Since 1879 Josefina Oliver feels the need and the drive of leaving black and white or sepia in her photos and take them into colour, into another space. Although she is aware of the plus she gives her shots, she ignores the vanguardism that implies her decision in that moment. As a woman, professional growth is neglected to her and she cannot see herself as a photographer. She persues this captivating hobby without even discerning the gigantic oeuvre she keeps on developing.
As from 1899, she devotes entirely to photography and illumination (hand-colouring). She learns techniques with her friends, following the guidelines of Francisco Pociello’s Modern Photography.
She also buys emulsified artistic papers in photographic stores for developing copies, with art nouveau, art deco and fancy frameworks which she uses as a context for her best photos later illuminated by her.
The small format of 9 x 12 cm of her plates requires a great deal of skill with the paintbrush and a lot of dedication when illuminating with albumin colours.
She paints in a naive style, at times impresionist, where the original photograph almost disappears to give way to a little painting. Some other times, in a more traditional style, she emphasises the finest details, like flowers in a bedspread, with careful execution. The copies she selects to compose postcards and collages belong to this group. Towards 1948, during her last years, she illuminates a little group of photos in a surrealist, rather pop way.
In 1926, her husband Pepe Salas sets up a home-made photo laboratory, where he makes larger copies of many of Josefina’s plates from the begining of the century. She resumes her illuminations on these copies with even more daring tones, since she now lives in a time full of colour, remote from that of her first years.
As from 1952, she is going to insert them among the texts of her last four volumes which she leaves already edited for further binding, as she points out in her diary:
‘(…) something I won’t be able to do due to my age and my shattered health (…)’ Diary 19, p.120