working as a picture editor I became very interested in photography. I bought a camera and began taking my own photographs. Over time I developed a romantic idea of becoming a professional photographer but in truth I had no clue what that really meant …
At the age of 29 I made the decision to move to Australia, lured by the sunshine and ocean and driven to try something new. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and in making such a big move, I certainly did that! At the time I was by myself and could live simply while still having a fantastic time.
I began exhibiting my work as an artist photographer then assisted various established commercial photographers from whom I learned so much. I didn’t have a care in the world at the time and was able to really focus on the art of photography.
In 2009 I made the leap to set up my own photography business and haven’t stopped since!
What services do you offer?
I love family photography for a very personal reason: memories. Capturing the moments that will never come back. And this is the essence of photography.
My services include family portraits, maternity and newborn shoots, kids-only sessions, photo books, printing and framing, parents’ photography workshops, professional portraits, small business services for websites and marketing as well as events, such as christenings, birthdays and weddings.
In addition, I still like to exhibit my personal work, teach and coach emerging photographers and undertake commercial jobs.
What can clients expect from your services?
I don’t work with any kind of set formula for my shoots. I like to keep things very relaxed. I am interested in family dynamics and, as a mother myself, understand how to get the most out of kids. I always seek input from my clients; it is a joint effort to choose a location people love and are comfortable with. My style is a mix of formal and editorial, just as you would see in a series in a magazine.
Also I don’t tie people into photography packages that force them into buying products. A lot of the big studios catch you with offering a small price for the shoot but you will not get a photo from it unless you spend a large amount on finished product. I offer digital files and framed prints depending on what you are after.
Have you ever read a book that has changed your perspective in life?
I can highly recommend a book by Rachel Power called The Divided Heart. It’s a must read for any mother who shares her heart with her family and who has a talent or passion.
My first photography inspiration spark came from a book which accompanied the exhibition of Irwin Penn, who is an amazing photographer.
Do you have any advice for mums who are thinking of making a career or lifestyle change?
It’s so important to surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you, and sometimes you need to switch off any negative peer talk.
Also, stop the mothers’ guilt! As mothers, we have evolved. You don’t need to disappear when you have children. Our kids should be inspired by us and to a certain extent they are flexible to come with us and be part of the change. It’s not easy. It can be exhausting. But your child will see you as the person you are.
What is the best advice you have received as a mother?
The most profound piece of advice I have received came from my own mother: ‘Understand that you don’t own a child. You give them the wings so they can fly.’ It’s a tough one as I just want to hold on and cuddle my son forever!
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I have so many! We live right on Enmore Park, so many of our favourite spots are in and around Enmore and Newtown: Petty Cash Café, Two Chaps, Pastizzi Cafe, Cow and Moon, Natalia Rushidi Designs, Swop, Better Read than Dead, Gigi’s, Bloodwood, Tiki Bar or Stanbuli, depending on the mood or time of day. I also really enjoy the Sydney Park bike track, where Ryder can ride his bike and I can do my own skateboarding!
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