Celebrity photographer and fine art director, Brooke Mason, doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, from sexism and racial discernment to society’s current views on sexuality. And the neo-feminist, famous for her photographic work, isn’t afraid of shooting provocative female imagery. Even if it means offending people.
The Australian-born commercial and fine art photographer recently hit the news when her photographic works were removed from a West Hollywood exhibition because a staff member complained. Another exhibit was stopped before it even was installed due to her fine art photograph ‘Soar’ (featured above right), despite having the support of the local mayor.
Which is quite surprising, really, considering Brooke, who grew up in Sydney but now lives in West Hollywood, is so passionate about bringing women’s rights and female empowerment to the forefront of the political agenda. In fact, Brooke regularly depicts this through her fine art photography. “It’s sad to me that fine art and nudity has such restrictions – how prudish our society is becoming,” Brooke explains. “Ideally we would be able to have an equal standard across the sexes and waist up nudity in fine art would be permitted in the public arena.”
Brooke has been passionate about the female form since she began shooting nudes as a 15 year-old. “I’m a neo-feminist, and particularly interested in photographing women depicting feminine strength,” she says. “Even when I’m photographing a woman in a sexy way, you will never see my subject unwillingly submissive. There is a fine line between objectifying a woman and empowering her, especially when it comes to sexuality. I see pop culture advertisements of women, particularly in lingerie, depicted helplessly as though they need rescuing. This troubles me – it’s old fashioned and has no place in today’s world.”
Here, Brooke reveals why she loves shooting provocative female imagery and the story behind the images…
What do you love about shooting the female form?
“The female body is gorgeous! Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character, Elaine, in Seinfeld put it perfectly: ‘The female body is a work of art. The male body is utilitarian. It’s for gettin’ around. It’s like a Jeep.’”
How do you see the female form?
“A woman’s body is a fabulous contradiction of femininity, sexuality and strength. We are soft on the outside but our core is strong – Yin versus Yang.”
Which celebrities have been your favourite to photograph?
“It might be obvious from my work that my favourite celebrities to photograph are strong, independent women. Joanna Going from House of Cards and Kingdom is a great example. She’s gorgeous, strong and living her dream – regardless of what anyone thinks. Felicia Day (American actress, comedian, writer and creator of web series The Guild) is another fabulous example. She’s authentic, an entrepreneur and wonderfully passionate.”
Can you explain the story behind your photographs …?
“The selfie is a fairly new phenomena. This image highlights our growing self-obsession and is in contrast to the days of film and the Polaroid camera, where a raw image was what it was and we couldn’t easily retouch it to be perfect. Questioning what is beautiful is an age-old debate – I love to highlight this in my work.”
“This is one of my fine art photographs. ‘Nuit’ shares a glimpse of conflict in a person’s inner world, with the outer world leering in, and looks at the struggle of what is revealed. ‘Nuit’ is a contemplative piece. Here, dusk marks the moment of transition – a reflective circumstance.”
“This commercial photograph inspired my fine art photograph, ‘Caged’. We never feel free unless we have some sort of confinement, because how do we understand freedom without a comparison of what it’s to? This work is about having freedom within the restraint of our borders within society.”
“I love talking about this photograph. ‘Vanquish’ means to conquer. In essence this photograph is about our every day life – what it takes to be successful or what it takes to get through life’s basic hurdles. The work depicts a raw masculinity and strength, domination of the beast within us and in urban life. Sprawling outside the window, the city towers over us as we struggle with inner judgement and fear of defeat.”
“’Glass Ceiling’, is by the title, self-explanatory. In my ‘glass ceiling’ the tables are turned… Does the female let the male break through? This photograph expresses fragility, danger, and strength. It is a direct reflection on my view of neo-feminism. I believe in a balance. If he isn’t steady, she might fall. The man supports her. And he too, could be injured by glass breaking on his back.”
Brooke Mason is an Australian-born commercial and fine art photographer with a studio in West Hollywood. Brooke’s work has been featured on covers and editorial spreads of fashion and lifestyle magazines worldwide from Marie Claire to Glamour.
Brooke was the Winner of ART SLANT New York’s 2015 International Photography Award for her fine art work Vanquish, is a fine art director and gallery curator. Her celebrity photographic work includes shooting House of Cards Joanna Going, Vanderpump Rules Katie Maloney, New York Times Best Selling author and Founder of Geek and Sundry’s Felicia Day, Dancing with the Stars Witney Carson and many more.
Brooke is actively involved in the West Hollywood community, working in partnership with Woman’s Manifest, an empowerment group creating purpose driven statements through photography. She is a fierce advocate for women’s rights and female empowerment, and hopes to influence public consciousness in the male dominated society of the United States to have a similar outlook as her birthplace of Australia. She believes in women having a voice, possessing equal rights and rising above the stereotypes to truly have choice.