photographer zora sicher on mexican film and diverse representation
Who run the world? As our latest issue places a female lens over the world, we find out more about the female photographers making waves in the fashion industry and beyond.
Zora Sicher's vision of girlhood is beautiful, diverse, and genuine. Shortly after picking up a camera when she was 13-years-old, the photographic wunderkind made her i-D debut as a teenager documenting friendship and coming-of-age in her native New York. After she turned her lens on Pat McGrath's latest muse, Paloma Elsesser, for The Female Gaze Issue, here are 10 things you need to know about Zora Sicher.
1. School definitely helped her.
"Learning the early processes of photography, being challenged by different people, learning art and photo history, and meeting other creative kids in school really started a great foundation for me. In addition to school, I started reaching out to different people already working in the industry for internships, showing the little bit of a portfolio that I had, and just kept on shooting."
2. She's a girl of many talents.
"I love to cook! My friends make fun of me for being super controlling in the kitchen, but I do feel very passionate about it. Otherwise I'm really interested in hand crafting things; I also love to embroider! I've also been making a lot of ceramics… I haven't yet showed anything to the world, but its just been a really quiet, special thing for me to do this past year. I like to turn off the internet and go into a different space for a while and work with clay. It's an important balance for me alongside photography."
3. Photography is a tough world to get noticed in.
"I think the biggest challenge at this point is being noticed now in the sea of big names, or the family hierarchy of the photo and art world. It's challenging enough to make a name for yourself with the amount of photographers that there are currently, and then there's always going to be publications who won't even take a glance at you unless they've heard your name or know where you came from. Of course, there are a lot of people out there who are willing to explore new options and find younger and different photographers."
4. But when someone does respond to your work, it's the best feeling ever.
"The most rewarding thing is seeing responses from people all over the world, being told — most specifically by young women — that they're so happy to have something relatable or refreshing like one of my photographs. When struggling with the idea that my voice may not be needed or important, it feels really great to have a girl message me from miles away telling me that my photographs really brought her some strong emotion, or that it was great to see someone with her body type portrayed in a platform she may not have expected."
5. This is her advice for buddying female photographers:
"I would say definitely reach out to other women around you, build a support group. Also, reach out to other photographers whether young or old because most of the time we're all around to work together and help each other."
6. She's inspired by a range of talented women.
"Audre Lorde for sure; she was a beautiful poet and an absolutely influential feminist, who wrote and taught about intersectionality from a black lesbian woman's standpoint. I'm about to read her collection of speeches and essays for the second time. Gloria Muñoz Ramirez — a Mexican journalist who lived with the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico for some seven years working and documenting a thorough timeline of their uprising — [is also an inspiration]."
7. She's always wanted to recreate the scene a PeeWee's Big Adventure.
"…Where they go up and watch the sunset in the giant dinosaur somewhere on the side of the road in Nevada or California? I used to have dreams about that setting. I think those dinosaurs are in Palm Springs and probably not accessible in the same way now, but maybe I'll find a way."
8. This is the change she wants to see in the fashion industry:
"There are overall issues with diversity and appropriation in commercial representation and fashion editorial, especially in America. I was noticing some fashion covers the other day and realized that I'd probably seen the same Hollywood celebrity on covers four times recently. There are so many people in this world and for some reason, we continue to keep displaying the same person, and the same type of person over and over again. We need more people — again, specifically women from all over the world — representing themselves. I think we need to be less concerned with 'top-models' and have our covers be different women as well as men and transgender people displayed — something new and relatable to look forward to every time any big publication comes out."
9. She's a self-proclaimed of a foreign film nerd.
"I studied Mexican film for a bit, and watch Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien religiously. It's a very simple but quite beautiful movie. Strangely enough, my photos or ideas are inspired a lot of the time by film and cinematography rather than other photography. I'm a bit obsessed with Wong Kar-Wai right now and Fallen Angels, his 1995 film that takes place in the after-hours of Hong Kong. I wouldn't say my photography is anything like his work, but I really loved it. There's a certain feeling in both of those films that have really stuck to me."
10. Her dream i-D cover sounds something like this"
"It would probably be a big group shot. A mix of a few iconic women, and young women that have found me somewhere in life, in addition to the women of my family, all covering one eye of the others! Different shapes and colors, ages and wrinkles; just a radiating chain of love."
Text Lula Ososki
Photography Zora Sicher