Portraits and article by Demetrius Fordham
I had been a photographer in New York for ten years when I decided to make a change …
I began my career working in the strange and surreal world of fashion photography. The images of women we created for fashion ads and editorials were heavily airbrushed and retouched. Every perceived flaw or so-called imperfection was carefully removed. We’d put these heavily modified images out into the world and call that ‘beautiful.’
The Ageless Beauty series was born from the realization that I was part of a machine that propagated an unrealistic definition of ‘beauty.’ I wanted to challenge the idea that airbrushed perfection is synonymous with beauty by celebrating women who might not feel ‘beautiful,’ comparing themselves to society’s glossy standards. I wanted to show that growing older blesses us all with a timeless and natural beauty. I wanted to show that the process of aging is something to be proud of.
Women in particular often are conditioned to fear aging, feeling pressured to get surgery and purchase products. To me this is bizarre and unrealistic.
As I see it, laugh lines are beautiful. Grey hairs are beautiful. Things that so many women have come to fear, cover up, dye or hide are the very things that add depth and richness to their true beauty. in order to highlight these natural aspects of getting older, I don’t use photo editing to retouch any of the portraits. My intention is to normalize this inevitable process of aging so that it can be celebrated rather than feared.
The women I photographed responded to an invitation for subjects via social media and casting sites. They all willingly volunteered, and knew what to expect. But to be completely vulnerable and allow oneself to be seen can be difficult for anyone. It took some time for each of the participants to relax and feel comfortable. Each photo shoot was a simple collaborative process. There were no forced poses. They were not told what to do or how to move. Everything felt very relaxed and natural. For each of these remarkable women the process ended up being a very liberating and rewarding experience.
I no longer work as a fashion photographer; I just didn’t find it gratifying any more. I now focus specifically on portraiture, and I love it. I’m invigorated by actually knowing people. There is something gratifying in these very raw human interactions, where we capture something real, instead of generating images that are contrived and heavily produced.
– Demetrius Fordham