The young graduate is taking on out-dated modes of femininity with a new wave of fashion photography that aims to empower its models
Katie Burdon’s ethereal fashion images make no secret of a childhood spent outside in the English countryside. A Cornish native, the 20-year-old first began taking photographs when she was 14, using her friends as models and the picturesque fields, woods, and seaside of her surroundings as her backdrop. Now a graduate of the University of Bournemouth, her practice has evolved into an intimate and considered portrayal of femininity through fashion photography.
With a rich yet hazy 1970s-inspired palette and surreal undertones, Burdon’s photographs are elegant in their composition, yet still capture something of the raw and playful nature of youth. Determined to counteract the impossible beauty standards of the imagery she grew up with, the young photographer prefers being real and “celebrating women”, choosing models with big personalities.
“I like to depict the protagonists in my pictures as interesting, intelligent, strong characters,” Burdon says. “Throughout my teenage years, I felt like I didn’t see a lot of imagery that represented women in this way, and if I had, I think it would have helped my own confidence and body image. Now that we consume so much imagery through Instagram, I think it’s really important for young girls to see healthy, positive and inspiring representations of women.”
Burdon is not alone in her navigation of this tricky issue and regularly collaborates with peers that share her vision. The young photographer is part of a new generation that is challenging the negative tropes of the fashion industry – norms which she feels are “honestly, so boring to see nowadays”. She has shot editorials for many independent online and print publications that support emerging talent, including Bricks, Coeval, Teeth, NR, and Zeum magazines, and has worked with young designers such as London College of Fashion graduate Sophie Cull-Candy.
“I feel very proud to come from a generation that is so passionate about these issues,” Burdon says. “A lot of young creatives are trying to shake things up in the fashion industry – it’s very encouraging. I would like my work to challenge fashion’s obsession with perfection, or rather, what is perceived as perfect within the industry.”