Heather Hazzan is a photographer invested in showing the diverse range of women's bodies
The thrill in photography for me is to connect with someone and to look in their eyes. I'm a shy, awkward person, but when I have a camera, you can look so deeply in someone's eyes, it's such a thrill.
I started as a straight size model at Ford Models. A straight size model has a thirty-five-inch hip, so like a size two. My mom was a model in the 80s. I thought it was a good way to make extra money in college so I applied, I fit the measurements, and it was great. But I wasn't actually supposed to be that size.
All I cared about was workouts, and calories. I followed crazy strict rules, everything was rules and workouts and no life and no friends and I didn't care about anything but that. So, it became a real problem. I lost my period for five years, and had ten percent body fat and for a woman that is absolutely not okay.
The main reason that I'm doing what I'm doing today is because when I was in high school, I remember being in math class and tallying my calories —not listening to the teacher. But what if for other girls—their body issues were gone? What could they be doing? What could they be learning? What could they be giving back to their community? What I hope to do is show different sizes and shapes in pictures, without like beating it over your head.
So, I started gaining weight and once I gained “too much” weight, like a size six, the agency were like, we don't know what to do with you, you're in this weird middle ground—as a size six.
I got to be a size 12 or 14, and I entered this [model] contest for all sizes with V Magazine. And it said, whether you’re pint size or plus size, enter this contest to come to New York and shoot with Victor Demarchelier, and I ended up winning that.
I signed with Ford and then Muse and moved around agencies for three years. During that time, I would shoot my plus-size model friends because I was really frustrated with how they were portrayed [in photoshoots]. At that time they wore tons of makeup, push up bras, perfectly curled hair, they were only portrayed as this pin-up persona.
That really frustrated me and I wanted to see my friends with no make-up, stripped down, just chilling, and no posing. Somehow their agents loved it and put them in their book. They were simple, nice portraits of these girls showing what they actually look like. I decided to learn about photography and took a creative live course, and then just shot a lot of tests. I shot a lot of my friends.
I've never been into the big epic sets, those never connected with me. I love connecting with my subjects and my sets are really fun and relaxed. I think when we let ourselves be vulnerable and goofy and real, the people I'm shooting realize that they can be themselves too. I think it helps them relax, and shooting on film is a little slower, so I think that helps as well.
I think casting is everything, and I just want to see all shapes sizes colors ages represented I think not one is better, not just using curve models is the answer, I want to see all sizes.
I love unique faces, I love people who are going their own way, who are unapologetic, who have their own sense of self and style.
I think women know how they want to be seen. I want to portray women as being unapologetic and have the reins of their own lives. With my photography, it’s not about the clothes or it's not about the location, it’s the person. I’m really connected to the person. I get inspired by them and their beliefs and what they're excited about. The women I shoot know that I'm going to make them look good. They know I'm not going to pick an unflattering shot of them. There's a trust there where it’s like me as a woman, is not going to let you down as a woman.
Words told to: Laura Jones
Photographer: Anna Bauer