Isabel Zapata: Girls by Girls

Photography and Text by Isabel Zapata, Copyright 2016




I used this project to challenge the misogynistic daily portrayal of women’s bodies in both erotica and general media. Most of the erotic fashion photography we have been studying in class was photographed and directed by men, and so I was excited to test the waters of what erotica could be from a female gaze. The first trend I wanted to challenge in my series was the relationship between the model and the onlooker. A lot of the erotic fashion photography you see in magazines like Vogue or Vanity Fair commonly treat the models more as objects rather than subjects. This can be seen in the ways that models’ bodies and faces are turned at an angle or away from the lens to sexualize body parts or the fashion they’re wearing. For this reason, I knew I wanted to make the gaze between the model and the lens the most important part of this series. In every single photograph, there is intimate, intentional eye contact between the focus of the photograph and the onlooker.

Choosing lipstick as my fashion focus gave me the opportunity to play with color in this series as well. I decided to put the models in a neutral setting as well as incorporating a bathtub series which I had been desperate to try. I also knew that I wanted to keep the bathtub water as opaque as possible; turning it white to allowed me to really chose on how much skin and exactly what skin was shown. I had no intentions of making this shoot an explicit erotic series. My approach to this was angled towards being suggestive and mysterious, and how inherently sexy that is. Therefore, the faces of the models are the focus of the seduction without the aid of any explicit, objectifying sexualization of the model’s bodies.


About The Author: Isabel Zapata is sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To read additional articles by Isabel Zapata, go here


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