At the end of 2016 I had one of life’s great light bulb moments. The sort where you’ll always remember where you were. (For the record – Riding Road, Hawthorne; 9am; dappled sunlight on my face.) I’d been photographing newborns for close to 5 years when I was struck by a thought…what about women? Not just photos of the wonderful, albeit sleep deprived, new and young mums I’d been photographing for years but beautiful portraits of women of all ages? And I mean beautiful with a big, fat, neon lit f-l-a-s-h-i-n-g capital B.
When it comes to glamour photography it’s easy to think back to the 80’s and 90’s when it was all the rage. Google “1990’s glamour” and you’re faced with a myriad of nightmarish photos (and evidently a random spectacle wearing man or two) which have doubtless been shoved under a bed gathering dust, destined never again to see the light of day.
No, what I’m talking about are timeless portraits.
I could write pages on why I want to do this. There are so many reasons. But let’s start with this one. I want to show women what they look like from the “outside”. What other people see when they look at them because I can confidently say that we don’t see ourselves the same way when we look in the mirror. I want to show women how beautiful they are . I want women to own portraits that don’t belong shoved under a bed or at the back of a cupboard but proudly out on display. These portraits deserve to exist.
In a world overflowing with products and adverts letting us know that we don’t look young enough, thin enough or healthy enough, it’s time to start celebrating women. Exactly as we are. Because we are enough.
It’s not about heavy photoshopping or having portraits that kinda-look-like-you-but-actually-don’t-really. It’s about my team and I getting everything perfect at the shoot, from make up to posing, so that the actual amount of photoshopping we do is minimal. We want to show you – authentically – the best version of yourself.
With so many of us living lives of self sacrifice, where our children or aging relatives often come before ourselves, it might seem self indulgent to do something just for us. But here’s a thought.
One day, someone…be it your children, your grandchildren or a more distant relative…will look for photos of you. What will they find?
Selfies kept on a phone, never printed, will be long forgotten or lost. Photos that you took behind the lens because that’s where you’re more comfortable, can’t be retaken with you in front of it. I want your children to be able to show your grandchildren in 50 years your portrait and say “That was your Grandma when she was x years old. Wasn’t she beautiful?” I want you to exist in photos.
So…..self indulgent? Some might think so. But I believe every woman should have an amazing portrait of herself. I believe that rather than looking in the mirror critiquing every new line on our face and every new grey hair, we should look in the mirror and think “Actually, I look pretty damn good.” I believe this is about self preservation…of the healthiest kind.