Swapping bodily fluid for glitter, a photo series analysing female beauty standards

All that glitters is not good for young women's self-esteem.

And Everything Nice

[H]annah Altman is a photographer we like from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By blending fine art and social commentary, Hannah creates a visual dialogue about societal structure relating to the perception of the human body. We asked her about how she does this, what’s beautiful to her and the impact of photography as a medium.

Check out her website and if you’re in Pittsburgh, Hannah has a show in August 19th at the Trust Arts Education Centre. 

Your series 'And Everything Nice' comments on female representation. - could you explain the origins of this project?

The series is a middle finger of sorts to the current standard for female beauty. The series consists of women in varying states of affliction. The body fluid of the models (including blood, tears, and vomit) are been replaced with glitter, in order to visualize the concept of girls invariably needing to seem shiny and attractive regardless of what’s actually happening in the scenario. This was the first full fledged series I’ve completed, and it’s been endlessly interesting to see such a wide audience connecting to the work; I’m very grateful and humbled.


What photographic cliches are you tired of seeing?

I’m not one to complain – I’m obsessed with photography to the point of obsession so I’m enthusiastic about most new work I see. It’s always great to see photographers pushing past the cliche of just taking inconsequential photos of objects they see and creating deep, meaningful work that reflects how they see the world.

And Everything Nice

What's the ugliest thing you've looked at recently?

The first thing that came to mind was when I was alone at a bus stop late last night, some strung out old man sauntered over to me and tried to tell me how great he thought my body was. When I ignored him by putting my headphones in, he spit on the ground next to my feet and walked off. Hideous.


What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve looked at recently?

I’ve been quietly working on my first solo show, which is body-positive themed work that celebrates the female form. I’ve been using all of my friends as models for the project and showing them the print for the first time is always such a beautiful thing. Love celebrating the bodies and souls of the women in my life. It’s a very beautiful feeling.

Light Rustling

How powerful is photography as a medium? Can you tell me about a photograph you've seen that elicited a particularly strong reaction from you?

I believe in the medium so deeply. Developing a sense of visual literacy is such an interesting and interactive way of understanding the world. Photography is uniquely powerful because while written artist statement are important, images can speak for themselves. I mention her a lot in interviews, but Samantha Conlon is a current artist whose work I always love to see. She has a series called Daughters in which she photographs that quiet strength and innocence in young girls, and I love that project so much.