INTERVIEW – Author & Photographer of ‘Feminine Transitions’ talks to us about how she developed the project and more!

A Woman’s Natural Beauty is Priceless

“An author and an accomplished photographer who has contributed to such outlets as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, America Online and the Smithsonian Institution, Alyscia Cunningham graduated from Montgomery College with degrees in photography and web design. She has exhibited her photography throughout Washington, DC, Maryland and New Orleans, LA. Her photographs have been published in several books including The Best of Photography 2011, Beauty Around Us, Endless Journeys and Homes of Color Magazine. Alyscia’s goal for the near future is to shoot still for cinematographers and work in commercial portraiture. After the production of Feminine Transitions, Alyscia plans to publish other photography books on other subjects of femininity.”

Alyscia Cunningham is a lifestyle photographer. Her main focus is human images and how it can be incorporated with light and shadow. She tends to use dramatic lighting in many of her images because it fosters greater interaction between you and the photographs, as you tend to analyse it a little more. Likewise, the use of close ups creates a sense of intimacy and usually draws a greater emotional reaction from you. Her book Feminine Transitions is about the natural beauty of women, and capturing their soul and their natural beauty in photographs.

The idea behind her work is truly phenomenal, reflecting the ambition of campaigns such as the ‘Dove Natural Beauty’ advertisement, which showed the process of a model in a photo shoot to appearing on a billboard. What really hits home with her work is how true it rings to young women around the world. Their distorted versions of reality when it comes to what is ‘beautiful’ and what is not, is heavily a drastically influenced and monitored by the media. Constant criticisms about being ‘too big’ wearing too much make-up, wearing not enough, having eyes that are too far apart or hair that is incredibly fine has become an almost social epidemic. Why do young adults have to go through this added pain and torture when they also have to deal with things such as high-school and ‘growing up’.

When a woman looks into a mirror, what does she see? Does she see herself or a distorted version? Alyscia Cunningham is trying to change that…

Tell us a bit about your passion for photography; where did it begin and what inspired you to take photographs?

My first memory of discovering my artistic talent was in the 4th grade. I used to draw Garfield comic strips, from the New York Times, in my school notebook. I started sketching animations then moved onto drawing portraits from magazines and in person. I first discovered my love for Photography when I took it as an art elective – Photographic Expression, while studying at Montgomery College.  At the end of the course, my Professor was so impressed with my portfolio that he encouraged me to take the next course, Photography 1.  After discovering my passion for Photography 1, I then continued on with Photography 2. By then, my Professor and classmates were suggesting that I consider a career in photography. Changing my major from Physical Therapy to Photography was the easiest decision of my adult life.

For the first time in my life, I found something I truly loved.

What are some challenges you have had to over come whilst doing the work that you do?

As gratifying as it is to be an artist and create beautiful works of art, the challenge for me has been finances. I completely understand the starving artist idea but refuse to put myself in that category. The industry just hasn’t caught up to me as yet.

Who are some people that have really stood out to you when you’re photographing them?

Children stand out to me the most. I admire their authentic spirits and complete honesty about their feelings. When children are in front of my camera, what you see is what you get. There is no persona. They are not concerned about how “good” or how “bad” they look.  They are expressive and completely open and honest.  In my opinion they are the who we once were before being corrupted by society.

Tell us a bit about the project that you’ve done Feminine Transitions.

Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty is a photography book that I self-published. Its pages present a series of portraits that reveal the elegance and subtly honest beauty of female faces between the ages of 7 weeks and 103 years. If everyone only knew that true beauty is all natural, the need to camouflage oneself will be non-existent. I simply wanted to put together a body of work that fosters a woman’s love for herself and encourages women to believe in her own beauty, despite the signs of ageing.  Hence, I made it a point to photograph all of the females in my book without any make-up,  hoping they too will see their beauty.  All images have not been altered or ‘Photoshopped’.

What do you hope to achieve from this book?

My goal, although it is a HUGE one, is to change the perception of beauty, globally, using Feminine Transitions as a platform. The thought of girls and women (boys and men as well) feeling completely comfortable with who they are, despite the media’s perception of beauty, is empowering. That very thought was a major contributor to the creation of my book. Feminine Transitions encourages females to remove their masks and love their true selves wholeheartedly.

How can we purchase a copy of this book?

You can pre-order your copy at www.AandCbooks.com. It goes to the publisher for printing in May/June. Once ordered, you will be added to the email list to be kept up to date on the progress.

And finally…if you were able to sum up your entire collection of photographs you’ve taken in just a sentence, what would you call it?

I capture raw, natural and original works of art.

EDITORS NOTE: If you would like to take part in our ‘no make-up’ photo shoot campaign, please check back for details soon.

Written by Tanysha Bolger