“The human figure is exquisitely beautiful,” states Debra Small about her body of work, Nudes: A Romantic Encounter, “and it was my intention to have that beauty resonate from the images.” Stylistically, she strove to create “picturesque romantic imagery similar to the nudes of the pictorial period.”
Two key techniques employed in the crafting of these images were light painting and salt printing. While making the exposures, Small used diffused flashlights “to paint light onto the model’s body, giving a lovely soft glowing light to the skin.” She then converted the digital camera images to black-and-white digital negatives and then made salt prints. Salt printing, which dates back to the early 1800s, is considered the first photographic printing process on paper. It entails coating watercolor paper a salt solution followed by a silver nitrate solution; placing the negative in contact with the coated paper; exposing the paper to UV light; then developing and fixing the image in a series of chemical baths. “Although this technique of printing is very time-consuming,” Small states, “I feel it brought an additional sense of romantic beauty to the portfolio that is not achievable in a digital medium.”
Debra Small received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Riverside, and worked as a scientist for the State of California for ten years before leaving to home school and raise her three children. After raising her children, she returned fully to her love of photography, a passion she has had since childhood. As a fine art photographer, Debra’s photographic images include landscapes, still life, portraiture, and abstracts. Working with both digital and film cameras, she strives to extract the beauty in even the simplest or most mundane of objects or settings. Recently she has been delving into the realm of alternative process photography, exploring alternative printing processes such as cyanotype, gum bichromate, and silver salt prints. Her work has been exhibited in numerous juried and non-juried exhibitions and has received a number of awards. Recently her work has been published in The Sierra Journal, Stone Voices Magazine, and Photographer’s Forum Best of College & High School Photography 2013. Her website is debrasmallphotography.com.
Debra Small: Nude 1-01, salt print
Debra Small: Nude 4-04, salt print
Debra Small: Nude 9-09, salt print
Debra Small: Nude 13-12, salt print