“Epidermis”: A Candid Series on Skin by Sophie Harris-Taylor

Salomé Gómez-Upegui
4 min readFeb 8, 2019
Photographs by Sophie Harris-Taylor

“Facial skin is the first thing you see when you meet someone. It’s a such a big part of who you are, yet even within the ‘body positivity movement’ -which I’m all for- the subject continues to be off-limits”, Sophie Harris-Taylor told Mindful Feminism.

The British photographer picked up on this silence and created Epidermis in response. A stunning & candid sequence of what ordinary women with different skin types truly look like behind a lens. “I wanted to make a beautiful series of images that at first was loosely based around acne, but is really about showing skin that we don’t usually see -real skin.”

As of right now, there are 34.6 million posts on Instagram under the hashtag #skincare, so it’s no secret that flawless skin is a current societal obsession. And with that backdrop Epidermis becomes even more relevant as one of the few counter discourses on the matter.

The collection of photos is set up as a beauty editorial, although stripped of all the falsity mainstream media frequently employs. “As a photographer, you’re constantly asked to manipulate images and retouch heavily, which is something I’m quite against,” Sophie mentioned. In fact, she only shoots with natural light, guaranteeing a certain rawness to the images she creates.

As is the case with all of her projects, the initial inspiration for the series stems from personal understanding. “When I was younger, in my teens and early twenties, I suffered really bad acne, so I came to the idea for Epidermis quite organically.” Women covering up and feeling ashamed of their skin was something she found herself thinking about frequently. “I’d be sitting on the underground, and I’d notice that all the women surrounding me would have so much makeup on and I’d wonder why people feel this pressure, this need to always wear makeup.”

Photographs by Sophie Harris-Taylor

Precisely those standards of “perfection” made the process of finding the subjects for the shoot a bit tricky at first. “These women aren’t used to being in front of a camera, let alone without makeup, so a particularly challenging part was getting them to the studio…

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