A couple of months ago I received a call from a friend, he asked me whether I could help a friend of his. She wanted to do a photo shoot about her body. A body which she had scarred by cutting herself when she was between 12 and 14 years old. He thought I might be able to help her, as it was such a personal topic and he thought I would be able to put her at ease in front of a camera. I said yes. I was not sure what to expect and not sure if I could do her wish justice, but I wanted to try at least. I was intrigued and not much later we met up to talk a little about it, exchanging some initial ideas and set a date for the shoot.
Yesterday we worked together. In front of my camera a bright young woman appeared, who had a clear idea of why she wanted to do it. She is no longer ashamed about her scars, but interested to make peace with her body (and personal history) showing this in an art project.
What also appeared in front of my camera was a feeling of surrender and a vulnerability I found astounding. Self-confidence and awareness are qualities that can lead to self-development and/or self-destruction. And this young woman has clearly found her way from self-destruction towards self-development by showing her vulnerability and not only using it, but embracing it by doing this project for herself.
My own search for being at ease with my vulnerability and being able to embrace it is something I do not find easy. In my poetry I express some of it, but at times I can feel at loss whether I am truly surrendering to it or pretending to be strong while I should not and show my true vulnerable colours.
By doing this shoot I realised I have come a long way both as a person and as someone who likes to practice photography. I feel you cannot ask somebody to show you something in front of a camera if you do not reflect and tap into your own or similar experiences and emotions. A camera in the end is only a mirror snapping a moment in time. To me the actual mirror is not the camera, but the photographer behind it and the interplay between photographer and subject is the image that will be reflected.
There will be a second shoot in a couple of months, and I am already looking forward to it, but please find some first results of our mutual surrender into vulnerability and making this the subject of our art. Click on the picture for 3 other images.