Art Honeyman made significant contributions before he died from complications with cerebral palsy.
Jade Beall is working on a photography project to celebrate women, especially women who might be inclined to find fault with their physical appearance. Her basic premise is that women who have given birth are often changed physically by the experience,and that they ought not apologize for those changes. She encourages women to celebrate the evolution of their bodies whatever their form might be.
She has expanded her definition to include women who are self-conscious due to their size or shape for any reason. I purchased a copy of her upcoming book, The Beautiful Body Project, and contributed a little cash through her Kickstarter fundraising effort. I want this project to succeed. As I recall, she got more than twice the donations she requested.
My concentration for the last couple of years involves women who describe themselves as curvy, and women who have physical handicaps that limit their mobility. Men? I seldom photograph men. They are welcome to put themselves in front of my camera, but they seldom do. That’s a topic for another post.
Many years ago my friend Art Honeyman, shown in the photo, asked me to photograph him naked. He taught a class at Portland State University called Relations With The Handicapped. I declined to take the photo in spite of what he had taught me. Due to his illness he trembled constantly, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. That is how I was in those days. In Art’s typical fashion he responded, “I didn’t ask you to photograph my balls.” I’ve learned a few things since then. I am far more appreciative of people in whatever state they might be in at the moment. I’m less judgmental. I’m more real. I know handicapped people who I delight in photographing.
Tucson photographer Kathleen Dreier has a project she calls Bus Stop Dreams. She interviews people who are waiting for a bus and asks them about their destination and their hopes and plans for the future. It’s sweet, and it nods to Studs Terkel who wrote the classic book, Working.
Part of my task as a photographer is to see beauty, and I often see it in people who do not see it in themselves. It’s an adventure. It’s an awakening. People I invite to pose often decline. That is always a lesson for me. I will be ready when they are.
My advice is to stop comparing yourself and just notice and rejoice in who you are, blemishes and all. For all of us in this world appearances are just temporary. Have fun as you are. We all end up looking exactly the same.