Ultraviolet Portraits: A Moment Under the Lights

Photography by Cara Phillips (3)

By using UV technology, Cara Phillips “set up her studio on the streets of New York City and photographed whoever was willing to sit in her chair. The idea was to offer pedestrians a chance to see their possible future and reconsider the fear of flaws that pervades our society.” [1]

More notes about this photo series: [2]

Her first body of work explored the psychological experience of the cosmetic surgeon’s office. In photographing the interiors of these places of beauty, she was able to create a visual representation of the emotions they invoked in her. While researching that project, Cara came across UV images of patients. Many medi-spas and dermatologists take ultraviolet photographs to show patients their ‘future’ skin. Even though there is no guarantee that this unseen damage will ever appear, beauty professionals and doctors still use these images to sell treatments to their clients and patients.

[…] New York is known for having photo shoots on its streets, and for being the beauty capital of the world. But in this shoot every person who sat for a portrait, was given their moment under the lights. The results were surprising—however not so much for what they revealed about the subject’s skin damage—but for the questions they raised about the revelatory expectation of the photographic portrait. What can a two-dimensional representation really capture about a person’s interior being? And in a culture populated by artifice, retouched images, scripted reality television, and set-up documentary art photography, how do we measure the truth of a photograph?


Photography by Cara Phillips (4) Photography by Cara Phillips (1) Photography by Cara Phillips (5)
1/2. "Cara Phillips." Aureus Contemporary. Retrieved on May 9th, 2012.

Photos © Cara Phillips

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Adriana de Barros

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Adriana is the Webby-winning designer and editor-in-chief of Scene360 magazine. She's created successful projects over the course of 20 years in the fields of art, design, fashion and web. Currently, dividing her time between the West Coast of Portugal and the United States. Follow the author @ Instagram Facebook and view more articles.