I can safely say that I have never had a photoshoot quite like this one. I was asked not to do anything to my hair, to wear only a hint of makeup and not smile. There was no stylist, no makeup artist and no retouching or recropping the images. Everything that was captured was taken exactly true to life, with only lights, camera and emotion. The intention of this shoot was from the incredibly visionary and talented Darwaysh, who captures models on camera for who they are as a person rather than what they look like. It isn’t about being pretty, or wearing amazing makeup or dressing in incredible clothes, it is about being human, being real and showing the emotion of being ‘you’.
Darwaysh is amazing at what he does, he has so much time and patience to listen and understand exactly who you are, getting to know you as a person and then bringing it out on camera. I was shocked that this photoshoot evoked such powerful self reflection for me, as I was asked not to smile I found it alien to have an emotionless face without looking cold, angry or hurt. I have smiled since I was a very shy little child, possibly through nervousness and definitely as a way to mask my sadness through being bullied growing up. When my children need me, or if they are sad, I always answer them with a smile and kind words, when people ask me for my help I smile, when I pass people in the street I greet everyone with a smile. I even smile when I’m driving. I realise now that my smile is in fact my mask, in the same way that women find self confidence in wearing makeup or a push up bra and control knickers, without my smile I didn’t know who I was or how to just ‘be’ without looking sad or angry. To make my face emotionless and let my eyes do the talking was a task I’ve never been faced with, not to think, not to react and no to do, just to feel. Everybody has their failsafe in life, or coping strategy, that no matter what happens you can always revert back to what you know. Whether it be posing for a picture and turning your head to a certain angle, pouting, gesturing with your hands, standing with your hip out or to one side, we all know what works for us and we put that on for the purpose of an attractive photo. With clothes we dress for our shape, accentuate our best bits and distract away from the parts we’d like to change, we have statement jewellery, bold makeup and different hair styles and techniques to balance, reshape and accentuate our features. And I went into this with nothing but myself.
To be asked to sit in front of a camera, just for who you are, and to take away every comforting attribute, angle or behaviour you’ve ever adopted and just ‘be’ was so eye opening. I cried my eyes out, not because it was a bad or unpleasant experience, but because it made me realise how I have always put my needs last in everything that I do. I cried helplessly about my emotions, feelings, thoughts and fears and then my smile gradually began to fade; perhaps it didn’t leave me entirely, but as I wiped away my tears and looked into the camera, these are the images that I now have. And they are entirely me and from my heart, unlike anything I have ever had and that’s why I love them so much. Thank you Darwaysh.
And I’d like you to take a moment to realise who you are in life, for the person you are. Not as a mother, a daughter, nor a friend, just you. What makes you you? We are all unique, and we are all beautiful inside.