A gallery of my work organized by year.
Billions of dollars a year are spent on advertising in this country to teach us one thing; that we are invariably Stupid, Ugly and we Smell Bad. That message starts when we are barely old enough to talk. We are taught what to buy and what to use to give us flawless skin with nary a blemish or a wrinkle; never showing a single sign that we’ve aged. We’re told to go pay professionals to remove the scars that are the signs of our adventures and misadventures. We’re told we must smell like flowers or citrus or spices, but not like people. And most of all, we are told that we don’t get to decide what is pretty, or what smells we enjoy or what things we believe. The bright shining loud people in the flat box attached to the wall get to tell us that. We’re too stupid to know, to decide, to live without their aid and comfort and most importantly, their products. The real sin in their message, though, is that it teaches us that our life’s story isn’t one worth telling. We can write things down on paper or make movies or tell stories, but that’s only a description of a story. The real story of our life is written in the blemishes and the scars on our skin. The real story is in the textures and shapes of our bodies. The real story of our lives is written on the parchment of our bodies and those blemishes and scars and shapes and stretch marks and baby chewed breasts are the words that story is written with.
The ultimate beauty of a person can only be seen when you can read that story and learn to love that story. Why would we let some talking head in a box or manipulated lifelike manikin in a picture in a magazine keep us from letting that story show forth in our skin, our posture, every wrinkle and sag and roll and stretch mark and blemish? Our life is sacred, our stories are beautiful, our lives are worth living and loving and sharing.
I have the incredible privilege of knowing a woman who has never been taken in by the bright people in the box. Her life is a hard one that if written out in a script, it would make you weep. But through that struggle to survive, she learned not just to cope, but to *live*. She’s had spouses and divorces. She’s had children and struggled to feed and clothe them.She’s been as near destitute as you can get and nearly lost her life to a simple, common infection. She survived all of that and lives today with that story written upon her body. It’s as beautiful and as harsh and as soft and as stark as the marks and blemishes and scars she’ll carry with her the rest of her life.
I have attempted to capture a few short phrases of that story here to share with all of you. Her identity is hidden, by her request, and by my choice. Her name is not her story; it is a label. The photos exhibited here are purposely stark, textured, even harsh. No attempt to pretty them up and in most cases very minimal processing was done at all. Who is she? She is every-woman. She is your sister, your mother, your neighbor, your child. She is you.
As you view this gallery of photos, look at her not as a model in photo studio, but as a book begging to be read, to be deciphered, to be experienced. I will not put my own labels on these photos. I want you, the viewer, to read this story and find your own symbols in the blemishes, in the scars, in the stretch marks. Then, when you’re done, go find a mirror and start reading your own story and loving and experiencing your own life. You’re too precious a being, too holy a person, to divine a soul to do anything else.
The photos here are of the nude form and not safe for work in most places. View them at your discretion.
While reading an opinion piece at Creative Loafing called the “Right to Bare Breasts” by Jessica Blankenship I came across one of the most powerful statements of why indecency and nudity laws, as well as the general idea of obscenity is an illness in our society.
“The criminalization of the female body fucks with a woman’s ability to hold herself with any sense of balanced identity and worth.”
How in the name of all that’s holy can we teach our daughters and our sisters and our friends and loved ones that the human body, in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders and configurations is a sacred thing to be cherished and enjoyed if we deem something as insignificant as the display of a female breast to be criminal?
The very concept of criminality is one that most people never think about. To deem something as criminal is to deem it worthy of bringing the awesome power of the State to bear upon that act, in all it’s impersonal violence. To deprive a human being of the most sacred of things; their freedom for the societal sin of that act deemed criminal.
Think about that for a moment. To say that baring a breast is criminal is saying that baring a breast is worthy of taking someone’s freedom, of locking them away from society for society’s good.
Teaching our children that from birth is to teach them that they are not worthy of society; that they are not decent; that they are, by fact of their gender and shape of their body indecent by nature and unworthy in any sense of the word. They they are, in fact, criminal by design.
I’ve been following the gotopless.org protests around the world. I find it highly ironic that a political protest movement about gender equality in the display of 1/2 of the human body has to resort to black bars over nipples to post the photos from their protests to Facebook. If the numbers are to be believed, fairly 1/7’s of the world’s population; 1 Billion people; are on facebook . If that doesn’t represent the entire human race, I don’t know what would. And to say that baring a nipple is to be shunned and banned from communicating with that billion people is, itself, a travesty.
What’s to be done? The legal challenges in the courts now, and the successful challenges in some states in the past are ultimately the best avenue to success; at least here in America. Other countries have their own legal avenues of change. Some will require generations of change, but it’s coming.
It’s not about showing a boob in public. It’s about respect and love of the human body. It’s about giving people total sovereignty over their bodies and what they do with it. It’s about equal protection under the law, irrespective of gender or orientation or configuration. It’s about freedom to be, and to love and to be loved. But most of all, it’s about beauty; the beauty given by our creators, be they random events born of quantum equations or some bored long-bearded sky god with a celestial biology kit.
I realize that this post probably doubles the number of words posted in the last year here. And there hasn’t been a photo yet. There won’t be a photo, this time. There is an assignment.
That assignment is to go take off your clothes. All of them. Stand naked before your mirror and your self. Look at yourself with the thought that what you are seeing is, under some very broad and common circumstances, is criminal. Think about what it is about what you are seeing that is so unworthy of society that your very freedom is the price you’d pay for it. Remember that feeling. Let it burn hot and deep, down where you’ll never forget it.
Now, the next time you see a story or an article about someone getting arrested for “indecent exposure” or flashing their breasts or some innocent or even not so innocent photography, think about that feeling. Think about what it felt like for your body, the most wonderful of creations, to be deemed indecent, to be deemed criminal.
The next step, I leave up to you. Thank you.
Over on the Regretsy forum, a discussion of body image came up. This discussion spawns 12+ pages of comments, posts and discussions that is pretty well summed up by it’s subject: “Hot Fat Chicks!”.
Normally I’d stay away from something with a crass headline like that, but this particular forum is always full of intelligent, snarky, crass, and just plain fucked up awesomeness.
Instead of posting a photo or two in the forum, I thought the topic deserves a larger photo treatment. I dug way back into my archives and selected a few images from every year from 2007 to present to represent the beauty, sensuality and just plain sexiness of the large, curvacious and beautiful women whom have graced my studio over the years.
Some of the pictures below the fold are NSFW but all of the mare tasteful and elegant. So without cluttering up your screen with more words, I give you beauty writ large. Enjoy.
The human body is one of the most beautiful works of art nature has ever produced. In all of it’s shapes, sizes, colors, ages, genders and conditions, it is beautiful. One of the more obscene things this culture has perpetrated is the idea that the human body, any part of the human body, is dirty or ugly or shameful. Nothing could ever be further from Truth.
I strive to put lie to that idea in all of my work. My models are, by and large, not professional models. None of them are what you would call traditional fashion model body types. I photograph young lithe women in the very early flowering of their adulthood and I photograph middle aged mothers who have lived a long and hard life in their bodies with the scars to show for it. I photograph large women and well built men. I photograph professionals and house wives and students.
What all of these people have in common is a desire to see themselves as beautiful, as sexy or desirable, and as others see them. I have, I think, succeeded in that.
A few months ago I made this post followed by this post about a project inspired by this post over on The Beautiful Kind. Since then there have been a number of other sex positive blogs coming up with their own projects. One of the blogs that has inspired me to make this post is Molly’s Daily Kiss with her “Pretty In Pink” post and the “Pussy Pride” project. I do not have a pussy of my own (looks down, checks, yep.. still got a penis) but I can contribute in my own way. I may not have labia, but I do have a camera.
The very concept of labiaplasty or other forms of genital modification, solely for the purpose of meeting some kind of airbrushed, censored ideal is anathema to me. It borders on the obscene. Go look over those posts for a more in depth discussion about this issue.
What I want to do with this post is to show the great diversity of and the sheer beauty of the female genitalia. Life itself enters the world through these lips and we dare call them obscene or shameful? Not in my house and not in my studio, and maybe one day, not in my world.
Follow through the cut for the first few photos I have taken for this project. I shouldn’t have to, but will say it: The following is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Detailed and close photos of female genitalia in all their glory lie beyond the ‘more’ tag. Venture forth if you will.