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Jeannine Swallow

Experimental Photographic Artist

     As a child she often had camera in hand. Her beloved Grandmother would give her a loaded roll of film and she was off. Into the magical world within that square frame. The anticipation of waiting for the film to develop was one of the first exercises in patience she found any true value.


     During youth she dreamt of wandering the world and documenting the experience. Though she had the calling to be a photographer, she forgot it was possible. Taking various art classes, she struggled to find a medium that expressed what she envisioned in her mind. Ironically, amidst a period of particular darkness, she found her way back to photography. 


     Quite suddenly she found her self suffering from depression. Panic attacks had made normal life impossible. Trauma that she experienced as a youth was manifesting itself. Her subconscious had taken over her everyday reality and the lines began to blur. This difficult time ultimately led to a period of great transformation. Being forced to switch schools, photography found its way back into the picture. 


     A stroke of fate would have it that the new school had a photography program. It was in the darkroom at CEPA Gallery, that Jeannine found her calling. She switched from Child Psychology to Photography and enrolled at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Ultimately returning home to further her education in the field of Visual Studies at Villa Maria College and later, the University at Buffalo. This strong photographic background gave her the knowledge to create the

“wrong way,” pushing the boundaries of image-making.


     At a time when digital was gaining popularity, she made the conscious decision to shoot film. Film created

a connection to something tangible, a bit of magic in a world where convenience and speed take precedence. Though based in reality the images she creates are dreamlike and other worldly. This duality and layering that exists inside of us, is a driving force in her compulsion to create.


     Swallow is also passionate about travel and being exposed to different experiences. She has traveled alone to over 15 countries, creating images to accompany her often transformative moments.

She has exhibited her work locally and internationally. In 2015 she started a business featuring the artwork she created. In the past

she’s been awarded recognition in several publications and art fairs. Including being briefly awarded a store front by the city of Buffalo. She’s also fortunate to work at CEPA Gallery as a Teaching Artist, where she first developed film and now enjoys sharing her love of analog photography.

    Duality continues to speak to her and allows an outlet to turn

pain into something beautiful. After enduring years of therapy and misdiagnoses, she knows all too well the challenges of coping with mental health. The journey to connect our inner thoughts and well being with our outer realities, is the path to peace. Luckily on this path, she found photography and it became her guide to seeing. It restores a bit of control in its ability to transform personal tragedy into something that inspires others.

    Swallow is passionate about dispelling the stigma surrounding mental health. She hopes to create an open dialogue discussing the difficult and often dark parts of our existence. If we can learn to openly discuss these topics, we can create a kinder existence for us all.

     Swallow feels that experiencing profound tragedy can leave us with a sort of super power. For her it is the power of seeing, of paying attention to how a scene feels rather than looks. This new way of seeing creates a space between suffering. A chance to shift perception and gain new reality. We all have the power to shift dark into light.


     Often the photographs can be viewed in a multitude of ways, depicting jarring perspectives. Using multiple exposures and relying on serendipity of the process, they become representations of a moment in time. They depict escape and the endless search for humanity and the other, while some images show destruction, others triumph is celebration.


     There is a disconnect in the images where the disconnect resides within. Where they come together creates a more complete part of the story. The chemical process of creating in the darkroom and playing alchemist, each shift offering a new perspective. The very act of creating images is a reminder that often in life we control very little. The nature of things being a divine exchange between purpose and play. In this way she uses the camera as a tool to observe the unseeable. Another world, where a new reality exists, she likes to think possibility lives there.

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