“I AM – Celebrating the Perfect Imperfect.”
It’s been my passion, my intuition, my vision, my desire, my obsession, and my quest to
reveal and showcase ageless beauty of women over 40 to make us all more visible.
Using my camera as a therapeutic tool and instrument of social commentary, I have attempted to capture, something
raw and refined, edgy and elegant, honest and pure.,
Naked portraits of strong women who dare to step out of their comfort zone is finally here.
It’s been fun.
It’s been 7 years.
It’s been a challenge.
with a steep learning curve.
It’s been an auspicious journey
filled with extraordinary encounters
and exceptional women.
It’s been a time for creating new friendships,
a time of mixed emotions,
and a time of change and transformation.
It’s not easy to stop at 121 photos…there are always new faces and new encounters worth capturing
but I don’t want to lose momentum.
I AM is ready.
Presenting… the divine feminine figure of the 21st century
She is very much alive and on the rise.
I have witnessed her transformation throughout this amazing creative journey.
I AM in awe of her and
I AM a part of her.
We, meaning, the women over 40, who are ready to own their sensuality without being sexualized,
stand naked and bare it all.
There is no judgement involved in how our bodies look when we see into each other’s souls. We accept we are all goddesses.
We are so much more than our bodies.
We can celebrate our pasts, nourish our present selves and relish what our futures will hold.
So, is it controversial to pose NUDE?
Yes, of course! But what’s wrong with being controversial?
Maybe it is for the best! I will leave it up to you.
When I started my career in Germany at age 23, being a female photographer was a relatively rare occurrence. At 28 I decided to move to Paris to gain more international experience. There, I learned more important techniques that enabled me to produce many editorial spreads for fashion magazines and campaigns for advertising agencies. Over time I began to notice the absence of older women in the advertisements and images we were creating. Facial cream, for example targeting women over 50 or 60 was shot with models in their 30ties and still retouched in postproduction to create “the perfect” image. Who did this benefit? What image does it infiltrate in our subconsciousness? Surely not the “real” consumer who could sometimes be plagued with feelings of self-doubt or feel subjected to body shaming. I knew “real” women could never look like a cosmetically altered photo-shopped model. Nor should they try.
Despite the fact that we were well past the sexual revolution and the women’s rights movement, I started to wonder whether our fashion magazines were still in the dark ages, treating the everyday mature woman as an aberration. This idea percolated inside for a long time. In the meantime, I had passed my forties, I was happily married with two beautiful children. Yes, I had become one of the forgotten women. And I knew it was time for me to dedicate more time to photographing these women.
My first thought was to capture these women with only natural or no makeup and celebrate different ages, sizes, shapes, and ethnicities. I wanted these women to be unencumbered by societies norms and I wanted them to be able to see themselves as beautiful. The concept of photographing these women naked was partly to challenge the women but also to challenge myself.
I was hoping to strip away all of the make-believe notions of women being perfect, and strip away all the useless insecurities women have imposed on themselves. I had my camera to guide me, and I followed my intuition.
Slowly I discovered that I was creating a safe place for many women who desperately wanted to celebrate their imperfect-perfect selves.
During this journey, I have learned as much about myself as I have learned about these women. And I am happy to report, the perfect imperfect woman was born – She is an honest, fearless and ageless beauty, in all her divine diversity.
I believe we are more than how our bodies look in a photograph.
Witness the 121 women – hundred and twenty-one, I AM statements.
Powerful individual voices that are unashamed and fearless.
Embarking on this project has been a joyful collaborate journey.
In addition to the photos, I wanted to include personal statements from all the women on this journey with me.
My concept was to move away from the notion of NUDE photography as a purely voyeuristic artform. I wanted to approach the work, as both photographer and as photo journalist to try and delve deeper into each woman’s psyche in order to fully capture what lies beneath their skin. How else can we see a woman’s true beauty?
Each photograph and individual statement reveal private aspects of these women’s lives, that resonate with all women and help break down all kinds of barriers. At its core, the book can be seen as a type of rebellion and a movement against creating fake realities, challenging women to create their own reality. It embraces the forgotten woman and establishes her place in society for everyone to admire. The photos and statements are a creative and intuitive collaboration that celebrates being uncomfortable in order to discover a greater sense of one’s own authentic self.
This book was never meant to be just another NUDE book that would present women as sexual objects.
My goal was to show women’s inner beauty without ignoring their sensuality.
Die innere Mitte – translated into the inner middle/center/balance was actually my first idea for the title of the book,
before a flash hit me with the title, purely “I AM.”
Going back to the roots.
I hope this shows in my pictures.
Contrary to my work-life as a professional photographer for the advertising and fashion industry, I approached these photo sessions in a very spontaneous and organic way, leaving enormous space for the creative process to evolve. Some of the women were friends, others I met for the first time on the day of the shoot. Sometimes when I arrived on location, I did not know what was going to happen, sometimes we had a vague idea – “let’s shoot in the snow, let’s shoot in the woods, let’s shoot on the Manhattan Bridge”. I always left a space for the unforeseen element.
No team, no styling, no hair and make-up artist, no assistant, no light equipment.
Just me, my camera, mostly daylight, and my subject. All the elements to create an entirely natural and uninhibited type of experience; reducing everything down to only the bare essentials….no pun intended.
I interviewed my ladies upfront, asking “how do you see yourself? What do you want to accomplish and communicate?” I listened for a long time before I started working with them, but it never felt like work.
We were playing, having fun, being creative.
Everything depended on my being able to establish the element of trust. There is no collaboration without trust.
Taking off the robe……Removing the distraction of cloth, ensuring them that there is no one to be other than oneself.
This was part of the process of them letting go of their inhibitions, being in the moment, purely nude, no role playing,
no veneer, no costume, just their imperfect selves stripped down to their soul.
Sometimes it went fast, while doing a snow-angel on an icy surface, it lasted not even a minute (see the amazing out of the comfort zone experience of Charlotte) or up to two hours sessions with hundreds of images and variations.
I never wanted the sessions to have time frames to encourage spontaneous movement.
I LOVE shooting unlimited possibilities.
While editing the images I always follow my gut.
NO retouch is necessary in my eyes. This requires me to work harder to ensure my models end up being seen in a flattering but truthful way. Also, I don’t believe it is necessary to expose flaws in an unflattering way unless it was requested by the model. We featured several women with scars, breast cancer, surgery etc. For some it was important to show these “so-called” imperfections, as they have worked tirelessly to come to terms with them and are often made stronger by accepting them.
The final product is a cross generational collaboration that touches on universal issues. It speaks to women of all ages and empowers them to become more accepting and more self-assured. This is why the book is so much more than a collection of nude photos and personal statements. Some of the statements are short stories, some are poems, and some are only glimpses of intimate fragments from woman’s personal lives. Altogether, I hope they have become a remarkable tribute to mature women.
The un-retouched women who are over 40 years up to 99, are representative of all the divine feminine women who have pushed themselves out of their comfort zones. These are women who were willing to share their intimate stories, struggles and triumphs, and they are not alone. I believe there are hundreds of thousands more behind them – ready, willing and able.
The idea of creating a soulful naked portrait of women of all ages grew out of a desire to rethink what defines a beautiful woman. I hope it will expand the definition of beauty for future generations and celebrate women’s flaws for all women and men to admire and really see.
The process of discovering every woman’s essence, and attempting to portray a slice of her world, her vision, and her story has been an honor and a timeless gift.
No age is mentioned as I do not like the age stamp. What is age anyway?
We are all ageless spiritual beings continuing to explore and to celebrate our shared journeys.
In silence and in unison we declare, I AM THAT I AM!
In the end, my intuition and their trust were the most important factors that influenced the process.
Also, as we were shooting the I AM, my respect for each and every woman was always front and center to my work. I wanted to put each subject at ease and ensure them that I understood how they felt……Of course, the ultimate goal was for them to admire their nude portrait. Thankfully, based on their feedback, I feel I succeeded in my efforts.
I am eternally, grateful to each and every one of these beautiful ladies for letting me into their private lives.
I would not want it any other way.
“I AM – Celebrating the Perfect Imperfect.”
280 pages, 121 portraits et témoignages personnels de femmes âgées entre 40 et 99 ans.
ISBN – 978-0-578-57628-2