A wise soul once said 'To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong love affair'. And in a month dedicated to unquenchable desires, heart-shaped confectionery and an abundance of commercial opportunities - it seems like the perfect time to remind ourselves to shower a little of that love in our own direction. Self-love can take on many guises - in the case of Anne-Marie Michel; it came in the form of a willingness to evolve. She took a sharp left into the unknown with no guarantee of success. Leaving behind the path she had nurtured for a decade, and walking away from a sure thing, in hopes of finding that elusive thing her heart has been longing for.
This month we're taking a peek into one of the last fashion photography assignments Anne-Marie completed before taking her sharp left into Sisters of the Road - a personal passion project which saw Anne-Marie get up close and personal with female truckers in the US.
For the fashion series which featured in Dreamingless Magazine, Anne-Marie took her cues from David Lynch, and the results are nothing short of Lynchian. There's an otherworldliness feel to these images. One of the photos in the Hearts series even features a spot of levitation - was it a jump frozen in time or was it some post-production magic at play? Is the character in the image ascending or descending? Answers on a postcard, please.
As it turns out, the all-female creative team who have worked together many times before were singing from the same hymn sheet - they all share a love for the David Lynch aesthetic. The series is submerged in rich, bold deep reds - which as well as being a reoccurring motif in Lynch's work, also signifies power, love, life & luck (so, bonus points if you guessed the model was ascending above). During all stages of the shoot, the team kept these thematic elements in mind.
If you were lucky enough to catch the London phase of the RPS 100 Heroines exhibition, you would have found yourself drawn in by the classic sounds of a route 66-esque diner in between snippets of thoughts from the various female truckers Anne-Marie interviewed for the project. The installation, which housed the project was immersive and inviting and could have very well been a set design for a fashion shoot. In fact, given all of the red tones of the diner and Lynch's love for all things Americana, it could have been the set of this fashion photoshoot. However, what we have here is in stark contrast to the world Anne-Marie had created for Sisters of the Road; the Hearts series is devoid of time or place. Perhaps this strobe heavy blood-red studio shoot in some way alludes to how the photographer felt about her relationship with fashion photography at the time.
Or maybe the series is more of a loving goodbye letter to the quirky world of fashion photography. There's shiny and glittery fabrics, playful red sunnies, a little nod to René Magritte's ‘The Lovers' and let's not forget the actual hearts on the face and lips of the model. Anne-Marie is taking all of the lessons learnt from this world and transferring it - beautifully and seamlessly - into the world of documentary portraiture.
Anne-Marie has illuminated and brought a greater awareness of the unique challenges faced by female truckers, she has also since become one of the prestigious ‘Hundred Heroines’ and is working on a book which tells the individual stories of the 40 women, in their own words, alongside their portraits. Amazing things can happen when you love yourself enough to extend your boundaries into exploring new territories gently and bravely.
Hearts Series Team Credits:
Photographer - Anne-Marie Michel @annemariemichel Stylist - Symone Keisha @symonekeisha Hair & Makeup - Sophie Moore @sophiem.mua Stylist assistant - Selina Islam @selina_islam Photo Assistant Temiyemi Olarinaye @temi_yemi Model Sarah Hare @sarah.hare at FIRST @firstlondon