As the lead image for our exhibition Young London Photographers: Common Ground, Rachel Velastegui's photograph Amor has appeared on Buzzfeed, Huck Magazine, the Royal Photographic Society website and more. We take a look at the story behind this powerful image - taken when both Rachel and the sitter were 17.
Rachel explains: "this is an intimate portrait of one of my closest friends taken shortly after she confided in me about her sexuality. Coming out was a terrifying and brave move...the image is meant to convey the remarkable courage my friend summoned in order to start this new chapter in her life as a young person. It speaks to visibility, trust and the idea of personal freedom.
Wrapped in a rainbow flag, the global symbol for LGTBQIA+ representation, and accompanied by her own powerful words, I hope the work inspires others to come out and be themselves."
In the gallery, the work is displayed next to a quote from Rachel's friend, the woman in the photograph: "I feel stuck in the middle. I’m proud to tell people who I am or what even. There’s no shame in expressing yourself through your sexuality. At the same time, I’m scared. You can see the fear in my eyes. Deep down I’m scared to be judged by those I love. It’s a terrific and terrifying thing. I’ll never change who I am to please anyone or to be accepted. I just wish everyone would understand.
I’m exposing myself to the world in my true form and hoping for love and acceptance.”