Birthdays are not something I look forward to or enjoy. I usually end up feeling at best maudlin on the day.
I am not a self-portrait guy by nature; they are difficult for me to make in perfect focus and I find them narcissistic by nature.
(I will add that other photographers make self-portraits and I have NO issue with that, so clearly this is a me thing. Selina Mayer does them regularly and I am always excited when she does. Go check her out: https://www.selinamayer.com ).
But five or six years ago I started to make photos for myself to try and capture this underlying sadness. Then I did it again. I think I skipped 2017, but in 2018 as I was going through the most difficult time of my life I made some very raw images to bottle the despair I was feeling. I decided to share them because I knew other people went through hard times and I thought perhaps even one person would see them and know that they weren’t alone. Despair is part of the human existence and it’s awful, but no one’s alone in experiencing the dark.
The next year I’d survived the ordeal and made photos that expressed that. I was not unscathed, but we carry our scars with us and (hopefully) we keep going.
I wasn’t going to do them this year but a friend asked if I was going to do them so I said I would if I found inspiration. As I thought about what to do I considered that when I’ve asked some people if they’d let me photograph them au naturale that they often fell back on the “I need to lose 20 lbs” phrase. Recently I told a young lady who offered that concern that we always want to be thinner or taller or stronger or younger, but the point isn’t to punt the moment. The point is to accept who we are right now. Change is going to happen, and maybe we do manage to lose that 20 lbs (if you do, good on you. If you don’t, you’re right there with most of us). But the point of my work with bodies is to see the beauty that is there right now regardless of how you look or feel.
To that end I stripped down myself and took a series of images trying my best to mimic the poses of body builders, flexing as best I could. Then I (attempted) to make the same photos again while letting myself fully relax. I was trying to express the idea of how we want to look vs how we actually look and being okay with both. It was a “quick and dirty” session, so much of it doesn’t match up, but I like the idea and here are the (cropped) results.
( My birthday was a couple of weeks ago; I’m just behind on making posts.)