Neeta Madahar’s work is the essence of femininity. Between viewing a still life or a portrait, Madahar captures a delicate balance of both ethereal and robust figures with popping light and colors in the shots. Within Flora, Madahar has built shrines around her models transforming them from average women into Amazonian goddesses. Delving further into the images, we can see more of what Madahar is saying with her flowers and models rather than showing just a slew of pretty faces. There is stories behind the tenacious stances each woman takes in Flora, a backstory that is not made clear nor necessary for the storyline but you gather the impression of the layers beneath the alluring surface.
The idea of creating each image started with Madahar having a friend pick a flower that spoke to them. From there, the landscape around them grew including costumes, hair and makeup, and of course the flower they chose. The women seen in the book, some of whom appear to be nontraditional models, fully embody the new persona given to them for the camera. From different views on what can be interpreted as Mother Nature to more glamorous full-body shots, each woman stands strong with her flower and creates a modern version of renaissance imagery with it. Inspiration to show more beauty of her models comes from the fashion shots seen from the 1930s and 1950s. While exuding a painterly finish, Madahar has shown that some methods of photographing are timeless, though these images were shot in 2009/2010.
While, yes, these women are posed for the images, there is a grander sensation felt when looking at each model, true happiness. Each woman posing for Madahar is ecstatic to be in front of the camera whether it shows through actual smiling or a clear-cut connection in her posture. You get an overwhelming awareness of pure joy when seeing the first plates and you also can’t help but smile along with their contentedness. They are comfortable being instructed and dressed for what their friend asks of them and are along for the ride they are going on with her. The desitionation: a breathtaking view.
Flora is a strong shot of female empowerment mixed in with the beautiful scenery Madahar has photographed for the current century and beyond. Madahar shows a distinct view of her friends in her images; it is the way she sees them and how she wants the world to view them. Not only that, but Madahar wants other women to pick up these feelings of courage from her plates like flowers and create a story that builds up them up into their own deity. Flora is motivation to strive for the best versions of ourselves while being the badasses we are in our own flesh.
If you are interested in purchasing Flora, you can purchase it on Photo-Eye’s website.
Written by Madison Rich
Photographs by Madison Rich