Monday, August 24, 2009
I love the idea that all kinds of women have a desire to explore their sensual nature, embracing and accepting their bodies at will. I love the surprises, the unexpected. Women from all walks of life taking charge of their body, enjoying embracing and liberating their inner Goddess! Sometimes the photographs are a very private secret, to be shared with an intimate partner while other women hang their photographs with pride on the walls of their home…
A friend of mine was doing work in the home of a lovely elderly woman in her 80’s. He commented on the beauty of a gorgeous vintage nude she had hanging framed in the kitchen of her New York City apartment. To his surprise, she replied “Oh honey… that was me back in the day!”
We should all have something so precious… something we can gleam with pride over when we are 80. I’ve photographed Housewives, nurses, teachers, actresses, photographers, accountants, engineers, musicians, policewomen, hairdressers, doctors, lawyers and more… women creating a gorgeous memento to celebrate themselves at this stage of their life… My chosen Goddess this month is Donna… as gorgeous as she is… if you came across her while she was at work, it might not cross your mind that she was a woman that would do a pin-up shoot…
But on the other hand Donna’s someone who definitely takes charge!!
When I was growing up, I was always fascinated by pin up girls. My father was a war history buff and hunter. He had an office that was hidden behind a wall in our house. (I guess you could say that we weren't boring or plain people!) His office had hunting rifles, civil war and World War II items, and tons of books. He also had quite a nice collection of beautiful pin up girl posters on the walls from World War II. I loved going into his office and reading my books, that were kept in a small section of a bookcase close to the floor. I would always go into his office and lie on the floor and look up to those posters. I guess you could say that I started to realize that everything in this office had a special meaning and I almost felt that everything in there had a certain power to it. Being a little girl, of course, those pin up posters were very mesmerizing and stood out the most to me.
I knew from trying to read my father's books when I was little, that although women weren't fighting during the war, they definitely had a huge role in supporting our country during it. I loved how there was so much strength and beauty in the pin up. What a great role model to have! The pin up, in my eyes, captured strength and beauty not just one or the other. This was and even still is unusual especially since many women in the public eye are so flat and uninspiring.
I wanted the diamond girls! The ones that are multi faceted.
And so time had passed...I took an interesting women in literature class in high school and learned to throw away that "little girl voice" and embrace my "big girl voice". Speak up and be strong! I try to practice this advice daily and I think I've become stronger from it.
I decided to do these pin up pictures because I feel it is the right time. I'm in my early thirties and I feel like I'm polished and refined a bit yet still capricious and intense. I'm in a field of work that seems to strip a girl of her femaleness. I'm a fighter though! I won't let go. I can't say what I do for a living for various reasons but I will say that my pin up pictures are quite arresting images...wink, wink.
Thank you Isis! I can now finally say that I am a pin up girl.
Friday, June 12, 2009
“True love does not come by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly” - unknown
The above quote can also apply to the way we see ourselves.
Today I’m writing about love… it’s wedding season, and love is in the air! I have brides gearing up for pin-up classes with their girlfriends but I also have many women who are about to be married and who sign up for a private boudoir session, an intimate and personal gift to share with their honey on the special night.
I called my business ‘for them or for you’… I suppose I could just have easily put a question mark at the end of that title. When a woman does a pin-up or a boudoir shoot, whom is she actually doing it for? More often than not, my client tells me that even though she is giving the pictures to her honey, she is actually doing it for herself – she wants the pictures to celebrate herself at this particular time in her life.
In truth, this is the greater gift. I remember one client writing to me and telling me that her husband was excited about the photo’s she gave him, but more so, he was thrilled by her enthusiasm for the experience.
The real gift is that of self-acceptance… to be truly comfortable with yourself, as you are now, is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to another. Thus the portrait that you give is the gift of yourself… both in print and in spirit.
My featured Goddess this month is Shannon. I photographed Shannon years ago when she first got together with the man who is now her husband. She gave the photographs to him as an intimate holiday gift. Since then, she has participated in 2 pin-up classes… one group class that I had set up here in my studio… and then a few years later she had her best girlfriends all come to my studio to celebrate her bachelorette party with private pin-up class.
What is gorgeous about my client relationship with Shannon, is that over the years I have had the opportunity not only to document her evolution as a woman, and but in essence the deepening of her relationship in incremental periods.
The constant in her photographs, is a set of pearls her husband gifted her when they first met. I’ll look forward to photographing Shannon as she evolves further into her womanhood… and eventually perhaps wearing her pearls when she’s 80…
I wanted to give him something unique and beautiful. I expected him to receive sexy photos. Instead Isis captured part of my soul on film. He could see it on my face-the fragile dreamy hope of new love. That look made my nudity inconsequential. Isis helped me shed the emotional barriers I had erected after years of unhealthy relationships and photographed my naked spirit. I was able to share that with him.
When Isis told me about her first ever pin up girl party I was thrilled. It was wonderful meeting the other women and learning about them. Over quiche and wine we bonded…sharing stories of how our own personal body issues developed and why we wanted to do the class. We raided Isis ’s trunks and helped each other pick out outfits. We giggled and cheered each other on. We shared contact sheets. We are still friends.
When I pondered my bachelorette party I decided to share the amazing experience of Isis with my friends. I wanted them to see themselves through her lens and feel lovely and special. I wanted them to have permission to express themselves and truly own their “sexy”. One of my friends told me she had never thought she was beautiful until she saw the pictures Isis took. I am grateful to have had a part in their experience.The next time I hope to be in front of Isis ’s camera again I’m planning on lovingly displaying a pregnant belly. My husband has truly made me believe I will always be beautiful whatever moment in life I am at and I know Isis can capture that beauty. Thirty years or thirty pounds will not diminish me in the eyes of those who love me. Isis we have a date for my 80th birthday. I’ll be there…with pearls on.
Friday, May 8, 2009
This months gorgeous Goddess is Kerry. When I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago, she was delighting in the hundreds of daffodils bursting joyfully through the earth around her property. She noted that each Spring seemed even more beautiful than the last. “But that is not possible, I’m sure it is just that we forget” she said.
I was touched by this, it is true that we forget… but I think that is because we are meant to be present in this particular Spring and so it forces it’s beauty upon us and that beauty keeps us in the now.
When we live through our personal winters, we also tend to forget about our own beauty, how alive and abundant and how gorgeous we are…
And yes, we are different than we were the last spring, but we are equally as beautiful right now… Let’s celebrate that!
Ensconced by the healing powers of the season, the rain has become a scrim through which I wander back in my mind’s eye to revisit this annual phenomenon of burgeoning life. Ahhhhh, Sweet Spring. Fascinated by myriad springs past that we can conjure when calm of soul. In part measuring the beauty of what is now coming to life through awareness of past delight.
Reflecting on my boudoir session with Isis a few years ago, I know it is time to book another. Completely and utterly fresh, an experience that cannot be ‘replicated’ – rather a timeless document of where ‘her women’ are at the moment. We are graced by Isis’ camera.
At long last, I am whole. This is the Spring of my renaissance. When I first met Isis, I was midway through what has proven to be seven years of grief. Interesting to note that our cells are reborn on a seven-year cycle. Having lost my husband and love of my life on September 11, 2001; our twenty-five years was shattered in a heartbeat. Edna St. Vincent Millay best describes where I was then in her Letters with “Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling into at night. I miss you like hell."
This photograph (both process and finished product) was a miracle. Isis captured me as I laughed with utter abandon and took deep delight in my sensual being. On a profound psychological level, she worked her magic and lovingly chiseled the tip of my iceberg. I was terrified that her camera would record a void. And, being voluptuous, I wondered how on earth a void could be fat...
Given my delicate psyche, Isis wisely suggested that we conduct the shoot in the security of my home. She arrived just as I was getting out of the shower. Much to my relief, this almost stranger, in her inimitable way, tenderly approached my soggy self and applied my make-up and styled my hair. All the while asking how I typically do it, so as not to impose a style that would make me uncomfortable.
We then referenced a photo of Marilyn Monroe that inspired me. I evoked the essence of this icon in my authentic version; cavorting around my home in various rooms and positions, with Isis in harmony as photographic observer.
The result is as lovely today as it was profound then.
I thank Isis for her unique ability to cultivate the goddess that had fallen through that hole. I am confident that our next photo shoot will both build upon our earlier experience and also be invigorated anew; as befits the timeless metaphor of Spring.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
As I listen to the birds outside begin to chatter to each other, I am filled with the joy of life that Spring always brings. Living in Upstate New York and watching the creatures frolicking is a constant reminder that part of our job on this planet is to play. We have been given the most glorious playground filled with unlimited possibility. The confines of that playground exist only where we place them.
For many women their playground is limited by the shackles that they place on themselves. Some never feeling good enough, some waiting to lose that extra 10 pounds, some restricted by some medieval moral code or by what others might think of them.
What I love about photographing pin-up and boudoir is the potential for re-introducing play into our lives. I've watched groups of women scrimmaging through my trunks of corsets, feathers, baubles, boas and beads, trying on this and that, playing with different archetypes until they settle on just the right one that feels like their sensual expression for that day. and then the play continues as they 'camp' it up in front of the camera, expressing joy, sensuality, and their luscious Diva Goddess selves.
All I can say is life is too short! It's time to play!
Speaking of creatures frolicking...
I've chosen Cheri as my featured Goddess of the month. Some of you may be familiar with her as she recently appeared in my recent TV debut on Channel 4, NBC. For those of you who did not see it, CLICK HERE.
I've chosen cheri as my featured Goddess because Cheri is a woman who is not afraid to play... well for one; she wore a rabbit fur bikini, and growled for the NBC cameras...
"When Isis told me about the now infamous rabbit furred bikini, my first words to her were, "Oh Isis, it won't fit."
As a petite woman with an extra large chest, I know all about things not fitting. About the button down shirts that don't lay right, about the bikinis that make me look like I'll fall over if I stand up too quickly. And I know all about other people's ideas of what fits too. About the dance teacher who told me if I kept performing my nipples would hit my toes. About the former boss who warned me not to lean against his cubicle lest I leave dents. Yeah. It's enough to make a girl go through life in a muumuu.
Isis though, was pretty sure this particular bikini was different. And when she showed it to me, I realized how right she was. It was over the top and ridiculous. It was a parody of a parody-- Pebbles meets Sheba meets Racquel Welch circa 1973 I knew that if nothing else, I had to try it on.
And you know what? It did fit. It fit my body, it fit my curves. Mostly though, it fit me. It got my goofyness, my playfulness, my sense that being sexy always always comes with a laugh. Next time I'll know: when life hands you a rabbit furred bikini, your job is to just wave your plastic bone in the air and roar for all your worth".
Monday, February 2, 2009
Valentines day is fast approaching. At this time of year, I often have clients coming to me to do photographs of themselves as an intimate gift for a loved one. More often than not, a woman confesses to me that even though this is a gift for her lover, she is also doing the photographs for herself. This realization is actually the true gift as the subject has had to take a step toward self acceptance in order to reveal her intimate nature and attempt to overcome her internal struggles with how she sees her body and how she perceives others see her body.
This months Goddess that I have chosen to feature is Charity. Beautiful as she is, to a greater degree than many , she has struggled with her body image.
the serene beauty of her portraits and quiet confidence of her subjects. I was determined, at that point, to get over my insecurities, weight obsession and do these boudoir photos for my boyfriend.
I wish I could say I marched into Isis' studio and ripped my clothes off with the ease and uninhibited nature of a stripper but alas, I was a nervous, shaking wreck. After two hours in her amazing Kingston house, though, I had lost all self consciousness and fear. Walking out of the session, I felt lighter, freer. Instead of the empty, painful, punitive emotion that follows a physical purge, I felt full and liberated from this metaphorical one.
When I got the contact sheets, I remember sitting in my kitchen and sobbing. After years of feeling completely disconnected from my body and seeing it as a disdainful object to be punished, I was finally
and fully understanding my body as an integral part of myself. I was seeing it as the beautiful,powerful,sexual, strong and deserving entity that it truly is; I was beginning to see what everyone else sees.
It's been 3 years since I sat crying at my table. And I am approaching my 4th year anniversary from breaking the chains and being free from my eating disorder. Oh, and I'm happily married to Jasen, (the boyfriend
that I "used" as motivation to give myself the gift of ).
Isis is still a close friend of mine and her vision, wit, insight and art continue to be a challenge and inspiration to me. It was an honor to sit for her and be a part of her revolution-transforming our understanding of self and beauty, one woman at a time."