As photographer specializing in weddings, lifestyle and portraits, Bisola Mofeoluwa “Mofe” Bamuyiwa knows how to set up a gorgeous picture. But her snapshots of five-year-old Jare Ijalana captured something beyond the typical shot – those who saw the images called the child the “most beautiful girl” in the world.
Bamuyiwa takes photos of clients in Lagos, Nigeria, its surrounding states and beyond. She said on her business website that she had chosen her profession because she loved transforming what she saw into beautiful photos.
“I can’t count how many beautiful people I have approached to have them photographed,” Bamuyiwa wrote. “I meet people every day [with] different expressions, emotions, character, flaws, scars, imperfections […] and that makes you different,” she added.
As such, Bamuyiwa’s Instagram page overflowed with images that capture the beauty of individuals, families, newlywed couples, models, puppies and more. But it was a trio of images that would grab the world’s attention for their overwhelming beauty.
Before this particular photoshoot, Bamuyiwa toyed with taking a new direction with her children’s portraiture. Rather than going the traditional, cutesy route, she envisioned “artsy portraits of kids” so she could move “away from the norm,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I want to portray the interception between […] childhood and adulthood so both stay timeless,” Bamuyiwa wrote on July 20, 2018. Finally, the opportunity arose to make this vision into a reality. “I had to take a bold step to express my ideas,” she added.
She couldn’t have had a better subject to work with, either. Five-year-old Jare Ijalana and her sister, seven-year-old Jomi and Joba, 10, all had experience in front of Bamuyiwa’s lens. This time, though, the outcome would be more special than ever.
The simple images show Ijalana in front of a chestnut-colored backdrop, seated atop a black bench. Her voluminous hair created a halo around her face. And the five-year-old sported a neutral expression, which Bamuyiwa said made the photo as authentic as it was gorgeous.
“I could have made her smile and [made] her laugh out loud, but I put her in natural moments for us to see through their eyes,” Bamuyiwa wrote. Everything from the styling to the non-smiling made the photoshoot timeless, just as Bamuyiwa hoped it would be.
She knew she had struck gold by the end of the photoshoot, too. Ijalana wasn’t just depicted as a “powerful woman,” Bamuyiwa said. “I looked at the image again and I saw better – revelation,” she wrote.
Once the images were shared on Bamuyiwa’s Instagram page, the rest of the world chimed in – and they seemed to agree with the photographer’s sentiment. In total, the trio of photos have garnered 154,837 likes and counting.
As Ijalana became a viral sensation, the compliments began to pour in too. Viewers lauded Bamuyiwa’s photographs as a “true work of art.” They called the five-year-old “absolutely stunning,” “doll-like” and the “most beautiful girl” in the world.
With this sort of attention, it appeared as though Bamuyiwa had achieved her goal with the photoshoot. She told Yahoo Lifestyle, “All I want is for everyone to see Jare’s powerful potential. I want the photo to speak to her when she has reached adulthood.”
Bamuyiwa’s parting piece of advice was for Ijalana’s mother to promote her daughters’ photos via Instagram. After all, the photographer said, all three had “striking features and strong characters,” which would take their careers far. As of September 2018, they have 100,000 followers.
Although Ijalana made waves in 2018, she wasn’t the first child to be called the world’s most beautiful girl. In 2010 a then-six-year-old French girl named Thylane Blondeau earned the same moniker for her clear blue eyes and wavy, sunkissed hair.
Her viral success brought her onto the pages of Paris Vogue’s Vogue Enfants issue four years later. In 2015 she signed a contract to join IMG Models and now, at 17, has both modeling and acting credits to her name.
After Blondeau, there was Kristina Pimenova, whose star rose when she was only seven years old. At that time, she starred on the cover of Vogue Bambini and featured in campaigns for Roberto Cavalli, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and more.
Then social media users found the next successor to Pimenova’s crown in December of 2017. Six-year-old Anastasia Knyazeva was the next to be called the most beautiful girl in the world. And the young model has 1.4 million Instagram followers to show for it.
It was Knyazeva’s mother who kick-started her daughter’s career by sharing photos of her online. After that, she took part in big-brand ad campaigns for Russian brands and, of course, built up a huge social media following.
For Jare Ijalana, the rise from social-media star to bona fide model remains to be seen. But after her trio of photos on Bamuyiwa’s page grabbed the world’s attention, the six-year-old added several more shoots to her and her sister’s shared Instagram account – and to Bamuyiwa’s too.