These last few weeks have seen the launch of an exciting project I first got involved with a year ago. This time, unusually, I was on the other side of the camera lens.
#PortraitPositive is a project by events organiser Stephen Bell, created to challenge the perceptions of beauty in the fashion industry and wider society. He organised a collaboration between London-based designer Steven Tai, charity Changing Faces and renowned portrait photographer Rankin.
16 models with visible differences and scars were photographed in items from Tai's collections and 3 of these models walked the runway at his 2018 London Fashion Week show. I was one of the lucky 16 modelling for a portrait and attending the Fashion Week launch, where I took a few pictures myself.
Both of these events were quite surreal. The portrait shoot with Rankin was an incredible experience, particularly for me as a photographer. He was very kind when he heard of my interest in the craft and got an assistant photographer to guide me round his set-up and explain the studio process. This afforded me some really valuable insight into his work and has been a real source of inspiration.
The launch of the project at London Fashion Week was fantastic. I had got to know some of these brilliant women and to see them on the stage representing such a positive project at an event as prestigious as LFW was really moving. I had a shot at modelling as well, and found it surprisingly fun. Everyone in attendance was very encouraging and interested in the message behind the project: that beauty comes in many forms, and that should be a cause for celebration.
The #PortraitPositive project has just been launched as a book, available at https://www.portraitpositive.com . You can buy a copy with your preferred cover and get all 16 portraits alongside interviews and a foreword by Katie Piper, with all proceeds going to Changing Faces, a brilliant charity I've been associated with for a number of years now.
Thank you to everyone who's been in touch with words of encouragement after the launch. Here's to challenging negative perceptions