Silhouettes of People Reflected on the Surface of Soap Bubbles

bubble silhouette

Kingston, New York-based photographer Julianne Swartz makes use of commonplace substances and basic technology to create multifaceted artistic statements. Her work challenges our fixed ideas and outlook about art, and dares us to observe the world in fresh ways. The misleadingly simple materials often conceal a much deeper philosophy. Swartz manages to capture portraits of individuals as shadow reflections in large, soapy bubbles.


The imaginative photographer’s Bubble Portraits series features a number of quaint images that radiate both a resilience and delicateness as the transparent bubbles glide through the air and gracefully rest on bodies of water. They almost look like mini snow globes. The images come across as if they were plucked right out of a fantasy tale. It is work that in the end is all about love among people; its fragility, and how it must be nurtured constantly. This is what Bubble Portraits ultimately communicates.

There is an otherworldly quality about each bubble portrait, with their temporal nature making them precious globes. Their translucence and layers of light also cast a mystical quality to each portrait that all the more highlights the delicate qualities of the series. Bubble Portraits was shot during a two year period from 2003 to 2005.

soap bubble silhouette portrait

In the series, the soapy globes reflect other themes besides people, as some of them mirror the sun, skies, clouds and the horizon. They all share a kind of tenderness and fleeting beauty that is characteristic of a passing world. It is almost as if the silhouettes captured within the bubble are encapsulated in their own little worlds, visible only to their viewers for a few fleeting moments before they disappear completely.

Swartz earned her B.A. in Photography and Creative Writing in Tucson at the University of Arizona in 1989. She then attended the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture, at Skowhegan, Maine in 1999. She also took up sculpture, earning her M.F.A. in Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York in 2002.

portraits of people in bubble

Visit Swartz’ extensive works, along with Bubble Portraits in her website.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.