It’s amazing what some amount of lighting can do. While the vast majority if shutterbugs will light a subject in a manner that is flattering, photographer Cara Phillips does just the opposite. Phillips chose to cast an ultraviolet light on her subjects’ faces and what happens is quite interesting.
What results is the unflattering UV light brings out every single detail on the face, making each subject appear extremely freckled. The intention of Phillips was to create a collection of images that would “enhance and reveal flaws,” which she achieves quite terribly (for the subjects, that is).
The only direction she gave each willing ‘victim’ was to close their eyes, giving them a look of feigned tranquility. It is a relaxed and neutral expression that allows one to more easily examine the nuances of each face. As a result, what we have is photo series named, Ultraviolet Beauties, an anti-thesis to traditional portraiture.
Surprisingly, Phillips is able to capture a kind of beauty that is attractive in its unadorned honesty. Rather than masking or enhancing imperfections, Ultraviolet Beauties reveals every unique characteristic that is in each of our faces. The entire series is shot in black and white which takes advantage of the stark contrast highlighting and enhancing every detail. It was shot in New York City, with a come-on sign that simply said “Free Portraits.” Quite spontaneously, any willing participant simply sat down and had their photo taken under a UV light.
Phillips is a native of Detroit, but currently works and resides in Brooklyn. She studied photography at Sarah Lawrence College. Ever since she graduated, Phillips has been involved in both collaborative as well as personal projects.
More of Cara’s work along with Ultraviolet Beauties can be viewed on her website.