Images are incredibly powerful- especially to us women. Lets face it- we are the image makers and the memory keepers of our families; our lives. We lovingly attend to our members, partners, spouses, children for years capturing them endlessly at each stage of development, each celebration… till suddenly there we are clicking away at our children’s college graduation when we realize we’ve failed to include our own image in the documentary process.
“Where am I?” we might ask ourselves.
WHO am I? we might also add….
Mostly we had been hiding out behind the camera… happy to take the shots. After all, how often are we showered, dressed, physically or emotionally prepared for our close up? UGH. It’s so very intimate for a woman! PLEASE CAMERA WOman.. BE KIND for pity’s sake!
Then here we are… we have this great opportunity … The Revelation Project can unearth the woman who’s been the rock of Gibraltar for everyone else …. has the hand of time, reality, child baring, family rearing, life been kind to us? or should we change that question… Let me repose: “Are we able to look at ourselves in consideration of time, reality, child baring, family rearing and be KIND to ourselves?.” What will be revealed? Who is that beauty? or… “UGH… OMG!!!, I can’t even TAKE it that I look that way!… WHAT HAPPENED TO Meeeee!”
Getting your photograph taken and then just “being” with the results is quite a process! Astonishing, provocative, emotional, shocking, gratifying, soothing, disturbing… each woman’s experience of being photographed and then her reaction to seeing her own images are all over the map.
The three of us who document this process for the women who come to participate in TRP decided to honor the process the other day. We all took turns shooting each other and has a FREAKING BLAST (be photographed like there is NO image captured = dance like no one is watching) the collective conversation since that time has been really quite incredible…
Our first mistake in taking our own photographs is that we peeked too soon = big mistake.
We “rushed” the high you get when you just let go and have some fun. Yeah… we kind of spoiled that part by looking at the results… (UM… hey, there’s a REVELATION!)
JUDGEMENT kicked in HARD but then some great conversation.
here are some excerpts from all of us….. you can have fun guessing who said what…..
“You know it is my never ending search to understand what it is about photos of ourselves that throws us for a loop sometimes. We are ever changing and in every moment we have a different expression on our faces. Its like the thing about how our emotions change every 15 seconds or so. It is the big “picture” (no pun intended) that we have to look at. How do we effect others by our expressions, our moods our actions that make us who we are. I believe that everyone will take away something different than someone else too.”
“The words “allowing” & “safe space” are resonating with me today while we go forward…I’m so glad that we have that perspective going forward because I think it sets a tone and and awareness to just “be” that safe space for them…for us…to be exactly who we are.”
“Regardless of how much our families love us- they too have a “boxed in” image of who we are and when we appear outside the box it causes discomfort in them- therefore the feelings of rejection, isolation, feeling mis-understood etc.”
“For years my mom would tell me “I was not acting like myself” and it became for me her way of invalidating the parts of me she could not accept. It was deeply painful. I had a skewed vision of who I was supposed to be.. how I was supposed to look.”
“For me- I can not stand myself in images for the most part. There are very very few I like of myself and even fewer that I love- I am fastinated by how others see me- what pictures THEY choose to like of me etc.That part is my revelation – along with starting to relate to my body a little more realistically. I don’t want to “get thick” and so when I see the “THICK” in the pics I realize that this is something then that I want to work on- and without the photo’s I tend to have magical thinking when I look in the mirror… putting off more rigorous workouts etc and then the other aspect to that is just accepting what time does to the female body. To MY female body!
“The thing is, we all have many layers “versions” to our personalities & that is, for me, what is so interesting. When we have the ability to capture these fragments in photographs created out of our lucid existence that is always moving and certainly….way too fast ~ it’s amazing & magical…what I continue to LOVE about photography!!”
“For me, it was more about letting go of the control and experiencing the other side of the camera in order to understand my subjects: how they feel; giving me a new creative perspective from which to work. It’s not easy for me to let go and let myself be “seen”…I’ve been very comfortable in my invisible/observatory role for many, many years.”
“Sometimes it is weird to see certain “versions” of myself in photos. I just sent the one you edited to a friend to see and she commented that it was pretty but did not “look” like me. We all have a self image that is known to ourselves but maybe not seen by others I guess. This is what this project is all about. I realized I need to have more fun like I had while we were shooting. I almost didn’t care how the shots came out. I just wanted to keep laughing and playing. The past few years have been super hard and way too serious….”