People & Inspiration

In Focus: After 15 Years In The Industry, Photog Sara Black Reclaims What It Means To Be Female

In Focus: After 15 Years In The Industry, Photog Sara Black Reclaims What It Means To Be Female

In the history of photography, women have been relegated—in most instances— to an almost always passive role, where they are either presented as objects for male consumption or as a come hither marketing tool. These photographs proliferate the everyday, becoming so ingrained in the fabric of social context, that it has been the norm for the public to survey the sexual appeal of any woman who appears in the image and for women themselves to pick up the message hidden in plain sight: a highly idealized interpretation of what a female body should look like, skewing perceptions of what it truly mean to be feminine.

It is precisely this phenomenon that Sara Black calls out, having been on either side of the lens both as a subject and as a renowned fashion and beauty photographer whose work has graced leading glossy magazines and some of the country’s biggest advertising campaigns. To celebrate her 15th career year, Sara has chosen to present a more nuanced, complex interpretation of femininity through "Now, She Is," an exhibition of photographs of female nudes showcased in Pineapple Lab Gallery last May 24 to June 3. “I feel, when I worked on these, the essence of my subjects was distilled to such a fine drop that there was no room to interpret it any other way,” Sara reveals, “It was just simple and pure and it retains the same message for me today as when I first photographed them.”

Working to shine a light on the diverse beauty of women, her exhibit examines the alternate side of portraiture, appreciating what it means to be an outsider, especially when it comes to interpretations of the female body. “The objective, many times, when taking a portrait, is that you're trying to elicit or draw out the emotions or the essence of a person,” says Sara, “Many of those shoots are done in a commercial aspect, and a specific end goal needs to be met. This was absolutely liberating because nobody is telling me how to perceive something. This is the way that I perceive women. I just shot it how I saw it.” 

[related: Life Peg: Sara Black, Breathing Love and Light Everywhere She Goes]

The style in which the photographs were taken are highly indicative of Sara's brand of photography, where her perception of the world proliferates each image in the collection. “It's almost automatic for me; the moment that I meet somebody, I'm already unconsciously seeing the best in them,” she relates, “That, really, is the vehicle for me to photograph them in their most beautiful state because, unconsciously, I'm already thinking: 'What is the best part of you? Let's push that forward.'”

[related: Cheat Sheet: Celebrity Photographer Sara Black Shows Us How To Slay The Selfie!]

While Sara wouldn’t be the first—or the last—woman to pick up a camera in order to reclaim female representation, it is a fitting commemoration of her years of working and excelling in an industry that she loves. Through the joyful, lighthearted, and playful imagery of women in their most authentic state, she posits questions that are quite relevant, given the issues surrounding body positivity of women in the country. “Where are Filipinas at today? Is this kind of message commonplace already? Have we reached a level of acceptance of our bodies that we can discuss it and view it without guilt or shame?”

ALSO READ: Hottie Alert: A Self-Confessed Ex-Party Boy, This Model-Athlete Narrates His Journey As A Young Dad

Photographs by the author, Carla Laus, and Carol Go




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