Photographs by Inah Mara
Words by Pratyusha Borgaonkar
Published on June 1, 2021
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Intimate portraits invite us to celebrate the female form.
Inah Mara recalls how her 13 year old self would obsess over a model reality television show, trying to recreate her favourite pictures and editorial shoots after watching each episode, sowing the seeds for her future career. At first, she was enthralled by the glamour of fashion photography, but as she further explored the medium, she soon found a voice to express her opinions.
“Taking photos is almost a second language for me — especially when I run out of words to say — as my images revolve around happenings in my life or the struggles I have as a woman in today’s world” says Inah, as she discusses her working process. Inah combines her love for fashion and belief in the importance of self-love to create images that push the viewer in a dreamy state of mind.
Preferring to shoot her more considered work on film, Inah explains that precise storyboarding and planning is crucial since she cannot waste reams of film. Before she begins, she has already imagined what the end shot should look like. Her aesthetic revolves around hazier and dreamier noon tones, all reflected by her light settings, props and styling. “If I’m using my subject’s things and wardrobe, I try to take in all the mundane details and photograph them how I see it — extensions and representations of themselves,” Inah says, indicating the cohesiveness in her work. “Combining my love for fashion with photography has made it easy for me to find my own voice and style of shooting,” she adds.
Going through Inah’s image archive, one can see an unfolding story of self-expression and body positivity. Her photos feature her close friends, some wearing little to nothing while others pose in gorgeous flowy dresses. They are often captured embracing themselves or lost in the act of being grateful, sharing amongst them a message of love and tenderness for femininity. “My personal experiences as a woman inspire me to sort of re-tell them through photos,” Inah tells me when I asked about her goals with her photography. She further explains, “being able to document different people in different sizes and shapes.”
In a society where the movement for body positivity is progressing, Inah states, “Self-awareness is the first step but actually putting in the work to unlearn the biased social norms is where it gets a bit tricky and harder.” She confides how her friends form a supportive circle for each other to embrace positive self-esteem.
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