My photo essay round Morocco for Freude von Freuden is out now. See their favourite images from my trip and my conversation with the guys at FvF live on their site this week. Thanks so much to the team at FvF, especially Andie, for putting it together.
My favourite images from the trip are now available to buy in my shop , if you would like to commission a particular image from the series drop me a line: email@example.com
If you haven’t already seen my last blog post introducing ‘Body of Women’ and the very personal story which started the whole thing off, give it a read here. Working with Jo on the photos was an incredible experience and as we work together now on the project, her story has inspired women to come forward for a whole range of reasons. Some very moving and all totally amazing.
Some have been on a journey of emotional change and for them the photos are a way of coming to terms with that change and owning their bodies again. For others it’s more about a physical change and how that physical change has led them on a journey. When I photographed Mikaela she was 7 months pregnant and bar a few totally normal nerves about being naked, amazingly relaxed and comfortable. She gave birth to her gorgeous son Otis back in September (he is totally adorable). Several months on, I wondered how she felt now looking back at the images and what effect being pregnant had on how she felt about her body.
“It’s hard to say whether I feel super comfortable being naked, I think the relationship you have with your body is intertwined with a lot of things. But at that moment my body was changing really quickly, so quickly it was impossible to reflect on the magnitude of the situation. Even when I first looked at the photos, because I was still pregnant I didn’t see the beauty in my shape. Since giving birth to Otis I feel so proud of myself and my body for showing it’s strength. The photos are a record of the change I went through and a reminder of the power of my body.”
‘Body of Women’ is an ongoing project in which we aim to re evaluate the visual language used to talk about women’s bodies, record the stories they tell and celebrate their journeys. As the community of women taking part grows, we are looking for more women to share their story and collaborate with us. Get in touch by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy International Women's Day to all of you
Over the past few months, I have been quietly working away on a personal project with my dear friend Jo. It began when she approached me to take naked photographs of her. The image below is of Jo and in her own words this is why she decided to ask me to take these photos:
“When I was 18 I was raped. I didn’t deal with it because I didn’t know how. But I changed. As the years went by I changed a lot. I didn’t like my body, I didn’t like it being touched and I found sexual attraction made me anxious and sometimes I even thought it was a bit repulsive. When it started to come between me and my boyfriend, I knew something had to change. I used to like my body and in rational moments I knew it was a good one – it was capable and flexible and it did everything I needed it to do. I just couldn’t see it. So I asked Naomi to photograph me naked. Nothing sexy, nothing too posed, nothing to hide. Just me.
I explained why and Naomi immediately agreed. I opened up more throughout the shoot and in doing so realised that I’d come so far already. It was like a surreal therapy session that ended with a huge penny finally dropping. When I got the photos back I saw a beautiful, strong woman and she looked a bit like me. Now, a year later, with one of the photos on my wall, I know that woman is me. I just needed to see it.
Being sexually assaulted has affected my life in more ways than I can put into words. But the body it happened to isn’t my body and it isn’t me. My body is mine and no one can take it away from me again.”
Photographing Jo, speaking to her about her experiences and seeing how she was taking steps to own them and tackle how they made her feel was a really powerful and moving experience. It helped me to recognise how I felt about my own body, the negative feelings I had towards it, the times when those negative thoughts had held me back and all the times I had been cruel to it, starving it, punishing it or denying it pleasure in some way.
I feel quite strongly that the photography we see around us on a daily basis in advertising and (increasingly) pornography has a big responsibility in this. From a young age we are taught as women that to feel happiness in life we must give up our sexuality and force our bodies to look a certain way. As Naomi Wolf writes in The Beauty Myth; ‘Female sexuality is turned inside out from birth, so ‘beauty’ can take its place, keeping women’s eyes lowered to their bodies, glancing up only to check their reflection in the eyes of men.’ And if we are focusing down on our bodies, we are denying ourselves our full capabilities as strong and powerful humans.
Turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) Jo and I weren’t the only ones who felt this way and as we began to share this discussion with the women around us, the more women we discovered who felt the same sense of disconnect we felt from our bodies - sexually, emotionally and physically. From this I photographed more women, first friends, then new friends and now the project has grown into something bigger.
'Body of Women' is a celebration of all that we are, the journeys we have been on with our bodies and a reclamation of their form and the space they inhabit. It is a collaboration between myself as a photographer and the women as subjects, formed around the stories they tell as we work together to find a new visual language in which to speak about female nudity.
It's an ongoing project and if you would like to take part please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.
In these tumultuous times it's good to get together and fill each other with love and hope.
Protests, January 2017.
Over the past year it has been a total honour to not only photograph gorgeous Lydia and watch her project grow but to become friends and studio sisters. So proud and inspired to see her story up on Elle last week, go give it a read here and feel totally energised and all powerful. So much love for her.
I'll be showing some more images from our most recent collab very soon, so keep an eye out.
I shot the guys from Japandroids for the latest issue of Crack Magazine, which is out now. Japandroids latest single Near to the Wild Heart of Life is out 27th January.
Happy birthday Andrea x
I shot ethical fashion brand Birdsong London's new collection last month, whose motto is 'no sweatshops, no photoshop'. The full un-retouched series is now live on their site.
Climbing, eating, hiking, drinking