In a world where most people search desperately to find and capture perfection, London-based fashion and portrait photographer Sophie Mayanne sees imperfections in a different light. In her photo series Behind the Scars, Sophie captures the scars in her subjects with beautiful subtlety. In essence, she has created a series of work that celebrates memory in physical form. From surgery, to accidents, serious injuries to self-harm, the subjects she captures each have a unique story behind their scars.
You probably get this question most often, but why scars? Why were you inspired by scars?
As a photographer, the first images you take are raw and untouched. It was from these types of images that my interest in flaws and imperfections was first triggered, and where my interest in scars grew from.
Do you remember the very first picture you took in this series of work? Was the first image intentionally for this series, or did it happen by chance? Did you know at that stage that it would turn into a much bigger project?
The first shoot for the series was as an editorial project on scars. Doing that first shoot I can remember I was quite nervous, as it is a sensitive topic and I really wanted to do the people I was photographing justice. I had know idea how the project would grow at that stage.
Where many photographers search for perfection – you capture flaws. The flaws, however, are always beautiful in your photographs – what are your thoughts on beauty?
I don’t think beauty is definable. It’s complex. No two opinions are ever the same. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Anybody and everyone can be beautiful, and anyone and everyone IS beautiful. It’s the interpretation of what is regarded as beautiful we need to change.
Society tells how we should look, what we should flaunt and especially what we should hide. Do you think these perceptions will ever change?
I think over time, things will change. There are various people out there already challenging our perspectives, and encouraging us to think in new ways about the skin we are in. Change takes time, but I think we are starting to move in the right direction.
What are some of your reflections now, after photographing so many people and seeing scars of all shapes and sizes? Have your own perceptions of scars and flaws changed? Have you learned anything through the process?
I’ve learnt so much, both as a photographer and emotionally. For me, it’s been amazing to see what adversity the mind and body can overcome both mentally and physically.
Those that are closest to you – your family and friends – what feedback have they given you about the series of photographs so far?
The feedback on the series so far has been really amazing and so positive. It has and is reaching more people than I could have ever imagined, and helped people on a personal level.
This month, we celebrate all that makes us powerful. Celebrating the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ‘ugly’ in ourselves is one of the most powerful things we can do. We featured Sophie Mayanne in our August issue of Marie Claire, on sale now.