Maggie Ellmore’s latest photo shoot was inspired by the United States Postal Service and recent efforts to defund it, as well as the ongoing lack of funding for community-oriented public spaces in her hometown of Roanoke.
What similar roles do fashion and the postal service play in public service? And what are the implications of the defunding of the postal service? Maggie Ellmore, a fashion photographer and set designer based out of Roanoke, set out to answer these questions in her newest photoshoot, “All I Do is Fucking Send It.”
The photoshoot features a model, Taia White, dressed in black shorts and a striped shirt with a U.S mail patch attached, posing in an abandoned skate park. The shoot was done all in one day, after Ellmore reached out to White, a good friend of hers.
“Both the USPS and fashion are connected by grand notions that are larger than life,” Ellmore said. “The postal service, of course, [is] is a lot more rooted in reality, where if the larger than life really shrunk, it would negatively impact a lot of people. I decided that the best way to show that was with some pretty fly style, so to speak.”
Many of Ellmore’s projects are based in fantasy, as she often explores the idea of what life would be like on other planets and how that would then mix with fashion. Therefore, she wanted the shoot to have a unique look that went beyond the traditional USPS outfit.
“[When planning the shoot] I thrifted clothes and ironed patches on, and made [the outfit] really quirky and flow together in a way that is pretty cool,” she said.
While the shoot is inspired primarily by the defunding of the US Postal Service, Ellmore also wanted to show the importance of government and public service on all levels, which is why she based the shoot in a skate park.
“Roanoke will not fund any sort of skate park, which is really chaotic for a town of our size, because we do have a skate community,” Ellmore said. “And so we’re left with having to create our own spots that aren’t necessarily safe, but still do look cool.”
The shoot critiques the lack of funding while praising the community effort.
“I just wanted to show the importance of [the lack of funding] in a way that critiques it, but also embraces what we’re dealt with,” she said.
Ellmore also sought to call attention to other governmental issues. One shot of White features her with an open fanny pack with stamps flying out.
“I really wanted to raise awareness for [the USPS], as well as voting,” Ellmore said.
Ellmore’s favorite shots are the detailed ones, where she was able to highlight both the story and the fashion.
“There’s one [shot] where she’s sitting in a split across the railing of a skate ramp, and I love it because the ramps are made from road signs,” Ellmore said. “It just really adds another message of why public service is so important.”
Ellmore thinks work like this is important because of art’s ability to commentate on society without words. With that in mind, she is brainstorming ideas for future projects.
“I’m excited to see if there is anything else that I can connect together to amplify my voice in a positive way,” she said.
Photos courtesy Maggie Ellmore