I recognize that this post is seemingly out of the blue, left field, whatever. I'm most certain that people will leave some negative commentary or unfollow me. I want you to know that it's fine to go, I didn't start this blog as a way to popularity or a huge following or any of that. I started it to share my life. My travels. My thoughts. Who I am.
Before I started Birch & Pine, I was a wedding photographer, fighting to keep my business afloat after moving to a new state where I knew a handful of people. I wasn't working much and needed to be creating images. The money didn't matter. I just needed to make photographs. I started working with various women, one of which I knew prior and after I posted her images, other women emailed and asked if they could take part in the project. I would meet with these women in the woods and ask them to be vulnerable in front of my camera. We talked about body image, breakups, depression, pain. The images varied in content, some of the women smiled brilliantly and ran through fields topless, others laid down in frigid and shallow creek waters and let the waters rush over them, tears streaming down their cheeks. I haven't forgotten that work, but when winter came and the work stopped, and my business closed, I didn't pick up my camera for six months.
I later took jobs to get paid, mainly commercial, and this was fine with me. I've been freelancing for awhile now, and of course I post to Instagram...and while we were on the road I took thousands of photos (that even now, three months later, I still can't bring myself to look at). But my soul is craving more, so much more...and I wouldn't listen to it. I was so determined to make sure I didn't offend anyone, or expose too much of myself. My little boxes on Instagram, however - don't tell the complete story, not even close. I am more than those boxes and images of a clean kitchen or my morning coffee. I am an artist. I am a photographer.
So today, I listened to my soul. After speaking with a dear artist friend, instead of shrugging off the urge to go grab my camera and create, to make excuses, I got up and walked to my camera bag, which was shoved back behind my wife's clothes in the closet and pulled out my old used camera and lens, turned on my favorite playlist that contains songs that make me long for the road and make me cry and smile and laugh and sing along and set the camera on the dresser and snapped away - because the thing I didn't do a few years ago when working with those women was get in front of the camera myself. Those women exposed so much of themselves to me - their fears, their pain, their bodies - yet I was too scared to be in front of the lens. I still am. Posting these images isn't easy, there's a reason I am posting these just a few hours after taking them - I just needed to bite the bullet before I could find an excuse to back out.
This is hopefully just a start - I want to keep creating, keep finding that rawness and vulnerability in myself and with others. But I had to start with me. I had to go a little crazy and do something I've never done before. I had to be vulnerable before I ask anyone else to be. So this is me - in less than technically perfect, lots of blur, I've never taken self-portraits before photographs. Mama to Adelaide, wife to Ellen, almost 31 years old, stretch marks on my breasts, need-to-get-my-bangs-trimmed, psoriasis-having, I need more yoga and running and greens and less wine and pizza, I love my wavy hair and arms and that shot of me topless with my coffee mug ME.