PrimeTime by Sane Seven | The Female Lead
Photographer Sane Seven, The Female Lead

Sane Seven is an award-winning female portrait photographer who focuses on shaping opinions about women in advertising, media, business, and politics.

She has made a name for herself in capturing evocative images of some of the most powerful and famous women who range from Prime Ministers to renowned actresses.

Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

Sane is my working name/photography pseudonym. I (real name Viktorija Grigorjevaite) work in partnership with my creative and life partner Marius Janciauskas. As a portrait photography duo, we work internationally with commissions ranging from the heads of state like the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to the icons of the screen like Helena Bonham Carter

I found photography quite late in my twenties. My story is actually a love story. I started photography to impress my now-life and creative partner Marius. He had been interested in photography long before we met but was always more interested in theory, meaning, light, and creative direction rather than capturing things on camera. At the time, I felt that the only way to his heart was through photography. At the same time, I discovered that it was a very natural way to express myself. Soon, it became our language of love. It became something that we could develop together, discuss, and use to express what was important to us. Our differences naturally turned us into a very good team that allowed us to see the same subjects from very different perspectives. In 2014, we decided to start working as a duo.

The more time we spent together, the more we felt united by our anger towards inequalities and our common interest in gender equality. We quickly discovered that photography was a very unique and powerful tool that could make events newsworthy, highlight important issues, increase the visibility of important role models, and provide access to some of the most interesting and important people in the world. Now we want to perfect this tool to shape opinions about women across the world as authentic, unapologetic, and empowered.

Tell us a little about your latest project, PrimeTime

#PrimeTime campaign is a ground-breaking collaboration between Sane Seven and The Female Lead. This campaign is a vibrant celebration of life, challenging the stereotypes associated with ageing, especially for women. In a society that often pressures women to maintain a facade of eternal youth, #PrimeTime is a bold declaration that life becomes richer, more daring, and infinitely more exciting with age. Here, turning 40 isn’t the beginning of a decline; it’s the start of perhaps the most dynamic chapter of life.

We’ve gathered 40 extraordinary women, ranging in age from 40 to 89, to share their authentic selves. Unretouched and unfiltered to make a bold statement, each woman brings her unique story, proving that the years beyond 40 can be the most vibrant, fulfilling, and empowering of all. From entrepreneurs embarking on new ventures to artists discovering untapped passions, these women are living proof that the best is yet to come. Why is this important? We’re addressing the common fear of ageing head-on. Society often tells us our prime is in our 20s and 30s, but we’re here to shatter that myth. The truth is, life over 40 can be even more fulfilling. It’s a time when many of us feel more self-assured, less concerned with others’ opinions, and freer to pursue our true desires. #PrimeTime is more than just a campaign; it’s a movement. It’s about embracing the freedom and strength that comes with age. This is a call to all women approaching or living their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond: your time is now. Reject the outdated notions that suggest you’re past your prime. Your journey is just beginning, and the most exciting chapters are still to be written.

#PrimeTime is the project that aims to dissociate beauty/youth from women’s worth. Our goal wasn’t to seek praise but to foster a conversation, inviting other women to share their experiences.

What we are genuinely too old for is outdated social expectations. As 89-year-old Gloria Dominguez eloquently put in this project, our age is our power. We should use that power collectively to define our own worth.

Watch the #Primetime video below

 

The making of the campaign: https://youtu.be/3w3oC0pYNXQ

It will be a long tug of war but I hope more and more women will start pulling the rope in the right direction to set the right example for others.

Do you think ageism is still a big issue for society, especially for Women?

Absolutely, ageism remains a significant societal issue, and it tends to impact women more profoundly. The notion of looking “good for your age” is indeed a double-edged sword; it’s ostensibly a compliment, yet it also implies that aging is something to be combatted rather than embraced.

Everywhere you look, the emphasis on youth is evident. Ads target anti-ageing creams, young models dominate fashion billboards, and films predominantly cast young actresses in main roles. Age isn’t just a number; to many, it’s seen as a ticking time bomb. The message is clear: age is the enemy.

So the apprehension about losing relevance with age is understandable, but it’s also a call to action. It’s an opportunity to challenge and change the narrative around aging, particularly for women.

The key lies in reshaping the conversation, celebrating the multifaceted aspects of aging. This is a cultural shift that’s gaining momentum, and every voice can be a powerful force in that transformation, which is why we would like to invite more women to join #PrimeTime conversation.

What would you say to women in their 40’s thinking of re-inventing their careers?

This is a question I’ve found myself asking lately, especially as I stand on the precipice of turning 40. My career as an artist is just taking off. Forty feels like the best time to start something big. I have life experiences which have added layers to my work that a fresher eye might not see. I feel as sharp and vibrant as ever. I have honed skills that make my shots increasingly impeccable. I’m just getting warmed up, but, like many women, I too have the thought in the back of my mind always says, “You’re too late.”

I don’t harbour that fear because of my skills, but because of how society may perceive me. Will they whisper, “Isn’t she a bit too old to be making a name for herself now? Shouldn’t she be successful by now? What’s wrong with her?”.

I know the thought is not rational. I neither lack skill nor have age-imposed limitations to shoot, but something has planted that seed of doubt in me. I, like many women, stand in front of a mirror and monitor every new wrinkle and every strand of grey hair. I have to convince myself that I’m OK. And of course, I am OK; I wouldn’t swap with either the 20- year-old version of me or the 30-year-old version of me.

I know millions feel the same because I have photographed thousands of women, and I see how they dread showing their signs of ageing, waiting to feast on the comforting statement, “You look much younger.”

I don’t want to pretend that I know all answers answer. I do know through that our limitations are self-imposed. I photograph many women and I see that internal struggle every day. We all seem to fall into pre-determined categories created by social expectations and it can be difficult to free ourselves from those shackles. But I also see how each woman has that spark inside that can be reignited. I often see women leaving the set feeling liberated and they sometimes thank me for reminding them what it’s like to be a woman. It’s like that famous Always ad ‘Run like a girl’. We all need to remember what it’s like to really run like a girl, which will give us the power to re-invent ourselves again and again at any age.

Do you think things are changing in relation to perceptions of older women?

Some say things are changing. I don’t see the change happening fast enough. The occasional social campaign, the occasional film with an older woman in the lead playing someone other than an angry mother, someone’s grandmother, or some other prop-like woman with no character or complexity.

Many brands try to embrace diversity, but their attempts often feel forced, more of a token gesture towards diversity than a genuine celebration of depth and experience.

Sometime you see a positive step forward when somebody like Pamela Anderson appears on red carpet make up free to declare that her visible age does not determine her value. At the same time, Kylie Jenner, a symbol of modern beauty, used a viral TikTok ageing filter, her reaction – “I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all…No!” – was emblematic of a deeply entrenched societal narrative.

It will be a long tug of war but I hope more and more women will start pulling the rope in the right direction to set the right example for others.

About Sane

Sane SevenSane is an artistic powerhouse and an influential champion for gender equality. With audacious creativity and an unyielding commitment, she uses her craft to amplify the authenticity and diversity of female representation.

Her work transcends the traditional boundaries of photography. Each portrait she captures is a narrative of defiance, a celebration of resilience, and a testament to the quiet strength of women across the globe. It’s through this unique approach that she disrupts the status quo, challenging the norms and sparking conversations around female representation.

See more on her website here.

About the Female Lead

The Female Lead LogoThe Female Lead is an influential non-profit organization dedicated to making women’s stories more visible and offering alternative role models to those ever-present in popular culture. Founded by Edwina Dunn, The Female Lead works to showcase the breadth of women’s achievements in order to inspire others, focusing on the diversity and impact of women’s roles in society.

Reaching millions of people around the world, the organization aims to address gender disparities and encourage young women and girls by providing them with more diverse and realistic examples of success and fulfilment.

See more on their website here.