Creative Photography Showcase #2: Jen Davis And Self-Portraits

Meet Jen Davis

Jen Davis is a 34 year-old photographer based in New York. She got her BA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2002 and her MFA in Photography at Yale University School of Art in 2008, after receiving quite an impressive number of grants and awards to fund her studies. For the past 9 years, her work has been featured in many magazines and both solo and collective exhibitions across the US, but, more importantly, she made great use of all this time to work on a personal project that gives an unexpected spin on the already classic self-portraits projects most photographers do.

Photo courtesy of Jen DavisPhotographers And Self-Potraits

At some point, all photographers are tempted to turn the camera around and become their own subjects. It’s an interesting challenge often fueled by narcissism, but nonetheless a great exercise of introspection and self-discovery. Most photographers choose to follow their evolution throughout a year or more and the project ends with a timelapse of the images. I recommend this type of challenge to everyone, no matter how experienced a photographer you are. Being able to see the transformations that affect your body throughout a longer period of time will invariably bring some good change in your life.

Photo courtesy of Jen Davis

A Brave Journey In Self-Perception Land

You’re probably asking yourself why I chose to showcase Jen Davis and not just any photographer, especially since self-portraiture is quite a common theme among photographers. I chose Jen because her Self-Portrait Project is something that needs to be seen. It isn’t just an introspective view on how time and life events changed her body, the project tells a story. And it’s one of the most powerful, brave and moving stories a photographer can tell about themselves. It’s a story of a young woman’s struggles with obesity and self-perception, versus the way she is perceived by others.

Photo courtesy of Jen Davis

Photography is the medium that I use to tell my story through life. It is an outlet for revealing my thoughts and opinions about the society in which we live. A society that dictates beauty based on one’s physical appearance.

In a society when beauty has been directly linked to very strict physical features that are often impossible to attain, Jen Davis raised her voice and dared to challenge these standards of perception by questioning the connection between beauty, body image and identity. Every photograph reveals aspects of her personal life, often stepping behind the curtains into her private life. She graciously reconstructs moments of real life and fantasies with a striking honesty, the essential ingredient that bears such strong emotion. We see her in everyday situations as she struggles being a plus-size woman and we empathize with her because, although we do our best to conform to society’s harsh definition of beauty, we know it’s unfair and profoundly superficial. 

Photo courtesy of Jen Davis

I have built a relationship between the camera and myself where I transform the act of taking a photograph into a performance for the camera.any of my pictures take place in my home, revealing aspects of myself that are private and personal. My work is partially based on personal experiences that I have re-constructed into a photograph, and the other part consists of made up fantasies of what I imagine a physical relationship to be regarding intimacy, love and desire.

Jen’s work is far from being a documentary. Although the emotions and the message are sincere, the pictures were not taken at the time they happened. Instead, she chose to beautifully orchestrate her settings and poses, so that they stress the obvious manner in which she stands out. Her feelings range from shyness, awkwardness to frustration or resignation, then step into sensuality for her fantasy scenarios that depict intimate moments between herself and men.

Photo courtesy of Jen Davis

Photo courtesy of Jen Davis

Please make sure to visit Jen Davis' web site