We recently interviewed Italian-based photographer Yossi Loloi about his current project, Full Beauty, which was born from an interest to explore female fullness, while challenging conventional notions of beauty set by media and society.
What did you initially see in these women that made you want to photograph them nude?
“Women of size have always purely fascinated me. Like all things that are unknown I guess there is a natural tendency for one to be either curious or to just end up plain prejudiced. I was naturally curious and wanted to know more, and eventually I developed the need to photograph them.”
What were your intentions going into the project with regards to how you wanted to portray the women? Did you have any initial concerns on how this work may be perceived?
“My intentions were pretty clear from the first two photos I ever took. I knew I did not have to exploit them or force anything too much. All I was focused on was trying to create the most quiet and intimate, yet contemporary and strong images possible. I knew some viewers might have mixed feelings or even strong reactions to my work but I never took that in during the process. I was concentrated on giving the viewer the opportunity to admire something they rarely get to see.”
Where did you find the subjects and how did you entice them into being part of this project?
“The models that decided to take part of my project come from different places in the US and Europe. I didn’t have to do anything special to entice them into participating in the project. I guess when your idea matches someone’s belief, it just happens.”
The women seem very comfortable in front of camera and also seem to be comfortable in their skin. Are they models of some sort? If not, how did you get them to relax?
“Some of my models are or have been erotic models. Others are just women that wanted to be portrayed and that never had any experience whatsoever in front of a camera. There is never a sense of hurry in my photo shoots, and that helped them to relax. It is extremely important to spend some time together talking before taking out the camera.
“It’s a very special moment when someone drops their clothes in front of your eyes; you immediately understand it’s a gift that needs to be treated with the highest of respect. It’s a very strong feeling; it’s not the print, it’s not necessarily the exhibition, it’s that feeling you feel that makes you want to shoot again.”
Can you describe a typical shoot? Were the women photographed in their homes?
“The shoot moves quickly because trust has been established long before, allowing space to concentrate on other things such as the decorations, positioning and lighting. My models have all been very patient and understanding of anything I asked of them. I began taking pictures in hotel rooms, using what I had at my disposal and bringing with me little gear. I have also shot in their homes, although I try not to give too much information on ‘where we are’ in my images, leaving as much of a neutral zone as possible.”
There is definitely a sexy undercurrent in some of these images, especially obvious in the images of multiple women being photographed together. Was this something you were conscious about capturing or did this just happen naturally?
“To be completely honest I never looked for sexuality or even eroticism, in fact my goal was to shoot them almost expressionless, almost as if they were alone in the room; in some cases I looked for expressive glances.”
You started this project six years ago. Have you seen any changes with regards to the way people view the images? For instance, do you believe there is more acceptance now?
“To me the fact that Full Beauty has been published, exhibited or written about, that’s a major success. Fashion magazine Vogue for instance, has been showing more curvy women in the past years – that was taboo until not long ago. It’s not only the acknowledgement of ‘fat’ as subversive beauty; it’s the realization that simply anyone can be beautiful.”
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