©Lauren Davis

©Lauren Davis


By SPECIWOMEN Photography Lauren Davis

"I was born and raised in New York City. I live in a walk up loft in downtown Manhattan. I am 17 years old and studying Visual Arts and Psychology at Bennington College."

What got you into photography?

My friends and I got into picture taking around the same time that we started wearing bras and wanting boys attention. We used to dress up and pose with tons of makeup just for the camera; as if it were society’s judging eye, determining our worth. Trudging through adolescence in front of the camera, my initial relationship to photography was an unhealthy one. The camera gave me the power to spin up false tales of perfection to my viewers. My true love for photography was born when I learned to challenge the need to edit the world around me. I strived to find beauty in the unedited truths.

What do you photograph?

I photograph what is personal to me. The people that are most meaningful to me are the people that I want to capture. There is a power and intimacy in the relationships with the people I love that just cannot be staged. My brother is prominent in my photographs, due to the comfort and closeness we share as siblings. When I feel completely connected to who or what I am photographing, the act of taking pictures feels less mechanical and more artistic.  I also photograph myself. Selfies have this stigma of being vain and self indulgent, but I disagree. To me they are an opportunity for humans, and especially women, to understand their appearance and take ownership of it.

Who is your audience?

I photograph for myself more than anyone else. I share my work on Tumblr. I appreciate when people respond to my posts on the internet. It assures me that I am not the only one to find beauty in these moments. I like making viewers feel uncomfortable and challenging what they are programmed to expect. I want to open people up, and allow human empathy to spread in a world in which it is lacking.

What is your set up? 

I find that my iPhone takes the best photos. Not because of the quality, but because of its portability and spontaneity. I used a huge Canon 7D but it was too bulky for sneaky candids. Now I use a smaller Fujifilm X100S or my dad’s good ol’ Canon AE-1 from his college days.

Where does your art bring you?

I use social media platforms like Instagram(@chiarawood) and Tumblr(chiaramwood.tumblr.com) I have had my work in shows, zines, and art collectives. More is to come I hope.

What are your favorite places in New York City? 

I love Washington Sq. Park.  I sit amongst the people there and imagine what it would have been like 50 years ago. I am always at Monk Thrift Store on 8th and McDougall, it has a great 1 dollar rack! Bushwick Inlet park, this beautiful pier with a priceless view of Manhattan. Perfect for a glass of wine with friends.

Who inspires you and your photography?

My main source of inspiration is Patti Smith. Some others would be Nan Goldin, Mary Ellen Mark, Francesca Woodman, Alice Neel, Egon Schiele, Chloe Sevigny, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cocorosie, Lou Reed, and my mother. My photography bible is hands down Nan Goldin’s “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.” She finds beauty in the most pained places.

How is being a woman shaping you?

As a female, there are a lot of vulnerabilities that I am sensitive to that men have the privilege to be unaware of. Portrayal of women in the media is marketed for the male gaze. It took me a while to realize that although my body and its natural functions do not meet the standards portrayed by the media, I am not disgusting, and instead rightfully human. My photos work to humanize females and to capture the reality that pop culture does not. I hope the next generation of young women will not have to be as harsh a critic to their reflection in the mirror.


Slideshow courtesy of Chiara Wood