For a portrait photographer, mastering the finer points of three-point lighting is as important as bringing out the best in your subjects. Brooklyn-based multimedia artist and photographer Jessica Yatrofsky has clearly excelled in both; constructing a stylistic and emotive narrative that draws the viewer into the being of each subject. In her upcoming book “I Heart Girl”—out 12 May 2015 from Powerhouse Books—Yatrofsky challenges the construct of feminine beauty perpetuated by mass-media in the past and present.
“Personally, I would say feminine beauty is a balance of style, poise and grace,” Yatrofsky explains, noting (with some humor) the subjectivity of tacking such a dynamic concept with a definition. “It’s a gentleness and a knowingness that I don’t believe is always exclusive to a woman. All genders posses these qualities, it’s whether it’s politically correct to recognize is what interests me. I think beauty is seen, expressed and agreed on across cultures in a variety of ways and I intend to be part of this dialogue as an artist who has her own point of view,” Yatrofsky continues.
“I like to think of the ‘I Heart Girl’ series as a selection or a curation from a larger body of work that I will continue to create for as long as I am making photographs,” Yatrofsky tells CH. “I Heart Girl” is something of a follow-up to Yatrofsky’s earlier series—”I Heart Boy”—that explores the male body and masculinity. “I’ve always been drawn to depicting the body and I think it’s very important to make images that represent a facet that reflects the current cultural landscape, which is why both series highlight gender identification.”
Initially drawn to painting, Yatrofsky counts mediums outside of photography as key influences in her work. “I find film to be particularly affecting,” she says, “I am in awe of film directors like Catherine Breillat and I draw a lot of inspiration from how she works with her actors.” Yatrofsky’s ability to draw out the essence of her subjects is felt throughout the book. “I am very much influenced by her direct but gentle approach with storytelling and I always aspire to bring that style to my own art practice. I have a sincere interest in human expression and I believe that my early experiences with the different art disciplines shaped the style that I later brought to my photography,” Yatrofsky continues.
Images courtesy of Jessica Yatrofsky and Powerhouse Books