As the photographer revealed in her recent Nicer Tuesdays talk, Sophie Harris-Taylor uses her medium as a method of self-reflection, exploring relatable and humanist topics in beautifully candid ways. Her most recent, Epidermis, sees Sophie touch on the highly sensitive and much-talked-about subject of body positivity, particularly how we view imperfection.
The series of close-up portraits features 20 women from across the UK with varying skin conditions. Naked and make-up-free, the women strike a variety of poses recognisable from beauty shoots, drawing on the signatures of familiar imagery to draw attention to what we are – and definitely aren’t – used to seeing in the traditional media.
In doing so, Sophie hopes to break down the stigmas surrounding skin issues and celebrate diversity. “I wanted to create a series of work that empowers and allows women to love the skin they’re in regardless of what condition they have. Suffering from severe acne throughout my teens and 20s left me incredibly self-conscious and I longed for ‘normal’ skin.
“Normality is defined by the images we see all around us. We are led to believe all women have perfect, flawless skin – they don’t.
“Whether not shown or simply disguised, many women suffer from conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema, and most of these women feel a pressure to hide behind a mask of make-up, covering up what actually makes them unique. Here these beautiful women proudly bare their skin.”
One of the models, Charlotte Wyatt, who has acne and rosacea, commented on her portrait that she felt “really vulnerable” being photographed but is really happy with the pictures. “I can see that vulnerability but instead of belittling it and interpreting it as a negative thing, I think it comes across as powerful. Usually, we take pictures from our best angles to hide the things we dislike, but these pictures confront those features and make you realise that maybe those things really aren’t that bad after all.”