point of you: riley buttery

i-D asked our readers across the USA for their point of view on beauty. Photographer Riley Buttery tells about stepping in front of the camera, authenticity of image making, and her love of Vivian Maier.

by i-D Staff
Dec 21 2018, 11:52am

Earlier this year, i-D asked our readers across the USA for their point of view on beauty, asking them to submit stories to us that encapsulated what the future might look like. The six winners then came to New York to be shot by photographer Micaiah Carter, and tell us all about what informs their worldview. Here, photographer Riley Buttery tells about stepping in front of the camera, authenticity of image making, and her love of Vivian Maier.

What was it like being front of the camera, rather than behind it?
It's definitely a different experience being a model. Knowing what's going on behind the camera. I knew all of the equipment that he was using, how he was changing it, and how he was using different cameras or why. I feel like it like it informs the modeling so much.

What's exciting in beauty imagery to you at the moment? What do you find authentic?
I feel like now, there's a lot of really important dialogue going on around subverting the meaning, and changing it and broadening the definition of it. And I feel like that's really important, there just is now a new problem of "Is this new definition of media that's being marketed to me, authentic?" Like the authenticity that they're promoting, is that authentic, or is that just a tool? And what is my role in making sure that my community or whatever group I'm in's definition of beauty. How do we make sure that's known?

So you're not being further exploited.
What's the intent? I feel like intent's so important when it comes to that stuff.

And your work as a photographer fits into that.
As a photographer, I really want to make captivating beautiful images, whatever that means. But fashion photography, which is something I like to focus on, was literally made to market things. So, it's like, am I just a pawn in this? Or should I take that role and change it from what it's always been used for.


Who are some of the artists who inspire you?
Well, I'm writing a paper in photo history right now about Vivian Maier, who's one of my favorite photographers probably. She just has the most captivating point of view. And Rineke Dijkstra. It's kind of stark, but you completely see the emotions of the subject.

Do you find that you have a really different sensibility when you're shooting moving image, as to when you're shooting stills?
I feel like I definitely put a lot more consideration into when I'm shooting still images. 'Cause you have to encapsulate what you would in a video, but just in one frame.

Which I think is why I like photography. There's so much that can go into it and form an image. I've been working with analog stuff a lot recently. And I haven't been able to work with any analog video equipment. I really like taking aesthetics or things from film that make it feel a little bit more tactile and nostalgic, 'cause I feel like that's a large part of my work sometimes. So, when I'm shooting digital, I always try to think back to film or analog techniques. It's a more meditative process.


What's the change we need to see in image making?
I feel like, most importantly, who's in charge... of ads, marketing, however we're getting this content into the world, I feel like the people producing it need to be, cognizant of everything they're doing; 'cause I feel like there's so much ignorance, there's just a lot of dumb mistakes that are made.

In a lot of campaigns or marketing, I feel like there should be a lot of younger people. People that care about it, people that see it as their work. And want it to be a representation of themselves. I feel like, also, hiring people that aren't being represented in the ads. Like if there is, going through people of color in the ads, why isn't a person of color making them? Why isn't space being given to those people, why isn't representation being given in the way that it is to marketing?

That's my two cents [laughs].


Photography Micaiah Carter

Styling Shawn Lakin

Hair Kendall Dorsey

Makeup Raisa Thomas

Nails Leanne Woodley

Producer Chloe Mina

Production Manager Elina Angel

Senior Creative Emery Coopersmith

Associate Account Manager Sam Mark

Talent Director Andrea Haber

Photography Assistants Nigel So Hang, Rahim Fortune

Digital Technician Victor Tate

Stylists Assistants Nicole Chan, Charlotte Jackson

Hair Assistant Natalia Borgas

Makeup Assistants Keyana Morrisson

Production Assistants Ryan Hall, Tiye Amenechi