In 2019 I started to shoot this story about women who evaluate their bodies every day: how it looks, what size it is, how many scars it has.
Who will see them naked, what they will think, what angles look better, which parts of their bodies should be hidden. They worry about their nudity and reaction of people to it. They are used to hide parts of their bodies which “don’t look too good”, even if nobody else can see it.
I took pictures of more than 30 women of different age. Some of them were ready to take all the clothes off, some asked me to take photos of their faces only. Many girls hadn’t had any nude photos before. After the shooting I gave them one photo and asked to “censor” it with red thread. There were no limits or preferences. They could leave it untouched (which many of them actually did) or make it all red. Through these pictures I’m trying to show how painful can be this “self-censoring”, which is not as harmless as we think: every attempt to make our faces or bodies look better, skinnier, prettier always leaves traces on the image of ourselves.
It was important for me not to make my models look “better” in the photographs by finding right angles, better light, etc. For me this experience was quite a challenge: as a female photographer, I always try to make my models look a little more “pretty” in conventional way, hiding their wrinkles and scars in Photoshop. During the shooting of the project it became obvious that I couldn’t just take pictures of woman’s body: I wanted to “fix” it, to make it look “better” than it was. I realized that this is not just about my models: this is about me, one of many photographers that unintentionally support such representation of female beauty in Mass media.
Yana Bulgakova is a photographer from St. Petersburg, Russia. Graduated from The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University (Program of concentration “Film and Video”). Currently teaching in School of Academic Photography.
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