Face by Victoria Victor / Hats by Boring Sidney Hats and Headpieces

Model: Victoria Victor

Hats: Boring Sidney Hats and Headpieces

Makeup: Kylara Marie Kelley

An Engagement in the Rain

We were all a little scared of how these photos were going to turn out since the weather was NOT cooperating!  It was raining!  This shouldn’t be a surprise in Seattle, but usually we try to schedule around the rain… sometimes it’s just not possible!  On this day, I was SO grateful it was raining!  What beautiful photos of a beautiful couple!  Thank you Chris and Jaron!

Our first Wedding Feature!!

Thank you to http://loveincmag.com/ for featuring Lisa and Larysa’s wedding today!!  Check out the article here: Lisa and Larysa’s Intimate Garden Wedding.

 

The Original Body Diversity exhibit for SOSea: Why that Pose?

Last April 2013, I had the great honor of photographing and exhibiting the first Intersections: Boyd Diversity exhibit by Social Outreach Seattle that accompanied a VERY large group of LGBT and allied citizens in Seattle for a broad discussion of Body Diversity in the LGBT community.  Here’s the original series of posts I made about the exhibit and the “stories” of many of the models: http://kapchur.us/?s=SOSea

With the very first posting about the exhibit I had a commenter, David, who asked the same question a couple times and each time I replied my reply drifted off and never reached his ultimate point.  Every time I started reading his questions I went deep into my own philosophical mind about the overall exhibit and missed his one MAIN question: “Why did you choose the pose that you did for each of the models?

The question was right there, in black and white, every time and I still somehow missed replying to it!  So, here’s my reply:

Hi David!  I was just re-reading the comment stream on this post and discovered that I never really answered your ultimate question: “why that pose”.

With every single model in this exhibit I spent the first few minutes interviewing them about “their body identity” to figure out what the love or hate about their body.

 Sometimes the answer was obvious and sometimes it was buried.  For example, Mary hated the “tags” all around her neck (photo to the right). She’d always been ashamed of them and thought they were disgusting.  So, in our conversations we discovered that PERHAPS, if she chose to “feature” that feature, then she could regain the power it had taken from her for all those years.  It gives me goosebumps thinking about it.  She’s SO proud of that photo and of her own bravery to put herself out there.

So, going a step further, sometimes people wouldn’t directly “know” what they liked or disliked about their bodies.  Then we’d start discussing some of “their story” in general; what makes them who they are, etc.  Through that, I’d get an idea of an image they either ALREADY had for themselves or one that I could envision them wanting for themselves.

The next part of the process was me leading them and feeling them out on how comfortable they were with their body. How comfortable they were at different levels of nudity. How comfortable they were by showing different angles of their body.  I wanted to feel their limits… but without going TOO far over them.  After all, I DID want this to be about their body, but not in a traditional sense. I wanted it to be about their relationship with their body!  So, through the process of the interview and then gently stripping them down until they cringed and then showing them their beauty (even pre-editing), every single person got sort of a rush out of the process!

Sure, we had a couple of people who had done professional modeling before, but even those people chose to challenge themselves OR what the world thought of their body.  For example, Victor! Victor has been modeling since his teens (no one really knows how long ago that was, but I suspect somewhere between 10-35 years ago). However, in recent years Victor has been favored to model as Victoria Victor, the genderless model.  Victor’s idea for his pose was to challenge the pre-conceived notions of what it meant to be a genderless model.  His challenge?  Note the HUGE belt buckle that says “TOP”!  I don’t have direct quotes from him about the “facts” behind the statement of “TOP”, but in our conversations before (and since) he’s always felt that everyone assumes that because he’s petite and “genderless” that he must be a bottom (sexual position reference which he neither confirms nor denies).  At the exhibit, as people walked by the photo they either cocked their heads as if to say, “I don’t get it… really?”  Or they give a quick smile to say, “fuck you stereotype”.  I’m pretty sure this is exactly how Victor wanted them to react!

I had no intention of this being an exhibit of “everyone’s junk” or “come see my junk”. You’ll even note that the few photos that contained male genitals, I made sure the “existence” was subtle.  I wasn’t going for a shock factor on my audience.  I was merely trying to show the bravery of the model and how far they push their own comfort levels.  One model in fact, took a very long time after seeing the photos to decide that he would actually WANTED a full frontal nudity shot of himself (of course after my very intricate edits to make sure “it” wasn’t the focus of the piece.  As for the models with breasts (some identifying as trans-men, some as women) their comfort levels varied.  I found it interesting that the trans identified men freely exposed their still-existing female breasts, when the female identified models took on a traditional “mysterious” candor, wanting to be more subtle in how they expose their breasts.  Each pose unique to the next and exemplifying that individual.

I hope this helps to explain some of the creative process that went into the selection of the various poses in the exhibit.  Like David suggested in his original question, yes there were LOTS of poses and hundreds of photos to sort through. It was an essential part of my job as the photographer to select the pose and lighting style that would fit that model into their body story.

I hope you’ll have time on Wednesday night (2/26/2014) to join Social Outreach Seattle for our next photo exhibit.  Here’s a link to the Facebook RSVP page!  “Lesbian Life Forum” and BODY DIVERSITY PHOTO PROJECT at City Hall

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Israel

Israel wanted to do something special for his fiance, Nick.  So, we devised a plan!  We did a Dudoir shoot… which, by itself, would have been great!  But, then we also created a coffee table book for Nick!

When it was time to do the shower shoot I tried very hard to convince Israel that he had to do it in cold water… alas, he wouldn’t fall for it.  So he got comfortably warm water!:)

 

Photographer or Videographer: Who Has Priority?

It might sound odd, but I’ve talked with lots of photographers and videographers who thoroughly believe they are in direct competition for “prime real estate” during a wedding ceremony. It’s also not uncommon for the photographer to not even realize the videographer has been hired until the day of the event.

So, why is there competition? Well, mostly because of interference from one or the other… or both! Either the photographer is in the videographer’s way, or the videographer shows up too often in the photographers shots or perhaps the videographer “stakes out” the best location to record the ceremony. It certainly isn’t about money. After all, still photography and “the talkies” are very different art forms and require very different skill sets to do well.

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So, how should the couple handle this common dispute? It would be best for your couple (or at least one of them) to sit down with both the photographer and videographer and describe what they want from each and the expectation that they work together to allow the couple’s vision to come through in the final products. A formal introduction like this prior to the day of the event will give both of your premium service suppliers the chance to work through their territorial issues, coordinate different aspects of the day, work together on the timeline and where each other plans to record. It also is a chance for them to “air” their previous grievances with the other photographers/videographers they’ve worked with in the past and discuss any complications that came out of the suppliers not communicating well.

Another possibility is for the couple to appoint one or the other as “in charge” or as having a higher priority. It could also mean that the wedding planner is appointed the “authority” and coordinator. This would probably cause some hurt feelings, but it all depends on the couple making everyone aware THEY are the buyer and have ultimate control of the day’s events.

All in all, if you’ve hired both a photographer and videographer, do yourself a favor and introduce them. This will ensure they both respect one another and have your final results top of mind at all times.

Justice’s Story – Body Diversity

This is the eleventh installment of the Body Diversity Stories from the models who participated in the Social Outreach Seattle Body Diversity Project.  Meet Justice McCartney.

Body Diversity and the struggle of acceptance.

The day I was born I had a lump. It was the size of a grapefruit and it was because I had a cystic kidney. I almost died. Thanks to the doctors at Children’s Hospital I was saved but it came at a cost. I bear a scar across my midrift that I would see as a blight. As soon as I was old enough to regularly interact with other kids it was pointed out to me that I was different. My scar haunted me. I would look in the mirror and see it as a reminder that I was not complete. There was a part of me that had been taken. It meant that I couldn’t be involved in full contact sports and even the ones like Basketball and Soccer at the first sign of them being aggressive it would cause my mother to be frightened that my remaining kidney could end up harmed. It also meant that no matter what my wieght was I could always pinch a mound of flesh. Remember the cereal commercial that equated health with being able to pinch an inch on your waist, well that always made me think I was fat. Even when I was 6’2″ tall and 120 pounds I thought i was fat because I could pinch an inch on my waist. I eventually didn’t get hungry from starving myself in my attempt to reach an impossible goal. I wanted to get that inch off my waist and never could.

When I came out in the early 90′s and moved away from home it was even worse. I was suddenly immersed in the gay community in the middle of the dying years. I still had my adolescent acne that would often present itself in the form of large oil patches that when they burst resembled Kaposi Sarcoma lesions. People started asking me when I was diagnosed and I was clueless as to what they could possibly be talking about. It never occurred to me that it was my skeletal frame with the lesions from the acne that made them think I was HIV positive. I was ostracized to some degree because of this. I finally got health coverage and a doctor pointed out that I was anemic and terribly under weight and malnourished because of my quest to loose that inch on my waist. I didn’t think of it as anorexia. I just didn’t get hungry so I didn’t eat. I walked everywhere because it was cheaper than the bus, but i was a skeleton. I decided to learn how to eat again. I learned how to enjoy food and my doctor finally explained to me that the inch i was pinching was scar tissue and without plastic surgery I would always be able to pinch an inch.

With eating better came weight gain. I also realized that I didn’t really feel full right away. I had a few years at 180 pounds which was a perfect weight on my frame. I looked great and loved my body for the first time in my life but eventually I passed that. Slowly but surely over a few years I gained weight up to 250 pounds. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. My face that had once been so angular and sharp was now round and puffy. My body had bulges in all the wrong places and my clothes didn’t fit. New pains from carrying the extra weight started to become prevalent in my life. Once again I hated my body but now I was always hungry. Now I couldn’t lose the weight and actually needed to. I worked in an office and didn’t walk everywhere anymore. I learned to dress to hide my body so people wouldn’t realize just how fat I had become unless they knew me when I was so gaunt before. I’ve joined a gym, and am altering my diet and am down to 230. I am not ecstatic about my body but have learned to accept it. I no longer see my scar as something where a part of me was taken, but see it as the point where I was allowed to live. I still want to get my weight down to where I feel healthier, about 180 lbs which will be about 4 inches off my waist. I still see every flaw when I look in hte mirror, as we all do, but I have learned to accept my flaws and turn off the tapes that tell me how disgusting I am and revel in the fact that I have had 38 years of life that, had i been born just 5 or 10 years older would never have happened. Yes I am a work in progress but I love myself. I love my scar. I love that I can’t count my ribs when i stand naked in front of the mirror anymore, but i still look at myself in a funhouse mirror through spectacles made of carnival glass and will probably never see the me that other people see.

David’s Story – Body Diversity

This is the tenth  installment of the Body Diversity Stories from the models who participated in the Social Outreach Seattle Body Diversity Project.  Meet David Hammerberg.

When I was told about the project, I contacted Richard after a period of consideration.  Although I usually don’t mind being on either side of the camera, having the chance to have someone else take pictures for a change is kind of nice.  It also gives me a chance to see how others look at my body.

I packed some clothes to choose from, mostly fetish and some street clothes, and showed up at his door.  After a little conversation, I opened my bag, stripped down, and offered to dress as he liked.  He looked at the things in my bag and smiled, and pointed out my vest and cap, along with my other leathers.

As we started, I first found myself turning and posing in ways that didn’t show my belly or avoided certain angles or shadows, but eventually I relaxed.  I found that place within me that wasn’t so worried about whether or not I looked fit, or if I might look silly or cliché.  I smiled, and connected with the things that made me happy, confident and sexy: my hat, the leather vest, my cigar, my dog tag.

I became very playful, and found humor and a casualness in being naked.  I found a certain power in being dressed in so little, but letting my body language tell my story.  I felt very strong and secure, and none of it had to do with what I looked like, but how I felt about myself.  It was around that time that we caught the image you see now: confident, masculine, dominant, and sexually charged.

The project helped remind me that people still judge based on body types and appearances, and that we still sometimes judge ourselves harshly because of what we are told by others.  But we are our own invention – our own depiction of who we are, reflecting the paths we have traveled, and our lifetimes of experiences.

There are broader representations of body types other than the limited ones presented or accepted by our culture.  Bodies are actually quite diverse, genuine and different.  They can be realistic and accessible, and express a person in the truest sense.

I know that without diversity, I can sometimes feel self conscious and ashamed,  feeling like I don’t fit in, or that I am somehow ugly or invalid. But just because someone is physically more attractive doesn’t mean that they are smarter, stronger, or have more value.

Being within a diverse community, I am more of an individual with stories to tell, something unique to contribute, and posses a better sense of self.

I am not my body, but my body is a reflection of my journey and what I have experienced.  Every scar and mark makes me unique, and they are symbols of every battle and every triumph.  Through these battles and triumphs I learn how to bravely face the world around me, and in turn, I find strength and confidence within myself.

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