Written and photographed by Ben Rhodes

My name is Ben Rhodes but you can call me Benji. I’m a first-year film and photography student. For most of my life, I’ve been reserved about my creativity because of the environment I was in. I grew up in rural southern Georgia where there wasn’t much art being represented, rather agriculture. Although it was nice and peaceful, my passion had always been to move to the big city and pursue my dreams of an art career. Once that dream was in the path of existence, I put my full 100% into it because I had to prove to my parents and friends that I was serious about it and would be able to earn a steady career doing what I love. Although this goal will be challenging to accomplish, I believe I’ve always had the determination in me to achieve things I want, whether it be a huge risk or not.

Before coming here, I didn’t have much prior experience in film or photography. From a young age, I would always carry a small camera around with me to film my daily excursions. I never knew that this was something I wanted to take seriously until my senior year of high school and I knew I had to do whatever it took to convince my parents to allow me to study in an art field. I came across SCAD when looking at colleges and once I did more research, I found that it was my best option. I constantly sought out ways to afford school because my parents weren’t able to pay any of it. After a summer of stress, my parents finally were approved to be a co-signer for my loan a few weeks before the start of school. When I heard the news, I was instantly ecstatic about where my future could take me. I said goodbye to the country and hello to the big city.

Moving to Atlanta was a huge change for me that I couldn’t have been prepared for enough. I was suddenly surrounded by such diverse people with a variety of majors, and I finally felt I was where I belonged. Fall quarter of last year helped me make so many friends as well as networking connections which I knew would help immensely in the future. Winter quarter was a lot to handle because of the sheer amount of work that needed to be done, but I loved every single second of it. I was able to begin the film class I wanted, including a photography class. I also learned more than I have ever learned before about my camera. After picking up my DSLR, I completely fell in love with capturing the beauty of the world through a frame. In photography class, the topics were pretty broad, allowing me the creative room to shoot my own vision. For my final project, I decided to use three of my good friends as models for an idea I had surrounding their natural beauty. It felt great to represent women for who they are, and I hope I was able to do it in such a way that stands out from other photographers.

Women. Beautiful, strong women. They stand before us with presence, attitude and commitment. There’s a certain elegance to their nature of self with a strong foundation built underneath them — never undermine their impact in the world. Through these images, I wanted to provoke the feeling of confidence through these three women placed into unfamiliar scenes, where they went beyond fear and stood their ground as the powerful humans they are. Giving light to this is something that’s needed and could never be shown enough. I aimed to show diversity from these images to emphasize that all women can equally accomplish such efforts. Please take anything and everything you possibly can from these photos and understand the meaning behind them with your own devices.