This Photographer Wants To Capture The Beauty Of Fat Bodies

“It still continues to be life-changing every time I do a shoot,” said Shoog McDaniel, who takes joyful pictures of nude models in nature.

Photographer Shoog McDaniel wants to change the way society sees fat bodies. Instead of using photography tricks to make bodies appear slimmer, McDaniel takes the opposite approach.

“So much so that I was zooming in on the cellulite, zooming in on the stretch marks, shooting only from [below],” they said. “I was like, ‘F**k it. F**k everyone. I’m going to do this s**t!’”

McDaniel, who identifies as nonbinary, trans and uses the pronoun “they,” was bullied as a child. At times, they struggled with suicidal thoughts. But at the age of 18, when they found some unused disposable cameras behind a store, they found their calling. McDaniel began taking candid photos of friends, catching moments when they felt happy and carefree.

“I started to realize, we were all living in marginalized bodies,” said McDaniel. I was like, ’Wow, this is actually not something I see a lot on the internet: queer and trans folks hanging out, having a good time, joyful stuff.”

McDaniel’s work is in stark contrast to the types of images normally presented as ideal ― ones that glorify thin bodies. By focusing their work on nude, fat bodies in nature, McDaniel wants to change the perception of what society deems beautiful and worthy of respect.

“Bodies need to be valued, even if they’re unhealthy, even if they’re super fat, even if they’re disabled,” McDaniel said. “You need to be able to look at a body and not have a decision about what that person needs to do with their life.”