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The Belly Project

You rarely see the belly being noticed in the way that the more obvious body parts are – breasts and bums have been exploited, inflated and drained of their loveliness ages ago. I wanted to explore the idea of capturing this intimate region of the body, not truly explored, or exploited by our culture.

The point was to capture the essence of a personality without using the face, and to ask – What can this perspective reveal about one’s personality by looking at style, location and gesture? Will the viewer glean enough information to understand at a glance the subject’s idea of themselves?

I set out to ask total strangers to spontaneously expose themselves to me. What I found is an individual’s character comes across in the gesture they make in the act of revealing their belly. The Gesture was a strong indicator of personality type. Styles and location are also clues as to one’s preferences in their daily life.

The belly project tries to reveal personality in a way a traditional portrait wouldn’t – our world is written on our faces, our decisions and choices lay on our mugs like painted lines and potholes on forgotten highways.

When asking strangers on the streets to reveal themselves to me what I was getting in return was nervousness, shyness, brazenness and boldness that was surprising: I found mood and character in unexpected places. Your belly says a lot about the way you’ve chosen to live your life and people are often reluctant to show that – I go to the gym every day, I sit on the sofa all day eating chips, I’m pregnant and I feel confident enough to show it to you every day.

Even if people said no to a photograph of their bellies everyone laughed and loved the idea!

A fun fact – most women said yes and most men said no.

This is a collection of the most sexy, funny, brilliant, beautiful, characterful and odd bellies I photographed.”

Anthony Epes 2018