Femininity in photography is not what it used to be. It is no longer romantic or desirable. As women, it seems that cotemporary images found in fashion and fine art are created to make us feel less than adequate. I yearn for the time when sensuality and grace could be found in subtle incarnations rather than the vulgarity seen today. I am inspired by the extraordinary light found in old Hollywood portraits, the graphic framing of photographic masters, the subtle richness in color of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and the confident carriage of the pinup bombshells. I aim to capture real womanliness that is seen in visible pores, fine lines, undesired rolls, overt curves, hidden hairs, and fading scars—the body’s unique characteristics exposed in vulnerable and intimate moments. These wonderfully human attributes are never exploited; rather, I try to create images where these women, my friends, not only accept who they are, but possess the personal strength that is achieved with self-ownership. There is great power to be found, for both photographer and subject, in moments of uncertainty, during times of slight discomfort, or in the pure indulgence of allowing oneself to be exposed and unafraid.
I grew up looking very different from most women, always tall and full of curves, and as a result, the truly feminine form is my greatest inspiration and what I relate to the most. Acceptance of self comes with age and determination. I cherish the opportunity to create an environment where my female subjects feel gorgeous, where they are free, not overtly sexualized, and most importantly, never judged. These collaborations result in tableaus full of voluptuous charisma, confidence, and the almighty femininity. - Samantha West