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Far From The Male Gaze: Sara Black Brings The Power Back To The Female Body In Her Latest Photo Show

Sara Black is known for her glamorous portraits of celebrities, having shot with international brands and for major publications. She has known the industry well, one where youth and beauty are currencies, particularly and especially that of the female form. Having started out as a model herself, she has walked the ins and outs of the worlds in front of and behind the camera.

Her two photobooks are expressions of her artist and activist sides. The first, When I Look in the Mirror, is of close-ups of facial imperfections—creases, acne, the ones brought by genetics and the ones brought by environment, either way the refuse of the billboards dotting EDSA.

Sara reflects on Susan Sontag's insight on how the camera wields political power.

This was followed by We, Love, combining photography and narration, with pairings of people as subjects, be they friends or lovers or family or strangers. Here, Black teases out the nuances of what it means to bond, to be coupled, to be intimate.

This time, she continues her challenge to the industry and expression of art with an exhibit titled Now, She Is. Featuring nude photos of females with faces obscured, the photographer aims to subvert the notion that such imagery is mainly for the titillation of men.

The exhibit also highlights how women view their own bodies, taking the male gaze away

There is power in the female body, and it’s time to bring it back, it seems to say. The exhibit references the reflections on photography by theorists and writers like Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, who respectively said that “there is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera,” and that photos are “counter-memories” that “fill the sight by force.”

What more today, in an era of social media, where the currency has come to include likes, favorites, and reposts?

Black says her aim is “to remove guilt and shame from the experience of a woman being photographed in the nude, as well as removing guilt and shame from the person viewing the nude. Not to objectify the female body but just to portray it as beautiful.”

Sara poses for a photo by her work.


Now, She Is runs at Pineapple Lab, Población, Makati from May 24 to June 3, 2018. For inquires, shoot a message to


Photos courtesy of Pineapple Lab