I recently discovered the I AM project by Angelika Buettner.
The book was published in 2019 and is made up with portraits of women over the age of 40. It took seven years to get to stage where there are over 100 sitters for the collection in the book. Taking seven years to create this publication isn’t all that surprising as it is obvious a lot of work has been put into it.
Buettner is a German photographer who is now based in Paris. In the words of the photographer her initial concept was to “capture these women with only natural or no makeup”. She doesn’t say at what point she decided that the subjects would be nude. As this would “challenge the women but also to challenge myself.”
It is very rare to see the female nude from the eyes of a woman photographer. She does include a portrait of herself taken by her husband.
Portrait photography is not an easy subject. It looks easy. Stick someone in front of the camera and you have a picture. Digging deeper into the subject is what makes it difficult. How much do you flatter the sitter but still retain truth in the image? Do you shine a mirror on what they dislike about themselves? Too much reflection on the bad and the delicate bond between the photographer and the sitter can be damaged.
I don’t want to take away anything from the photographer or the sitters, but when I look at the pictures there is a lack of anger or urgency in the problems faced by the group it is representing. Turning the pages it isn’t obvious what the complaint is and how it can be solved.
It was recently reported that Canadian journalist Lisa LaFlamme lost her job after letting her hair go grey.
The unfairness can be summed up in this discussion by these CNN journalists.
If this is the type of problem the I AM project is supposed to highlight it feels like the aim is off target. I do hope I AM-The Movement proves me wrong and is a success.