I became a photographer but chose not to work with models. Here's why...
About the age of 12, I remember crying to my Mum in the kitchen saying - but I’ll never get chosen for a good job because I’m not pretty enough.
I don’t know what triggered that or why I thought that, but I remember that night clearly and I remember it felt very real to me.
I wonder though if it was because as a teenager of the 2000’s - the only women I ever saw on glossy magazines, ad campaigns or as aspirational figures were models, actresses or celebrities and they usually were celebrated because of their beauty. So through my teenage girl eyes I saw success = beauty.
Don’t get me wrong, I quite like a glossy magazine from time to time…but they’ve instilled a narrative in us, that you only deserved to be photographed if you look amazing.
And maybe that is why we are all so hard on ourselves when in front of the camera?
It’s not that we aren’t beautiful - we just aren’t in a studio, under 10 lights, with a full make up team, fan blowing our hair, wearing designer couture!
So it’s ridiculous!!
As a model, your value is in the way you look. There’s no escaping it.
But as a business owner, a mother, a wife, a friend, a carer, a sister, a human - your value isn’t just in the way you look. We are so much more than that!!!
So I decided early on in my business - I don’t want to photograph models. Sure it would be easier - but that’s not what I want to do.
I want to show real people their real value, in the form of an image.
We wonder why the gender pay gap isn’t shrinking fast enough, we wonder why the investment gap statistics are shocking - but could some part of it be because we still have too many young women aspiring to be beautiful, glamorous, hot, sexy etc etc above the desire to lead a team, to start a business, to learn to code, learn a language, to learn the basics of how to invest.
And is it like that because of the narrative they are fed by all forms of popular culture? Success = beauty. Beauty = success.
In short - the point I’m trying to make is - wouldn’t it be great if the young women of this generation were exposed to more images of female CEO’s, thought leaders, scientists, teachers, nurses, carers, female entrepreneurs and the amazing value they offer.
Wouldn’t it be great if it was these ‘normal’ people who were the covers of magazines, who were the ‘models’ on big brands ad campaigns, who were our top social media influencers.
Because then my 12 year old self would have known it didn’t matter what I looked like - I could be whatever I wanted and that actually success = working really freaking hard, being really good at what you do, being fair, being kind, being motivated, being focused - and actually, it didn’t have anything to do with bloody boring beauty standards.
Apart from my wonderful Mum, I didn't know a single women who ran her own businesses, until I turned 30!! How INSANE is that? I wish thar as a teenage girl, I had known that women ran businesses too! And if we'd all had the belief that we could generate our own wealth from a young age then we could seriously do some damage to that wealth gap!! So we have to start inspiring our next generation of women to want more.
To tell them - you can be a CEO, you can be a doctor, you can be the prime minister, you can be the head of department, you can be the main bread winner in your home, you can be anything you want to be!! And you can do all of it and still be more beautiful than you will ever know!
So for that to happen I need to keep photographing the women I am describing. I need to keep showing their faces, telling their stories. And I need you to start showing up on camera, so you can be seen and so you can inspire!!