Being amongst a new wave of fashion photographers and artists who are using their voices to comment on the current landscape, Sofia Wilkinson-Steel (@sofiawilkinsonsteel) has been able to find a community of young talent where there has been room for collaboration encouraging a universal celebration of creative achievements.
Women at the forefront of her images, she is able to connect with women and non-binary folk in a way that she can't with men, with no explanation other than being naturally drawn to them There is a genuine joy for working with them and she aims to always make everyone comfortable on set and make sure they're having fun. She wants to ensure they feel the most powerful and beautiful whilst shooting them. In her own words '"for so long in the fashion industry (and still now) models have been expected to be treated badly on set by photographers, designers etc, and so try to make extreme effort to make my models feels as confident as they can and in the end of the day have fun."
Exploring the themes of female identity and sexuality through tongue-in-cheek humour, there is a reflection of the main female protagonists we see in the likes of horror classics like Scream and reality TV franchise Real Housewives. These female protagonists and 'anti-hero's' are amplified through the bold, visual narratives of Wilkinson-Steels imagery. From a very young age Sofia was been fascinated with pop and meme culture.
Something that is still so overlooked as crass and non-influential, she focuses on subject matter that others may brush off and put aside as trivial, looking deeper and recognising how it has affected her life and others lives. Naming her work as 'friendly satire', she comments on and critiques topics without attempting to parody the subjects. This is evident in the clever imagery in the series 'Real Housewives Beauty' depicting various expressions that can be seen within the series themselves and the dress and makeup on the model herself is cleverly decisive and specific to the characters from the hugely popular franchise. It allows the audience to almost consume the imagery as you would watching the reality TV itself, giving room for a reaction and a level of engagement that so often hooks the viewer.
Inspired by many great photographers, to name a few Juno Calypso, Nadia Lee Cohen, Guy Bourdin, Nick Knight and Cindy Sherman, all of who have distinct visual narratives with colour and subject at the core of their work. Wilkinson-Steel's photographic style really hones in on subject and arranging the lighting in various directions to give the subjects in each series a different character and energy. This character element orchestrated by lighting can be seen in her Victim vs Villain series. Inspired by the cult classic horror film imagery from Scream the subject through directional lighting from above gives her an almost threatening, sinister character giving the illusion of a villain. On the flip side these same characters can be shown as the victim simply through the use of composition and lighting and of course expression.