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Work / Photography

Eva O’Leary’s striking images tackle consumerism and masculinity

Photographer Eva O’Leary’s talents lie in taking powerful yet seemingly unrelated images and bringing them together to create intricate and compelling narratives. Eva’s images are inspired by the media, pop culture, what she sees on the internet and other images she’s exposed to on a daily basis. This series of photographs focus on Eva’s experiences of consumerism and have been made in response to “capitalism’s contradiction; promising individualism while ignoring the individual.”

Her crisp hues and intriguing compositions are something we swooned over last time we featured her work. But rather than let colour and style drive her photography, Eva sees them as tools to communicate. “I use this language of advertising and gloss to get at something much darker, something that is related to my experience in the world as a woman and the trauma that occurs as a result of growing up in a hyper masculine culture.”  

Eva’s experiences have heavily influenced her work. In her teenage years she spent half of her time with her Irish mother and American father, living in an excessive, frat party and football-obsessed town in the US where she was made very aware of how she was being perceived at a young age. Acknowledging this constant objectification in such a male-driven setting, Eva now hopes to shape her experiences into a new narrative, “one that mimics the masculine nature of media but is centred around a female experience”.

Many of the images have been staged and carefully constructed with real thought and research behind them. “My research involves a lot of digging through vernacular pictures – those made by women. I look for images that reflect something that’s been on the tip of my tongue, or recognising something I haven’t found a word for yet,” explains Eva. Looking at Yelp, Instagram, Facebook and hashtag trends, the photographer sources images from pictures that might usually be ignored for their “female-centric” content. This influence from the media and pop culture is seen aesthetically in her images, where portraits of interesting faces feel almost cinematic and ordinary scenes, objects and patterns are elevated into something more ambiguous and weighty. 

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