Jen Davis has been photographing herself continuously for over a decade. Her series of self-portraits have resulted in a book called ‘11 Years‘ and is a powerful exploration of identity, beauty and body image. Picking up the camera when she was an undergraduate in 2002, she put herself in front of the lens to kick start her creativity.
‘For a long time I was taking photographs and they were always to do with the body, or loneliness, or desire,’ she says. ‘But I was never really comfortable putting myself in front of the camera.’ (Source)
Her photos are at once deeply personal, but still widely universal. These themes she addresses are ones we all know: intimacy, love, insecurity. We see Davis in moments that are intensely private – sitting on her bed fresh from the shower, towel around her head, buttoning up her cardigan; lying in bed in the arms of a lover, looking forlorn and uneasy (Fantasy No 1, 2004). She captures such truthful, non-embellished moments – like the fight to button up clothes that are too small for us, that we can’t help but empathize with her struggle. Davis manages to dispel any ideas of being a victim of obesity. Davis goes on to say:
“In the work what I kept returning to is: What is love? Am I loveable? Can someone find me attractive?… At home with mundane surroundings, I treated the camera as if it were my lover—the camera desiring me, providing me the glimpse of what was missing in my life…..In a way what I was doing was seducing myself. I couldn’t necessarily identify with the idea of someone seeing me as ‘beautiful,’ but I could accept that the pictures that I created and inhabited were. It was a very contradictory experience.” (Source)
Ironically after losing 7 stone, Davis has felt less inclined to turn the camera on herself. To find out what she is photographing now, go here.