“I grew up as a third culture bi-racial Thai American. I was born in Thailand and lived there, Japan, and Korea, before moving to the US for the first time to go to boarding school in Upstate New York and then college in Southern California. Then the time came to find stiller waters where I could peer into the world with a quieter eye, make my images, and dream more powerful dreams. That is how I came to plant my soul in Northern New Mexico.
Ever since I was very young, growing up in Tokyo, Japan, I was often carrying a camera with me, happily documenting my child’s world of stuffed animals, dolls, plants, and friendships. My father is an avid photographer, and I do believe his love for this art form, shaped my perception of its value.
I used to pore over fashion magazines, pulling pages of my favorite images and pinning them to my walls. This element of fantasy, of dress up…this was an outward expression of my private fantasy life as a kid. Later in life, I spent many years working in costume design in the film industry. Somehow, all these threads have woven together into my current work.”
Tell us a little bit about your work
I think the connection between my commercial and fine art work is love. At the risk of sounding too romantic about the medium, I truly feel this sense of passion when I’m looking through the lens and composing. It’s this little thrill, like when you’re first falling in love, and that’s present no matter what kind of work I’m doing.
My latest personal project ‘Once Upon a Girl’ is my celebration of a new, more complex feminine iconography. Part fantasy. Part allegory, these are the stories of growing womanhood...based on strength in the face of adversity, perseverance in the face of injustice, and grace in the face of prejudice. Throughout, there is a sense of place and the tension between setting roots down, and breaking free of expectation.
© Tira Howard Photography
Where do you find your inspiration?
I'm most often inspired by the soul of a subject, and the in-between moments of life, when the unexpected sometimes occurs, even on a tiny scale. That's always the sweet spot to me. You can tell because the vibrations are right and it feels good. This is true whether I am behind or in front of the camera.
© Tira Howard Photography
How does being a photographer influence how you show up as a model?
I've always found that being in front of the camera and being behind it, can be quite similar. I have a sense of empathy for both. The lens is both unforgiving, and a generous partner. Both the subject and the photographer are participating in a dance on either side of that lens that has the potential to be sublime. I am always longing to participate in that dance because of that potential in whatever role is available to me.
What is a unique experience that you have had on set with Vapour?
The most unique experience I've had on a Vapour shoot was scrambling through rocks and canyons, and channeling the spirit of those rocks and canyons, along with my fellow creatives, all on the same wavelength, as the sun set and darkness descended upon us. It was a unique synergy, and so special.
Tira Wears (Left): Gentle Illuminating Primer, Soft Focus Foundation in 130S, Perfecting Powder, Bronzing Stick in Simmer, Brow Definer in Dusk, High Voltage Lipstick in Madam.
Tira Wears (Right): Gentle Illuminating Primer, Soft Focus Foundation in 130S, Perfecting Powder, Bronzing Stick in Simmer, Brow Definer in Dusk, High Voltage Lipstick in Primal
What is your favorite Vapour product and why do you love it?
My favorite Vapour product is the Foundation Brush. It is silky soft, and it makes makeup application so easy and look so flawless. I've never experienced it's equal before and I've used a bunch of different kinds. Hard to choose just one though. I really can't live without my Velvet Gloss in Deva that makes my lips look natural and yet extra at the same time. Also the Aura Multi Stick in Eros is a universally flattering shade that I use on eyes, cheeks, and lips. I always have it with me and use it daily.
What never fails in making you feel the most 'authentically you’?
I feel most authentically me when I am creating images. I'm a very visual person, and there is an incredible feeling that comes with making a compelling image. I almost experience it with my other senses as phantom aids to my eyes.
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