In a post #MeToo world, where so many male creatives are being called out for their abuses of power in the creative industries, the work continues to give womxn and non-binary photographers their fair share of the spotlight. This is incredibly important in the battle to give people a healthy, realistic idea of their visual identity, a world away from the hyper-manipulated, self-esteem crushing imagery of previous decades. These photographers are just a small handful of the inspiring artists redefining the way in which bodies – and lives – are represented, via stunningly innovative work.
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#behindthescars Tessa "10 years ago I had an accident with boiling water. This led to me having third degree burns all over my chest, stomach, left arm and upper left leg. I underwent 4 surgeries, 2 of them were very recent – in 2018. I stayed for a month in the best burn hospital in The Netherlands, in Beverwijk. My doctors are true heros. They saved my life, as I almost died right after my accident because of fluid loss and shock, and they made me beautiful again. The plastic surgeons really did an amazing job. I can’t say thay I’m 100% recovered yet, but will I ever be? I still struggle with my breast area, as I regularly have to deal with infections and other difficult things. But I can handle it as long as I have my family and my God. I know I will never be normal, and I will never be what the world calls ‘beautiful’. Social media can be so toxic, it can completely influence your perspective on beauty. What we should do is post more real pictures of real bodies. Let’s show the world some real beauty, the beauty of being yourself and showing your scars without shame." @tessadebora photographed in Hague, Netherlands
British photographer Sophie Mayanne (@SophieMayanne) in her own words, ‘takes photos of humans’. Her ‘Behind The Scars’ series (@behindthescars_) is a beautiful project focusing on documenting the stories that have led to the scars people wear, and to normalise our reactions to all kinds of physical marks, be that self harm scars, mastectomy scars, burns, post-operative endometriosis scars, C-sections, or the scars left behind after gender reassignment surgery. The person having their portrait taken shares the story behind their scars in the caption of each image, working towards Mayanne’s aim to end stigma and to prevent people feeling isolated by their appearance or insecure about their scars. Since 2017, she has pledged to never digitally alter or manipulate the portraits she takes. Side note – Facebook deleted the Behind The Scars page Mayanne set up to showcase her work, and have never provided a reason why…
California-based Ashley Armitage’s (@ladyist) world exploded when she posted an Instagram photo of a friend on the beach wearing underwear that had a period blood stain on it, and with pubic hair on show. While the photo went viral in a positive way, she also faced a backlash of male trolls. However, Armitage had the last laugh, going on to create her honest, humorous work for host of illustrious brands, including a viral campaign for razor brand Billie, which was the first shaving-product advert to show actual body hair being removed, and subsequent campaign imagery that displays all kinds (and styles!) of pubic hair. Unsurprisingly, Facebook removed those images too, on the basis that they were ‘adult content’.
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Self portrait with make up & hair by @jdcmua this spring as part of our annual collaboration 🌸 Here’s a bit about me for new followers (1/2) – I am a 26 year old non-binary photographer/curator/director based in Montreal/Canada. I started taking photos of Blythe dolls around 2007 and posting them online on Flickr, then got into self-portraiture during my teenage years – mostly out of boredom and feeling isolated as a queer kid in a very straight world. I grew up with a chronic kidney disease and spent a lot of time home alone as a result, so sharing my images online became a way to connect with others and tell my story. – I went to trade school/college in commercial photography and graduated in 2014 (after which I also went to university to study history/anthropology but eventually dropped out to focus on photography full time). While in school, I got deep into tumblr culture and started exploring gender identity in my work. Around this time, I also co-founded an art collective (rip The Coven), organized exhibitions and published zines for a few years. – Some things that inspire me: queer & trans history, vulnerability through art, supporting young artists, the million different ways that androgyny can present itself, looking at the body outside of gender + as an inherently beautiful entity, bright colours, daylight, mundane moments, chosen families, and snacks – Had some rough times but these days, I live in the coziest home with my dream cat Vashti who is a sphynx rescue, and my roommate Rochelle. I spend my days mostly learning to take things slow, answering emails, editing, planning shoots, making prints, applying for grants, going on bike rides with my partner, and photographing my community. Through photography I’ve had the chance to connect with so many wonderful artists, queer and trans people of all walks of life, travel around the world to exhibit and talk about my work, and win + judge a few awards which has been an honour, and I can’t wait for more 🧡🧡🧡
Laurence Philomene (@laurencephilomene) is a non binary photographer working out of Canada, specifically calling themselves a ‘trans4trans’ artist. They started exploring gender identity during their time studying commercial photography at university, and Philomene’s current self-portraiture project (‘Puberty’) documents the mundanity of daily life as they undergo hormone replacement therapy. Despite their avoidance of artifice – Philomene does not want their photographs to seem ‘staged’ – their distinctive, vibrant colour palette gives the images a surreal, Pop-art feel. Through this raw documentation, they are redefining the trans gaze.
Icelandic photographer Áslaug Sif Guðjónsdóttir, (@aslaugsifgudjonsdottir) aka Ace, shoots only film photographs of women’s bodies, does not edit her work in any way and most importantly aims to document real, raw physicality. Stretch marks, creases, folds, scars and hair – she captures every element of the female form with an honesty that forces the viewer to recognise the beauty of reality.
Guest post by Georgina Langford-Biss