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.
Let’s 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