Photographer and Phenomenal Woman: Audrey Rouzer

“…It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me…” —Maya Angelou

Image courtesy Audrey Rouzer

Audrey Rouzer is a phenomenal woman, to say the least. Uniting women of various backgrounds, denominations, sizes, majors, interest, etc. in one room, in front of a black back drop and studio lighting, she made them phenomenal women.

 

I had not only the pleasure of interviewing Audrey, but participating in her uniting—or celebrating rather, women of different sizes in a positive environment. Worried that her Spotify playlist would kill the mood and make others uncomfortable Audrey snapped away as she entered her groove. (So did the models.)

Image courtesy Audrey Rouzer

HC: How long have you had an interest in photography?

Audrey Rouzer: My mother was always taking pictures of me as a child (most of them unflattering) so I’ve been constantly surrounded by images my entire life.  I’ve been pursuing photography professionally for six years, but to be honest, I didn’t actually believe it was possible until sophomore year of college. 

 

HC: When did you know it was your calling/passion?

AR: I knew in junior year of high school that this was the one job that I wanted that had a possibility of being fun as well as making a decent living. I was considering becoming a lawyer, but I didn’t like the idea of always reading books that were created by others rather than creating something new. I also liked that this job makes people feel better about themselves, when being in a courtroom tends to bring out the worst in people. With technology constantly changing, there is never a moment where you’ll know everything. I like that I’ll never have a chance to get bored because almost as soon as I get comfortable with a technique or camera, something new replaces it. 

 

 

HC: What inspired this shoot?

AR: I’ve never been considered small. I was never really taught to not compare myself to other people, so this has been a struggle for me my entire life. Anyone that doesn’t meet society’s standard of pretty knows that it can constantly feel like you’re just “wrong.” Even if you just bought a new outfit that makes you look and feel good, you know that many people still view you in a negative way. I also recently gained perspective on how different sizing is for each person. For example, my friend and I are both the same size on paper, however our bodies look very different. Another friend and I have the same number on the scale, but she’s a lot taller and has more of an hourglass shape, so she’s smaller. 

I wanted to find a way to showcase that there isn’t just one category of beauty anymore.  Some people are judged because of their size, their ethnicity, their style choices. I was inspired by how commercial brands like Dove and L’oreal are branching out and becoming more inclusive. So I wanted to attempt something similar. I wanted big diverse groups of people that had never met each other to be put into the same shots and be put into a sink or swim situation. They would either come together despite their differences and encourage each other, or it would be awkward and uncomfortable.  From what I saw that day, everyone in both groups was very accepting of each other and even though I love the final images, the experience I had watching this take place was priceless for me (both professionally and personally.)

Image courtesy Audrey Rouzer

HC: What goals do you have planned post SCAD?

AR: My goals after graduation include moving to New York and working as much as possible in different jobs under the photography umbrella. Photo assisting, managing a studio, shooting campaigns and glamour portraits, and eventually celebrity photography and fashion editorials are my main interests. After spending a few years in New York, I want to make the transition to Los Angeles.

 

HC: Do you think that you would have gotten where you are or hope to be in the future without SCAD?

AR: What I’ve been able to experience at SCAD has allowed me to grow so much as a person and as a professional. I come from a small town that isn’t very diverse and after moving here and interacting with so many people from different backgrounds, my outlook on people has changed as well as how I see myself. I’ve had access to some of the best equipment in the industry as well as some of the best professors in the nation. I think I could have figured out some of the technical things on my own or from a different school, but I don’t think I would have as much confidence in my ability or the same level of support that I’ve gained from the people I’ve met at SCAD. Your work is only as good as the teams you form to create it, and I’ve been apart of some incredible creative teams here. 

 

HC: The dreaded question…what advice do you have for anyone struggling to realize/listen to their calling in life?

AR: I think one of the hardest things about figuring out what you want to do in life is accepting that it’s possible. It’s rarely an easy process, especially with how much college costs and the work that goes into it. Sometimes, skill isn’t enough and luck plays the more important role. Sometimes, the people that always give you advice don’t support what you want to be pursing or think it isn’t a dependable career. But sometimes, you get lucky enough to find what you want to do, and everything falls into place at the last second to get you there. My biggest piece of advice is that if you get an opportunity to do what you love, don’t waste it. Don’t waste it on opinions, other people, or a fun time. Work as hard as you can for it because there are always people that want what you have. 

 

I would like to take the time to personally thank Audrey for my art school “glo-up.” 

Image courtesy Audrey Rouzer 

To view more outstanding work visit www.audreyrouzerphoto.com