Day 89: Lauren Duddy

I commend today’s creative feminist (@laurenduddy) for the immense bravery, courage and insight she has. As to acknowledge, unpack and unlearn one’s own internalised misogyny (which most women have experienced living under a patriarchy) is challenging, hard but necessary work.

1. Hi! My name is Lauren Duddy (@laurenduddy) and I am an Irish Photographer, currently based in Belfast.

2. Photography for me has always been a vehicle for self-expression and communication. Growing up I was very shy, and I have struggled with verbal communication for most of my life. Photography broke down certain communication barriers and allowed me to interact with people around me, as well as communicate my own ideas and experiences. I believe my interest in portraiture stemmed from a desire to socialize and get to know other people.

At first, the thought of photographing someone I hadn’t met felt daunting and I believed I would not be successful at what I wanted to do, but the more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone the more confident and skilled I became at my craft. My decision to shoot on film was primarily because I loved the aesthetic of it, I also felt if I was going to be a photographer, I needed to learn all mediums. I now prefer to shoot film as I really enjoy the process, it also helps me break the ice when I am photographing new people as they tend to have an interest in the camera itself along with the process.

3. I love photographing women and girls, I began my journey as a feminist in my mid-teens and one of the first things I wanted to unpack was my deep internalized misogyny and my performative hatred of all things I perceived to be feminine. One piece of writing that resonated with me at this time was a chapter from John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing”, in his writing he wrote “From earliest childhood, she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another.” This piece of writing by Berger encouraged me to explore how not only women but men, in art, film, and media have been presented through the very binary male gaze. Through my work, I hope to subvert the male gaze by taking up space in a place that has few female photographers and using my agency to take photographs of people in spaces that make them feel safe, comfortable, confident, and beautiful.

4. For me, being a creative feminist means to keep learning, but also unlearning. We must dismantle structures and belief systems that were built to not be inclusive and are damaging to how we perceive not only gender but race, sexuality, class, and ability.

Lauren’s absolutely breath-taking photography redefines the conventional gaze and presents both the viewer and the model with an empowering, confident and beautiful new gaze. It is absolutely beautiful to see how Lauren’s photographic practice not only holds so much comfort and confidence within her models and sitters, but it has also been an empowering and connecting practice for Lauren too. Lauren has found a creative mode of communication within her practice, which feels most natural to her. I cannot emphasise enough how thrilled I am to share Lauren’s beautiful journey and photography with you all, so please show her lots of love by following her page @laurenduddy and commenting your thoughts below! You are a true inspiration Lauren, thank you.

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