Friday, February 18, 2011

A new model who loves her body

Last week I photographed a woman whom I saw onstage playing violin at Khalima's Raqs Illuminaire (a belly dance extravaganza).  She had a wonderful stage presence, playing her violin passionately between dance numbers.  I was happy when she asked to model for me because I was curious to get to know her better.

Here's what she wrote about her experience modeling for me:
I came into the studio feeling confident and relaxed. I am not shy with my body. I felt very comfortable being naked and being photographed. But I started to notice that I was chatty and that I had a little difficulty feeling free with my facial expressions. I realized that despite my calm I still have some pockets of shame, but not around the weight. Around being vulnerable emotionally with someone. It's OK for my body to be seen but what about the inner stuff?
And yet I made a conscious effort to stay present in the moment. I posed with the violin and in those moments was able to open the door a little to the emotions. You took lots of pictures of and asked lots of questions about my massive surgical scar, which put me in touch with both the agony of that experience as well as the deep well of strength I gained from it.
 And then you asked about the tattoo on the back of my neck, the memorial for a loved one who committed suicide. At that time I was posing looking into the mirror, and I cried. The photos capturing that moment of grief along with the tattoo are precious to me. I'm so grateful for that moment of literally naked and raw emotion.
Afterward, looking over all the photos and chatting with you I felt connected, and loving toward my body even while looking at it in photos - uncovered, unhidden, rolls and floppy bits and all. What a wonderful evening - to collaborate with you is to be visually explored from all angles, appreciated, documented, captured in art. I'm humbled and grateful and excited to see the finished product, whichever direction you take.
Later she sent me a brief addendum:
I wanted to look powerful, larger than life - and you captured this gorgeous image lying on the floor beneath me standing there, and I look gargantuan. I love that photo. It's full of power of stature and weakness of flesh. It resonates with who I feel I am - an overcomer.
I can't wait to begin painting images of this fabulous woman!  It's gonna be fun!

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