Here is some insight to a photographic project I embarked on recently.
Commercial projects come with the responsibility of telling somebody else story, something I take very seriously. When I shoot projects, however, I tend to shoot something I have something to say about. Perhaps you clicked on the post because you share my intrigue why women are frequently misrepresented in mainstream media? As a female photographer this has been a subject of interest to me from the start.
Every photographer comes with their own sensibility which drives their work, aesthetic and approach. There are many things which inform the individual’s gaze. I have to move on swiftly, as I am a bit of an expert on the subject having laboured on a 10000 word dissertation once upon a time, and can talk about the subject until the cows come home. Freud is very much on my side stating that men and women look differently at women and women bodies something I thought I’d utilise for the project. At the end of the day I am a female photographer.
And yes, as a female photographer, my gaze is informed by my own femaleness. I don’t dislike the image of women’s bodies shot by men and they are often lacking real representational value. My own femaleness became the starting point. Perhaps a little like all those female run agencies dealing with a particular niche of the advertising market I set out to shoot women how I see them or us.
My interest was to shoot women who’s bodies aren’t stereotypically seen in the media or public realm. Let’s call them real women – rather those long limped rare examples we find celebrated in fashion pages and the catwalk. Trusting the diversity trends throughout the media, we are becoming are more acutely aware of what is real and what is aspirational. Many brands have consciously included people from different backgrounds but championing different shapes are still slightly a little taboo. It was interesting researching to why normal bodies or larger bodies are such a problem. I learned that brands don’t want to promote unhealthy eating and obesity. It seems rather ironic though that the skinny and starved body seems less problematic despite eating disorders and the lot.
Celebration was another core value. I was wanting to bring positive attention to those women and putting themselves in such a vunerable position and as well as diversity of shapes and backgrounds. At the end of the day society has fallen in and out of love with voluptuous women over the centuries, as often as a woman body changes throughout the month or a life time. Reflecting on the project just now, I had to think back to many moons ago, when I photographed Beth Ditto, the front woman of the band The Gossip. I was brought on board to translate Beth body positive views. For Beth it was important that she did not look like she was hiding her body or parts of her body. I remember thinking ‘how refreshing’ and what an inspiration.
Last not least a big thank you to all the lovely women who came to my studio and trusted me to photograph them, who were all inspiring. Thanks for the chats, trust and laughter.