To counter the quest for perfection that permeates our lives and news feeds, Montreal-based portrait photographer Bénédicte Brocard invited more than twenty well-known females of diverse ages and backgrounds to be photographed in their intimacy. The photos highlight various aspects of authenticity and reveal these women in their most candid moments. The women then chose the picture that best depicted who they really are for Benedicte’s photobook entitled Vraies: Un regard sur l’authenticité au féminin.
Before Vraies was published, it was a project Bénédicte used to sharpen her skills as a portrait photographer. She began working on the project five years ago while at a crossroads as a newly divorced woman and quickly approaching her 50th birthday. After spending time reflecting on her own personal and professional ambitions, Benedicte invited prominent women in Quebec to be photographed uninhibited as their truest selves.
The women I photographed are used to being photographed because of their accomplishments and their success. I asked them to let me enter their world privately and take pictures without a team and without preparation. It was just my Canon and me.
Preparing for this project required persuasion. Bénédicte had to find the right approach to convince over 20 high-profile women, and some of their agents, to participate in the project. She proposed that her subjects let their guard down and allow her to take photos that would capture their most authentic selves — a challenge that Quebec’s former Prime Minister Pauline Marois was thrilled to be a part of.
I was amazed at how much trust the women put in me, especially during the time when this was not a book project.
Bénédicte spent one to two hours chatting with the women in settings that were personal or private to them. The locations, mainly in their homes, were intentionally chosen so that the women would feel comfortable — allowing Bénédicte to capture candid images in a relaxed atmosphere.
I am very thankful for the culture of Quebec, which I think allows people to trust strangers quite easily. The women’s solidarity is strong here and definitely helps me!
Each woman has three photos in the book that represents who they are — one that they chose, one that Bénédicte chose, and one selected by a close friend or relative. This revealed that the qualities others see in us, we sometimes struggle to see in ourselves. While the project served as an opportunity for Bénédicte to sharpen her photography skills, it also reminded her that true beauty shines through when you show up unfettered.
The women loved selecting their own photos, many thought it was a humbling moment.
I was on my own search for more authenticity in my life. This project brought me much further than the initial goal.
See more of Bénédicte’s images on Instagram.
Editor: Les Éditions de l’Homme