Hardwick Studio » Black and white portrait photography

Body Traces

Body Traces
Salt print

From behind a privacy screen, and unseen by me, each woman chose how she would be represented in the photograph. Casting off her clothes to create a photographic trace with her body, my role was to facilitate the process. A pinhole film camera and an exposure of sixty seconds would not record movement, however remaining static would show in detail. The ghostly images are reminiscent of Victorian spirit photography.

This project featured in my BA(Hons) Photography degree and evolved in response to conversations with many women about the negative feelings they held towards their own body. Our society is bombarded with imagery of ‘ideal’ bodies and the pressure on women can be immense, with whole industries profiting from women feeling bad about themselves and so much of this imagery objectifying or sexualising women.  I was curious to see whether photography could be used as a positive experience, removing many of these negative connotations. Rather than go down the make-over route, which potentially reinforces all of the bad feeling by ‘correcting’ with hair, make-up, lighting, posing and retouching, I wanted to explore an idea of casting off what we are not to discover what we are.