Posts Tagged ‘glamour’

Shameless.

December 1, 2009

My new flyer for Shameless Photography, my pinup makeover and portraiture business:

Taking the leap.

November 25, 2009

“We work to become, not to acquire.” — Elbert Hubbard

“Work and love are the cornerstones of our humanness.” — Sigmund Freud

“It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction.” — Pablo Picasso

When I graduated from college five years ago, I wanted a good job. I was passionate, ambitious, and idealistic, and I was dedicated to making a difference. But how do people actually produce real and lasting change in the world?

When I accepted my first non-profit job, I was thrilled. I joined a young policy institute with a talented, devoted, and collaborative staff. The organization’s leadership was fantastic, its projects were important, and I was given many opportunities to learn and grow. I was promoted from intern to director in three years, and was handed increasingly challenging and significant projects.

So why wasn’t I happy? Before, I’d worked mind-numbing corporate or factory jobs, so discontent made sense. How could I be chafing against working for good?

Scary question. Was I just lazy? Did I lack integrity? Was I destined to disappoint and flounder, to never really contribute?

The answer I finally arrived at required a leap of faith: I needed to trust myself enough to believe that I wasn’t the problem. I simply hadn’t yet found the right work for me.

When I finally gave notice, my co-workers were bewildered. When people left my organization, they usually went on to grander things — law school, public office, leadership positions with other organizations. But I was plan-less. Without plan.

The day after I left work for good, I packed my bags and hit the road, traveling from Brooklyn to Asheville to Austin to San Francisco and back again, worrying about exhausting my savings but knowing I needed to move.

I could live anywhere, I thought. I could be anyone.

Choice is a powerful thing.

And my natural frugality was further terrorized when I made the decision to buy a camera. Not some chintzy point-and-shoot job, mind you. A real camera, a Nikon, gleaming and black and fragile and powerful. I fell passionately in love.

My way of seeing began to change almost immediately. I would think That’s a good shot, at least three times a day. Then ten. Then thirty. It was as if a frame had appeared in my view. Everywhere I looked, I could move the frame up or down, from side to side, and see things differently.

I returned to Brooklyn with a plan. Shameless Photography!  This is my mission statement:

In a culture where we’re constantly bombarded by images, messages, and standards designed to make us feel inadequate and insecure about our faces and our bodies, I aim to create a space where women can feel safe, beautiful, and empowered. Using makeup, lighting, and photography, I create images that are part fantasy, part reality — and entirely gorgeous.

To become a fantasy — and to know that you can do so whenever you want — is a powerful thing. No billboard model, no advertising agency can own the realm of fantasy — we all do.

In some small way, I hope that my photos can help women feel more empowered and more embodied — and to see our femininity as a space of play, pleasure, and possibility, rather than one of shame.

It’s only been a couple of months since I set up shop, and I’m still working to spread the word and get my fledgling business off the ground. But I can honestly say that I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I think about my work all the time, with passion and excitement and drive. I’ve never felt this way before — never has work been such an effortless, animal pleasure. I find myself staying up till 4 a.m. with only Photoshop to keep me company — and loving it.

Money will be tight, but I’m doing something I believe in, something that challenges me, feeds me, frees me. If the supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play, I think I’m beginning to do just that.

Start at the beginning.

December 5, 2008

I was born bald, and I stayed that way for the first year of my life. After six months of strangers cooing, “What an adorable little boy!”, my parents pierced my ears. I imagine that cool needle gun cuddling up to my soft skull was my first direct encounter with the cultural constellation of behaviors, attitudes, and feelings commonly referred to as femininity.

After such a painful and confusing start (Ouch, mom! Why do you hate me?), you’d think I would have been turned off to the whole venture. Yet a review of the photographic evidence reveals that toddler me had quite a penchant for mixing my big brother’s hand-me-down striped tees with strands of pearls; tree climbing in various improvisations of princess garb; and, rather alarmingly, blowing out birthday candles while wearing a lace veiled ’40s hat (Thanks, mom: guess you don’t hate me, after all! Or do you…).

I spent all my free time ages 2.5 to 12 drawing, and the majority of my subjects were women — imaginary and real, tall and petite, thin and voluptuous — but always elaborately adorned. Ladies in saucy strapless dresses and earrings that dangled down past their shoulders. Girls with elbow gloves and prim purses wearing evening gowns with slits up the thigh. High heels. Red lips. And every shade of eye shadow imaginable.

My life since then has been a slow process of applying that same artistic instinct to my own clothes, face, and body — and daily presenting my work to the world. I dare you to assume I can’t change a tire, talk theory, or stoke the fires of the revolution just because I’m wearing jeweled fake eyelashes. Go ahead: try me. The fact that my fascination with and deep investment in femininity is misunderstood and maligned in mainstream culture and queer culture alike is beside the point. No, I take that back. I don’t want other people’s views to be a part of my feelings about femininity, but they are.

You can’t take the audience out of the performance, can you?

I use femininity to challenge assumptions and defy stereotypes. I perform femininity with an ear to farce. I narrate femininity in the first person, but experience it within the context of history, culture, and community. I stick with femininity because it is what holds my attention, keeps me guessing, keeps me real. It’s my hobby and my home.