Sorry, this will be long.
A few weeks ago I was reported for an image that I’d shared on facebook. It happens to photographers every day…I get it. I’ve been reported before – I wasn’t surprised. But still…I was angry. Really angry.
You see, the person in the image reported was photographed in a place of power. In a position of self love. Completely and utterly comfortable in her own skin, glowing from her inner confidence that she’s worked so hard to embrace. She was brave, and real, and incredible in that photo. So to have THAT particular image be flagged by a viewer as offensive, I took it very personally. (Note: the image met all facebook standards. No nipple, no bum. A side view of the body reclined.)
The subject in the photo DESERVED to feel empowered. She OWNED her body and the capacity to feel incredible. She has EARNED every. single. ounce of grace that the universe has shown her, and I was incredibly proud of both her and the photograph for what it represented to both of us.
Strength. Grace. Power. Authenticity. All of the characteristics I strive for, both personally and professionally, every day. I was angry that someone would judge her, her body, her CONTROL of her body, as being inappropriate. And in my anger I gathered eleven incredible subjects to create the images in this post.
Initially I wanted to convey that our bodies are not ‘dirty’. I was going to cover them in mud and defiantly stand together, dirty, not dirty. But then as these beautiful spirits began to arrive at my home and gather around my kitchen table, the room began to fill with laughter and energy and light and joy. Together, we spoke about our ownership, our bodies, what they mean to us, how they serve us, our ability to love ourselves.
We packed up our gear and drove to the location. And as I stood there in that field, ready to muddy these incredible people all eagerly waiting, exposed to themselves, each other, it occurred to me…
I did not want to cover them in mud. I didn’t want to hide their bodies in retaliation. I wanted to convey, with the use of this medium, that each body is theirs and theirs alone. And so we used the mud to create the handprints you see here to imply ownership. Power. Authority over their own existence, sexuality, acceptance, and self-image.
Hands dipped one by one into the cool, earthy mud, and together in that forest grove, they each made prints with their own muddy hands on their own bodies. Gingerly placing each palm, each finger, gently upon their sensitive skin.
A declaration of defiance. Our bodies are the vessels that allow us to communicate, to connect, to heal, to nurture, to pleasure.
The incredible humans pictured here are educators. Parents. Professionals. Adventurers. Athletes. Advocates. Survivors.
They are not dirty.
Through my anger, the clouds parted and the view I was left with was humbling, staggeringly beautiful, and one of the most incredible days I’ve ever shared with so many open hearts at once.
I celebrate you. Thank you so each spectacular human that shared this experience with me. I’ll never forget it.