Visions of romance is an exploration of our perceptions of love and romance and a look at how we were/are educated about sex.
It didn’t start out quite this way. I was searching for a project; something that would allow me to practice my craft and would be an excuse to get folks I know in front of my camera. I wanted something that would possibly align with my wedding photography business. I wanted to begin the project with women: an exercise in posing brides but also because I knew I’d be more comfortable with them as I got it off the ground. And in the midst of brainstorming a couple of months ago my social media feeds filled with this letter written by a victim of rape to her attacker. If you haven't already read it, I recommend you take the time now.
I was flooded with emotions. I recalled conversations with friends about our sexual experiences, the way we have been treated by men in and out of relationships, the way we have been judged, the moments that have for better or worse defined us. I know we aren't alone in our experiences. I couldn't help but think about the futures of the young people in my life (my nieces and nephews, my friends' children)--and wondering how we can make things better for them.
I hate that we live in a time/place where sex and the human body still seem to be such taboo subjects. We are embarrassed and afraid to speak of them, which leads to misunderstanding, misinformation, unsafe practices. It's led to a place where women feel guilty and judged for not having sex and then guilty and judged when they do. A place where sexual pleasure and enjoyment is focused on the men in the equation. Where some men feel like they are owed it and take it without asking. Where people feel they have to struggle through discovering their sexual identity alone.
I think part of the problem also stems from how we are taught to interact with the opposite sex from the very beginning, and how we are taught to view relationships, from parental influence to ideals pushed by fairy tales, movies, books and media. However I also truly believe if we can start discussions on sex early on we can begin to mend some of the problems. With the door open for conversation it allows everyone to ask questions without fear or embarrassment. I believe it will empower people to make smart, informed, strong choices based on their own desires and not the influences or pressure from those around them.
As I considered all of this I decided to incorporate these ideas into this project by interviewing each person before their session to talk about their personal experiences. It's a chance to discuss issues on a personal level and is a way to celebrate each individual’s sense of sexuality and romance. After the interview I photograph them. Each subject chooses a location that they feel romantic in and chooses their own outfits. I'm setting out to make portraits that aren't fashion or boudoir, but are a chance for each person to feel comfortable, beautiful, and strong in their own skin.
I hope this project opens the door for conversations about sex, sexuality, and romantic ideals. I'm not sure where it will lead but I'm excited to start the journey and share it with you along the way. The first session will be posted soon!