“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind
I could probably write thousands of word about this subject from how and why I started taking nude self portraits, to my first outdoor adventure. New camera’s, new editing tools. The time I joined a camera club. How I have evolved as a photographer. How starting my 365 Project all those years ago has made me a better photographer. My goals to photograph other people more often. I could and probably should write a whole series of posts dedicated to the subject and over the years I have written about it on many occasions including my struggles with how my body looks, to emotional connections I have to certain images.
Taking nude self portraits has changed my life.
When I reached for my little point and shoot back 2010 I really had no expectations apart from trying to take some sexy pictures to use on my blog. I hated illustrating my posts with images that were not mine and I was inspired by a couple of bloggers who were around at the time, sadly they are no more, to try my hand at creating my own images.
That decision changed everything. It just felt so natural and right to me. I had not ever really taken pictures before then. Of my kids and family etc but nothing else. Suddenly the camera in my hand felt completely different. It felt like a tool for self expression. It was exciting and addictive and 10 years later that is still very much the case. In fact I am as enthused and in love with taking nude self portraits today as I was all those years ago, maybe even more so.
The journey I have taken with my camera has been an intense and revealing one. I have learned so much not just about me and my body but about the camera and photography itself. People are often amazed that I have never been to a photography class or lesson in my life. I am self taught and I am always learning. When I did join the camera club a few years back one of the judges there said to me that you can’t teach someone to have an eye. You can teach them all the technical aspects of photography and they can be a great technical photographer but if they don’t have an eye for a shot there images will never be anything other than record shots. He told me I had an eye and it was probably one of my proudest moments at the club surrounded by mainly older wealthy men who paid to go on amazing photography trips round the world and there was me taking nude self portraits in the woods. I don’t claim to be the best photographer but I know now that I do definitely have a good eye when it comes to creating images.
It is not just about what I have learned about photography but maybe more importantly what I have learned about myself and my body.
I always hated having my picture taken. I pretty much hate every one that was ever taken of me. I was one of those people who would dodge out of frame if I saw someone with a camera but taking my own image has been an amazing personal and intense journey with my body. Maybe because I am in control and know that I can curate my image(s) and decide if they should be shared or not that gave me a confidence to really explore my image in a way I don’t think I ever would have been able to if someone else was taking the pictures. I needed that control and that intimacy that made me feel safe to really reveal myself to the camera and ultimately to myself. I don’t think I would ever have been able to relax and let someone else take pictures of me in the way I have taken pictures of myself.
Sharing the images that result with others is just the final and almost small step in the process of my photography. Not that I don’t love sharing them because I do but the creation of them is the bit that feeds me creatively the sharing of them is like a final happy sigh at the end of a great meal or fabulous sex. I guess it is the coming together in a wonderful moment.
My body image(s)
I do have the body that mainstream media portrays as desirable. I don’t have a narrow waist, or a flat tummy. I don’t have pert breasts or flawless skin. I have stretch marks and scars and a belly overhang. I tend to hold my weight round my middle a bit like a tyre which means I don’t have that narrow waist but more of a boxy body but 12 years ago when I was at my slimiest and during my swinging summer I would buy underwear that I could keep on whilst fucking because I was so worried about my body. I can’t believe I did that because I would LOVE to have that body now. I would happily strip off and show it off.
I am not claiming to be totally happy and confident with or in my body but compared to that version of me back then that was so intensely self conscious and worried about how I looked. Well let’s just say they are the same person at very different points in their life and taking naked self portraits has allowed me to develop a relationship with my body that I never had before and to learn to find beauty in the body I have and a joy in the joy and pleasure it brings and my partners.
The tag line…
of my blog is
“I see myself through other’s eyes and I am made anew”
I wrote those words probably about 7 years ago now. They capture perfectly my relationship with my blog, my photography, the camera and you the reader/viewer. When I wrote it I thought it was purely about me and my audience but as the years have passed I have realised that whilst that relationship has been fundamental to much of what I do and my discovery and growth with regards to my body and my sexual self the really key, the most important relationship of all that has and still renews me now is the one with myself and the camera. It is the camera that allows me to see myself through another eye and it that view that allows me to evolve and grow and accept my body as it shifts and changes and ebbs and flows with the passage of time.
Speaking in pictures
I always wanted to write a book. Right from when I was a little girl to this very day it is still something I aspire to do but also I have come to realise that I am a very visual person. I love books and words and reading but when I read I turn what I read into pictures in my head. I can ‘see’ characters and places and if the writing is good feel experiences. It is why I tend to hate movie and TV adaptions of books because they don’t match the pictures in my head.
I also love to write. I never thought I was much of a writer. Growing up I never seemed to do it right when it came to school and once I left school I truly believed I would never be a writer. What no one told me when I was young was that what makes you a writer is writing. It wasn’t until I started this blog that I realised that I idea I had harboured for years about my ability to write was wrong.
The saying is that a picture is worth a 1000 words and whilst I think just a few perfectly chosen words can be everything you can convey the meaning or essence of a multitude of ideas both simple and complex within one image. I love writing and I love words but I feel like I can say so much with an image than I can never really capture in quite the same way with words. I can speak with the camera in a way I can’t with words.