Skin Deep

I feel that it's important to develop a variety of photographic skills and keep fresh by practicing the photography of various genres. Photographing professional and aspiring models is a great way to hone a range of skills; whether it be camera skills, lighting or simply engaging with the person you're photographing. In my opinion there's a lot more to being a good model that having flawless skin and living off lettuce. Now, while I have no qualms about using a variety of processing tools and tricks to hide flaws that always exist, even in the perfect complexion or figure, I've started to think more about portraying character in portraiture. Much of the impact in photography is the portrayal of a story and I wanted to work with people whose faces and bodies told their story. Not the story of perfection however described for us by the magazines we read and the society we live. While that in itself is the subject of many people's distaste I don't wish to debate the ethics. Instead what I wanted to explore was the portrayal of people who reveal their beauty as unique individuals and through their personal experiences.

The first person on this journey I encountered was the fresh and aspiring model Liara Cyis Ikyrian. Liara gave me her story to publish here with a selection of here images from a photoshoot that we did together.

I have been a burn survivor since the age of eight due to a lantern explosion back home where social stigmatism suppresses the freedom of those with significant scarring and hide away in the dark. The aim of our campaigns for burn survivors around the world is to provide help, various kinds of support and a medium for all survivors so they can commune with one another to share their experience and exchange advice. Some of the organisations involved are the Phoenix Burn Society, Portland group of burn survivors, Katie Piper foundation, The Happy plus foundation, Spiegel burns foundation, Arizona and Canadian community as well where a lot of the World Burn Congress takes place – an annual gathering of survivors from around the world. As a model I aim to portray the beauty that is imperfection, the confidence and self esteem that many survivors have lost or never known, to give them a new light.

Working with Liara was a joy and she's full of ideas and inspiration. While I was content to aim for simple portraiture style shots Liara wanted to experiment and convey herself in different personas. The last image shown here if Liara in the bath was part of a set that she was keen to try out. I think she specifically wanted to show off those long legs - I'm hoping we'll get another chance to do that in the future. Meanwhile, I think we have created some very powerful images that challenge the viewer and hopefully leave them wanting to know more about the girl in front of the lens.

Liara can be contacted directly through her Facebook page.