this photographer made a nude zine of her tumblr friends and tinder matches
British photographer Fia Yaqub, whose fan base includes Richard Kern and Nick Knight, spent a summer traveling across the U.S. shooting intimate photos of American women for her new zine, ‘Peaches.’
Fia Yaqub was big on Tumblr before she started sharing her own photography. Her feed of beautiful nudes arranged in tasteful color-coordinated groupings attracted a following that included legendary fashion photographer Nick Knight. While Fia was in her second year at Salford University in the UK, Knight reached out to her and asked her to take over the SHOWstudio Tumblr for a time. Instagram, though, has been less helpful for someone interested in nude photography.
"I get my images removed a lot," Fia tells me over the phone from Manchester. "I posted one last night and I knew it was going to get removed and it's already gone. You don't get that on Tumblr." Like Instagram, Fia's images call into question the line between intimacy and what the app labels "graphic content." Her recently released zine Peaches, is a document of a summer spent city-hopping across America shooting girls "as they are, in their own environments," on their beds, in living rooms, hanging out in Yaqub's AirBnB. While photographing girls in their bedrooms has become a familiar trope in the past few years, Yaqub's images have a unique transparency — like windows into private, beautiful, and usually unobserved moments.
How did Peaches begin?
It wasn't really a project so to speak — I didn't name it Peaches until I actually printed the zine. It was just an ongoing thing to try and collect work because last summer I knew I was going to the States for two months. I was in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, then New York. So I wanted to like shoot as much as I could because I find, here, in the UK, a lot of girls won't do nudes here.
How did you find models in the States?
I used to be quite popular online when I had Tumblr and then I moved to Instagram, but I still knew quite a lot of the girls. So I tried to line up as many as I could before I got there, and kept posting on Instagram asking for models. I came home with 64 rolls of film. That was just two months.
Why do you think there's such a difference in the way that girls in England and girls in America are willing to pose?
It's quite strange for me. I remember at university my teacher was like, "You need to find the wild girls," and I was like, "There are none." It's very, very rare that you find them.
You interned with Richard Kern in New York while you were at school. How did you make that happen?
I've liked Richard since before I can remember, before I was 16 I think, and I kept emailing and emailing him to the point where I was probably annoying but still really flattering. In the end I wore him down. And I still keep in contact with him. The summer just gone when I was in New York, I helped him shoot.
His photography style is very different from mine: he shoots with digital and uses lighting and equipment. I just shoot with my camera and that's it. But it was great to see how he handled models and how he set up a shot.
Why did you decide to only shoot film?
I like the fact that you don't know what you're going to get. It can be completely detrimental, I could like none of the photos that I've taken and it might be a bust, but it's more what I wanted the photos to look like. I used to change all of my digital photos to look like film anyway.
What's your shooting process when you're in the room with someone?
I try, as much as I can, to just hang out. I will direct you to a point and we will be speaking the entire time or you can just be on your phone. Say, for instance, you were in a relationship and you were just taking candid shots of your girlfriend — I try to do that because I don't like it to look forced.
You mentioned that one of the girls was your Tinder match. How did you bring up the project with her?
I was in San Francisco and I was on Tinder because I wanted to see the difference between American women and English women. I matched with her and we were just talking normally. Then I looked through her Instagram and I saw that she took photos and took nudes. Eventually, I was like, "I shoot nude girls as well," and she was like, "Oh, well I photograph nude, so if you come to New York" — because she was originally from New York — "you can shoot me." She ended up living 15 minutes from where I was staying in Brooklyn.
I like that you include your subjects' names on your site. It adds a bit more of a narrative.
I always ask the girl if she wants to use her real name, and most people do. But it's just first names so you can't be looked up. I like it because it gives it an intimate feel.
Why did you decide on the name Peaches?
I kept writing notes down and there was a line from either a poem or a song I really liked but it wasn't quite on point. And then bums remind me of peaches so I was like maybe we'll just call it Peaches. The peach emoji is actually on the back of the book.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Fia Yaqub