Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Elfie Semotan: "Why should older women always look nice on photographs?"

"When other people take pictures of me, I always look like my aunt. Generally speaking, it seems to me that older women are always supposed to look nice on photographs. But I don't wish to look nice and friendly, I'd rather look cool.

(...) Just look at how older women are portrayed! A man can still be regarded as looking wonderful when his face shows wrinkles. When a woman's face reveals life and wrinkles, she is no longer attractive. Her face has to be smooth, the hair curly.

When fashion industry chooses older women, they are as beautiful as women in their forties, have no wrinkles. And if they have any, they wear huge, neon green glasses. Older women are never shown as older women. Photographs show them doing fitness, which is absurd. Why are men not taken pictures of that way? They have huge bellies which they confidently show and nobody would question or criticise their body or clothes. Obviously, when it comes to men, inner values count."
Elfie Semotan

"The female gaze is certainly different. I would like to say from the outset that the female gaze is one that perceives the entire surrounding – the children need something to eat, they are crying, there is work still to be done, and so on. The male gaze is focused. That is already a fundamental difference between female and male. And when I see naked women or men, my primary concern is that the models feel comfortable in their role, that they don’t feel exposed or that they have to pretend. When I photographed underwear, for example, it was very important to me that everyone felt very comfortable. And that everything was very loose. It was also rather comical."
Elfie Semotan

photograph (self portrait, 2000, © Elfie Semotan) via


  1. Abbie Winterburn19 May 2021 at 08:57


    1. There is currently an exhibition of her photographs in Vienna. So amazing.
      Thanks, Abbie!