Fantasy – a tool for empowerment.

This morning I woke up to a message from a client. She had just viewed the images from our shoot together. They had moved her to tears. From the outside it might seems as though my work is about vanity and just pretty pictures, but it’s important work and I stand by that notion wholeheartedly. I know first hand how empowering portraiture can be and that’s why I do what I do. I truly believe that everyone should have at least one photo of themselves that they absolutely love – framed and hanging in their home. Of course, our self worth should not be reduced to just our physical appearance, but self acceptance, self love and a positive body image are all crucial to our overall state of mind. The disparity between societal and mainstream media ideals of beauty and those of the real world needs to rectified. I see this happening more and more around me and it propels me to continue what a do. I continually search for and portray beauty in an all encompassing way.

Stacey Stellar | Melissa Katherine

model: Stacey Stellar


For some time I struggled with the notion that my work is not important. Other photographers would tell me that I should stop shooting the styles I enjoyed shooting. How can it be taken seriously? I ignored these suggestions (obviously) because I knew that what I needed to say as a photographer was important and as any good artist knows, it is always the challenge of letting your work speak for itself rather than what is included in your artist statement that matters.

Storm | Melissa Katherine

model: Storm


For a few years, although my images were beautiful, many times I felt that my message was not aligned with what I had created. This is definitely part of the artist process and something that artists spend entire lives striving for. You are usually your own harshest critic.
Thankfully, I have finally come to terms with the fact that my work will always be open to including elements of pinup, burlesque, old Hollywood glamour, pop culture, cinema as well as fashion photography. I aim to utilise these genres and at the same time dissect them, make them my own and create new worlds and indeed new ideals.

Bella Louche | Melissa Katherine

Model: Bella Louche

Fantasy is a powerful tool for empowerment and nostalgia is intrinsic to the fantastical worlds I create. Importantly, whenever the past is referenced we need to know why we are doing so and never be afraid to discard the parts that we don’t agree with.

For example pinup and rockabilly subcultures are a fantastic avenue for women to discover self love and gain confidence, but there are obviously less than ideal characteristics, stereotypes and attitudes of the past, particularly in regards to feminism, that truly belong in the bin. The aesthetics of any chosen subculture generally acts in opposition to mainstream culture where thin, white, young bodies are deemed ideal. At the core, this is a mechanism that relies on insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. The enemy to this mechanism is indeed empowerment and acceptance of diversity. The rise in popularity of past era-centric sub cultures has indeed had an influence on western society as a whole and it now seems to be all part of the global melting pot of body acceptance and positivity. There is no doubt there is still a long way to go, but if I can help change that one photograph at a time, I aim to do that with bells on.

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