Women empowerment with photographer Donna Ford


women empowerment Donna Ford

The collaborative photoshoot called “Mrs Robinson” is about women empowerment. Four women share their stories set in the 1960s but are actually happening in 2022. The photo shoot is the brainchild of branding and editorial photographer Donna Ford, who wanted to create a “Mad Men” inspired shoot for a while. When the International Women’s Day 2022 theme was announced earlier this year based around ‘Break the Bias’, this gave Donna the perfect opportunity to go ahead and make her idea a reality.

The concept for the women empowerment shoot came from a launderette in Greenwich which Donna passed one day a few years ago, with the idea being having modern women in a retro scene to magnify how in some ways the passage of 60 years hasn’t changed much in some arenas.

There was another driving force behind the photos, telling the stories of how her mum was treated when getting a divorce in the 1970s which mirrored the injustice and social attitudes.

Driven by the concept of women empowerment, the story behind the shoot arcs of the women from Mad Men – “the housewife (Betty), the carefree youth (Megan), the working woman breaking into men’s worlds (Peggy) and the dominant female making things happen (Joan)”.

The stories are all connected to motherhood and work, expectations and lack of choice. Subtly, we can sometimes perpetuate the patriarchy by not saying what we want to happen. Each of these women empowered themselves to be taken seriously and make changes within society. This is something mid-century women would’ve dreamt of, therefore making it so important to start conversations about these issues. Whilst dealing with the discrimination of women, it was also important to Donna to capture the joy of the feminine spirit, something that really astonishes her!

Here are the four strong women who made the women empowerment campaign possible:

1. Mother & lawyer Parisa refused to succumb to climate crisis overwhelm and suggestions that she was simply hormonal or over-emotional as a new mum. Now she runs a registered charity supporting the sustainable living and community-building efforts of thousands of folk in South East London.

2. When made redundant whilst on maternity leave, Prarthana’s life fell apart. Her confidence and identity shattered into pieces. But now she is a mum to two daughters and is committed to doing her bit to create a future free of gender biases.

3. Why are intelligent young women being pressured to settle down? Yetunde is a woman finding fulfilment on her own terms, without a man, trying to ignore the cultural blueprint passed on to and expected of her.

4. Liz, sick of the gender pay gap and women’s inequality is now reclaiming feminine power in the restructuring of society. She strives for equality and harmony between the sexes, for a world that honours women and their unique bodies, minds and souls.

It was important to have the scenes set with authentic makeup and hair. Donna used her network and some previous Power Portrait clients who knew she had an important message to spread and knew her method of working. She also brought in a dressmaker who was starting up a new business to set the scene for the shoot. Hair and makeup were done by an enthusiastic talent. Each person involved gave their time and skills for free, making Donna’s main cost hiring the studio in Peckham. To complete it all, Gina from Pipet Design set each scene with her timeless scarves.

For more information, please visit: donnaford.co.uk

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