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Imaginative Photography Made Outstanding
By Ghia Vitale
The first picture I saw by Your Rouge Photography was a black plus-size mermaid in the snow. The model in the photo above is the lovely Chè Monique. I appreciate all of the beauty contained in this surprising image. Mermaids are usually portrayed as slender, white, and in the water (you know, of the unfrozen variety). Your Rouge Photography, based in Washington, D.C., puts the spotlight on marginalized communities and creates empowering representation of these identities. In a world where good representation is scarce, the photographer Rouge—who prefers to remain anonymous—is making magic happen.
Rouge took the time to answer some of my questions about Your Rouge Photography. Here’s the scoop:
How did you first get into photography?
I've been falling in love with photography since I can remember. When I was a child, my parents would send me to field trips with those Kodak disposable cameras, and I had a blast taking photos. As an early teen, I was always that annoying friend taking unflattering candids because I was fascinated with capturing the truth of moments, emotions, and people. In my late teens, my family pooled funds to buy me a DSLR. However, it wasn't until a few years ago that I truly found my element as a photographer.
What inspired you to start Your Rouge Photography?
Knowing my love for photography, friends and acquaintances would reach out about headshots, promotional photos, and boudoir photography. They kept telling me how grateful they were to be able to relax around me in ways they weren't able to with other photographers. I intentionally work to create an environment where people of different sizes, races, genders, sexual orientations, and other marginalized identities felt seen and welcomed.
I started Your Rouge Photography as my brand of radically inclusive and progressive photography services, inspired by a lack of accessible services for the very communities I serve. I often work with a variety of performers—including drag kings, burlesque dancers, professional mermaids, and pole performers. Over time, I have developed a flexible repertoire of services, ranging from professional headshots and wedding photography to boudoir and live performance photography.
Your photography is spectacular! Are there any photographs you're especially proud of?
Thank you! I'm currently creating a calendar for Haus of Hart Productions' fat burlesque revue in D.C. and I'm loving all the work coming out of it. I get to work with a variety of fat performers. We've made magic at all our shooting locations, from a snowy fountain to a poorly lit hotel room. You can see some of that work on Facebook at Your Rouge Photography, on Instagram at @your.rougephotography, and on the Your Rouge Photography website.
Are there any key themes you feature in your photography?
The themes I feature depend on the services I provide. In my wedding photography, I strive to capture connection and raw emotion. In my boudoir photography, I strive to capture the sensuality of the human body. Throughout all my work, a frequent theme is identity. I work with my clients to understand their identities and how they want these to be reflected in my work. My understanding of these identities informs all of my choices as an artist, from location choice, set curation, and posing to lighting and editing.
How would you like your photography to impact the world?
I want to increase the representation of marginalized bodies in art modeling, including boudoir photography. A lot of the boudoir photographers out there only shoot with cisgender, thin, white women. I want to break away from that and create space for the beautiful variety of bodies and identities out there. I want to make photography services more accessible to marginalized communities in every way I can.
Are there any other photographers who inspire you?
Yes! There's plenty of amazing photographers out there who inspire me. But I want to give a special shout out to Wolf Photography who does beautiful conceptual work.
Is there anything else you'd like Quail Bell readers to know?
Thanks for this interview and for giving Rouge a voice!