The photograph after the jump features the nude female form. Just figured I’d warn you…..
Yes, the following photograph is a self-portrait and I’m not going to lie….this is strange for me.
I worked really hard on this photo. I spent an hour setting up the backdrop, the chair, the lights, and my hair and makeup. I spent two and a half hours shooting, with manual focus and a 10 second timer. I walked away with about sixty photos, most of which were variations of the same pose because I had one particular shot in mind. Then I spent two hours last night editing and one extra hour this morning. The planned image was meant to be nude from the start, but I also shot a few clothed images because I knew I would want something to share with the world. Once everything was finished and I had the image I wanted I started to consider what I was going to do with it. I’ve never shared nude photos before. I’ve shared plenty of subtly sensual images, and a few semi-nude photos….but I’ve never exposed this much of myself.
In the end I have decided to share. Why? Because this is art. It’s my work. It’s an expression of self and I am not ashamed of my body.
This photo-shoot was actual a real challenge for me in many ways. Like every woman I have my fair share of body image issues and it certainly does not help that my inspiration came from vintage photographs of much more curvacious women. I’ve always had sincere problems with my thinness, and during this shoot I had to come face to face with my bony frame. I threw away a lot of photos just because my arms looked too small, my legs were too slim or my shoulders were too bony. I actually almost gave up half way through because I could not get a single shot that I liked …..until this one. Looking back now I realize the real issue was not with my body but instead with my lack of assistance. I mean, yes, I am bony but I’m not as unattractive as I like to think. It is just damn near impossible to pose delicately and beautifully in ten seconds or less. I was constantly racing the self-timer and I wasn’t able to see myself. In the above image I am just as bony and small framed as usual but I actually feel beautiful because for once the pose came together in time.
It is very rare for me to feel beautiful in my own skin.
I talked to my two best friends and my husband before making this image public. I already made up my mind but I felt it was important to get their input as well. One friend supported me completely. He said this,
“In my opinion, art should always push the boundaries of what we’re comfortable with. It should make us question and ponder. It should be interpreted. When I look at your photo, I wonder why you took it posing the way you did, why the colors, etc. Your body is the art……….I love the photos. I think they’re beautiful.”
My other friend and my husband were both a bit more cautious, they both brought up the fact that once you put something out there it is out there for good and you lose control over it. Of course, as a photographer, I am already highly aware of that. I have had images stolen and used in ways I did not intend. I also know that there are people who look at the most innocent pictures and treat them as though they are pornographic. There’s nothing I can do about it. For instance, there is a picture of my feet that has been going around the foot-fetish blogs on tumblr. A few years ago I would have been mad about it but these days I just shrug and move on with my life. They link back to the original photograph so what do I care? The perversion of others has no real effect on my day to day life.
I learned long ago that once you place something into the realm of the internet you have to be willing to let it go. A person can drive themselves mad trying to track down everyone that has violated their copyrights. While I certainly hope no one is stealing my photos, I also know I can’t spend all my time worrying about it. In the same way I cannot spend my time worrying about what other people might think of my work. If anyone looks at this picture and they see only a naked body to judge one way or another then I have to accept it.
Besides, every day I am forced to see provocative images of women online, in commercials, in television shows, in magazines, on buses, billboards, and in movies. I can’t walk through the mall without coming eye to eye (well eye to nipple, technically) with a poster of breasts the size of my head (thank you Victoria Secret). Yet I am told constantly that I should hide my body. I cannot wear short skirts or belly-bearing tops. I must wear a bra to hide the outline of my nipples and to keep my breasts from jiggling in a natural way. I must never wear clothing so tight that it shows off the form of my body. If I do any of those things I am a shameful slut. Of course if I wear floor length sack dresses I am considered a worthless prude. Women are told that our bodies are for purely sexual purposes and if we go around bearing what we have got then we are to blame for the lecherous activities of men.
Well I’m sorry but I am too much of a feminist to buy into that bullshit. I stopped wearing a bra ages ago and today I am finally allowing myself the freedom of total self-expression. My body is not shameful. My body is simply ….human.
I love this photo completely and yes, I am very proud of it.