Words by Clairesse Schweig
Photographer Gia Pietrosky explores the shower's rejuvenation, intimacy, and comfort within a Lana Del Rey-inspired photoshoot.
Imagine you’re showering. Is the water hot—creating steam that fogs over the mirror? Or does it hit your body ice cold, igniting a shocking breath as you reach for your shampoo? As the sudsy soap slips over your skin, collecting in bubbles and streams while winding its way down the drain, what do you feel? Why are you there?
Showering holds a familiar feeling and despite any variations in your routine, the image of the shower is easily conjured. There is an unimposing and contained quality to it, no matter its shape, size, or user.
But beyond sparking ‘shower thoughts’ and Piper’s “I love getting clean” monologue at the opening of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” the shower environment—when examined—spawns fascinating creativity.
For up-and-coming photographer Giovanna “Gia” Pietrosky, the shower's rejuvenation, intimacy, and comfort provided the perfect location for her newest photoshoot influenced by Lana Del Rey’s 2014 third studio album, Ultraviolence.
After taking a photography workshop in 2018 at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Gia fell in love with photography as an artistic medium. Drawn to the incorporation of fashion and the idea that “yourself and your clothes can be art,” Gia cherishes the freedom to explore all parts of her potential as a photographer
“It’s an amazing outlet for me,” she offers.
A long-time friend and admirer of her work, I was lucky to collaborate with Gia on her project as a model and reflect on the art she produced.
Although Gia knew she wanted to set the shoot in the shower, incorporating Del Rey’s Ultraviolence was “a happy accident.”
“That day, I remember my mood wasn’t super high, so I gravitated towards Ultraviolence. Then when we began the shoot, I thought, ‘Wow, this is perfect!’ That day was Ultraviolence.”
Not only does the music set the shoot’s mood, but Gia believes it “helps with imagery.” Del Rey’s brassy, steel guitar musicality and discussion of deeply felt emotions within the album parallels the unhinged, raw “stripping of self” that often happens in the shower.
Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey
On the day of the photoshoot–with a full face of makeup, styled hair, and brown-toned dress–I watched the once ordinary bathroom transform through Gia’s carefully selected warm candle-like lighting. Stepping into the shower, letting the soft drops of water cling to myself, I heard the baritone guitar opening notes of Ultraviolence dance throughout the room.
As Lana Del Rey's voice's haunting desperation rang and Gia took test shots, we both began a collective journey. Lured by Gia’s vision, we commenced into a kaleidoscope of smeared makeup, splashing water, and self discovery..
“When I feel really anxious or going through a really rough time I will often resort to going to the shower as a safe space,” Gia shares. “Water represents refreshment. It not only cleanses you physically, but for me, emotionally, it helps me have a reset. I can be alone with my thoughts in my room, and that can be very anxiety-inducing, but the shower… it’s different. The environment brings me a sense of safety and warmth. Maybe everyone’s had times when they just sit and cry in the shower, and that’s a sense of vulnerability. It’s not necessarily the happiest moment, but every time I’ve cried in the shower, it’s been very healing.”
The emotions held within the photos–anxiety, sadness, frustration, and even happiness–are a shared experience. Any emotions can be felt in the comfort and warmth of your safe place,” wherever that may be, but one’s ultimate strength is revealed “through vulnerability.
Alluding imagery similar to a modern twist on John Evertt Millais’ “Ophelia” painting, one shot portrays the model laying in the tub part of the shower, making eye contact with the camera. Gia believes that photo captures an unexpected dichotomy.
“When I read Hamlet in high school, my class talked about the vulnerability and strength of Ophelia as a character. For me, vulnerability is strength. I’ve been taught to conceal my feelings,” yet, “the ability to be open with your emotions is strength in itself.”
Vulnerability within a safe space isn’t about avoiding feelings. It’s about embracing them in an atmosphere where there is no pressure to act on them. Perhaps, like Gia, the shower is your vulnerable space. Maybe it’s wrapped in the arms of a loved one, or in the midst of creating art. Nevertheless, we all need somewhere safe to just be.
Like Gia states, “the emotions held within the photos–anxiety, sadness, frustration, and even happiness–are a shared experience. Any emotions can be felt in the comfort and warmth of your safe place,” wherever that may be, but one’s ultimate strength is revealed “through vulnerability.”
For Gia, the womb-like,baptismal quality of the shower combined with Lana Del Rey’s enchanting music lit emotions that showcased in each of her photos. Brilliantly, she combined her two mediums of comfort–photography and showering–to soothe her soul through art. Perhaps viewing her art will soothe yours too.
Curious, collaborative, and so down-to-Earth, Gia is beyond talented, and experiencing her process was powerful. Thank you for letting us all into your safe space, Gia.
So next time you’re in the shower–washing away a day’s anxiety– fully indulge within the vulnerability. You may be surprised at the creativity and wonder ignited as you sink into your safe space.
Scroll through the shoot below!
AUGUST 17, 2O22
This interview was conducted and condensed by Clairesse Schweig
All images courtesy of Gia Pierosky