You might believe that I became a model because I am reasonably attractive. And that might be true - because I likely wouldn't have gotten the encouragement I needed if I wasn't. But it's also true that I never thought of myself as attractive until I became a model, and realized how many other people thought that way about me. I don't have an over-inflated sense of my own appearance. As a photographer, I know the tricks that go into creating beautiful portraits. I think I look goofy in spontaneous snapshots just like everybody else. But I'm not interested in selling myself short, either. Our commercialist culture exerts way too much effort - and is way too invested - into making people feel inadequate. I'm not perfect. I have "bad hair days". And there are things about my body that I don't like. But if I believe that I am beautiful, that's not just narcissism talking. It's a positive assessment of the facts.
Happy Friday the 13th! If you're superstitious, take this into consideration: today I'm unveiling the photographic highlights of the past year, on my home site as usual (Part A and Part B). Not so bad, eh? I think I'll let the photos speak for themselves - except to say that, as ever, my skills are improving as I continue to put more and more experience under my belt. Looking back, I usually use this post to summarize my accomplishments from the year, present a statement of my current web presence, and speculate about what's to come in the future. I feel like keeping this relatively short.
As it has been for several years now (since I left flickr), this here blog is the front line for my photography and essays, so if you're reading this, I'd like to commend you for being ahead of the pack. I'm also still posting selfies over at tumblr ("the place for porn") - they may be a year or two old, but many of them haven't been posted anywhere else. And for my hornier fans, my amateur profile on XTube is still live. Although explicit pornography continues to be not my first priority, the video content you can see there (for a modest price) is unlike anything you'll find anywhere else (except, maybe, the occasional video here on this blog).
That's all you really need to know at this time. I've got a profile over at deviantART, too, but I have to be honest, the immaturity that pervades the forums is spoiling my enthusiasm for the site, and I haven't posted anything in months. Looking ahead to the future, only the crystal ball knows what's in store, but as I've alluded to recently, I'm hungry to try something new. I'm also becoming more and more eager to cross over into some kind of "mainstream" exposure, but it remains difficult to navigate the controversial themes that inspire me to pick up the camera in the first place. Stay tuned as that story continues to unfold.
Is it possible to be a male, and want to be a ballerina, but not to be a male ballerina? (Ballerino?). I mean, there are ballet parts for men and for women, but they're typically very different. The moves are different (and this is where the physical differences between men and women probably come into play), and the costumes are different. There is a place for men in ballet, but it's not the same place that women have in ballet. So what if you are a man, but you want to be in the women's place? I'm more feminine than most men, but I think I would look a whole lot more ridiculous in a male ballet costume than in this pink tutu, which I think looks pretty good on me. (Or is that because I feel fantastic wearing it?).
This reminds me of Revolutionary Girl Utena's desire not to be rescued by a prince, but to be the prince (and not a princess). But, obviously, in the other direction. It's still more acceptable for women to want to be like men than it is for men to want to be like women. Because wanting to be rescued is considered a weakness. Not that this is an illogical view, but we can't all be the rescuer, or there'd be no one to rescue! There can't be any value in rescuing unless there is some value in needing to be rescued. Feminism: "girls can be just like guys", instead of "girls are okay, too". You know, just the way they are. Pretty princesses and everything.
Aside: As I feared (although this might not be a bad thing), with my new iPhone, the line between my selfie photography and my "real" photography is already beginning to blur.
It's hard, sometimes, feeling like the world doesn't accept you for who you are. But when even appeals to logic and compassion fall on closed ears, I take comfort in the knowledge that my existence alone can frustrate those who oppose progress. In those cases, it feels good to make people uncomfortable (I believe they referred to it in the sixties as "freaking out squares"). Because you can talk all you want about what's to be done with people like me. But I'm not going to change, and I'm not going anywhere - whether you like it or not. It happened with homosexuality, and it's happening with the transgender community. And believe me when I say that it doesn't stop there. (No matter where you stand, if you think it stops there, you're going to be surprised when you get passed by). So you can either join the inexorable march of progress, or cling to your antiquated notions and be trampled underfoot. The only question you have to ask yourself is: where will your name be written in the annals of history?
A holdover from this past holiday season. Really an outtake from the Home For The Holidays set. I don't know what it is about this mirror. I shot "The Mirror of Truth" in it twice, and this could have been number three, except I didn't actually think about it that much at the time. So it's just a normal mirror. But mirrors are fascinating things. I can imagine primitive cultures becoming superstitious about them. All they do is reflect the world as it is right back to you. But the ability to look at one's self, to see what others see when they look at you (albeit reversed) - it's like a conduit for the uniquely human(?) trait of self-awareness. For better or worse. As a self-portrait photographer and exhibitionist; as an anxious introvert prone to feeling self-conscious; it has a lot of power and meaning for me.
A few more outtakes from last year. (You see where this is headed, don't you? -_^). Running on the treadmill is one of those things where the trial and error nature of photography is magnified. It's also, therefore, one of those themes I've wanted to revisit, although often times life gets in the way, and these things get pushed on to the back burner. These photos aren't so bad, though. I love the sense of action in the first one. And as for the others - what's the point of staying in shape if not to be able to admire (or let others admire) the fruits of your labors? And if there happens to be a sexual element to that, so what? The world keeps on turning.
These shots are actually from last January. Sometimes I'll take a picture that I feel has promise, but I won't be a hundred percent satisfied with it. So I'll stash it away, to give myself more time to think on it, and a chance to maybe go back at some point and try the shot again, to see if I can improve upon it. I may still yet, but it's been a year, so I think that even if I did, it would be more like revisiting a theme (which I like to do) than setting up a reshoot.
As it is, these shots may just be outtakes, but I do believe there's something in them that makes them worth sharing. Whether it's the stark lighting of the on-camera flash that leaves nothing to the imagination, the contours of my body, or the contrast between the full body exposure and the frigid view of a snowy winterland through the windows just beyond...
I have to trust my artistic instinct sometimes. I don't psychoanalyze the reasons why I like what I like, or when I think something is interesting. I mean, I do - but when I'm sitting down philosophizing, not every single time I have to make a decision about what's good and what's not. If I feel that there's something in an image, I'll run with it. Doesn't matter if it's something compositional, more conceptual, purely sexual, or a complicated combination of things. "Shoot 'em all, and let the censor sort 'em out!"
I'd hate to have that voice of self-censorship in my head, second guessing my instincts, telling me, "that's too sexual," or some such. There can be a lot of artifice in art, but often times it's strongest when it's reflecting the truth - particularly truths that people don't like to confront. That's when art serves a purpose beyond just being pretty pictures.
But I do try to present those truths in ways that I would hope makes them more accessible. Yes, we are animals with a raw sexual desire - and you can demonstrate that through vulgarity. But desire should be appealing, not repulsive. That is, in fact, what a lot of people are recoiling from. Well, I'd like to invite them to look again, and show them the link between eroticism and beauty.
"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth." - Henry David Thoreau
"Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt..." - Oscar Wilde
"Just because it is now, baby, doesn't mean it should be." - Stonefield
"Let us not talk falsely now; the hour is getting late." - Bob Dylan
"I look for truth and find that I get damned." - Tim Rice
"The smallest minority is the individual." - Ayn Rand
"They're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em."
"Well, it don't make 'em runnin' scared."
"No, it makes 'em dangerous." - Easy Rider
"Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them, so I try to forget it anyway I can." - Neil Young
"What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?" - Michelangelo
"We do not believe that the happiness of individual men, and the good of the total social organization, is ever furthered by the perpetuation of ignorance." - Kinsey et al.
"What mad cruel god would give a man eyes and tell him he must forever keep them shut, and never look at all the beauty in the world? Only a monster god, a demon of the darkness." - George R. R. Martin
"Yes, I am a libertine, that I admit. I have conceived everything that can be conceived in that area, but I have certainly not practiced everything I have conceived and certainly never shall. I am a libertine, but I am neither a criminal nor a murderer." - The Marquis de Sade
"For I must tell you that we artists cannot tread the path of Beauty without Eros keeping company with us and appointing himself as our guide." - Thomas Mann
"I think that women seldom appreciate the pervasive power of the male sex drive, so are constantly caught unaware. They choose to think that men look at pinups, sexy movies, and women in general just to annoy women." - Piers Anthony