vicky slater – colourblind

[slidepress gallery=’vickyslater_colourblind’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls


Vicky Slater


play this essay


Alain de Botton wrote…..”Portraits can reveal sides of yourself that you are unused to seeing, over which you haven’t extended ownership….they can pick up on features that you don’t identify with and made no claim over….aspects of yourself that you don’t recognize and haven’t yet made friends with. Your character can be read from different angles, in different lights, through different lenses, through different lovers.”

It could explain why I can take a portrait of someone and think they look beautiful whilst they wrinkle up their nose and say it looks nothing like them. It could also explain some of my feelings about these photographs.

When I began this series it was simply an exploration of pinhole photography, something I hadn’t tried before. I soon found myself seduced by the saturated colours and the painterly qualities that pinholes could produce, all the time turning the camera on myself as  I was reluctant to ask someone else to give the amount of time that these pictures require. Obviously not being able to see through the lens, I couldn’t compose these long exposures so never really knew what I was going to get and there are many, many more failures than successes, especially as I am deliberately moving slightly during the exposure, to express a feeling of time and motion. And though I find it interesting how unfamiliar the images are to me, they are a “me” I don’t know…  it’s the colour, the abstractness and sense of passing time that keeps me making more.



Vicky Slater resides in Salisbury, Southern England with her husband and three children. She is passionate about photography, using mainly vintage film cameras and natural light. Whilst she loves all methods from pinholes to polaroids and digital to darkroom, she always finds herself returning to colour film and a medium format camera. Vicky is interested in the passing of time, memory, simple beauty and honesty, and has a headful of projects that she wishes to pursue, given the opportunity. She has had one solo portrait exhibition and contributed to many others. Her work has been published in various books and magazines, is part of many private collections, and has been merited with Fujifilm distinctions awards.


Related links

Vicky Slater


Editor’s note:

Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

54 Responses to “vicky slater – colourblind”

  • Really beautiful pictures I particularly like 6 and 9.

  • yes, very beautiful work, your links are wonderful too…

    Best, audrey

  • As an experimental work i think its fantastic that you are doing this.
    I dont think an interweb presentation is ever going to be able to justify a set like this though. Okay maybe if you are hooked up to a 40inch vertical plasma screen then maybe, but most of us aint. I imagine the natural place for this work is in large well mounted and framed prints, and thats the setting I would most like to see it. there I think it could well sing, here it shows glimpses only of what it might hold.


  • Sexy…sweet…soft…painting-like…lovely…

  • Vicky;

    I really liked this set of images; especially their soft almost surreal renderings. However I felt that images 7, 16 and 20 broke up the flow and mood for me. To me they seemed harsher than the rest? Maybe it’s just me though? :-)

    Congratulations on being published here!

  • Thanks chaps, I really wasn’t sure how this would be received here so thanks for your feedback.

    John Gladdy, I think you’re right, the internet isn’t the intended medium but it gives an idea of them.

    Ross, hands up, I really struggled with the edit and probably should have asked for some impartial help, it’s something I’ve already learnt from doing this.

  • Beautiful work Vicky! I love the watercolor quality and the mood that these images convey. I think you should’ve picked between #2, #8, #13- they give me the same feeling. #14 is my absolute favorite.

  • Vicky, There is something that strikes me as being both sensitive and a little timid and shy in your work, even as it is simultaneously courageous.

    You are a true artist.

    I love electronic media, yet in this case I badly wanted to see paper, and feel the texture of it.

    Maybe you will wind up in Aperture Magazine one day, too. I don’t see why not.

    Your website and blog is wonderful.


  • Our faces and our bodies are contortions, distortions, carriers of both time and ellusive thought and that arrangement is, for me as a photographer, the most extraordinary and most interesting subjuct: the Question of our faces and the question of our bodies, for they are vessels housing and harboring and hiding the ‘me’ contain in the architecture of the ‘i’….they escape us, much as we escape our real selves, our real sheltered, shuttled breathing….

    What i love about your work vicky is it’s comfort and acceptance and perserverance with that question: what is the me of the i from which i am made. I (no surprise) the abstract and watery quality of these forms and faces; i love (no surprise) the brilliant colors as they shift and shape: part francis bacon, part susan rothenberg, part luc tymans, part child’s pastel dream….and i too LOVE using pin-hole cameras and incorporate them in my own work as a kind of harbinger of things….a kind of re-working of the specificities of ordinary, operating cameras: the slips and the slacking…

    i certainly love the tension between the more recognizable pictures (which look merely like out of focus med format shots) and total distortion, from the long exposure and the imperfect aperature of a pin-hole…it is that ‘game’ that ‘tension’ between the two that is so wonderful to watch…

    as john g wrote, this kind of work begs to be seen in print, with all those colors washing over the texture of the printed page/printed material….as a photographer who loves texture, it would be a delicious thing to see indeed….

    beautifully realized project and if you can affort them, print them large :))))….that’s alot of beautiful color and beauty for the viewer to swim in…

    collectively, they have the same effect as looking at Rothko…and that’s a delicious and supreme state to me in :))))

    beautiful work…thanks for sharing….

    congratulations vicky


  • definitely nice work!
    20 & 22 are my favorits.
    also very nice photograps on your web.
    un saludo

  • Vicky,
    I’m generally not a big fan of the out of focus look, but this is stunning work.
    Insane color and form.

  • I love this series.
    It is so different. …and I guess this is why it is called painting with light.
    Your pictures are like paintings…
    I’d like to see them as John described them. Big. Huge .. showing off their true potential.
    Thanks for showing them to us. (and congrats to show them here)


  • The use of some form of “expressionist lens” (or in fact NO lens) is no doubt a vital tool to present one’s unique vision. Taking a photograph is a choice to record an event staged in front of the camera (the light, the set, the “actors”). There’s little sense of “reality” in an image. Sight is an “interpretation” based on various factors – that is perception. Everything is a choice, or a point of view. That is the potential story. There is no such thing as an impartial image (?) – A snapshot? Or an accident?

    Using a retro technology is sometimes as leap forward in the process of creating images. I feel this is the case, although not a breakthrough. Taking advantage of the other end of the focus, punches up a real effect on your images. Out of focus is a basic characteristic of photography, as is motion blur, or (even) sharpness. Retro processes also bring out the original Magic of photography. Sharpness has little to do with that Magic.

    Interesting work. Thanks.

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    March 8 is/was international women’s day; this work is a remarkable ode and celebration. Lovely and deeply satisfying work. So many fine images but #16 really resonates……

  • Nice work, Vicky. I think they’d look great in a gallery.

  • bodies…
    red lips…
    womens day,
    oh yes…..

  • I don’t know. I wonder how much of this work relies on the fact that there’s a (partially naked) female body before the camera.. instead of some other subject… I don’t know if I’m put off because of this or because of the repetitions.. nr. 6 and 19 are beautiful..

  • “When I began this series it was simply an exploration”

    These words made me think even stronger of an idea I’ve had for a while (based on a technique), and I want to thank you for inspiring me that way. I prefer the pictures where I can see some familiar shapes, rather than just blurry colors. But I understand that you needed a variation in there somehow (you could include a man in there to get a story going). The essay could work better if it was presented smaller. Maybe the half the size when viewing full screen mode. But I guess it’s easier/quicker to recognize what we’re looking at when it’s smaller, so it’s mostly a question of how you want us to look at your work.

  • i just HAVE ot love pinhole.. knowing the work, trial and error and time invested in each photo.. takes a real interest to develope a series from pinhole..

    well done vicky – i really like the more impressionistic.. the more they only hint at ´form´, the better.
    as an aside – i like your style of portraiture in general.. good stuff.. thanks.


  • alicia, yes…I did realise my mistake and did a new edit at the last minute that included newer pictures and less repetition but left it too late to change over…next time eh :)

    frostfrog, thank you! and maybe one day they’ll end up on paper, i’d like that.

    bob, you’re very kind, thank you!
    you’re right, i do perservere with the same thing for a long time, whether it’s the pinholes or portraits of my daughter or hedges :) i don’t seem to tire of them, there’s always something subtly different everytime you press the shutter though i’m sure it’s mostly only of interest to the photographer ( i’m always expecting people to say ‘oh no, not that again!’)… there’s always better ways to stand or close eyes or the light changes or whatever.
    i don’t want classic perfection, i love all the unexpected things that happen with film and maybe that’s why i’m okay with the digital on the pinholes, there’s so much chance involved.
    i mostly try to keep things simple.

    these kind of followed on from me experimenting with out of focus pictures btw…

    thank you neven and skiwaves.

    thomas, i envy painters :)

    rodolfo, i am at some point hoping to start looking at long exposures on film with a lens to get a similar effect..not so retro though maybe on the old hassy everything is.
    and i do like some sharpness, but not too much :)

    jamie, thanks so much! and michael and wendy!

  • eva, fair enough, it’s agood point.
    the thing is i really love skin and how naked bodies look (regardless of size or shape) they’re just us at our most honest and vulnerable… and i really love colour and blur so it seemed a natural thing to do.
    it’s possible that less people would like it if it was a male nude, i haven’t had the opportunity to try and i do think the softer shape of a woman fits well with the blur…though there are also many in the series where i’m dressed.

    when i first posted these pinholes, in dribs and drabs, i was concerned that it would look like another woman doing nude self portraits to get attention (there’s alot of that on flickr and that’s fine) but i knew that wasn’t what i was doing and i’m okay if that’s all some people can see.
    the technique works because of the complete thing to me, the colour, blur, motion, flesh….i’d like to try horses at some point but this is where i am right now.

    And yes again to the bad choice of repetitions :)

    bjarte, i like it all but i’m more drawn to the simplest pictures possible, just a streak of light, a colour, a hair on a page…i’m still experimenting which is what makes it so much fun and so addictive.
    and your thoughts about size…i guess some i prefer small, some i imagine enormous, i don’t make the pictures with an end in mind but maybe that’s something i should think about.

    david, thank you, i do love the portraiture!

    And please don’t anyone feel restricted to one comment if you want to come back at me….

  • rebel .. without a clause

  • lush, colourful, secretive, art, warm, pleasing,beautiful.
    lovely work here. enjoyed this immensely!
    6 & 13 are wonderful.

  • Nice one Vicky, self exploration,technique exploration with a great result. Done a big C type prints ( iguess you shot on neg) great.



  • Wow, This is very beautiful,
    I think this shows also a typical shyness of the poser (yourself) which renders the all series a gentle multi-facetted portrait of your own within, only through the features of the ‘idea’ of the body and the perception of it.
    Truly original and stimulating.
    Ta Ta

  • I think these – especially the more abstracted images – are very successful, and more so in that they are self portraits (if they all are?) I would love to see these really large in dye transfer and hung in a space where you could get some viewing distance. The last one is also fantastic on another scale, so loaded with narrative!

    Did you make a MF pinhole, or is the camera a ready made?

  • emcd,
    You rock!!!
    Exactly what those pictures need!!

  • the openeing ..shottt … lov it …… cnt gt it out of my head !!

  • Vicky,

    These images are beautiful, sensual, ethereal and courageous. Really wonderful. Destroys the typical notion of of female beauty portrayed in the media. Congratulations.

    All the best,


  • as a study of colour and form, nice. as a study of sharpness, well I guess maybe not :)

    interesting structure, subject, technique, access, blah, blah, so yes it works. may actually be a bit lengthy in the edit / maybe better tightened – i got to about 15 and started clicking next, next, and so forth (could always be my state of mind and ability to take it in).

    bravo you.

  • Sensual, intimate, impressionistic, imaginative, hints of longing, soft, gentle, daring, glimpses given shyly, tender, celebratory, hidden, vulnerable, feminine, flowing, intuitive, original, artful, expressive, painterly.

    These are just a few of the words and phrases that come to mind as I try to express what I see in this work. Vicky, you are making a new path, one that is very much your own. I encourage you to keep delving ever more deeply into the place within yourself out from which these images emerge. This is so much more than an exploration of technique; it is an exploration of the inner core of every person. Yes, they are self portraits but more than that they are all about how we experience life, our own and others’. The fact that the body is your subject — both clothed and unclothed — allows each of us to identify with what is being shown.

    This really is brilliant work and when I see the other portfolios on your website I see that this is just one example of your artistic vision. Regarding the specifics of this edit –isn’t it hard to stand back from your own work to create an edit like this?? — I see #7 and #20 as the start of another portfolio. They make me think more of the Abstract Expressionists than of the French Impressionists that I see reflected in the other images shown here. They deserve their own place in the sun.

    Thank you for daring to do this work and to share it with us here. And yes, I want an autographed copy of the book!


  • Thank you for daring to do this work and to share it with us here. And yes, I want an autographed copy of the book!

    i second Pat…i want one too..:)

  • Vicky :))

    thanks for the link to your outoffocus shots…yes, love them alot…and i also incorporate some out of vocus stuff and pinhole pics too….you might be interested in having a look at the work of a photographer i know here in toronto, who works with historical locations/moments of history, out of focus

    p. elaine sharpe

    the website is incomplete…but u get the idea…


  • vicky,

    these are absolutely stunning! the color, the form, the painterly quality of them…i wanna just keep on looking at these… i would love to see what they look like as prints…huge prints!

    thanks for showing!

  • but Jordan ;)
    cant u see its all out of focus????

    sorry… in a good mood , once again..all of a sudden..
    big hug

  • Dear Vicky. Very impressive work. Makes me think of the soul, of energy, and personality. I’m more fond of the blurrier photographs. As noted above, doing justice to this work probably requires big prints in a gallery, but I loved to see it here on Burn nonetheless.


  • jonathan, thank you!

    ian, these are all digital, i hope to try with film one day though.

    thanks, mimmi :)

    emcd, i used a ready made pinhole cap on a D90. for a while that made it almost seem like it was less genuine because i’m so film based but i’m okay with that now.
    and yes, dye transfer, sounds yummy.

    vivek, good :)

    frank, thanks, and like most people i don’t like being told what shapes are ideal but it can be hard to ignore so i guess this is about acceptance too.

    tommy, i hadn’t thought that i could make it much shorter. somehow i was thinking i had to show bits of it all and that there was an accepted number in an essay/series/selection, but of course there isn’t.
    i’ll remember that if i ever need to put something together again, thank you.

    patricia, you’re lovely!
    that’s just what i want, for it to be universal, for there to be recognition for the viewer, i guess that’s what i look for with other’s art, to understand more.
    thanks very much.

    (book? yes please :)

    bob, thanks for the link, it’s always good to see someone elses way of approaching it.
    (do you have a link to yours also?)

    jordan, thank you!

    :)) @ panos.

    thanks gustav, i feel very honoured to be here!

  • Well Vicky, I think they have real potential. I see a lot of the old Masters in some of these; Leonardo’s sketch’s, Vermeer, Rembrandt. I would only suggest thinking less about colour in some of them , and more about subtle faintly tone and line. I’m not a painter but maybe like a water colourist may think. Or even like someone making an abstract sketch. Hinting. Oh, one other thing might be trying to darken the background sometimes and see how it effects the body of the image.
    Really like this. Such potential. Certainly well worth your effort. Well done Vicky.
    Hope you keep it up.

  • peter,
    the faint tone and line is the hardest to get but i really like’s just very ellusive.

    you may prefer this recent one..

  • Comfy. Intimate. Warm. Welcoming. Womanly. The opposite to everything masculine. That’s why men who love woman will love these images.

  • Vicky…

    i’ve published work around and one of the rare photographers who doesnt have/want a website….as to my work…working on a book…have exhibited in n.american and asia and published…some of the stuff can be found on the web and David and Burn graciously published a short story i did (3 week shoot) on memory/my dad-son/ made specifically for Myson/my dad and David dad and Burn etc called ‘bones of time’…it’s in the archives here..published during the 1st 6 months of Burn, most readers now probably have no idea about that essay..or my work since i dont use links…that’s cool with me :)))…i prefer here to celebrate others than to toot my own horn :))

    on 1 april, i will have a new essay published elsewhere too, so you’ll have to wait for that announcement…and that i’ll be sending david/anton something after that that’s i’ve been working on for burn specifically for last year, post-bones…

    but, there are some pics and information here


  • thanks Vicky. Yes, that dark green really works to my mind.

  • Vicky

    Very nice series but, geez, you gotta get that lens looked at. Something ain’t right :>))

    Seriously, I enjoyed the series but found my personal preference was for those,in the series,
    with more pastel, muted tones-3,9,10,18,and 21. Somehow they seemed more ‘sophisticated.

    Those with the louder colors-,7,14,and 20, just didn’t work as well for me

  • Vicky,

    Congratulations! I’ve loved your work for many years and am happy to see you gaining a wider audience.

    You bring great sensitivity and thoughtfulness to all of your projects. The compelling virtue of this project is that you’ve taken what could be a technique that overwhelms the image into images that are completely transcendent on both emotional and conceptual levels.

    As always, your work is compelling and meaningful.


  • Hi Vicki

    Congratulations on your series.

    Your site is actually on one of my photographer site bookmarks. I love a lot of the work there. Love the greenhouse series especially.

    This stuff is nice, although it is not my favourite thing of yours. Heavily blurred images such as these are appealing for a short time, but dont really have enough meat to sink your teeth into, visually speaking of course :))

  • Thank you, Paul…I find that they’re liked equally by men and women though, possibly because they’re not pictures of idealised women like frank said earlier, it’s all misshapen with use and age :)

    bob, that’s great…powerful work you’ve got there (love the soundtrack) , I’m going to go through it again when I’m not snatching at time.

    mtomalty, i get what you mean about sophisticated….i go from liking muted colours to luminescent greens, I need to learn how to rein myself in.

    mike, you’re always so kind to me and i’ve always really appreciated your support…i still have the first email you sent me tucked away somewhere because i was so thrilled you liked what i was doing.
    thank you again!

    gordon, i feel very flattered :) thank you.
    i need the variety that the pinholes and the portraits give me….it’s people i’m always studying and wanting to photograph but the looseness and solitariness of doing these is a good balance….i’m lucky i don’t have to choose.

  • Hello Vicky

    i am going to go quite a bit against the grain here and, um, tell you that i wish for a bit more honesty in these. i am not opposed to blur, out of focus or really any other mechanism used to produce artistic photography. In fact, i have always held smudgy, indistinct and undefined photos rather close to my heart (as in Antoine D Ágata, for example) But, but…blurry and indistinct photos do not preclude telling the truth and it seems to me you are afraid of the brutal honesty of the lens. And that truth is therefore denied to your viewer.

    As an example of brutal truth in self-portraits i think of Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Her work places us squarely in the mirror of self-revelation with her. Whether it took guts, narcicissm, an altruistic need to tell the story of someone like herself so that we might know and understand, or all of the above, the bottom line is that the result is stop-the-breath-honest. Not stuff i´d hang on my wall but important work that i believe should be required viewing, especially by the young who think those mile-long legs last forever. Patricia took her insides and outsides, splayed them out like a chicken filet and clicked the shutter. You explored a medium, a technique using your own body and the effect is pretty, graphic in a pop art sort of way, fuzzy in an impressionistic painting sort of way, hidden like a dance of the seven veils kind of way, but never even close to honest. So i ask, why? I learn nothing about you from these self-portraits. I just see pleasing blobs of color and shape. And really, i think you could have achieved both beauty and honesty had you just been more courageous. You give me an itch i cannot scratch.

    I agree with Erica that these would look amazing printed huge with richly saturated colors and hung on blazingly white walls with great light. But that would not make this work any more important to me than the way i see them here. I wish, wish, wish that i could see some of those ¨mistakes¨ you mention. I will bet that what you lump in the word mistake is a graphic reality that you are not willing to share with the world.



  • “Honest photography” can be how the photographer looks at the world or how she looks at herself or maybe even how she wants to visualize her own mind… And probably other things… sub-categories with a twist of “this” and a hint of “that”. It can lead to so many definitions.

    So maybe slightly unfair to expect your own definition of “honest” when judging someone elses work?

  • kathleen, you’re saying that if you can’t see the whole truth of something then it’s dishonest?

    this isn’t important work, it’s colourful pinholes,i doubt it’s going to change anyone’s life.
    i try to make pictures i like, that mean something to me, if others find something in them that they can relate to then that’s great but selfishly i’m not considering anyone else whilst i make them, unless others are involved.

    photography is a challenge to me, not because i’m trying to pass on a message or impress anyone, but because i want to see how close i can get to what i feel.
    i don’t need to make public the ‘brutal honesty’ you’d like (though you may find more of what you feel is missing here in my flickr stream)…..these are me experimenting on myself…….i don’t feel the need to expose everything to everyone but i do understand what you’re after, you’ll just need to look somewhere else for it….i generally prefer my honesty mixed with kindness, whether it’s pinholes or portraits.

  • Dear Vicky,
    funny and nice to see you pictures here on Burn. Before I knew about you being published here, I found your flickr gallery by coincidence when I was looking for interesting flickr sets to feature on the Norwegian photography web page (where I am the editor). Please have a look.. I really like your pictures, especially though the very sensitive and tender youth portraits. When I first saw your work, I was sure you were a very young photographer (girl) taking pictures of your friends. I do NOT mean you are not young, he he;-) it is a huge compliment as your style is very playful and you obviously communicate extremely well with the teenagers.
    Please have look at my blog to promote interesting work done by female photographers, we would love it if you want to submit!
    Best, Andrea Gjestvang

  • Andrea,thanks, the portraits are what I love most…I’ll hop over and take a look at your blog, thank you.

Comments are currently closed.