Anna, a 23 year old photographer born and bred in Dublin, Ireland, has something to say. Be on the lookout for Anna’s work in our future issues, but in the meantime here is what she revealed about her photography and how she uses it to make a statement about body image and the sexist portrayal of women in the media! Oh, and don’t forget to check out Anna’s two page spread in The Women’s Issue! Before I went into photography I had planned on becoming a professional singer. I attended a course for a while called ‘The Rock School’, but it wasn’t right for me. When I tried my hand at photography in my first photography course, I took to it like a fish to water. I loved how expressive and creative the medium was and how, once you learned the rules, they were made to be broken – with good reason, that is! I’m still extremely passionate about music and now intern with the Irish music magazine Hotpress. I really enjoy creating fashion photography from a feminist perspective. I’m also really interested in fantasy/fairy-tales. I would regard myself as an artist, and a dreamer (I think my left-handedness has a lot to do with this. Both my parents are left-handed, too!). I wouldn’t know how to live without creativity in my life. Some of my inspirations include: Annie Leibovitz, Tim Walker and Frida Kalho. I also like creating self-portraits. When I began creating photographs, I realized I like to tell stories through my use of imagery. I guess that kind of led me to an interest in documentary style photography, especially when I began learning about feminism. I felt so inspired and fired up to create! My attraction to body image and feminism A big part of what I do and what I want to do is to create media to inspire a new generation who want to like what they see in front of the mirror, including all the little imperfections. Images are a very powerful way to convey feelings and messages. When something inspires or provokes me, whether that’s a feeling, a mood, or something more specific, a way I express myself is through the creation of images. I care deeply about connection with others so when I see people being treated unfairly, I use that energy to make something. I guess that’s why I like creating work on feminist topics. I hope to go on creating fashion-type imagery from a feminist perspective. When I take photographs, by main concern is the story I’m trying to convey to my audience. I want the viewers to feel something. I work to create powerful contemplative imagery. The “Back to Basics” Project I decided to try a week without makeup. The thought came to me when it was taking me quite the time to get ready just to go to the shops. I thought, ‘Feck it, it’s time for a detox!’ And so committing to seven days bare faced, I prepped my face for the challenges ahead. The first night was the hardest. I met a friend at the cinema to see ‘The Avengers Assemble’. By the time we got to the ticket booth, our showing was sold out. We decided to get tickets for the next showing and headed to the local bar. Usually, a trip to the cinema will have me in the ladies room afterwards with hot cheeks, still visible under the beige of foundation. And when I drink the same thing tends to happen. So off we went with a skip in our step to the bar and ordered a pitcher of ‘Sex on the Beach’ for two. While under the guise of the low lighting and enjoying the banter and flowing alcohol thoroughly, we made our way back towards the cinema entrance. We headed to the ladies room first, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I was pretty shocked. Being so used to seeing perfected faces in women’s magazines and on the streets, it was really hard to find the strength to love myself in that moment. But since I had committed to the project, I pushed on. I thought to myself, “This is the point of the project. I am going to face challenges and have to learn how to overcome them.” After the movie I was still glowing, but I had to accept it. I had left my makeup at home in case I felt weak and wanted to continue to hide. I was proud of myself for toughing it out. I had worried that people were staring at me, but reminded myself that most people are so focused on what others think of them, that they barely have time to notice other peoples’ insecurities. From that night on, it got better. I think because that was pretty much worst-case scenario, things just had to improve. Positive things that came out of the experiment: • I was taking better care of my skin instead of just focusing on the makeup aspect. • When I saw myself I wasn’t taken aback by how I looked without makeup. I think because we are so used to going out into the world wearing makeup, we have a fear our faces are not beautiful without it. I found that my face didn’t suddenly fall off and I didn’t look like a different person without makeup on. • I had more time. I was saving 20 mins + by not putting my makeup on, and I wasn’t hovering back to the mirror numerous times to check my makeup was still in place before I left the house. • I was beginning to accept myself exactly as I am and loving my uniqueness. By trying this, you will notice your own benefits from the experiment. All you need is a bit of courage and an empty makeup bag. I would definitely recommend giving it a go! The makeup-free photoshoot was inspired by my own awakening from this experiment. I have to admit the models seemed keen on the idea of the shoot but were a bit nervous about absolutely no makeup/hair extensions etc. The ladies did however take the plunge and braved the camera without any cosmetic help. The photographs revealed the young women still looked like themselves without makeup. So far from what I’ve heard, one of the girls has said she is really glad she took part in the shoot and feels inspired by her photos. This lady is a makeup artist so I felt particularly proud I could help her feel this way. The “Sexism in The Media” Project As it was my intention to further myself as a fashion photographer, I filled my visual diary, a source of inspiration for all photographers, with fashion images from online and glossy magazines. They inspired and provoked me. I began to realize I was feeling bad for some reason about it and when I analyzed why, I found that it was because most of the images weren’t giving me positive representations of women. I began exploring the objectification of women in the media and found a lot of disturbing material. This led me to take a number of adverts that used extreme female objectification to sell products and come up with my own alternatives. I felt that by exploring these alternatives with male models I could express how we often overlook the exploitation of women’s bodies to sell products. Sex doesn’t sell. Women’s bodies do. This is not equality. These photographs were the product of my end of year exhibition project. The reaction overall was positive and most people really liked it, which I was very happy about. To see more of Anna Kerslake’s work, you can visit her website or her photography facebook page!