Photographer Juno Calypso has shot a photo essay for US platform Topic, titled A Girl’s Guide to Egg-Freezing. Taking darkly comedic self-portraits, characteristic of her previous series The Honeymoon Suite and Joyce, the five images tell the story of a woman’s potential “egg-freezing journey”. It begins with “Step One: Get Scared” and charts the injections, harvesting experience, and costs, each with a caption laying bare the reality of the process.
The series is “humorous with bite,” explains Topic’s photography editor Caroline Smith. “Tone was a big part of the story. The palette of Juno’s work feels friendly and warm, but her subject matter is another story.”
Juno says she initially thought an essay on egg-freezing might have a positive angle. “I thought, ‘how wonderful!’ Any scientific progress for women must surely be positive! After one internet search it became very clear this was not the case. There was a strong undercurrent of distress and deceit. I wanted to highlight the history of sexism in science, while lampooning the patronising and fear-mongering tone of corporate medicine.”
The photographer split the narrative into two scenarios, the home and the hospital. Juno shot the home images in her own bedroom, treating them “as a performance,” she says. “The needle was blunt but real. I ended up with a lot of red angry scratches on my stomach.” She also designed the fake magazine herself: “I didn’t realise it took so long to design something so bad. All of the quotes were taken from real egg-freezing advertisements.”
In contrast, the hospital scenes were built sets, designed to be “stark and lonely” compared with the “cosy optimistic pink of the bedroom”. “My typical colour palette is already pastel pinks and blues,” Juno says. “So it was an easy transition to use those for a story on western baby culture and the binary aesthetic so heavily ingrained in it.”
Caroline says she found Juno’s work during a regular “fall into the rabbit hole of the internet looking for talent unknown to me,” but hadn’t find the perfect project to approach her with until now. “We threw a few ideas to Juno to think about, and we were really hoping she would go for egg-freezing as it has so many layers of issues.”
See the full series on Topic here.