Late in 2014 photographer Jillian Powers started a series that would shape the way women viewed their bodies. With her project "I Woke Up Like This," she artistically portrayed everyday women and stories that had previously gone untold.
Our writer Ryan Deasley recently spoke with Jillian to find out a bit more about this project and why it is so important to her.
How did you first get into photography?
When I was eleven years old, my grandfather took me on a small tour of the midwest. South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado. Some of my favorite states to this day. At the very beginning of that trip, he put a digital camera into my hand and told me to shoot as much as possible. He taught me the rule of thirds, my favorite thing to photograph was initially landscapes because of the trip. From there, I messed around with cameras for about two years before buying a DSLR my freshman year of high school. I started my own business at age sixteen and I've been shooting mainly weddings since then.
What drove you to start this project?
It was sort of an accident, actually. The day before my roommates boudoir session, I wanted to check out how the lighting at 8AM looked like on her bare chest. My room has an amazing amount of natural light and it creeps in during that time of day beautifully....so we snapped a few shots right after she woke up. As we began to edit them, I fell in love with them immediately. Easily one of my favorite photographs I've ever taken. And all she could see was her breasts, and how they sagged lower than she'd prefer. And it kind of destroyed me. Not only because I personally loved the photograph but because Aliya is the type of girl who you look up to for her confidence. And she had just lost thirty pounds through months of hard work at the gym. That night, I decided to start photographing women at that same time of day...completely nude...and right after they wake up. Hence, the title of the project.
I just wanted to stop this type of thinking, this unhappiness with peoples bodies. So many of my friends would talk about hating the things they couldn't change, and it broke my heart.
How excited are you about the growth of the page and being featured in several other magazines and blogs?
Well, I spent a good chunk of my morning crying of happiness to be honest. I'm the type of person who becomes overwhelmed with happiness when good things happen for others, and to know that what I'm doing is helping all these women...it means more than I could express in words. The growth has been explosive, and exciting to watch. Being featured in different webzines, blogs, and magazines...it's been surreal to be at a point in my career that I've dreamt of since I got my first DSLR.
Its been pretty good for only about a month and a half of the facebook page and even less time since you launched the website!
Precisely. I'm still in shock with how fast this is growing, I'm waiting to wake up one day and see this just blow up...or at least I would hope. I want to reach as many women as possible with this message.
Have you had people message you about how your blog posts have helped them?
Everyday. Men and women. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming, because I really want to respond to everyone with a warm and meaningful message back but I just don't have time when there are thirty some odd messages in my inbox. I respond to everyone though, and I thank them for their support. I couldn't do it without these people, and it kills me to hear about their struggles...but it makes me cry when I read just how much this project is helping them.
Where do you want this project to be 6 months from now?
I want it to be all over the world. I have plans to travel to Colorado and Tahoe for the time being. There have been girls rounding up a bunch of women interested in their area and collecting donations to pay for my flight and lodging. I'm pretty excited to photograph some out of state women, especially given some of these women have some pretty unique stories to share about their bodies.
At the end of the day, what is the most important thing that you want people to take away from this project?
Your body should not define who you are.
Congratulations on the success of your project Jillian. We cant wait to see what this year will bring you!
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