Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Shooting pride for work was a colorful, sweaty, noisy, gushy, glittery, lacy, racy, tasty lovey-dovey experience (with, thankfully, no rain). Simply put, I am honored to have been apart of it... and to have inevitably acquired the awkward sunburn and free condoms.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
I've been here before, I know this shade of blue
I've felt your touch before, I know your way
A ghostlike sense of state
I don't care if you can't take it, I can't take it anymore, I'll die
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I have seen the valley, and I've swam in it. It is dark and beautiful at the same time. But even the lowest valleys can, with strength, be climbed up and out of. I haven't seen the peak yet, but it's only made possible by confronting what's difficult, by embracing what's painful, and by letting go, and free falling all the way to the scary bottom.
This is the last photo I took in Athens yesterday evening before driving away and blowing out my speakers to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Carrie and I kept this cake around -- this hunk of sweetness -- and we couldn't dream of saying goodbye, even when it was literally the very last item in our house. It took so much time to make! And it was so beautiful! Oh, the effort and the splendor of it. We took photos, threw it in the trash can, placed our keys in the kitchen, and walked away with a laugh, little trickles running down our faces.
When you cycled by
Here began all my dreams
The saddest thing I've ever seen
And you never knew
How much I really liked you
Because I never even told you
Oh, but I meant to
Are you still there?
Or have you moved away?
Or have you moved away?
I would love to go
Back to the old house
But I never will
- The Smiths
Monday, June 14, 2010
In my sorting through some forgotten frames from this past year, I've come across so many of remarkable women I've photographed. And in sifting through the out-takes of my crying project, and revisiting the experiences behind these photos, a clear theme emerges. I post these two photographs of Emily with a distinct message in mind.
In my four years of college, I perfected the art of female bonding/commiserating. I always ran with the boys, so to speak, until I ventured off to higher education and met some of the most impressive women of my life. Sadly, though, here is what I've deduced. For me, and for many beautiful, intelligent women I've known, the following formula holds true: validation from men in romantic and/or career ventures + self-assurance regarding physical appearance and corresponding pleasant personality attributes + ability to hold back difficult emotions + pressure to give 100% to others and willingly accept 50% back because that's good enough = self-worth. That might not be the hitting the nail exactly on the head, but I think it comes pretty fucking close.
This isn't a a post intended to debase the male race. I love males -- in fact, I need them oftentimes -- to be strong when I can't, to be nurturing when I can't, to be sensical when I won't, and to be companions and fathers and life-long friends. I have been close to men who have let me in, who have knocked down their walls, who have shown their vulnerabilities, and who have leveled with me as an equal, unafraid of how incredibility frightening that can be. But, I have really struggled to find a place of comfort and peace as a young woman, especially as a aspiring photographer/artist/communicator, especially as a credible, valuable human being... I suppose this is not in direct relation to males, but more so to society's expectations at large. I have felt silenced. I have felt incapable. Knowing so many other women who all feel the same is not only sad, but extremely frustrating.
I just want to shake you and tell you that you are worth loving! And I am certain that others have felt the same urge with me. Go right ahead. I need shaken.
Why do we measure ourselves based on the expectations of others? Why do we feel like we must always be perfect, and put-together, and 100% stable? I am not any of these things. I need to fall apart, from time to time, sometimes for days at a time, and I am entitled to respect and love without a perfect presentation. I am entitled to my cellulite. I am entitled to my tears. I just want to be enough for myself, and dammit if that isn't the struggle of a lifetime.
And this is my anthem to every woman I have ever loved and known who has felt inadequate, unloved, and afraid. Wear your swimming suits without fear. Know your boundaries in the midst of pain and abuse. Celebrate your talent -- don't compare it. Stop, for one moment, and tell yourself -- really believe -- that you are wonderful.
If you promise you'll work harder to be kind to yourself, I will work harder too.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
I realize that nearly everyone has seen all of the photos included in this series thanks to my diligent bloggage, but I think presentation is important, and sequencing these took some time. I wrote a forward that sort of explains, I suppose, my intent... I might have gone too far into it, or maybe I didn't go far enough, but I'll leave you to your own assessments. In any case, I wanted to get it just right, but I am never fully satisfied with my words.
Thanks to e.e. cummings for the inspiration behind the title, the support of my classmates and fellow photographers, and the brave souls who volunteered for this project and made my last quarter of college profoundly meaningful in ways you cannot imagine. I am honored to have witnessed your tears and to have, in the process, shared my own. It was an emotional journey that hopefully reinvents itself in further work I produce. As usual, the success lies not in the images themselves but in the experience.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I'm always tempted to run away and leave a sink full of dirty dishes, a closet full of wrinkled dresses, a ring of stagnant liquid on the night stand from your glass of drinking water, blades of dewey grass stuck to the linoleum, our fragrant suds and bubbles at the bottom of the bathtub. This morning, I burned my knuckles making your toast. I dumped your coffee down the drain. I called your name from the kitchen and waited, watching the butter melt, hearing the faucet drip drip drip.
I'm always tempted to run away and leave a note detailing absolutely nothing, a stack of your sticky old magazines that have collected on the coffee table, photographs of me blowing butterfly kisses, a pile of crumpled up candy wrappers that litter my bedside, the shirt that I pulled off my back from the night before. This morning, I brushed my teeth using your old toothbrush. I sang along to your favorite record. I laid out on the carpeted floor and felt my heart breaking, watching the ceiling spin, hearing the clock tick tick tick.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
(archived photos, words by photographer Rodney Smith)
You see, to be a photographer requires an openness and an ability to look deep into someone’s eyes, to regard them with care and affection, and to ultimately fall madly in love with them. There is some discrimination to this, but as I usually choose my subjects, for the most part, it is uncontrollable.
It begins with attraction, and ends with an intimate knowledge of their soul. It involves letting them speak to me, watching carefully, and finding their specialness.
With men, this seems not to be a problem. They quickly become like good friends and confidants. We are able to laugh together, and enjoy each other’s company, but for women (for me), this is a different matter.
I find myself pulled in, looking ever more closely, finding their strength, their delicacy, and their beauty. If they are willing to return the gaze, the game is afoot.
In order to succeed, I must slowly disrobe my emotions. I must slowly unveil my feelings, and for the portrait to be successful, she must be willing to do the same. There is a far greater intimacy exposed, although not necessarily in the touch. There is a connection, an openness, an ability to reveal both of ourselves completely, with all our strengths and vulnerabilities.
This is a very difficult thing to do, both for me, and for her. It is what distinguishes greatness from mediocrity. How far you are willing to emotionally travel is as important as your talent.
To succeed, we must fall in love, take the pictures, and then slowly take deep breaths, realizing who we are, and walk slowly away from the edge.