Have you ever felt like something was tugging at your conscience and the more you ignored it the more the universe kept reminding you that you have something important to do? That's what happened to me. Most of my clients are women. By now that should come of no surprise to you. When a woman walks into my studio they are treated to makeovers and fancy wardrobe. It's sort of like fantasy meets reality and I photograph them beautifully. I think they are stunning and we have a lot of fun. But there is a something that I notice in most of my shoots. I listen. Most often I hear things like "Please Photoshop me", "You have your work cut out for you", "I'm not photogenic at all" "I look like an idiot" and the list goes on and on and on. This happens no matter what shape, age or size people are. What this has made me realize is that there is so much more to who we are than can be captured in a 2 hour photo session. There are stories behind why I hear those comments. There's the way we grew up, the relationships we've had, the day to day routines, the taking care of kids, the people we've lost... so many experiences that shape who we are and the way we see ourselves. Which is why I no longer claim to capture people's essence. Our essence is one that is multi-faceted. I can only capture the side that a subject chooses to present to me while I photograph them.
So, I decided that I was going to do something different. An experiment. I would invite women who want to be photographed, have them show up in whatever they want, makeup, no makeup, it's up to them, have them sit with me in front of the plainest of backgrounds and answer some personal questions while being photographed. Questions that make them dig deep. My purpose is to challenge women to a game of vulnerability. I don't send the questions before-hand. I provide a space for them to come face to face with themselves. With the lack of preparedness, no posing, no guidance. I want to document as many sides to them as I can while they re-live, ponder, question, cry and laugh. I want each person to dig deeper than I have ever asked anyone to dig. I believe that this will be the closest that I come to capturing the full scope of someone's "essence" and when someone gets the chance to see themselves that they will actually SEE themselves. Maybe for the first time. What they choose to do with that revelation is up to them, but my desire is that it will foster feelings of forgiveness, acceptance, grace and appreciation for where they are at at this very moment in life.
What I have learned so far:
We are complex and resilient beings that, despite what we've been through, are still able to smile.
We are smarter than we give ourselves credit for.
We have a lot more in common with each other than we could ever imagine.
What I will do with this:
My plan is to hold an exhibit of the portraits taken in this series. I will reveal some of the questions asked, but not the answers. Their reactions will be the only thing that the viewer will be able to see and the answers will be left to the imagination.
I foresee this evolving with time and new ideas sprouting every now and then. If you are up for a challenge and would like to be a part of this portrait series please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I would love to photograph you.