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Ultraviolet Beauties: Flawed Portraits by Cara Phillips

Photographer Cara Phillips, based in Brooklyn, shot her series Ultraviolet Beauties by offering free portraits to strangers on the street.  The only requirement was that they were willing to sit for a photograph under an ultraviolet light.  The harsh UV lighting is intended to bring out every minuscule incongruity of the subject’s face. Inspired by straightforward and unforgiving medical photos; the type found in spas and doctor’s offices, Phillips wanted to create a series of images whose function was to “enhance and reveal flaws”. Phillips asked her subjects to close their eyes, creating a sense of peace and vulnerability. This pose leaves the face open to close examination as the subject appears unaware of the audience’s scrutiny. The resulting photo series, Ultraviolet Beauties, is a response to the traditional modern portrait’s goal: to eliminate every quirk and imperfection in favor of a smooth, poreless surface. Instead of attempting to mask the "flaws" that distinguish one face from another, these photographs are intended to reveal every unique characteristic.

Cara, a Detroit native, studied photography at Sarah Lawrence College. Since graduating, Phillips has pursued both personal and collaborative projects. More of Cara’s work can be found on her website.


via My Modern Met

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Jon Sharman's picture

These are fantastic.

Spy Black's picture

Strange, the shot of the short-haired black woman almost looks like the UV is penetrating her eyelid skin and you can see her eyes. I actually did something that once with infrared B&W film and a tungsten light source, was able to penetrate roughly a millimeter or so into skin (veins become quite clear), but I can't see being able to do that with UV. Must just be just an illusion of circumstance.

Eric Duminil's picture

Which picture are you talking about?

Spy Black's picture

At the very top of the page.

Eric Duminil's picture

Now I kinda see it. But I think it's just an illusion.

David O'Shea's picture

Probably just an illusion. Most people roll their eyes upwards when they close their eye lids.

Branko Bronx Marinić's picture

whats the technical detail on these? how are they done? type of uv lamp, these are film thats for sure. Type of film matter? etc. any info would be great, i seen these type of photos, including eyes closed at a dermotologists office over 10 years ago now.

jon gibb's picture

Peter Hugo series "Theres a place in hell for me and my friends"?