Victoria Janashvili Discusses Her Book Curves

Photographer Victoria Janashvili has shot for magazines GQ, FHM and Maxim in addition to many others, but it is her latest venture that is creating a buzz. Shot over many months in various locations, Curves is an art photography book that features models of all shapes and sizes as it celebrates the female form in all its beauty. I called Victoria to talk about the inspiration behind the book and how transformative the process was for her.

Lets talk about where the idea of the book came from.

As a fashion photographer I’ve shot all kinds of sexy women and supermodels for magazines like GQ and Maxim – so I had background in the fashion industry. The way that the body image awareness campaigns started was that a friend of mine invited a plus size model for a test shoot in my studio. We did a nude shoot and then the images appeared on the Internet and blogs republished them and so many people started sharing the story. It was very surprising and unexpected – I don’t see women as sizes, so to me these images never were that shocking. I read a lot of comments and I heard what people were saying and a lot of times they were putting slogans on the images that I didn’t agree with like bigger is better. This is not what I think and this is not what I do. I think that size in a woman or her color for instance, is a very secondary quality and doesn’t affect the overall perception of her beauty. I realized that it would be a good idea to show how I see women through photographs so I spent three months shooting the book and I was working seven days a week and traveling all over the place. A lot of people flew to New York or LA for a photo shoot and I can’t even describe the amount of work that has been done on this project. The way the book started is very different from what it became. The women that I photographed helped shape the look and the ideas behind it. Every single woman brought a new angle. The book features very different women – the smallest model is a size 00 and the biggest is a size 20, they range in age 18-64. I shot women of all different backgrounds, I even have women who are handicapped.

In the photographs the women show what their bodies are like and they also write a little paragraph where they speak about what it is like to be confident in their skin. I have supermodels who talk about growing up too skinny and too tall and how kids didn’t like them. I have women who battled eating disorders, I have older models who talk about how it feels to see their body change with age and what a struggle it is. There’s so much more – but I don’t want to give too much away here.

How did your view change from the beginning of making the book until the end?

The book is a journey of discovering what female beauty is. It might sound too dramatic but it indeed was life changing for me. Who I was as a person and my views on beauty changed a lot since I started this project. Funny enough I’m less sure of what beauty is now than I was before the book started. I tend to think that beauty is absolutely everything these days.

I think that there is a lot of emphasis placed on the way that women look and they are only seen as commercially viable if they are young and thin.

Yes, and it doesn’t make any sense. If you look back in time it hasn’t always been that way, very different types of beauty were celebrated throughout the human history. In our time, women are expected to look pretty and perfect all the time, which is impossible especially since the picture-perfect standard of beauty is barely reachable by anybody. So girls and women develop very strange issues – I barely know any woman who genuinely feels comfortable in her own skin and it’s so unhealthy. Plus obsessing about looks takes so much of our time and mind and we could definitely use all that energy in a much more positive and productive way. I spoke with a lot of men about what they find attractive and honestly I didn’t find too many men saying they’re are attracted to thinness or larger women. They were attracted to personality and looked at the women as whole.

Were people open to you making the book?

Most of the people who I worked with knew my point of view and they trusted me.

Why do you think people connected so much with the subject matter?

I think it’s an issue that most people care about deeply. We are living in a looks-obsessed society and I’m trying to help people like themselves, look at themselves or people around them with a little bit more love and kindness.

To purchase Curves click here

Introducing Noma Han

Korean model Noma Han has starred in campaigns for Benetton, GAP and Tommy Hilfiger in addition to appearing on the cover of Dazed, Fantastics and Elsewhere Magazine. These days Noma balances his time between modeling and his passion for tattooing.

Tell us how you got started in fashion.

I got started in fashion when I got into the modeling industry. Before that I was just a high school kid that loved buying clothes.

Coming from Korea what were your initial impressions when you  moved to New York and began modeling?

At first, my initial impression was “this is pretty much the same as Korea.” Then after I started modeling, I thought this city was so much different. Everything is big, scale-wise. It was just crazy.

What are your aspirations and goals for the future?

In the future, I want my life to be balanced between tattooing and modeling. I want to be happy about whatever it is that I do.

What do you hope to get out of your modeling career?

People, memories. I have met a lot of people from modeling and I have lots of memories that made me both happy and sad. It’s all precious and I wanna keep it.

How do you handle the pressure and rejection that comes with modeling?

It was hard at first. I got stressed and smoked a lot of cigarettes. Now I work out and that releases the stress from pressure and rejection. At the end of the day it is just a business.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

I’m not sure. I never had a dream before I started modeling. When I became a model I met lots of friends and people who inspired me and made me interested in many things, such as tattooing.

What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

The highlight of my career so far would be the time I made my decision to be a tattoo artist and model at the same time. For my modeling career highlight, it would be my third season in Europe. Everything just went really smoothly. Every casting that I went to went well and I did bunch of shows.

What have you discovered about yourself through modeling?

I used to be very quiet but I discovered that I’m actually loud and love having fun. I can be very comfortable in front of the camera.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m not sure. They might get surprised to find out that I stopped smoking.

Follow him at @nomahan

Supermodel Cameron Russell on Her TED Talk, Interrupt Mag and Space-Made

Since beginning her modeling career at the age of 16, Cameron Russell has worked with numerous photographers including Steven Meisel, Craig McDean and Nick Knight​.​ She has graced the pages of various international editions of Vogue, W, Self Service and Numéro in addition to campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Armani, Oscar de la Renta, and Yves Saint Laurent.

In October 2012, Cameron​,​ a Columbia University alumna​, gave a presentation at TEDx Mid-Atlantic. The talk would go on to become​ one of TED’s 20 most popular talks of all time. In addition to starting her own magazine, Interrupt, and grassroots organization Space-Made, Cameron continues to challenge perceptions and defy expectation.

Your TED talk was one of the 20 most popular TED talks of all time. What does this recognition mean to you?

On the one hand, I know that the very thing I was critiquing — mass media’s obsession with a narrow definition of beauty; skinny, youthful, white, and etc — was also responsible for my talk’s popularity. On the other hand, people email me and come up to me and talk about specific things I said. In those moments, when the talk seems to have inspired real thought, real feelings, in people, I feel confidence in my ability to be vulnerable, to tell stories, to teach, and to write.

You described Interrupt Mag as a “non-hierarchical, anti consumerist, inclusive fashion magazine for the (un)scene.” What do you want readers to get out of this?

Interrupt is an experiment! While we are making each issue, updating the site, editing and re-editing for print, we are always talking to our readers and editors and contributors about what they want media to be. That quote is our most recent declaration of our ideal media outlet. My dream for Interrupt was never to build the most successful magazine, but to constantly interrogate what a media platform is and then try to actually build it. For example, after the first two issues we decided Interrupt should have a rotating editor-in-chief (hence the “non-hierarchical”). Since then each issue has had a different person who curates and creates content.

Feminism has been in the zeitgeist for a number of years, yet of late it has suffered a backlash. What does feminism mean to you and what place does feminism have in 2015?

Feminism is a belief that if we root out gender inequality and find ways to improve women’s social, economic, and political freedom, the world will be better off, there will be less suffering and more happiness. I think in 2015 specifically feminism has served to organize lots of young people, especially online, and focus our conversations and even political action and protest.

The media doesn’t tell you what to think but it does tell you what to think about. What do you think about the role of mass media today, in particular the representations of women?

Women have less opportunity to contribute to conversations, because they are less likely to own media, be asked for their opinion regardless of their qualifications, be published or be given the chance to tell their story.” – Women Action Media

We need to fix that!

I admire your fearlessness in your pursuit of the truth. It would be easy to rest on your laurels yet you have advocated for women and groups that are marginalized. Why is this advocacy important to you?

I think my generation has to be the activist generation. Not because we are particularly different from any other generation, but because our time demands it. We have to face climate change, and I don’t think our leaders will do the work for us.

Tell us about the genesis of Space-Made and how you plan to evolve the community.

When I started Space-Made I was really inspired by the social justice work I saw artists doing all over New York. I wanted to support, connect, and collaborate with artist activists. I’m not sure exactly what will happen next, but the collaborations and relationships that have come out of the network are really exciting to see. Because social media is being used to organize large groups of people I think media makers who want to get involved are at a really exciting moment. If you can communicate an emotion or message that works millions may regram, repost and respond to it.

Follow Cameron on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and here

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Introducing Eian Scully

Eian Scully has graced the pages of Hercules, Interview, Haute Living, and Vogue Spain. Eian can also be seen in the latest campaign for 2(x)ist and recently completed a 10-page spread for Instinct.

How were you discovered?

I was discovered playing hacky sack in a park in Montreal.

What had you been planning to do before you started modeling?

I was planning on going into the fitness industry because I love anything athletic and really enjoy natural food and preparing it.

What expectations did you have for your career before you started?

As a 17-year-old right out of high school who had never traveled, I really just wanted to experience new cultures and see the world. 

What was the hardest thing to get used to with modeling?

I would have to say the hardest thing was getting used to the inconsistency. Some weeks and months are very busy and others are not.

Did you think about your longevity as a model when you started?

I really did not know where it was going to go, so no I did not think of the longevity as a model when I started.

What was your most memorable modeling job?

I would have to say the most memorable job I did was the 2(x)ist campaign. I put in a lot of hard work and was in the best shape of my life. I flew to LA for the first time and had a blast with the crew on set.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the industry?

The most surprising thing I learned about the industry is how much work goes on behind the scenes that no one outside the industry knows about and how much passion everyone has for their jobs.

Have you thought about what you want to do after you finish modeling?

I’d like to go into the fitness industry and pass on all I have learned in the last 10 years.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I’m a huge hippie and I love yoga and tea.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life

Follow him at @EianScully

Hannah Ferguson – Babe Watch

Hannah Ferguson hails from a small town in rural Texas. You might recognize her as a Sports Illustrated rookie or from her spot in those Carl’s Junior ads, but wherever you have seen her before get ready to see plenty more of her. Hannah spoke to me about growing up in a strict military family, adjusting to life in New York and why you won’t find her spending her down time at the mall.

Tell us how you got started in modeling.

After I graduated from high school I participated in a model search that summer, held by the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas. I ended up winning and immediately moved to Dallas and started modeling.

Growing up in rural Texas how did you adjust to life in New York?

My transition from life in Texas to life in New York was such a huge move for me. Where I’m from is completely the opposite from the city. I was lucky enough to live with two of my sisters for the first few years which definitely made my life a lot easier. As with a lot of things, it just took time to get used to the lifestyle.

Both of your parents are Marines. How did your upbringing influence your approach to modeling?

My parents instilled in me the importance of being a hard worker. If you want something you have to work for it.  Their support and those two factors played a big part in where I am today.

How did you feel when you were selected as one of Sports Illustrated’s rookies?

I was in utter shock and completely excited. It was a dream come true. I have been so blessed by this life changing opportunity. I couldn’t be more grateful.

What has the response been from your friends and family to your success?

I think some people are shocked given where I went to school and grew up, but everyone has been so supportive, encouraging and happy for me.

What do you hope to get out of your career?

I want to have longevity in my career and just continue to advance. I have new goals that I have set for myself and hope to be successful in reaching them.

If you weren’t modeling, what would you be doing?

I would have either taken the steps to open my own barber shop or become a pre-k/kindergarten teacher.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I hate shopping and I only go into a clothing store if there’s something I need.

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

My short-term goals are to continue to work hard and be successful so that when I become a mother and wife I can still continue to model. Ultimately, I like the idea of having a business of some sort.

Follow her at @TheHannahFerg