Posted by Lisa Meade
An talented FrontLine Voice and photographer, Alyscia Cunningham brings her gift and talents to the conversation of our campaign through her photography and insight. She loves the mystery of the shadows and highlights found in photography, with black and white images in particularly, because the focus is not on what the image looks like but instead the beauty of the image itself.
Able to capture the essence of each individual she photographs, Alyscia does so without Photoshop, as she puts at ease her client to be who they really are. Her relationship with her client helps them relax and allows her to capture their individual beauty in each photo. She finds beauty in her photos by seeing an experience in the photo...what she was feeling or what the client was feeling or experiencing at the time of the photograph; the essence and beauty is caught by the lens of the camera.
As a photographer she is looking for her client to be their beautiful self so that she can capture it within the photo and release it to the viewer. She sees beauty in everything around her. She states, "Beauty is not biased. It just is. Beauty is found in all shapes and forms."
She herself has experienced the beauty madness on a personal basis within her own career and has had it impact interviews she has had in meeting with certain potential clients. Her not being "white enough", for example, because the client did not anticipate her being a black female photographer. Their reaction to her skin color and not her skills in finding beauty in her photographs brought awareness to her about this dilemma.
We asked, "When it comes to beauty, how do we inform one another about the different struggles that women face?" Alysica feels that admitting to what we do not know and being supportive of each others differences needs to begin. Alyscia learned just how big an issue beauty was on so many levels for women when she began her book, Feminine Transitions. After working with so many models in the industry she found that many were uncomfortable in their own skin. So many of the women could not and refused to be photographed without wearing make up or without their hair weaves. But she did find that the younger girls loved their photos. It was as the women got older, body image worsened and beauty acceptance waned.
She believes that the way to break through this is by having these conversations, sharing our vulnerabilities, teaching our children and hoping that society will catch up. Right now the media is the loudest voice in the conversation, so we need to bring our perspective and our voice to this more and more, louder and louder. She also believes that it is the mothers and older generations who can control the beauty standards we chose to live by and believe in and send to the younger generations a more positive message to embrace.