Petra Collins is a Canadian photographer and artist based in New York. She’s also an ‘it’ girl for Gucci and a director, moving between photography and film in her artistic career. This oscillation between various art forms has not distracted Collins from her signature style: dreamlike and effortlessly ethereal. Her narratives might change, but there are identifiable characters and themes that stand out and relate back to an authentic exploration of the female experience through the female gaze.


At first glance, Collins’ photographs might seem invasive; the protagonists are being watched as they observe their own bodies with a camera or in a mirror. This is partly due to the photographer’s choice of setting: spaces are often domestic and panoptic, offering a view of the surrounding area shrouded in sprinkles of shadows and light patterning the tinted carpet. There might be a sink in view as a young female looks at herself half vacantly in the mirror when alone, whilst speckles of light softly expose the subjects. Usually, there’s a single female playing with her phone or a group of friends huddled together in front of the mirror. Too occupied with themselves to notice the onlookers, the protagonists remain detached from the spectators as they pout and pose in front of the mirror to take a selfie.


What makes Collins’ style so addictive is her playfulness with light and colour. Vivid pastels, baby blue tiles and white ceilings are often used to create a balmy and dreamy backdrop. There’s a resultant element of nostalgia that permeates her storytelling; her characters become prototypes of our past selves and our friends, as well as an exemplary look at teenage girls today.


These projections are all significantly initiated by the female photographer. Although posing for a selfie, the scene is natural and the female bodies are equally relaxed in posture and stature. Every aspect of the storytelling feels authentic. In this sense, the (new) female gaze has completely shifted notions about the female form positioned behind the lens, refreshingly transforming conventional notions about fashion photography and exaggerated postures.


Petra Collins’ work presents a pure view of the female experience, remaining true to her memories as a teenage girl surrounded by apps, camera phones and exterior pressure. Her photos tell stories in pinkish hues, openly confronting the contemporary depiction of female bodies behind the lens and breaking what we know to be the norm.

You can view more of Petra's work by heading here.