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.
Sky News did a story about this programme earlier this week.
It is no big surprise that following all the stories on the treatment of women in the entertainment world that there wasn’t going to be similar stories from the world of fashion.
The women might not get any justice in legal terms but at least we get to hear their side of the story. Hopefully this will prevent others in the future having similar experiences.
27 June 2022PBS recently uploaded to YouTube their documentary on Harvey Weinstein that was first broadcast in March 2018.
After watching this and the first episode of Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret, my main thought is how both industries took their time to do something about what was going on. Question is have these industries cleaned up their act? My gut feeling is that there is more to do.
Before lockdown in March 2020, I saw this book “Women: The National Geographic Image Collection” in a Waterstones bookshop and vowed to get it another day. Two years later that day has come and I now have the book in my hands.
First impression of this book is how US centric it is. To give you an example, there is no mention of other countries having the vote for women. Which surprised me, as I was under the impression that National Geographic was about reporting from around the world. Instead it is from the perspective of America being center (sic) stage.
This book does not hide the fact that the publication is as a result of the #MeToo campaign. Not the 2006 campaign by Tarana Burke but following the events surrounding Harvey Weinstein. I can’t help feeling that no matter how you dress this up there is a strong smell of band wagon jumping with this book.
I really wanted to be inspired by the contents of this book but wasn’t. I’m wondering if this book hasn’t aged well since it was printed in 2019. Or if I had higher hopes with this archive.
Let me put it this way, if you are a landscape photographer and you follow the advice of the sign put up in a beauty spot in where to take a picture, yes it might be a perfectly acceptable image but there is definitely a deeper story to the location. There is more to the story about women from around the world than this book does justice to.
It is sad to see the changes in Afghanistan. And what is happening with Roe v. Wade in the US. If this book is a celebration of women it does feel like one step forward and three steps back.