Jackie Dives is a Vancouver-based portrait and documentary photographer who has bravely followed her brother’s recovery from heroin addiction. The project began nearly a year ago, when her brother asked her to capture his progress. Jackie agreed, explaining she “wanted to do it as a record for him, hopefully [as] a way for him to remember the severity of his addiction, and prevent him from relapsing.” The images are unfailing in their honesty, capturing fluctuations of strength, hope, pain, and vulnerability. We see him smiling, looking healthy, and sitting beside his girlfriend (who bravely accepted that Jackie take her photograph post-breast augmentation, thus adding another dimension of fearlessness and candidness to the series). In other photos, he looks troubled, his face lined with pain and sadness. The emotion emanating from these images is palpable, and even though Jackie’s brother may be unknown to us, his portraits of struggle and hope inspire a profound sense of empathy and acceptance for individuals enduring the trials of drug addiction and recovery.
What makes this series even more significant is the fact that, for Jackie, her love-infused photographic ambitions began with her brother. Eight years his senior, Jackie began documenting him as soon as he was born; as she writes in her Artist Statement, “Because of our age gap, photography was a realistic way for us to connect that didn’t require us to have much in common, other than being in the same room.” He was not an easy subject; “he moved fast,” and was uninterested in the art she was trying to create. As a result, Jackie became adept at working on the fly, less concerned about refinement and perfection, and interested instead in snapping the purity of a moment. These experiences documenting her brother have developed the core of her artistic objectives and philosophies; while working in the fields of family, event, and travel photography, true portraiture is always her primary focus:
“What’s important to me is simply a moment in the life of my subject. It is not forced or artificial. I want to show my subject truly. […] Ultimately, it’s about letting people continue to be themselves, and not stopping the moment, but letting it flow on, and being adaptable to it. I only want to capture what is actually happening, and in doing that, take a true portrait.” (Source)
Visit Jackie’s website to see more images from this powerful series, as well as many other beautiful portraits and projects. Her Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page are also up-to-date with her most recent and ongoing work, so be sure to check out those as well. More images of her brother’s recovery after the jump.