For centuries, women have been confined to rules about what to wear, how to sit, and where they can work. Many things have changed for the better, but there are still only a handful of places a woman can go without her attire and attitude falling under some form of scrutiny.
For her Women at Home project, San Francisco-based documentary photographer Jaime Borschuk wanted to find a way of capturing women in spaces they feel comfortable — away from critique. She ventured to twelve different locations to observe and capture the intimate interiors where her subjects felt most safe.
I was interested in the environments they create for themselves. It also felt physically safer for me and for them.
Jaime knew that the women of her community each had a distinctly individual style, but she was curious to see how that taste manifested in their environments as well. She’s fascinated by how people construct their own little world at home and can’t help but notice details like the personal objects they display.
It’s like going through someone’s purse and finding out secrets! I enjoy having a license to observe.
All the subjects volunteered for the project, happy to open their doors to another creative female. And the spaces in their homes they chose to feature varied from one woman to the next. Some felt more comfortable in bed, others in their living rooms or kitchens. One woman preferred her quirky art studio, which featured a pom-pom-wearing cut out of Bob Ross.
I think in a way, a lot of people feel defined by their immediate everyday environment and you don’t always have a chance to really show that off or take that out with you into the world.
Jaime wanted the subjects to feel at ease, and not worry about meticulous styling or staging. She directed them to sit or stand in whatever position that made them comfortable, wear what they’d like, and she left the option to smile up to the women themselves.
The subjects all showed up as themselves without a lot of fanfare.
While the lighting and setting changed from each location, Jaime took time to determine which images added to the cohesiveness of the series. Though the styles of the homes may vary, the relaxed nature that the women express in their homes helps tie the series together.
At first I selected the images from each individual shoot that were strongest, then over time, looked at the shoots combined as a series and figured out which ones felt right as a set.
Jaime produced this project both for herself and for the group of women she spent time with. By listening and engaging with the subjects, she leaned into her passion for connecting and learning from others. Jaime’s images reflect her intimate process of observing an individual in the environment that they live, work, and play in. And through her series, we see how women flourish in the safe spaces they create for themselves.
For portraits that reflect the best of you in your space, come as you are.
Photographer: Jaime Borschuk