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Calgary photographer captures raw side of Mode Models in new exhibit
CALGARY — Typical fashion magazines are filled with glamorous photos of models.
The photo shoots are usually executed with a talented photographer, beautiful model and a team of stylists, but a new exhibit called Portrayal at the Paul Kuhn Gallery goes against the grain.
The walls are covered with pictures of past and present high-profile models with Calgary-based Mode Models in their most authentic self.
No makeup. No stylist. No Photoshop.
Photographer Gerard Yunker, who spent a year working on the exhibit, says he wanted to bend the rules just a bit.
“This is more about stripped-down honesty and rawness,” said Yunker.
“I don’t want to shock people. It’s more about looking at beauty from a different point of view.”
Yunker partnered on the project with long-time friend and Mode Models CEO Kelly Streit.
Streit has discovered some of the world’s top models in his more than 30-year career, including Tricia Helfer and Kim Renneberg, who are both featured in the exhibit.
Streit said it’s important to embrace and celebrate natural beauty and aging gracefully.
“There’s a lot of plastic surgery and it’s OK if people want to touch up and fix up. I’m not opposed to it,” he said.
“However, you can also just age naturally and still be stunning and beautiful.”
Renneberg, who is 44 years old, was a top model in the 1990s and was one of Streit’s first major discoveries.
She says Yunker was one of the first photographers she worked with and was excited to be able to collaborate with him again on a unique project.
“I’m OK with aging. It’s kind of neat to see because I think it’s a privilege to grow older, to see how you have aged and what you’ve become,” she said.
Even younger models like 16-year-old Bella Orman and 19-year-old Awar Odhiang, who are both featured in the project, have embraced the concept.
“I like looking at it because it’s raw and it’s different from what I get to do,” said Orman.
“As models we’re all dolled up on the runway. Seeing them in this light is really refreshing," she added.
Portrayal at the Paul Kuhn Gallery runs until Nov. 16.