Photographer Linda McIntosh shoots a raw story for REEK Perfume, in an effort to celebrate bonding and female empowerment.

Tell us a bit about this particular photography project.

When planning this shoot, it was important to me to focus on Reek’s core values, and values I hold myself, of female empowerment, bonding and celebration. Inspired by the BITCHES UNITE tee featured, I wanted to show a closeness and bond between my subjects and saw shooting real life friends as the best way to achieve this. hence leading me to shoot Amy and Maddie. I decided to use a fun play on perfume as the driving theme behind the shoot, using it as a tool to heighten ideas of uniting and connection through shared and almost intimate interactions with the water. Doesn’t get much closer than sharing fluids amarite?!!! This way I also hoped to take a step back from the conventional beauty shoot standards, and instead show a real rawness by celebrating the beauty in what could be labelled the “gross” and “disgusting” which is the stuff I live for. I swear, my phone memory is 80% occupied by snaps of my tongue bar and my boyfriend’s bruises.

How does photographing women make you feel about your own femininity?

Photographing women is something that is organic and comes very naturally to me yet I find it to be a very powerful experience. Surrounding yourself with deathly beautiful women with razor sharp jawlines, who look soooo much better in the shoot clothes than you did when you tried them on at midnight the night before just to “check them”, and who you place on little Instagram pedestals as being the coolest people ever, could be daunting and intimidating at times and is a feeling I assumed could be consuming, but I have found the opposite to be true. Meeting all these different women through the job is nothing but empowering. Yes, everyone is just as beautiful and cool as they seemed online, but they are also funny, kind, creative, clumsy, nervous, excited, tired, hungover, polite, insecure, plus whatever else makes a person a person. This might seem devilishly obvious and something I should have worked out before I was 24, that people are people, but from a previously insecure mindset, that still gets insecure at times obvs because I’m a person and people are people if you haven’t been paying attention, the fact that I’m gaining confidence in myself from each shoot has been fab. I think it also goes without saying that shooting women gives you such an appreciation of the female form. No offence boys, but god we’re beautiful.   

What smells remind you of femininity?

With my favourite smells being WD-40, petrol and pubs, this is perhaps a tricky question for me but if we’re being real, I’d say that “femininity” has no set definition and shouldn’t anyway. At the risk of sounding 90 years old I would have to go with the smell of books. There’s something about reading that I find completely refreshes my head, brings me back to reality and helps me “reset” my frame of mind. Actually using my brain instead of tuning it out with Netflix or social media,  makes me feel 100 times more human and comfortable inside my head.

What signifies female strength to you?

Female strength to me can take many many forms and a lot of the time can be circumstantial. What can seem brave in one country or family or relationship or time may not be perceived that way in another and vice versa. I think a big factor of strength comes from confidence in choices by which I mean being unafraid to make choices for you and not forgetting yourself in a plight to please others. Being aware of the importance of your own needs and happiness is something which should be a priority but can slip in situations where you feel intimidated or less important or unworthy of it. Knowing your worth and not letting yourself be treated below that by others or even by yourself is what we should strive for. Strength is something that you don’t always form alone and so female strength to me is also a coming together of all female identifying people where we support and celebrate one another without judgement and prejudice. Insert Mean Girls clip about making the cake made of rainbows and smiles.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are.

This may be an unconventional answer to such a question, but I believe my positivity makes me a damn rebel bitch. Horrible as it is, I often find that looking at the positives and being optimistic and hopeful puts you in the minority and I often find myself having to rebel against negative views and ways of thinking.  Maybe it comes from being a photographer, but I think I am always searching for the beauty in every situation and actively trying to keep my head a negative thinking free zone. As soon as you find everything beautiful or intriguing and see situations as opportunities to learn or help, life is so much more fun. You might get less done or be late for everything because you had to stop and take a pic of an insanely good oil spill on the road that was too good to miss or because you can’t walk 10 steps without looking up at the way the sun is hitting off a window, but paying more positive attention to everything around you like magic seems to bring more positivity to you. I seriously need to chill on the tongue bar pics though.

REEK perfume