This is way outside my character, but I’ve seemed to be drifting more and more in that direction for over a year in search of my boundaries, and wants, and needs, and figuring out what it is that I’m doing, exactly. This specific character whom I am outside of is intellectual, as I can not remember where I read about what I hoped to quote, and I haven’t the energy to go through my collection of photography, or philosophy of, books that lie stacked on our shelves, which my wife just loves, let me tell you… she often brings up how much she loves how many books I have *deadpan face*.
The passage that I can not quote, which I also fail to remember word-for-word enough to eloquently describe because it seemed so far from anything I would even be remotely comfortable with, was in regard to never truly understanding what it is you’re looking for or how to get it (as a photographer) until you know exactly what the subject is experiencing and how the subject feels, id est, if you want to capture souls, in my case souls free from social armor and expecting them to let their fears and insecurities go, you have to experience being said soul captured. That was a really long sentence, and, in writing it down, seems like a no brainer, but I learn by taking baby steps after falling flat on my face and getting back up… nana korobi ya oki… though I’m pretty confident the number eight, while not being the point of the phrase, is severely generous.
One of my baby steps (giant leap for me, really) was standing naked on a beach about a decade ago, which taught me about the attitude required to be beautiful, but there was always a part of me that knew I wasn’t beautiful enough for anyone to want to look at, as defined by the physical standard that society set for ‘men’, specifically, either the gratuitously muscular warrior type, or the frail and helpless little boy man… you know who I’m talking about… the line between Leo and Brad is just as strong as the Elvis/Beatles battle, you’ve got to just pick one. There has been a recent push for the attractiveness of the ‘dad-bod’, but that’s as patronizing as my mom telling eight year old me, “You’re not fat, you’re husky,” and then putting me on a diet.
There is plenty of leeway regarding intellect, humor, and talent that might make a dad-bod bearable, but you don’t see those bodies on posters or in calendars unless they’re advertising some show or movie as a basis for entertainment, not the primal desires that fuel our fantasies and wants… I mean, how many souls out there are fantasizing about Will Ferrel playing cowbell shirtless unless it’s because they need a laugh? It seems silly writing it down, because it is also something a ‘man’ isn’t supposed to feel, but I grew up hating my body, so I absolutely understand why 99% of the people I talk to about shooting are all for it… for about two days, which is apparently the time necessary for the average mind to calculate the fear of reality. I also understand why so many people say they would love to shoot… after they get down to a certain weight or work out.
Truth is, a society that makes money off our insecurities will never allow its people to understand that they were born beautiful, I mean, you won’t sell make-up if your advertising slogan is ‘you don’t need make-up, you amazingly beautiful soul’, or ‘leave your face alone or you’ll also have to buy our convenient moisturizer to replenish your beautiful skin that our make-up is destroying’.
At the end of the day, I have always known that I was less than ideal, physically, but I genuinely see the beauty in everyone, so that has caused a kind of dissonance in my work and has regularly been the subject of argument: how can I expect to get anyone to understand how beautiful they were born if I don’t see the beauty in who I am?… an obvious conundrum. I’m shooting for blatantly obvious things that elude me at this point in my journey, in case you haven’t noticed, like making my family more important than my work… I mean….. seriously folks, I’m an idiot.
There are already a lot of words here to say something quite simple: I’m looking at myself, literally, and instead of looking at all the things I don’t like, I am seeing the beauty there, and I don’t care if anyone else sees it. Maybe my decade’s worth of preaching finally rubbed off, or maybe I’ve just gotten to that point where I truly can see the beauty in everything, or maybe I finally reached the give-no-shits threshold? I don’t really care. I will definitely admit that this probably wouldn’t have been possible without the comfort of my goddess wife taking the photos, but I still was awkwardly shy and nervous as hell, obsessively listening for people coming and leaving my clothes close and jump-in-able. I finally conquered a fear that has been clogging up my brain since I died at birth, and I absolutely do understand so much more about what goes into to this NOT EASY task, just as I’m sure my wife realized that there is so much more to taking a photograph than pressing the shutter button (I humbly lied). I am kind of itching to go do it again… after I lose a little weight and work out… or I could just love and accept myself.