This year I put out a poll asking whether photographers expect models to arrive at a collaborative shoot (unpaid) with makeup on. The answer was an overwhelming yes. However, when I ask male models if they arrive at shoots with makeup on, I’ve only ever received one yes. Most of us immediately understand that the beauty standards differ across the gender spectrum. Women specifically are typically expected to arrive at these shoots, and most professional or special occasions, with makeup on because that is the standard we have come to expect as a society.
When I am not shooting I rarely wear makeup. When I do, it is usually because I feel a certain amount of pressure to hide the fact that I am tired, or to hide what I deem a flaw in my skin that day. When I make that decision to essentially hide a part of myself, I understand its because I am uncomfortable with others seeing an aspect of myself that we ALL at a time or another experience and display physically. So I became curious about the other end of the spectrum. What about those who feel makeup is simply their self expression? Those who make the independent and uninfluenced decision to wear what they want.
I wanted to capture a photo series that emphasizes that there is a spectrum at all. When I tell people I don’t wear makeup, I often hear the same response: “You’re pretty, you don’t need it.” How harmful a statement. No one needs makeup. The definition of makeup (maquillage) is, “Cosmetics such as lipstick or powder applied to the face, used to enhance or alter the appearance.” No where in that definition is anything about necessity, or gender, or beauty standards. We apply, or don’t apply, for different reasons but I challenge you to ask yourself, “Is it a tool? Does it feel empowering? Do I feel more myself?” I asked myself these questions years ago, but often check-in with myself to see if the answers have changed. When I first began using makeup I soon found that the more I saw my face with it on, the less comfortable I was in my skin when I was without it. So I now choose to limit my relationship with cosmetics. My decision is simply one of my forms of self care. For others that may look quite different. The more I explore the way other people experience though, I am astonished how much my perspective opens up. Whether it changes my opinions on a matter or makes me more firm in my stance- I am never at a loss by asking the questions and listening to others answers.
For this photo series we covered half of each face in makeup. The models chose their looks based on their personal relationships with makeup. During the hours we prepared and shot we spent time discussing our first interactions with makeup and the feedback we received from our environments. Look out for a BTS/Discussion video coming soon!
Thanks for reading.
Credits: Concept/Directing/Styling- Lena Jackson Photographer- LivMcKechnie Makeup Artist- Ana Fuentes Videographer- Kory Powell Models- Paige Hudson, Julian Carr, Lena Jackson