Alexis Peterson Seeks to Empower Her Subjects with an Authentic Approach to Photography

The feral feminine.

  • Category
    Arts, People
  • Written by
    Tanya Monaghan
  • Photographed by
    Alexis Peterson

Alexis Peterson carved her path through the lens of motherhood. As a photographer, she aims to capture the essence of women in their natural, unfiltered state. Her photographic journey is a testament to the power of authenticity and vulnerability in art.

Alexis’ talent for photography began with personal struggles, leading her to rediscover her own identity and artistic passion. Her distinctive aesthetic, which she refers to as “feral feminine,” portrays the untamed beauty of women immersed in the embrace of nature.

A Torrance native, Alexis was deeply rooted in sports while growing up. Both her parents were exceptional athletes. Her father was a renowned beach volleyball player, and Alexis grew up playing soccer, following in the footsteps of her mother. She experienced challenges as a child, including her parents’ divorce when she was 7. Today she realizes that hardship ultimately led her to discover her true passion.

She attended El Camino College and then UCLA, where she graduated with a history degree. Her creativity was sparked when she ventured into hairstyling and makeup. But over time, she felt something was still missing.

After marrying and having three children, Alexis found herself lost in motherhood, struggling to find a creative outlet. She had always been drawn to photography, capturing moments throughout her life. With the advent of Instagram, she found a newfound love for photographing her children. Her friends encouraged her to pursue photography more seriously, leading to her first shoots and the realization that photography was her true calling.

“I have had the opportunity to shoot weddings, families, births, engagements and animals,” she shares. “While I love working on all types of sessions, capturing the raw and powerful nature of women is my passion—likely because of the women in my own life. These women rallied around me with their unwavering support and encouragement, giving me the courage to follow my dreams. I want to do the same for other women. I want to help them follow their joy, find their creativity and love themselves a little more.”

“Whether it be to capture a victory or their sorrow, no emotion is too intense for me.”

As Alexis started photographing more women, she noticed a recurring theme of vulnerability and empowerment in her subjects. Her photographic style aimed to celebrate their authentic beauty, shying away from the conventional notions of attractiveness.

She encourages women to be true to themselves, embracing their natural features, their scars and imperfections, and showcasing the strength that lies within them. She avoids conventional beauty standards and refuses to retouch her subjects. Her mission is to photograph women as they are.

“I was born and raised in the South Bay, although I would say the content I create is not typical of this area,” she notes. “My photography runs on the darker side—gritty and raw. Over the years, the images I’ve created have had a profound effect on me. This work has allowed me to meet the most amazing women, and each one has helped me heal myself in different ways. When women step into their authentic nature, they become unstoppable. I love that I am able to help them see their truth.”

Alexis’ photography aims to empower women by showcasing their strength and sparking conversations about motherhood, postpartum depression and other life experiences that are often overlooked. Her journey through motherhood, including her experiences with postpartum anxiety, led her to establish a safe space for women to share their stories.

“Whether it be to capture a victory or their sorrow, no emotion is too intense for me,” she says. “If a client feels like crying, I encourage them to cry. If they feel like screaming, we scream. These are the beautiful parts of the human experience and shouldn’t be hidden behind a perfect smile or a portrait reflecting the conditioning of how society thinks a woman should look or behave. Women are complex beings, and I want to celebrate them in their entirety.”

One of Alexis’ most compelling projects, The Motherhood Series, involves her exploration of motherhood and its various facets. Through intimate interviews and photography sessions, she captures the powerful emotions, struggles and joys that mothers experience but are rarely discussed openly. She hopes to materialize this passion project into a coffee-table book soon.

Nature also plays a vital role in Alexis’ photography. Growing up as a barefoot, wild child, she always found solace and happiness in the woods and water. Today she inhabits that feral feminine with her work, combining the rawness of women with the untamed beauty of nature.

One of Alexis’ most iconic photo shoots involved a wolf dog. After a serendipitous encounter with a wolf in the woods, she was captivated by the idea of photographing this powerful animal.

Through her resourcefulness and determination, she found a wolf owner on Instagram and managed to set up a shoot with two magnificent wolf dogs. The experience epitomized the essence of her photography: wild, untamed, connected with nature. The wolf shoot was a transformative experience for Alexis—a metaphor for embracing the feral side of women and celebrating their untamed nature.

Alexis’ photography is a testament to the power of art as a healing and transformative force. “Working with these women has had a profound effect on my own healing,” she explains. “I was someone who hid from the world. But hearing their stories and witnessing their bravery to go deep within and face their shadow has helped me regain myself, find my voice and climb out of my own darkness. It is my goal to embrace women of any color, size, religion and creed—to encourage them to feel confident in their vessel and to provide a platform for them to share their unique stories. And as a woman, I will continue to spread our messages and facilitate self-neutrality on the way to loving ourselves. Completely. Women are stronger together.”

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