I’m just a real person.

22 04 2012

 

Within a few minutes of meeting a client the other day I heard this, “I’m just a real person.”  More than likely my facial expression registered a complete blank because we are all ‘real people’ with no need for the limiting adjective ‘just’ preceding the comment.  What she meant, of course, is that she isn’t a model or a fitness, figure, or body building competitor.  I think she wanted affirmation, mostly from herself, and maybe a little from me, that she’s a worthy subject for our kind of photography.  It’s for people like her that we started BodyPhotage so women could see the unique beauty of their body and begin to appreciate, accept and celebrate themselves.

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Our lives are like a crazy quilt.

10 04 2012

You are the sum of all you have ever been and experienced in your lifetime,  like a crazy quilt.  We all know what a quilt is, but crazy quilts of the very best kind were made from scraps of fabrics saved from items of clothing worn by you or family members and decorated by their creator with embroidery, buttons and sometimes hand paintings.  The family heirloom I had was mostly made of silks and fancy fabrics that came from gowns and dresses commemorating special events and memorable occasions and was lovingly embellished with artistic embroidery and hand paintings with dates and names of loved ones and memories long gone.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we wore our life like our crazy quilt growing ever more colorful and interesting as we add to our life experiences?  With age there does come a time when we feel increasingly invisible, described kindly as being “elderly” and just plain “old” by others.  But every person has been so much more than that.  They were someone’s precious child, perhaps a brother or a sister, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a lover, a provider and caregiver, very often a parent and a grandparent.   Wrapped in our crazy quilt, to ward off the chills of old age, we‘d be visible again; the highlights of our life displayed artistically across our quilt to be admired or to serve as a source of conversation and connection.

With this in mind, I ‘d like to share a story we were told by one of our customers and why she felt so strongly about having some artistic bodyscape portraits done by us.

This is the story she told us. “One day I went to visit my grandma in the assisted living facility where she’d recently moved.  In her room was a life-size, cardboard cut-out of a Vegas-style showgirl complete with a feather-plumed headpiece.  ‘Grandma, what are you doing with that in your room?’”

“Why honey, that’s me,” her grandmother answered. “When I was young and beautiful like you are now, I was a Vegas showgirl.”

All she could think was that her grandmother had a whole life about which she’d  known next to nothing and that her sweet grandmother had so many untold stories to share.

Our client explained, “I try to take care of myself but I’m not getting any younger. I’ll earn every wrinkle and gray hair along the way but I really want to have sensuous pictures of me as a reminder to myself and others that I was once young and beautiful too!”

I’m betting she’ll still be beautiful years to come and hoping people take the time to look at the crazy quilt she created of her life.

See how her sensual pictures may have looked. BodyPhotage






Breast Cancer and Personal Decisions

9 03 2012

Breast cancer touches all of us, either by way of a personal battle, or that of someone we love, a family member or friend, or even a friend of a friend. It’s a concern, even a fear, we hold in our hearts and minds every day especially on the day of our mammograms and the long, scary wait for our results.   My mother had two radical mastectomies about 30 years apart. A number of close friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer and my husband and I have had the honor of photographing quite a few women who have shared their journey with us by way of pre surgical and/or  post surgical pictures.  I’m such a strong believer in empowering women to make their own informed decisions in life about what is best for them.  I still can’t imagine how these brave and amazing women absorb the news they have breast cancer and are still able, within just days, to analyze and make the critical decisions on the course of their battle plan.

I’d like to periodically post some of the stories women have shared with us regarding their decision to have pictures taken as a result their diagnosis.  Some people won’t understand why anyone would decide to take photographs and others will ‘get it.’  It doesn’t matter what you think or even what I think about this.  What matters is what it means to the women making the decision.  If our photography has been helpful in some way to the breast cancer survivors we’ve photographed, then I want other woman to know we are here for them.

Twelve years ago or more we got a phone call from a woman stating she needed to get in immediately for a photo shoot and she didn’t have time for or want a consultation first.   She’d just seen one of our ads and decided on the spot that she wanted to have some artistic pictures taken of her breasts.  She went on to explain in an understandably shaky voice that she was scheduled for a double mastectomy in three days and needed to get in for pictures before her surgery.   The following day she was at our studio and shared a bit of her story with my husband Darrell.  She is just a tiny person and she explained how she’d always liked her breasts, that along with all the other bigger issues confronting her now, she was also grieving at the prospect of losing this part of her body that made her feel pretty, feminine, attractive.    She and Darrell sat there for probably 30-minutes just talking and crying a bit before beginning the shoot.  While she’d specifically stated she wanted the pictures to focus on her breasts, Darrell wanted to get some pictures of other parts of her body so that she’d know she was beautiful in so many ways and that that wasn’t going to change.  During the shoot, he asked permission to take a specific picture of her back and buttocks to which she agreed though with more of a, ‘if you really want to attitude.’  He took the picture and a Polaroid as well of the same pose so she could have positive feedback immediately.  Seeing the Polaroid she commented, “Yeah, it’s nice. Kind of arsty fartsy though!”  And that was that.

Two days later, she and her husband came by to look at her proof sheets from the shoot.  While she was momentarily out of the room her husband turned directly to us, staring pointedly into our eyes and said, “Thank you so much.  My wife has barely spoken since getting the diagnosis and she certainly hasn’t smile.  After her photo shoot when she got home I asked her how it went and she looked up at me with a smile and told me, “I’m ready now.  I’m going to go upstairs, light some candles, and get in the bathtub with a glass of wine.”  We weren’t quite sure how the photo shoot had that impact, but we were so grateful that in some way we’d helped her to get to that point.

Remember that “artsy fartsy” picture?  It’s a beautiful art piece now, still hanging over their bed or at least it was when we were at their home one time for dinner.





The First Time I Was The Beautiful One.

2 03 2012

Several years ago a woman in her mid 40’s came for a consultation in contemplation of a photo shoot, which is how we like to begin the process.  Seems like you wouldn’t, perhaps shouldn’t, show up for a nude photo shoot without first determining you feel safe & comfortable with the photographer/s.  She’d brought a female friend to the consultation for moral support.  As is usually the case, she booked a photo shoot for a few weeks out and showed up for the shoot, on time, by herself.

As you might expect, most people come in a bit nervous never having done anything like this before and not sure what they are most nervous about; being naked in front of someone they don’t know or more fearful they aren’t going to look any good.  Five minutes into the shoot, the nervousness faded and two hours later she was walking a lot taller, with more confidence, and the knowledge that she was indeed beautiful in her own body.   We set an appointment for her to come back to look at the proof sheets, hugged her good-bye at the door saying we’d see her next week.

Darrell looked out the window about 10 minutes later and commented that he thought she was still parked out front and was concerned that perhaps she was having car trouble.  Before he could get out to inquire and check on her, she drove away.  The following week, Darrell asked if she had some car problems after her photo shoot.  This is how she explained the delay in leaving; “I’m a very successful and confident business woman.  However, as you probably noted, my friend who was with me for the consultation, is an exceptionally beautiful woman.  She and I have been best friends for more than 20 years and when I got to my car it hit me that this was the very first time that I felt like the beautiful one.  It was just such an unexpected and emotional revelation that I sat outside in my car crying for a while and processing the experience. It’s not a big deal really.”

But really it is. Sometimes it’s important to feel that special.