Q&A with legendary fashion photography duo Karen Inderbitzen-Waller and Delphine Avril Planqueel
me. by bendon is all about enabling women to confidently discover and embrace their individual style. As you can imagine, being photographed wearing just bra and undies in a room full of strangers is a vulnerable and intimate experience. Therefore, it is a non-negotiable for us to work only with photographers who make women feel safe and confident in front of their lens and illuminate their unique personality and style. We were thrilled to land the phenomenally successful and effortlessly cool photography duo Karen Inderbitzen-Waller and Delphine Avril Planqueel to shoot this campaign.
“Having both had our own experiences of being photographed in the nude, we have an innate understanding of what it feels like to be in the role of the women we are shooting, and we are in the position to make it an uplifting experience for other women”.
Karen and Delphine’s strong yet quirky photography style showcase their subjects in an empowered light making them the head chefs we needed to bring our me. by bendon new collection campaign alive.
We had a chat with Karen about her career, fashion photography, and women.
In photography seen in advertising around the world less than 15% is shot by a woman. When it comes to shooting photographs that are aimed to make women feel empowered how important do you feel it is to have women photographers on the job?
This is, unfortunately, the case in advertising but as women, we continue to push forward to seek these roles that are still being dominated by men and it has sadly always been this way. Each and every one of us female photographers cannot let this get in our way and can only hope for change and an update on this bias.
I know our female subjects love being photographed by fellow women and that in itself is a feeling of being empowered, which can only come from also feeling comfortable in front of the camera. I make it my number one goal to make other women feel this way when they shoot with us.
What differences are there between photographing women in apparel versus lingerie? How do you adapt to shooting lingerie?
Shooting in lingerie definitely calls for some necessary preapproval from the model and her agency that this is something she is comfortable doing, I would never expect to throw that on a model on the day as it’s obviously important she is prepared and ok with it.
The same goes for shooting women in the nude of which we have done a few nude editorials for art magazines in Australia, it is something that is first consulted with the subject to get her approval, and the day is very much catered for her comfort and keeping her feeling safe and looked after. On every shoot, whether it's apparel or nude, the model's wellbeing is my first concern, I make sure they are being looked after at all times.
The “Male Gaze”
Is a term that describes the practice in which media and advertising is filtered through the lens of men, and as a result media and advertising can depict women from the viewpoints of male desire. How important is the presence of a “Female Gaze” when shooting women in lingerie?
I used to have a lot of male colleagues who were also photographers ask me how I got certain shots that were tastefully sexy or suggestive and I could only put it down to the female gaze and they somehow felt more at ease with us, but then I also do make sure they are well looked after so there is also that too and sadly not all women can say that about some of their experiences shooting lingerie shoots with male photographers but slowly but surely this is now getting called out.
We’d love to hear your answers to the same questions we asked the women in our campaign. What makes you feel most vulnerable?
Animal cruelty, covid and the separation from travel/family, extreme weather in an era of climate change where anything is possible.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Fear is a wasted emotion - it is actually always never as bad as you fear it will be.
What defines you?
My camera and my individual eye that is unique to me.
What was the stand-out image from the me. by bendon campaign for you?
Shooting our beautiful friend Moe (Morgan) with her new baby River, her dog Cisco, her guitar and celebrating what an amazing woman she is. When Bendon asked me to think of an amazing woman with many strings to their bow I instantly thought of Moe and her career as a director, actress, musician, mama and proud sober vegan, an absolute legend.