Natasha Komoda, founder of the photo project Femmeography, said she photographs people with with little makeup, simple fashion and natural lighting.
“The whole goal was to capture the people I was photographing, not people with lots of makeup and perfectly styled clothing,” Komoda said.
Komoda, who started Femmeography in 2013, said she supports body modification by celebrating people living their lives for who they are in any given moment. Komoda said whoever a person is in the moment is a reason to be celebrated.
Shaina Bray, a model for Femmeography and the “Our Bodies, Our Choices” calendar, said she gets tattoos because they represent a piece of her and a moment in her life.
"Tattoos and piercings are not harming anyone else and in some cases they are a form of healing for me," Bray said.
Bray said she went through a marriage in which she was told what she could and could not do with her body.
“It’s my body, and I can do what I want to,” Bray said.
Komoda said she thinks people feel judged for many things including tattoos.
“I think women are so policed with how we look," Komoda said. "It is not just body modification that makes us feel stereotyped or judged and that goes back to the calendar shoot.”
In January 2018, "Our Bodies, Our Choices," an exhibit featuring photos from a calendar of tattooed Bloomington women, was dispalyed at the Blueline Gallery.
The project was organized by Alicia Suarez, director of women's, gender and sexuality studies at DePauw University, and the photos were taken by Komoda.
The proceeds of the calendar go to organizations supporting reproductive rights, including Planned Parenthood of Bloomington and All Options Pregnancy Resource Center.
Suarez, who appears in the calendar, said being a woman and being heavily tattooed is definitely considered deviant. She also said being a heavily tattooed women questions hegemonic beauty standards in our culture.
At the beginning of Femmeography, Komoda was mainly taking photos of models, she said.
Komoda said models were often terrified there was not going to be a makeup artist or hairstylist.
"I thought it was so strange that these people who are the beauty standard of our culture were terrified of being photographed without makeup and without all that stuff that is put on top of them," Komoda said.
She said her first subjects also seemed to be terrified of being themselves because they were so used to being directed and told exactly what to do and where to look.
Music is an important part of Femmeography because during the shoot, subjects dance and move to their favorite music, Komoda said.
“I am photographing them as they are moving and dancing in hopes to capture these in-between moments where they are in this place in their mind where they are free” Komoda said. “They are not being judged. They are not judging themselves. No one is judging them.”
Komoda decided to start photographing non-models and found that it was the same experience. By the end of those first shoots models felt liberated and free, Komoda said.
“People came out of the shoot feeling free and that they could be who they are,” Komoda said. “They are our bodies. We can do whatever we want with our bodies."
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