Aria Herbst: NYC based photographer, filmmaker, writer and musician. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had not a desire to create, but an all-consuming absolute need to. If you asked anyone who knew me, they’d tell you it’s like I can’t breathe if I’m not creating. My perspective as a female photographer has always played a vital role in my work. I shoot my subjects in a way that detoxifies masculinity and embraces sensuality without sexualizing. The concept of beauty is heavily present in my various mediums. I have struggled with my identity for as long as I can remember. There are days when I don’t really know who I am, what I am. Recently, I cut all my hair off. Growing up, I was told that my hair made me beautiful and I was not allowed to tamper with it aside from the occasional trim. I was told it was a symbol of my femininity. Finally, in late December, I realized that if something as superficial as hair was what made me beautiful, then I didn’t want anything to do with it. I used to define myself based on how others viewed me physically. What defines me now is not how I look but what I think and what I create.

The theme of beauty in my work is prevalent and I allot this to the fact that I was so focused on and confused by beauty for most of my life, often blinded by it if not sickened by it. Now, instead of having the construct of beauty cause pain, I strive to wield it as a force of good. I aim to capture the beauty of those around me, not just physical outward beauty, but internal beauty as well. I hope to aid people on their journey to self love as I continue on the path to finding it within myself.