‘I want to help women to be seen, heard, celebrated and empowered’

Jade Tinkler is a professional photographer who is hosting a special, one-off exhibition of women’s portraits titled ‘40 Over 40’. Here she tells Eileen Leahy about the inspiration for the show, which is on at Fordcombe Village Hall on March 18, and reveals a little more about her career…


So Jade, how long have you been a professional photographer and how did you get started?
I’m just entering my 11th year as a professional. I got started as most do – it was a hobby that people started wanting to book me for, and one thing led to another!


How easy was it to get yourself up and running?
When my eldest was born, I discovered ‘newborn’ photography and so I started doing more of that. I absolutely adored it but what I didn’t like seeing was how the mums shied away from the camera – that really had an impact on me. Over the years of photographing new families, I realised there was always the familiar story of women not wanting to be photographed, of not feeling photogenic, of not wanting to be seen and so I wanted to change that.


How did you help change the narrative around the issue of women feeling more positive about their self-image?
I decided that as a photographer, I wanted to help women to be seen, heard, celebrated and empowered – whether it’s in their personal lives, or for their business. Now I strive to help women exist in photographs, to create a legacy for future generations, to see themselves as worthy of being celebrated, and to see themselves as beautiful.


Do you work mainly locally and if so who are your type of clients?
I create legacy portraits from my home studio in Langton Green for all sorts of women of different ages and for different reasons – women who want to celebrate a certain stage (or change) in their life, or those wanting to celebrate long-standing friendships or relationships. I take photos of a lot of women in business and also have the honour of photographing ballet dancers who want to celebrate their journey through dance.


What gave you the idea of doing the ‘40 Over 40’ project?
The concept of photographing ‘40 over 40’ is actually a global movement within the photography industry to help women over the age of 40 feel seen and heard. When I learnt of it, it really resonated with me as I actually turned 40 myself during this time and so I felt that I wanted to help change the narrative surrounding women in their mid-lives. So many women feel lost and unrepresented by the media. It’s a pivotal stage in a woman’s life that should be embraced and celebrated.

Who are the women involved in your new show?
All the women involved are just ordinary women. They’re not models and they haven’t been chosen based on their looks or extraordinary lives. Most were nervous about being photographed and have been united in their desire to celebrate (or for some, to challenge) themselves, to take themselves on a new journey, and share their stories. Women have travelled from as far as Dorset, Suffolk, Herefordshire, as well as Kent and the surrounding counties, to be involved. Although I began this venture with the intention of photographing just 40 women, I plan to keep building on the collection of those involved, and therefore I feel the name of the project will have to change eventually…


What was your selection criteria for choosing these women – apart from
the age?
This project was open for any women over the age of 40 – so I have women spanning two decades, and the average age of the women featured in the exhibition is 50. Aside from this, I didn’t have a selection criteria for the project and I certainly didn’t want to just choose women with extraordinary lives or those with a specific look. I have photographed women from all different walks of life, and many have experienced different challenges and opportunities. Due to the nature of the portrait experience I provide, I do have to charge a session fee, which covers the hair and make-up stylist, and time and resources spent working with each client. But I wanted to keep the project as organic as possible.


What do you hope that this exhibition will achieve?
I believe this collection of beautiful portraits and honest stories is hugely powerful and the women involved have shared valuable advice that can benefit not only women of this demographic, but those approaching this milestone, as well as the girls and the young women of today. It will help other women to feel ‘normal’, to feel represented, seen, understood, celebrated and inspired. My aim is that this collection will be exhibited again in the future, to maximise reach and accessibility. I hope that it helps to disrupt the narrative that we’re so frequently subjected to which is that youth equals beauty. And that only women under a certain age, and with a certain body type, are worthy of being photographed. This is absolutely not the case, and I strive to show how beautiful and valuable older women, of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, really are.


How long is the exhibition on for?
This exhibition event is only on March 18. However, I do hope to run the exhibition again in the future, for a longer duration, to make it more accessible. I strongly feel the message being shared with this collection should be seen by as many people as possible.

For more information, visit: 40over40.co.uk

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