In the age of digital images, Spanish photographer Jacqueline Roberts goes over 160 years into the past. She uses a 19th-century photographic process to create hauntingly beautiful portraits of children.
Her artwork is made by using wet plate collodion, the process introduced in 1851. So, her photos aren’t only tangible and immortal, but they also stand out from any modern photographic work. The kids in her images stare right into your soul, and each plate she creates is one of a kind.
Jacqueline has shared a few words about her work with us. She also shares some of her amazing photos, and you’ll find it hard to stop looking at them.
It’s interesting that, in the digital era, a photographer chooses to use an unpredictable photographic process such as wet plate collodion. As Jacqueline points out, collodion’s unique aesthetic produces timeless and ethereal images, and each of the plates is unique.
But the photographer says that, for her, wet plate goes beyond the photographic process itself:
It is a sort of inner journey. A state of mind. In today’s digital world we are swamped with images. If we look back, photographs used to be some of our most prized possessions, treasures that we would save from a house on fire. We are losing the emotional connection with photographs. Most of the images that we take have become meaningless and disposable.
Jacqueline’s wish is to give value to photos again. She wants to make them precious anew, to create something we want to hold, remember and preserve. She feels that engaging the sitter and capturing emotion is essential, and that’s precisely the approach in her photographic work.
Other than capturing pure emotion, the photographer points out that, for her, taking the time is crucial. In other words, she always tends to pause and take the time to create each of her images:
My portraits are about that, time. Time passed. Time elapsed. Time suspended. Time ahead or behind us. The portraits from the series “Nebula” required long exposures which eased the sitters into detaching themselves from their immediate surrounds, as if suspended in time and in space.
Her series “Nebula” features the young who are not children anymore, but they aren’t the adolescents either. The artist wanted to capture the young ones in that unique state of “limbo.” Her goal was to evoke and eternalize the transitional stage that they are going through:
“Nebula”, Latin for mist, reflects on the turmoil of growing up with all its relational, psychological and emotional changes.
For me, “Nebula” is one of those series I just couldn’t stop looking at. It’s a timeless collection that connects the modern age with the photographic past. It doesn’t only capture emotions in the models, but it brings them out in the viewers as well. Finally, I believe the artist has brought back with this series what many of us have lost – the emotional connection with photographs.
About the Artist
Born in Paris in 1969, Spanish photographer Jacqueline Roberts graduated in Political Sciences and worked for international organizations before turning to photography. She works with large format cameras using early photographic processes. Her work has won several awards and has been exhibited in Europe as well as internationally. The Royal Photographic Society recently acquired one of her “Nebula” plates to enter their permanent collection, hosted by the Victorian and Albert Museum in London.
She has published three books; her fourth monograph “Nebula” was released in 2016 by Italian art publisher Damiani, and signed copies can be found here. For more of Jacqueline’s work, make sure to visit her website, follow her on Instagram or connect with her on Facebook.