Through Her Lens - Part 1



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.

Why is photographing women important to you?

Delphine hails from France and her first career path was modelling in Paris and then internationally, and I was a muse/ nude model for a couple of years for photographer Cindy Wilson. We both have an innate understanding of what it feels to be in the role of the women we are shooting and are in the position to make it an uplifting experience for other women. It feels good to know that I am not asking anyone to do anything that we ourselves have not done and that they are safe to be themselves with us. Women have been and still are the major factors in our work so it is incredibly important and a privilege to be photographing other women.

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.

A female photographer I admire and got to meet, Collier Schorr is a perfect example of the female gaze and has got some of the most intimate shoots with models where it has been a beautiful collaboration between two women, and that’s for us what it is essentially, and that is something special us women have over the predictable male gaze. Although I do appreciate the male gaze of Helmut Newton, maybe because he worked alongside his wife June so there was always still a female voice or presence.

Olivia wears Morning Lola Underwire Bra and Boyleg Brief in Chocolate Truffle. Now available in new season Ocean Depths.

What are some of the positive changes in the world of fashion photography that you have seen over your career as a photographer?

Well as I touched on before it’s positive and about time that bad behaviour on shoots has been called out as over my twenty plus years as a fashion photographer there have certainly been some horrible stories both locally, and internationally and it’s sad to me that anyone would feel compromised as a model when they are there to make a photograph, do their job and enable the shoot to happen in the first place.  It's also amazing to see such embracing of diversity, size, transgender, and non-binary and a complete breaking away of old-fashioned rules, it's very refreshing and has been a for a long time so overdue.

Tota wears Simply Me Full Coverage Contour Bra, Hipster Brief 

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.