With these portraits, I am interested in uncovering a facade of identity. It is fascinating to consider the intricate variety of traits that we as individuals choose, or unconsciously adopt, in creating the persona that appears to be our “identity.”
Living in Los Angeles, this constructed presentation of our selves seems especially pronounced. Often, it appears that the layers we accumulate and adopt in creating a public identity interfere with what we’re actually feeling and who we actually are.
Several years ago, when I met one of the models that I ended up photographing (and who inadvertently inspired this project), I began wondering why an attractive, healthy model in this famously glamorous and trendy city would choose to rid herself of the individual trademark of hair that seems to play such a central role in how we are defined. She explained that she wanted to overcome the stereotype of how most of us express -what she believed to be- a very conventional and predictable definition of beauty, and opt instead for something more striking where the expression of her face and the look in her eyes would be clearly seen. I found her decision compelling, vulnerable and yet quite bold – she was exposed, and in that exposure there was something very distinct and real beneath her gaze. I was struck by the extreme choice she had made in presenting herself to the world. There was nothing for her to hide behind with her shaved head; even clothed, she looked naked.
When shooting these women, I tried to capture something universal -yet elusive- that ordinarily escapes a lot of popular portraiture. I avoided any artifice and pose, and observed that by discarding traditional expectations of femininity, my subjects conveyed a powerful, distilled authenticity. A certain reductive truth emerged from the shadows. My camera was part x-ray, part stethoscope, and I glimpsed a sublime moment in the lives of these individual souls.