Female: FAQ about the process


What is the Female portrait series?

Female is a collection of more than 300 self-captioned portraits and audio recordings of women from around the world. The project seeks to understand the female identity, searching for collective truths in volume, and unflinching individualism in the mosaic.

Choosing to present the women faceless is an effort to suggestively evoke what can’t be seen. Creating an experience that is simultaneously intimate and anonymous. Without a face as the central point for expression, the viewer is forced to create their own narrative about each woman, allowing them the opportunity to reflect on their own judgment, objectification, and biases.

These faceless women strike a balance between vulnerability and empowerment, exclaiming their identity by unveiling what is infinitely more intimate than a face, a part that they themselves are unable to see every day.

Who is Kacy Johnson?

I am a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. My work primarily focuses on the genres of portraiture and documentation through which I explore representation, authenticity and  collective identities. I studied journalism at the University of Chapel Hill at North Carolina, and documentary arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. 

How do you choose who to photograph for the series?

This is a long-term study that I’ve been working on for over 5 years. So far, I’ve photographed more than 300 women from around the world ranging from ages 18 to 93. My goal is to photograph any woman who expresses a wish to be a part of the project because the more perspectives that can be presented with this project, the better. To help make the project as inclusive as possible I focus on prioritizing women of color, women ages 50 and over, non-cis women and other women whose stories have been less represented in the series so far. 

How can I participate?

I’d love to hear from you. The best way to get in touch with me is via email at kacyjohnson@gmail.com or via DM on Instagram at @kac__y. It’s helpful to hear a little bit about you and why you’re interested in participating in the project. 

What should I expect during my Female portrait session?

First of all, it’s a pretty relaxed experience in a very comfortable atmosphere. Many people feel a bit vulnerable when being photographed in any setting, so that can be especially true when the subject is such a sensitive topic. My personal feeling is that vulnerability in a safe space is always good for growth, and that has proven to be true with the women who have been a part of this series so far. During your session, we’ll start off by chatting a little to get to know one another, and I’ll answer any questions that you have about the project and also ask some questions about you. The session will take around 30-60 minutes, with the actual portrait only requiring a few minutes. 

Will I be interviewed during my portrait session?

Female is a self-captioned portrait project, which means that each woman photographed will write the caption that accompanies her photo. This element is important to me because I want to open up space for women to take ownership of how their stories are presented to the world - this is not just about my vision. You will not be interviewed. Instead, after the session I will send you your final portrait, and at that point, I will ask you to share your thoughts as a caption that I can publish along with the photo. Some women also know what they’d like to write before even having their photo taken - which is wonderful! 

What should I wear to my portrait session?

Whatever you’re most comfortable in. When we’re ready to get started with your photos, I’ll give you a robe to change into, which you can easily slip off for the photo. Some women are concerned about their marks from tight bras showing, so that might be something to keep in mind. Personally, I like bra marks in the photos because I think it’s a realistic representation of female identity in this moment. 

Is there any cost to participate? Will I be paid for my participation?

This is a personal project that I’ve fully funded myself and features wonderful women from around the world that feel connected to the inspiration behind the project and have chosen to volunteer. I never charge anyone to be photographed for the project, but you should be okay with the idea that your photo could be shared across various media as a part of the series. Participants will not receive payment, but you will have the unique opportunity to participate in a special portrait project that has touched many people around the world and will also receive a digital copy of your portrait.