Beauty and what I do
Looking around the internet, we see an awful lot of photographs. We also see a lot of awful photographs. As photographs (and now video) have become easier to edit, with a bit of skin tone here, thinning the waist there, we end up with beauty standards that distort our view on the world and on reality. This has even extended into the world of photojournalism with the World's Press Photo committee stripping the 2014 winner of his prize after it became apparent that he had staged and manipulated his images.
New stories emerge in the beauty and fashion industries all the time. Last year Paulina Porizkova, a former supermodel, recently discussed the narrowing of our perception of beauty in an interview on CNN. Her contention is that our concept of beauty is now so narrow that it excludes so much of the beauty in the world. Mamamia.com.au also seems to have an endless stream of articles discussing body image and beauty standards and the danger the we do when stepping into unreal territory.
Working on a project with Sarah Firth recently, we discussed just how many of the people we see are attractive. If you look at the people around you, wherever you may be, there is so much beauty. It is actually hard to find someone unattractive. How hard? I'd say impossible.
It may sound trite, but we're all beautiful, a perfect little specimen of humanity. Each and every one of us has beauty in our face, in our bodies and in our hearts. Unfortunately though, we're all afraid of others seeing it. We are so surrounded by the modern myth of beauty that we can't see beyond photoshopped thigh-gaps and pore-less complexions. As photographers, as soon as we erode the pores, cover up wrinkles or lengthen legs, we take away something of that person, of their story. Unfortunately, photographers are also surrounded by the beauty myth. I retouch images, most photographers do. My retouching is about eliminating those things that may distract and hold the eye, like a pimple. I have often been nervous that when I provide images to a client they will be disappointed that I didn't airbrush all of their story and uniqueness away. I'm sure that many other photographers have felt the same.
My work is about getting past the beauty myth, My photography is about accessing our inner beauty. A photoshoot is a funny thing. We all have expectations, even photographers. We all get a bit nervous, even photographers. As soon as someone points a camera at most of us, we get a little scared. If there's a lighting setup in the room, we get a lot scared. As a photographer, it is my job to work with you, to step through the nerves and the fears and into a place we're we can hang out and have fun. Yes, I will tell you that 'oh you're beautiful like that, just hold there a moment' but it is far more than that. It is about me being open and honest and trusting you. To this end, I have begun training with Clare Dea from Meisner Melbourne, learning some introductory acting techniques. If you don't know anything about Meisner, check out her website. The Meisner Technique is about accessing our core of truth, as an actor and as a person. It is about getting past our personal crap and getting into our real selves, a place from where we can step into the possibility of any character or situation. That sounds scary, but it's not. It is freeing.
A shoot with me is a safe space. It is a place of openness and honesty. It is a place that is removed from the rest of the world, at that moment. For the recent shoot I did with Ally Aurora, we used acting techniques to drop into a number of characters and scenes, each with a completely different energy and feel. We were both a part of these scenes, and that allowed us both creativity and space to work, creating images that show off her amazing beauty and freedom.
No matter who you are: woman or man; old or young; actor, doctor, construction worker; you are beautiful. My job is to let that beauty tell your story, as truthfully as only you can.