We are all about pushing boundaries at All Walks and Marina Pamies from Istitutio Maragoni decided to explore the opposite by investigating what goes on inside our comfort zones for her DiveristyNOW 2016 entry.

Pamies’ beautifully artistic editorial plays on ideas of space, boundaries, both physically and emotionally. Inspired by Michelangelo no less, the classical aesthetic – with soft tones, simplicity and a sense of purity –  tells a narrative of our physical and psychological confines. Spanning age, shape and race Pamies’ tried to capture the different needs of different bodies by letting the models explore their own comfort zones, there is no one set of rules. That’s a message we can get on board with.

You mentioned the great Michelangelo as the inspiration for your DiversityNOW! entry. Can you say more? What inspired you about this artist and how did you translate this to the final images?

Michelangelo’s Vitruvian Man made me think about the space surrounding our bodies. I was very interested in the physical confinement of the body, and also how this links to the psychological confinement of the body, also called comfort-zone. In the creative industries, we are usually encouraged to go out of our comfort zones, and I wanted to explore the concept with the idea of staying within it.

What did the role of props and set design play in your shoot? Are you able to explain any symbolism used? 

The pieces were to accompany and help the models on expressing, with their bodies, without distracting the viewer from the main point. The wooden framework we used was to show a physically defined and restricted space, external to the body. As with the image where the model leans on to a stick, it questions the notion of comfort-zone. In that, it symbolises the human need for something to hold onto.

The body seems to be equal, if not more important than the clothing in your imagery; can you give us insight into your creative thought process and model casting?

It is true that the model casting was very important, at the end this was about exploring the physical and emotional boundaries we all have, so a diversity was obligatory in my mind. We wanted them to engage with the theme; which is not defined by gender or ethnicity. The knowledge of our bodies was also a key reasons why we choose Sanna, Molly and Ellie. The clothing was selected in accordance with the different body types, so although it was edited down in terms of ornamentation, styling played a strong role.

Would you consider using models with diverse body shapes i.e age, skin tone, shape outside of this campaign brief?

Yes, of course. I would and I already have!

You mention playing with ideas of comfort & freedom and proportion & pose. How did you develop these into your final outcome?

I believe it all came together on the day of the shoot. We didn’t tell the models how to pose, we wanted them to experience and act naturally within the set, which they did. In this respect, it became an experiment in seeing if our set design evoked the type of behaviour we sought to visualise. And it did. We encouraged them to move continuously, until they felt comfortable enough to be photographed, which is the reason they appear calm, to the extent of bored. The purpose of the project materialised, it demonstrated that it is not just our bodies, but also our psychology that defines and challenges our comfort zone.

Words: Elli Weir

Styling: Marina Pamies

Photography: Olesya Asanova