Sophie Harris-Taylor is a photographer who has always used her lens to initiate conversation or raise the profile of an issue which needs attention. One previous series of Sophie’s in particular, titled Epidermis, tackled body positivity, depicting those with varying skin conditions. Since we covered that series in May 2018, Sophie went on to exhibit that series, had a baby, got new commercial representation and “worked on some lovely commissions,” she tells us. Now, Sophie is back with a new body of work, this time revealing the realities of breastfeeding.
The series titled Milk began soon after Sophie gave birth, with her telling us “I think I found those first few months kind of boring if I’m being completely honest.” A period of time that not many women talk about with candour, Sophie remarks how “it can make you feel a bit lost, you’ve suddenly got this new identity as a mum and despite loving that side of things, I felt a bit lost in myself.” Like many, she had idealised this experience and the imagery she had even confronted with in the past “tended to represent breastfeeding in quite a generic and non-informative way.” This, coupled with her itch to start a new project led Sophie to wanting to open up the conversation around breastfeeding, reflecting on her experiences, as well as the experiences of other women.
A major facet of the Milk is the testimonies that sit alongside the intimate and revelling images Sophie has taken. “When photographing the women, although I was looking to capture something truthful, an image from my perspective can really only give you a glimpse into something that they’re pretty much doing round the clock (quite literally),” Sophie adds on this point. “I wanted to create something which showed a range of women’s experiences and also just how differently these experiences can be and how complex too. Adding their voice alongside the images has hopefully enabled me to do this.”
The subjects in Milk are all friends of friends, or mums Sophie met through social media: “I put out a few casting calls and when I started to share some images from initial shoots more women came forward and seemed to want to be part of the project.” Clearly, something about the concept of the series resonated with these women who came forward. “With some much more open and honest discussion around the role of women’s bodies at the moment, now feels like the right time to discuss one its most basic functions in a truthful and refreshing way,” says Sophie, hinting to reason so many were keen to get involved.