Friday, 5 April 2019

How Bex Saunders Uses Photography As A Self Empowerment Tool


Most millennials are in the same boat when it comes to the trials and tribulations of social media. We take countless selfies within 2 minutes, slightly changing angles and lighting in the hopes of finding the perfect image. Then we'll look at it for so long that we end up thinking we look a bit odd in it, then either delete or post it only to end up deleting it when it doesn't reach a certain amount of likes. It's a routine carried out by millions of teens. 

But when's the last time we took a photo just for ourselves, just for fun? We often think about what will please other people, but I think it's so important that we capture our authenticity so we can learn to love and embrace it. Who cares if you look cocky or vain? Plan out a whole photo-shoot to yourself if you want! 


Bex Saunders is an artist who has reclaimed the art of the selfie. A multi award winning photographer from the South of England, Bex shoots self portraits to 'raise my confidence and make me feel good about myself'.





Your most recent project focuses on self-love and empowerment; how did you come to this subject and why do you find it important?

I realised it had been a while since I had shot any self portraits, and so I decided to go all out. I brought a lot of props, new equipment and backdrops. I really just wanted to push myself as an artist. Not only as a photographer, but as a model and stylist. I shot hundreds of photos and several concepts within hours. It made me feel so accomplished as an artist, and I think that shows in the final images. It is an important subject, as it is easy to fall into a creative block. This can then in turn effect your self esteem. 




What’s your creative process?

I normally begin by writing my ideas down in a book. Then once I am ready to shoot, I set up the lighting, backgrounds, wardrobe and styling. If it is a self portrait shoot, I'll probably end up shooting for 40 minutes or so. I then always begin to edit immediately, as it is my favourite part of the creative process. I probably spend around 30 minutes per image editing in Photoshop. Once everything is edited, I will upload the photos to my social media over the period of a few days. I don't like uploading too much at once. 

Where do you find inspiration?

As cliche as it sounds, there is inspiration everywhere: words, colours, clothing, location or songs. The list is infinite. I have based entire series around a single colour, or a single sentence.  




Have you ever felt pressure to look a certain way due to social media culture, and how did you overcome it?

Strangely, no. I have always been very confident and secure in myself. Other people are not competition when it comes to looks, as their beauty does not detract from my own.  I have all of the editing skills necessary in order to make myself look like the conventionally pretty insta girl, but I don't feel the need to do that. When it comes to editing self portraits, I'll perhaps cover any break outs that I am having but I won't change the way I look. I like my self portraits to be authentic. 




When do you feel most beautiful?

I feel most beautiful once I have completed a successful series of self portraits. I think that is because it makes me feel accomplished, as well as beautiful. 

What would you tell young people reading this who feel like they have to look a certain way and rely on likes for self-esteem?

Using likes as a measurement of self worth is dangerous and bordering on pathetic. Self esteem comes within, and not from external sources. You will never feel content, or happy, if you rely on others to validate your existence. You, and only you, are in control of your self esteem.  It might be a long journey to high self esteem, but it will be worth it. You should start with realising that social media is fake for the most part. 




Do you have any other exciting projects in the pipeline?

Right now I am focused on shooting editorials, as that is new for me.  I normally only shoot single images per concept, but I want to expand that to 7-15 shots per concept. I want to be able to tell a story with my photos.

I am also experimenting more with film lately. Whilst I have been shooting film for years, I have been using the same film camera the entire time. I have recently picked up a camera which takes 110 film, as well as an original Polaroid. I have an ongoing series which seeks to explore how poverty has changed my home town. There are several hundred images in the series so far, but I don't see it ending any time soon. 

Keep up with Bex's work:

Instagram - @bexsaunders photography


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