"Flawless: The Naked Series" - April 2017
"Whether I'm Wearing Lots of Makeup or No Makeup, I'm Always the Same Person Inside." - Lady Gaga
Within the last five years makeup and contouring has become one of the biggest trends among women - and men. Ladies are caking on makeup, more so than usual, to adhere to the latest fads - to get that YouTube tutorial down pat. Oddly enough they're not doing it for the guys, they're doing it so they can be recognized among other ladies who share the same passion. As fun and flirty as makeup can be I feel like I don't see enough women embracing their natural skin. Their freckles, and so-called "flaws" should be celebrated.
This shoot was probably one of the most challenging for the group of girls I chose to participate in it. Since W&C is about empowering women I wanted to take friends who love makeup, and friends who don't often wear makeup, and show them exactly how gorgeous they are. I pushed their comfort levels by taking photos close up, whereas wide shots can hide those sun spots or dark circles from the lens. Each girl that stepped in front of the camera was equally as nervous, but I would have none of that. I want these ladies to see them the way I do. For them to see WHY I want them on the site, WHY I think they're beautiful, fearless, passionate, and powerful beings. Celebrating natural beauty is the best feeling out there. Everyone's faces can tell a story - eyes can hide secrets, lips can share joy, freckles can show wisdom. I'm so proud of each and every girl that braved it and went "naked" for this series.
Yes, makeup can be a fun way to express yourself - and trust me we are all about self-expression - however I don't want it to be a mask to hide behind. I never want makeup to be a tool that society uses on women to make them believe they're not going to be taken seriously, or be considered beautiful, or powerful unless they have tons of makeup on.
One of the main reasons I chose "The Naked Series" as a topic for the site was because of an incident that happened back in college. One of my friends had just gotten her senior picture back - you know the ones you take with your cap and gown before graduation? Yeah those. I've always envied her because she was never one of those girls that would wear makeup to class or everyday errands. She'd usually be fresh faced unless we went out partying and her skin always looked so healthy and glowing (in a good way of course). Well, one of her other "friends" made a joke about the fact that she chose not to wear makeup for a school picture like that and my friend immediately looked defeated. I was furious that someone who had their own insecurities about going makeup free would project those fears onto someone who was comfortable in her own skin. When thinking of topics to do photo shoots with I immediately wanted to do this one to prove to that girl - and all the other girls that think like her - that every woman is beautiful with or without makeup. End of story.
Photographs by: Jamie Killen