RAW Beauty Talks: Empowering Portraits of Women Without Make Up or Photoshop

Sophie Miriam Emily Alden - MelissaGidneyPhoto

If you browse around online, even if you stay away from the magazine covers with their models liquified into long-legged oblivion, you will be hard-pressed to find professional portraits of women that are as honest and raw as the ones featured on RAW Beauty Talks.

That’s because this organization, dedicated to empowering women through portrait photography and an honest conversation about beauty, doesn’t just do away with photo manipulation in its portraits… it does away with anything meant to enhance or cover up the way the models actually look.

Founded by 28-year-old Vancouver Pilates studio co-owner Erin Treloar, RAW Beauty Talks champions real photos of real women in a way that your typical anti-Photoshop campaign just can’t touch. We applaud what Aerie is doing with their recent no-Photoshop campaign, but what RAW Beauty Talks goes leaps and bounds beyond that.

Danielle Normann - JamieMannPhoto

Women photographed by RAW Beauty Talks are not only left alone in post: they have no make up on, are wearing either a black or white T-shirt with no brand labels and are told to remove anything else meant to cover up imperfections (everything from fake eyelashes to tinted moisturizer). Plus, the photographers are encouraged to work with only natural light and a bounce if necessary.

And when they’re done with the photo shoot, they go a step beyond that, too. They talk to the women about their concept of beauty, their relationship with food, the importance of self-love and how this community can help raise the next generation of girls to be confident and fearless.

The final images and interview are then posted to RAW Beauty Talks where Treloar is quickly building an empowering community and an archive of real portraits of real women that shows beauty in all its imperfect glory.

Here’s a small selection from that archive:

Chelah + Lyndsay Horsdal - MelissaGidneyPhoto

Jamie Anderson - CourtneyAaronPhoto

Jenn Maclean-Angus - MelissaGidneyPhoto

Jennifer Maloney - ChrisThornPhoto

Erin Treloar - MurrayAshPhoto

LesleyKim - ChrisThornPhoto

Nisha Khare - MelissaGidneyPhoto

Noelle Lam - MelissaGidneyPhoto

Rachel&Keighty - ChrisThornPhoto

Adrienne Ford - NataliaAnjaPhoto

When Treloar first came up with the idea for RAW Beauty Talks, she was afraid: afraid that photographers wouldn’t want to donate their time, afraid that no women would come forward and afraid of how it would all be received. As it turns out, she had nothing at all to fear.

Ten photographers and one cinematographer generously donate their time, and well over a hundred women have stepped up to the plate to have their real portrait taken.

In the end, for Treloar, this isn’t an anti-Photoshop or even an anti-make up movement. It’s about “starting a conversation about our relationship with beauty.” Eventually, the hope is that RAW Beauty Talks will play a role in redefining beauty so that, some day, we might live in “a world filled with a lot more self-love and subsequently a lot more love for one another. Because that is truly beautiful.”

To see a lot more pictures, read interviews and find out more about RAW Beauty Talks, head over to the organization’s website by clicking here. But before you go, let us know what you think in the comments down below. We’d love your take and we’re sure Erin would enjoy reading what you have to say as well.

(via Trend Hunter)

Image credits: Photographs (in order of appearance) by Melissa Gidney, Jamie Mann, Melissa Gidney, Courtney Aaron, Melissa Gidney, Chris Thorn, Murray Ash, Chris Thorn, Melissa Gidney, Melissa Gidney, Chris Thorn and Natalia Anja. All photos courtesy of Erin Treloar and RAW Beauty Talks.

  • ganges

    I love to see this…There is nothing more appealing and attractive than a woman who has the confidence in herself to be seen without the mask of makeup.. Its not about the external beauty as much as the internal beauty, and the ability to say, this is me.

  • wickerprints

    The first picture with the three women…I don’t know if it’s just me, or is it just really awkward-looking that their bodies (and faces) are literally mashed together? I find that posing to be really strange and uncomfortable.

  • Rena

    This is really nice. However I see a lot of people demonizing makeup and photoshop and that makes me wonder when they will start bashing flattering lightning.

  • Ryanwiz

    I actually like it. Seems like the sort of pose sisters would use.

  • Björn Lubetzki

    I’m by no means a retoucher or a professional phoographer. I’m just an amateur taking a lot of portraits and the way I see it is that it all comes down to the models and the lighting. If I have a “model” (I don’t shoot real models, I only have everyday people to shoot) that takes care of his/her body and nice lighting I don’t need much editing. But I have a lot of editing to do if the “model” didn’t get enough sleep, eats a lot of sugar, drinks a lot of alcohol and coffee, smokes…….(in short if the person doesn’t take care of his/her body). If you take a look at the images above, almost all the models take care of their body (except maybe the one in the bw photograph but that might just be the lighting). If you have a person with oily skin, pimples….it is a bit harder to make them look nice and flattering, especialy if you don’t have a make-up artist that can simply help you to get rid of something like oily skin.

  • caronnect

    Fantastic to see real people being photographed in a real way. No need to touch up what Mother Nature has provided. Brave & worthwhile!

  • Sean Mason

    Can’t wait for the self confidence campaign fad to be over with.

  • Guest

    Oh it won’t stop there, then they’ll stat to bash pictures of beautiful people, because not everybody is that beautiful and it sets an unreal expectation of what everybody should look like.

    This next part is directed at all the anti-touchup (makeup and photoshop) people. You know what controls girls self image? Their mothers! So if you’re a mother then stop talking about how you have to loose weight, get fit, wished you looked better. That’s how we stop this crap!

  • Max Power

    You’re right. Self-confidence is overrated.

  • Sean Mason

    Real self confidence comes from real achievement. It’s can’t be manufactured or propagandized. Instead of grading with purple pens, handing out participation trophies, and making Youtube videos about not wearing makeup, we should be challenging our children to work harder and instilling in them core values. We do that and self confidence will be a natural consequence.

  • Kynikos

    In the third photo from the top, if that woman has no make-up, she needs to see a doctor: apparently all her fingers are profusely bleeding.

    I know, I know but with all the black clothes and light background, the fingernail polish does draw attention, doesn’t it?

  • Mike

    Whoa there, the JPEG format made them look faker!

  • Mike

    I’d be rather comfortable mashed there, too…

  • Mike

    Well E.T. didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

  • Mik Rose

    These women are beautiful without make-up. But retouching a pimple or hell even many pimples isn’t bad. Pimples are temporary things. I don’t think i would ever hear from someone saying hey can you put my acne BACK into the picture.

  • Fred

    well done. here her.

  • Jake

    “Real self confidence…can’t be manufactured or propagandized.”

    So then tell me again why women need makeup and Photoshop? If that’s not manufacturing for the sake of boosting self-confidence, well…

  • alabamalefty

    Prior to the 20th century, mothers usually were the primary influence for their daughters’ self image. But in the last however many decades, it is MEDIA which influences girls more than anything! Girls see super-skinny models and movie stars in magazines (many of which are photoshopped) and THAT is how they form their self-image. Parents can barely compete these days with all the bombardment of images girls and young women see on TV, the internet, in magazines. Mothers AND fathers should teach their girls that the images they see are usually altered, and to love themselves as they are. But you cannot put this all on the parents – the media is a HUGE influence and therefore should be more responsible. Brave for movements like Raw Beauty! The backlash against “perfect” images of women is LONG overdue!

  • alabamalefty

    Wow, Sean Mason, you really don’t have a clue, do you? Millions of girls and young women have low self-esteem due in large part to peer pressure and overproduced images in the media. Even a smart girl who gets good grades may have low self-esteem if she feels she is not pretty. So “achievement” is not always the answer. Challenging our children to work harder to achieve is a completely separate issue from the near-impossible standards of beauty set by the entertainment and fashion industries and by PhotoShop.

  • Sean

    Oh look, normal people.

  • Rob Elliott

    The influence of Popular Culture has had a huge influence on people for ever. In Royal Courts women dressed to suit the style of the time, or do you thing 15 layer skirts with corsets taking a woman’s waist to 12 inches, while wearing a wig 2 feet high and making your skin perfectly white while augmenting the bust to get 3 inches of cleavage and adding a fake mole to the upper breast and face, was a perfectly normal look?

    In the late 19th century and early 20th century Drawing/illustrations were literally drawn to give women the “ideal” figure, and later as photography developed photo retouchers also did alterations. They also hired models that fit the “look” as well as they could.

    Today Celebrities are used, who are then Photoshoped to look like models. This isn’t done because there is an unrealistic view of beauty that suddenly developed over the last 30 years.. but instead because Jennifer Lawrence on the Cover of a Magazine will sell more Magazines then Coco Roche. Photoshop allows Magazine editors to make Celebrities look like models.

    The issue is that people don’t educate themselves. Well at this point I think it is safe to say most people are educated to the point they figure hey lets just photoshop our selves because that is what they do in magazines..

    And so we get a hundred horrible touch photographs of girls with skin blur.

  • Michael Andrew Broughton

    “this organization, dedicated to empowering women through
    portrait photography and an honest conversation about beauty, doesn’t
    just do away with photo manipulation in its portraits… it does away with
    anything meant to enhance or cover up the way the models actually look.” BULL! i guarantee most if not all of those women use various products to prevent acne, moisturize their skin, prevent chapped lips, etc., they used flattering lighting, poses and camera angles, i’m seeing a lot of tweezed eyebrows and i guarantee there was a hairstylist on set. not to mention they no doubt hand picked models that don’t look like crap without makeup.

  • XYZ

    but nearly all with plucked eyebrows… a stupid fad that is, worse than any make-up!

  • David Vaughn

    But shouldn’t there be some accountability on the part of the parents and the person with low self esteem? Not saying the media has nothing to do with it, but this sounds like the “McDonalds is the reason people are fat” argument.

  • Manny A. S.

    Here is my pet peeve about this subject. In real life encounters, 95+% of women that we considered attractive have many flaws and are considered attractive as a Gestalt, the sum is greater than the parts. Of which, personality plays a major role, smell, style, mannerisms, and makeup. If we could freeze these women and walk up eerily close to study their faces we would not find them as attractive, which is what a photo essentially does.

    Ever notice how some movie stars are extremely attractive in movies, sometimes even when they are trying to make them look bad, but as soon as they are photographed the Photoshop experts are brought in to make her look good? The reason is that in video a personality shows through, we overlook that her body is great, but not perfect, but as soon as they are photographed, one starts to notice that they have a little flab on their arms, stretchmarks on their behinds, etc. Because we are accustomed to thinking that they are attractive, if we see them in a “real” photo we are let down and start thinking that they are losing it.

    I am not advocating taking Rosanne Barr and photoshoping her until she looks like Megan Fox. However, just as using the right lens, lighting, clothing, and makeup. Using Photoshop to remove or lessen temporary marks such as acne or stretchmarks, are important tools for a successful photography business.

    These “Real” campaigns need to stop using good lighting, because in real life we do not have film crews following us around giving us good light. I mean if they want to be real, lets be real, place them under the noon sun in a summer day. People should aspire to being healthy, because we Americans are now over 50% obese does not mean that we should shame the healthy/beautiful people. I mean, when I was a kid growing up I was considered chubby by my family and friends, I was active as hell, but still had the “baby fat”, now when I look at those old photos I was a stud compared to today’s kids.

    These “RAW and Real” shaming campaigns just need to stop, and they need to stop making excuses for their failures and bring down those that that try to maintain a good appearance. Which is what these campaigns are really about, don’t believe me, pay attention to these campaign organizers when they appear on TV shows, they are usually fat, old, or like Oprah, they say they are against it all, but if they have means, they sure as hell try to look ever young through surgery, makeup and lighting.

  • Jose Batlle

    Hopefully this gets traction. All women are beautiful as nature made them, no need to add anything but a smile and confidence. As the Dad of two girls I tell them this truth every day.

  • RAWBeautyTalks

    Thank you Jose! That message you are telling them will be heard and will help increase their confidence :)

  • RAWBeautyTalks

    I ask people to come completely make-up free but if they arrive from set (as this woman did) to quickly do a shoot with their mother who almost passed away the day prior we let the polish slide.

  • Diane D.

    Thank you. Very well said.

  • u.s.socialmediasux

    Not to mention..not a single one of those women are “over weight”.

  • Bart van der Horst

    Amazed that I live in a world were this is exceptional. But happy to see these pictures… the beauty i feel is that it feels so relaxed to look at these pictures. There is no undercurrent of stress and pressure to be better then you are.

  • imajez

    This is possibly a somewhat disingenuous exercise as the women on the website seem to be more attractive than the average [made up] person in the street. Younger too, which may be part of it.

    This principle on the website….
    “We imagine a world where women are valued for their brains and their hearts more than their appearence”
    Which whilst laudable, is also hoping to image a work where our basic behaviour and drives haven’t been shaped by a billion years of evolution.

  • Ridgecity

    This is great, except that they all are beautiful already, how about some regular women instead of models with no makeup?

  • genotypewriter

    Would it be wrong for an artist to paint aliens? Would it be ok to take part in a trend that brainwashes impressionable children in to thinking that mutilating yourself to look like an alien is a good thing?

  • Bob

    I can’t take good photographs as I never learned the basics, I have no idea about studio lighting or natural for that matter & I’ve never even owned a copy of photoshop…But I really really want to earn lots of money from photography cos i own a DSLR…I know…

  • Optimistic Mum

    I rarely wear make up, but for me, this argument is not completed by discussing the self confidence (or lack of it ) of a generation of girls, in order for any “anti-enhancement” campaign to really carry weight, we must take into account the blatant disparity. We are striving (at least I think we are) for sexual equality and I’m pretty sure that we need make-up to be an equal option for both genders in order to adhere to the basic premis of gender equality. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think make-up is on the shopping list of many males! Grooming, personal hygiene, health and fitness are paramount. We all need to take care of ourselves, but that doesn’t mean being hidden by make -up, computer software or even good lighting! Our boys don’t seem to have the option to hide, our girls don’t seem to want to be seen! As a mum of a 14 year old boy and 3 year old girl, this worries me – A LOT!!
    We need to teach our children (and ourselves!) to be safe and happy in their own skins.
    This Tennessee Williams quote is one that speaks volumes to me:
    Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see …each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition– all such distortions within our own egos– condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other.
    Let’s teach our children to see clearly xx