Nude: Strength and Vulnerability




Last year’s Life Framer Series Award winner Justine Tjallinks tells us the story behind her beautiful, thoughtful series ‘Nude’.

She finds herself navigating a world that is full of challenges and prejudice to overcome. Living with albinism not only means an absence of pigmentation in the skin and hair, but also impairment in vision. Not allowing herself to be dispirited she goes about her business like any other, propelled forward by inner strength. We all fight our battles, with the difference being that she wears her vulnerability on the outside for all to see. The preconceived opinion being that she is frail.

Nude explores the duality between the vulnerability and strength within oneself. The soft colour palette represents the vulnerability, whilst the strength and determination is found in the body language.


Where the idea came from

It was a documentary about Miriam de Boer that sparked the idea for ‘Nude’. The documentary followed Miriam through her daily life whilst coping with her disability. It showed a strong, determined woman that wouldn’t be denied reaching her goals, rather than a frail girl needing help. This is when I first saw the beauty in the juxtaposition of strength and frailty.
I was like a dog with a bone, wanting to shoot Miriam so badly that I really put in the work to track her down. When I eventually got in contact it didn’t take much to convince her since I felt so passionately about the project. Shooting someone else was never an option as it was her as a person that I was drawn to.













The shooting process

My method of working is I suppose like a film director where I storyboard most of the “scenes” before going into the shoot. For me it’s important that all elements like styling, model, setting, and hair & make-up come together during the shoot to make the story come to life. Because of all this preparation in coming up with my concepts and putting the right team in place, the whole shoot was done in a day.


The role of post-production

Anyone familiar with my portfolio will know that post-production is an important aspect of my work. This is where I can still twist and turn the images to highlight things that I deem important for the story, or to maximize the emotional impact. For example: colour plays a big part in how you experience an image, and in post-production I can tone it down or pump it up accordingly.


The reaction to the series

To be honest, the reaction to Nude has surprised me. Most of my body of work is free work, meaning I make it because I want to tell a particular story. More often than not, the stories I choose to tell lean more to the artistic side, be it about children with Down’s syndrome, or Albinism. The general public, used to advertising and magazines, might not always understand my approach, and so I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback I’ve received.


All images © Justine Tjallinks

See more of Justine’s work here: www.justinetjallinksphotography.com

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