“I genuinely hope that women of all ages will look at this amazing 10 women as an inspiration!”
In 2013 I had the pleasure talk with Italian photographer Edo Zollo about his project “London Life”. Now he’s back with a new set of images called “Beauty In Older Women” which will be exhibited in July at Craft Central Gallery in London, UK.
Interview with Edo Zollo
Edo, what does beauty mean to you personally?
Beauty is the combination of feeling great inside and to the outside, it’s that mix of feeling satisfied, happy with your life’s choices and your body image.
I believe that the more I feel great inside the more I want to look good to others.
How did you come up with the idea for a project linking the concept of beauty to older women?
Older women are either invisible or presented as grandmas, frail, ill.
This project aims to show a positive view of ageing! Also: older women have so much life experience it shows in their faces and I wanted to capture the beauty that includes wisdom, surviving in life, insight and understanding.
How did you put the project into practice? Research, planning, finding models, and shooting?
I tried to get a range of women from different backgrounds including diversity of ethnicity, age, class. I put a call out via social medias and have photographed most of the women who responded and volunteered – my models are ordinary women, not paid models.
“My 10 women are great ambassadors for the project.”
It was important that the women participants were enthusiastic about modelling and about my I aimed to achieve.
I have ended up with ten amazing women age 67 to 79 years old from all over the UK, 5 Caucasians and 3 Black Women. My 10 women are great ambassadors for the project.
The photographs were taken in quite harsh urban settings, feature the women clothed only in a white sheet. My photos challenge the stereotyped view of ageing women as unattractive and ‘past it’.
What about the funding for such a long-term project?
The project is entirely self-funded.
Your project deals with very intimate issues. How did you manage to connect to your models? What do you consider to be the key skills a photographer needs in portrait photography?
Once I was contacted by one of the 10 women, I explained the project’s aim over the phone, we met for a coffee and a chat to then booking the photo-shoot.
It was important to me that the model was feeling safe and treated with respect. The photo shoots have been fun, adventurous and intimate, overall a great experience for the both of us.
How have your preconceptions about beauty changed during the process of this project?
“Young women and young men are influenced by beauty ideals as presented in the media.”
Western media tends to focus on young, slim, white women to present ideals of ‘beauty’.
I think this will be different in different cultures, but the media is global now so these messages of what is ‘beautiful’ reach women all over the world. Young women and young men are influenced by beauty ideals as presented in the media.
There are problems around anorexia (not just in women) and anxiety about appearance amongst young people. I genuinely hope that women of all ages will look at this amazing 10 women as an inspiration!
What emotions and reactions do you intend to provoke in someone looking at the picture of “Beauty In Older Woman”?
Two of the 10 women have said:
Hazel (79) writes in hers: “I’m doing something I have never done before. At my age, you have done most things, what a joy to find yourself involved in a new experience!”
Margaret (67) says: “Do not accept society’s evaluation! Be proud of who you are, expect to be noticed and look for attention. We deserve it and no matter who we are, we have contributed and should not be ignored or set aside.”
Now that the project is finished, what plans do you have to present it to a wider audience?
The exhibition will open on the 7th of July in central London, national press have expressed a strong desire to cover it.
I hope they will do so, it will help to reach a wider audience.
Finally, UK & Europe tours are a possibility.