Last year, I met A LOT of amazing people. One of them happened to be Janna Marie Thurman, a twenty year old freelance photographer from New Jersey. I knew she was talented from seeing some of her work on Facebook, but really became interested when I learned about her A Study in Acceptance project. I knew right away that I needed to expose more people to her genius talent and concept! Learning about Janna and her ideas about body acceptance was extremely inspiring to me and I hope you feel the same way and can appreciate her work! First things first, tell us about YOU! I’m currently a student at Burlington County College finishing up my Associate’s Degree in photography. I am mainly a photographer, but I have dabbled in a bit of everything – sewing, crocheting, drawing, painting and graphic design, etc. As a child, I went through every craft phase possible until I invested in my first camera. My first camera was purchased at a Rite Aid, for about $90, also falling around the time when MySpace had hit it’s high peak of popularity and everything was soon to become digital. I fell into the digital age as it formed and soon after acquired a few more cameras. However, none satisfied my need for the quality I was looking for in all of the amazing photographs I saw online. Mind you, I was only in middle school at the time and knew absolutely nothing about photography. I acquired my first DSLR in Chiristmas of 2007. Still not knowing much about photography (or my camera), I continued to venture and take photographs, uploading to Deviant Art and wishing I could pursue much more beautiful photos than I was taking. Once I graduated high school and continued photography on a much higher level and actually learned the proper skills, it all finally fell into place. My skills have advanced IMMENSELY in just the three years of being a photo student. I continue to grow and learn something new everyday and as technology continues to advance I feel more confident about my passion each and every single day. When I first started college, I also landed my first job in a lovely retail store called Torrid. This is a trendy fashion forward plus size store for women and young teens. And I LOVE it. This is what furthered my interest about body issues and body acceptance. Working in a plus size store and surrounding yourself with the issue everyday gives you a different perception on it. The more and more you deal with something like this, the more passionate you become about it. Learning about others’ issues, listening to stories, and helping other people feel confident about themselves, you learn to grow as a person and causes you to deal with how you view yourself and the other people around you. It’s definitely an eye opener. What is A Study in Acceptance? I’ve always had a tough time dealing with my own body, (who hasn’t?). I’ve always loved abstract images and the human figure. I’ve had this project rattling around in my head for a while now and I finally was able to acquire the equipment I needed in order to execute this project the way I had imagined in my head. I am also finally comfortable enough with myself and my body to be able to look back at nude images of myself with out wanting to delete them right away. This project is exactly what it’s name defines it as: “A Study in Acceptance”. It is a very personal look at my own body, learning to accept my body for what it is and the way it looks. I was EXTREMELY satisfied with the way the images had turned out and it went forth to become six abstract black and white images of my body just as how I viewed it in my mind, finally not being afraid to share them to the world. How did you decide what shots to do? Why did you choose to portray yourself? I chose to take images of my own body because I though it would be interesting to see how it would turn out and how I would feel about it. I would LOVE to shoot abstract body images of other people for the same exact purpose as I had shot images of myself. To be quite honest, these shots were completely at random, I had a few compositions in my head that I wanted to attempt to execute and just went for it. I had the camera on the tripod and a timer, pressed the shutter and contorted my body in many different ways to get interesting compositions. Did this body of work have any special significance to you? YES, although this series is slightly different because it was me taking photos of myself. This can tend to become very difficult because you can’t get the exact composition you want due to the fact that you are not consistently behind the camera but rather in front of it. I would have to say that this is one of my most important bodies of work in my photo career so far. It means a lot to me because this is me taking further steps to accept my body and love myself for who I am. What do you hope to communicate with the series? I want to open others eyes up to the concept of beauty and how we perceive it. Beauty doesn’t just come in one shape or size. Skin is skin and it’s all BEAUTIFUL. We carry our bodies with us each and every single day and we must learn to love and accept it. And learn to accept each other. Are these images being displayed publicly? A Study in Acceptance will be shown in a gallery called Space 2033 on Frankford Ave in Philadelphia in March. Do you plan on doing more work like this? YES! I would love to shoot more of myself and other people who would be willing to let me shoot abstract images of their bodies. I eventually plan on featuring more images from this series somewhere, whether it be Space 2033 or Facebook. So keep an eye out!
Have you ever struggled with body image? Is there any advice you’d give to people who are struggling? Of course, I think everyone struggles, I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t. I would just say that don’t ever get yourself down, and don’t EVER let anyone else bring you down. Define yourself and who you are as a person, find something you are extremely passionate about and run with it. Body acceptance and learning to love yourself take time and everyone has their days where they don’t feel 100% but that’s okay because we are all human. Tumblr is a very big community online for body acceptance and full figured women. There is one icon in particular who I discovered while browsing through Tumblr and her name is Annie Elainey, who I was first introduced to when I saw a video on her YouTube that she posted of her standing in her bra and undies jumping up and down proving that the world doesn’t end because your tummy jiggles. She a true inspiration and is absolutely positive. She runs a blog on Tumblr called Stop Hating Your Body. Find your strength through yourself and surround yourself with good people. Do things for YOU and ONLY YOU and not what you think other people would want or expect from you. Tell us one thing you love about yourself! I love my true passion for everything I involve myself in. I love my edge and ESPECIALLY my style. I love my job at Torrid. I LOVE MY CURVES. I love learning about new things, meeting new people and going new places. I love where my life journey has taken me so far I look back and past mistakes and successes and take everything day by day and appreciate what I have and who I have become today.
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To check out more of her work, check out her photography Facebook page (and definitely “like” it to show your support and keep up to date!) If you’d like to get in touch with Janna, you can email her at Jannabananers91@aol.com or message her through her personal Facebook account.