It’s been a year already! A BIG year of Making Up The Magic, of creating visual dialogues while exploring the faces of women and the meaning of beauty, beyond the trends. And to celebrate, I’m going beyond the surface.
To complete this first yearly cycle, I finally got around to do a sitting with Cynthia Ann Kazandjian. I met this very lively woman at a party—a year ago. She made a very lasting impression, but somehow the timing wasn’t right for me. We became Facebook friends, and admired each others work over cyberspace. It’s only this summer that I felt I could reach out to get her in front of our lens, with my collaborator, photographer Cesar Ochoa.
I felt ready after this first year to start talking about beauty and age. To look beyond the euphemisms of “mature, over 35, elegant, or lady” and see what I could find there. When I started image-making in my twenties, I naturally gravitated to people of my own age group for inspiration, and I created images to inspire myself.
Now that I’m 39, I still like to create a youthful version of beauty, but I don’t see myself reflected back in the same way. And I figured it was damn time to create images that moved me and to start exploring other ideas of visual beauty, beyond the conventional idioms of pretty and youthful.
Cue in Cynthia Ann. She is a captivating woman; a boundless amount of joie de vivre sparkles in her eyes, constantly animating her exotic features, crowned by a lion’s mane of wild hair. She is a larger than life writer, but she is also a mom of two, and a wife to a great guy. She has it all; a home, a loving husband, smart kids (did I mention amazing hair?). If you went only by her radiant face, you could never guess that she went through hell and back. She beams so much with enthusiastic glee, that there is no apparent trace left of her overcoming drug problems, childhood abuse, and a tormented early adulthood. All fodder for the stories she has begun publishing on her newly minted blog medium.com/@KazandjianCA. But her biggest thrill is working on her Fan Memoir, where she describes her mid-life crisis, becoming instead a journey down the rabbit hole of Marilyn Manson fandom (multi-layered woman!).
Cynthia Ann is a keeper of stories, so she was utterly fascinated with the process of image-making. She was peering through the pictures of this blog, at the women. She was totally enthralled by the act of stepping in front the lens to create a little visual story of her stunning half-Scottish and half-Armenian looks.
If younger people take for granted some of their visual appeal, being beautiful beyond that certain age is all about conviction. Stepping in front the camera like Cynthia Ann did, she couldn’t fall back on easy clichés of beauty looks. You only have you to fall back on. We both agreed that it’s the ultimate test, that beauty is a kind of performance art, and when you are young, you can try on many faces. But the game changes as you age and the question is: “How much have you honed of what is you?” You can’t rely on that “pretty face” routine.
That is what attracted me to Cynthia Ann: how she was radiant and simply herself, no need for filters, she is an accomplished human being. And that’s why I just focused on simple makeup looks. She has that glow of someone that has gotten to know herself really well and that is what I wanted to showcase. The inspiration to be boldly you, no matter what age you find yourself in, is a victory over any obstacle.
Makeup: for base I used Shiseido Cream Hydro-Liquid foundation. On eyebrows I used Anastasia Beverly Hills. Eyes and cheeks I used the Fall 2015 collection by Lancôme. Lipstick and mascara by CoverGirl. All clothes and accessories are Cynthia Ann’s own.
Blowdry and set by Shawn Macdonald and colour by Marianne Sicari, both at Orbite Salon.