I have always loved photography, and all of the ways it can portray one thing. I admire many photographers, but recently I have started to look at Petra Collins’ work. She’s young to be as famous as she is (23), but she’s been taking pictures since high school. She grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and attended Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. She’s now attending Ontario College of Art and Design. When she was shooting in high school, she met Richard Kern, and he soon became her mentor. She uses mostly 35mm film, adding an antique and beautiful quality to her photos. Collins has shot for many famous brands, such as Vogue Italia, Urban Outfitters, and Rookie Magazine (plus many more side projects and just for herself).
What I love about Petra is that she’s an avid feminist, contributing to global controversies through photography. For example, she designed a number of graphic tee-shirts for the clothing store American Apparel. These shirts were controversial because they showed a woman’s body parts that aren’t normally on display, and sending the message that women shouldn’t be censored. She’s very interested in what’s hidden in our culture, saying that “We’re taught to hate our menstrual cycle and even to hide masturbation.” She takes all the controversy with stride, not caring what people have to say about her views. She celebrates girlhood, and the feminine side of girls’ lives. She also understands that gender roles are applied pretty heavily in our society, and breaks them constantly.
Petra Collins has had a huge impact on my life, and discovering how society has taught me to censor myself. I now know that I shouldn’t apologize for my body or who I am, and that women’s bodies aren’t some sacred or taboo thing. I hope to be a photographer one day, and to have a role model like Petra is so nice. I want other people to realize gender roles, and how they can corrupt society just has misogyny and sexism has. Many people disregard feminism as man-hating and unfair, but what they don’t realize is that it’s striving for equality in all aspects of life. Petra shows that in her beautiful photos, and that’s why she’s my inspiration.
Title from “The Modern Age” by the Strokes.