Jacqueline Barkla

Jacqueline Barkla 23, speaks to UCIA about how being an art appreciator made her realise she wanted to pursue her love for photography and digital art.


Jacqueline went through her whole school life ticking off a list of all the things she did not want to do. “My whole school life I never knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I did not want to do, which was most things!” Seven years ago she, “joined the largest online art community Deviantart.com as nothing more than an ‘art appreciator’. I would spend hours on end looking at all the amazing art and photography (I still do) and for the first time I thought to myself. I want to do this. I’ve thought this every day since.”

Jacqueline has always appreciated photography and art but said, “I don’t think it was until around 2010 when I finished school that I started to really realise this was going to become a lifelong passion and started to get serious about putting in the effort to learn, create opportunities, experiment and practice.”

The photograph below is of a total eclipse that Jacqueline captured a few years ago. This amazing photograph has over 100,000 views, over 5,000 likes and 870 comments on the web. For her work, Jacqueline was, awarded silver in the ‘Better Photography magazine photo of the year competition revealing nature’ and featured front page on Deviantart.com. “Knowing how tricky it is to capture an eclipse I’m pretty proud of this photo considering back then I had only just started using a camera!”

A total eclipse taken by Jacqueline.

Jacqueline said she was, “blown away” after becoming a ‘Senior’ on Deviantart.com. “Out of 35 million users only 1000 or so have received this title. It is given to those for a range of reasons including ‘artistic endeavours, for having a positive influence on the community, and by being a voice that stands out above the many who deviate to be recognised in the crowd’. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever become one and I still can’t fathom it. It is so rare to be noticed like that out of millions and millions it is incredibly humbling.”

Jacqueline has no background in photography and said, “I never did it in school or wanted to pursue any further studies with it and I still don’t. I taught myself. With the amount of content online it is now easier than it ever has been to self-teach and the resources are honestly endless. It does not matter how skilled and talented you are, you are forever learning and will continue to do so there is no end to gaining new skills, techniques, and improving.”

A dewy spiderweb taken by Jacqueline.

When asked what kind of work she prefers doing, she said, “My own, of course I enjoy doing work for others, being on shoots with different models and bringing to life a concepts. I enjoy doing anything creative the most when I’m doing it for myself where there are no boundaries. I don’t know if that is selfish but I think it’s important to make time for yourself to do the things you love. It’s the reason I stated in the first place and will continue doing this regardless of any degree of success in my life – for myself, an outlet to express myself and to be creative.” Jacqueline’s favourite subjects to photograph are, “Nature and landscapes – sunrises, sunsets, foggy landscapes, dewy spider webs, waves, interesting moody lighting. I also love emotive portraits.”

Motivation and inspiration are two things that help any artist keep going, especially Jacqueline who finds inspiration in, “Life, nature, stories, movies, music, and people. It is everywhere. Inspiration and motivation are hard things to maintain. I actually have a tumblr blog dedicated to my inspiration. I draw my most inspiration from other artists who I aspire to. I could spend all day listing photographers and artists who inspire me because of their work but more specifically artists like Dan Luvisi really inspires and is like a role model to many – not just because his work is amazing but he himself and his story is an inspiration and a great motivation.” ‘Every day you’re not working on your craft, another artist is catching up that wants it more’, is Jacqueline’s favourite quote from Dan Luvisi.

There are so many beautiful places in the world but Jacqueline said New Zealand and Bali has been her favourite places to photograph, so far. “New Zealand is a photographer’s paradise. Also in Indonesia, a sunrise high above the clouds on Mt Batur in Bali, or a sunrise at Borobudur in Java. I tend to have more of a favourite time than place. Dawn is my favourite. There’s just something so peaceful about capturing a fleeting beautiful moment in the silence of dawn when everyone’s asleep.” 

A stunning photograph of Mt Batur in Bali.

Sharing her work online has allowed for people to view it and give positive feedback. Some memorable responses she has had have left her speechless. She said, “I think quite simply when people say I’ve inspired them that really stays with me. A lot of people thank me for sharing my work and many come and tell me how my work has impacted them emotionally and their life. It’s all very unexpected and humbling.”

On the topic of social media, Jacqueline said, “it is extremely hit and miss. I try not to let social media hold my self-worth whatsoever. Social media is extremely competitive and there is lot of pressure to be ”popular’ but you can’t let that cloud your focus.” Social media plays a large part in popular society these days and can also assist in the success of an artist through exposure. Jacqueline said, “There are times now where a piece does not get any attention and honestly it’s not even about good work or bad work it’s about exposure. I’ve seen many mind-blowing deserving artists go under the radar completely unnoticed for years due to lack of exposure and many mediocre artists go viral because of unprecedented exposure.” Jacqueline is optimistic and advises other artists to, “Focus on your work, do what you love for YOU (not in the hope of gaining thousands of followers and do it to the best of your ability and the right people will follow your endeavours.”  

The Sun through the grass

Jacqueline has a lot of travel plans for the future and is planning on visiting Japan and America. “I want to do a lot of traveling, Japan is next and America is after. America has such diverse natural beauty – their natural parks can be truly out of this world. I’d also love to photograph the northern lights and head back to New Zealand.”

Although Jacqueline has no photography dream projects, she said, “Any photo opportunity is a good one, I love books, I think I’d like to publish a book of sorts, whether it’s a novel, art book, even a photography book! I’ve always enjoyed the digital editing side of photography more than the technical side so I’m also pursuing the digital art/painting field. I’ve been working with a few other artists on character design for a novel too so who knows where I’ll be! I’ll be taking photos forever, but now I’ve gained those digital skills I want to take it further in a slightly new and different direction with digital art where creativity is even more boundless.”


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