Conformity is the enemy.
I have known Jinelle for a while now. She’s a fashion model in the local scene but I know her as she was part of my Power project over a year ago. We’ve remained in contact since then. She is a budding photography enthusiast and has been taking lessons to improve her imagery and editing skills.
She is a Renaissance woman. She works on her own truck, does woodworking, and goes camping almost every weekend among other things. She’s also, at almost six feet tall and in great shape, a classic beauty. There is no doubt in my mind that, if she was alive at the time, she would have been a model for a sculptor like Michelangelo.
Dare I say, she would be someone that deserves the title Wonder Woman.
Now, I’m a talker during a session. It helps break the ice and break down barriers. One of the things we talked about were her previous images. One thing I noticed was that she was always turning away from the camera, kinda scrunching in. It’s not a bad thing, mind you. It was just a pattern that I noticed and was curious about.
Her answer blew me away.
It was all in an effort to make herself physically smaller and to fit in. Trying to blend in. She was trying to conform.
I had to put my camera down for a bit, right in the middle of the session, after she said that. It blew me away. This amazing person, with her skills and abilities, felt the need to blend in.
At this point we made a conscious choice about poses, et cetera.
No more diminishing poses, no more glances away from the camera, no more anything that diminishes the space she takes up. I wanted her big and bold, standing proud and confident. I wanted her staring straight into the camera, therefore right at you the viewer, as if she’s saying “Here I am, I’m proud of what I’m doing, and if you have a problem with you, well that’s your problem.”
I also wanted to have her let herself go. To let loose and move. To show motion and energy. Too many times, imho, fashion models are asked to be lifeless mannequins that are just there to hang clothes off of. I want life, motion, energy and zest.
My goal is not to make someone into my vision of what they should be. That would be them conforming to what I think they should be. I want to capture the true essence of the person I’m working with the best way I can. I want them to let loose and just be themselves.
I think these images reflect Jinelle’s personality and glory.
Never conform, people. We were made to stand out. To shine.
We are not made to blend in.