Saturday, 20 July 2013

A wonderful post and growing old

Photographer: Fal-name. Model unknown

I was contacted via Twitter by a woman I have never met, Diane Roshelle, who was interested in using one of my photos for a blog post. I consented. She then sent me a link to her post late last night.
I found it very moving.
I will not repeat here her words, do read it for yourselves, it is worth doing so. 
I just want to add that it is all about acceptance of oneself as being an embodied being and being beautiful. Not in ways that conform to a stereotype, but beautiful because we have a body, the body is a wonderful thing and we are that body, it is not separate from 'us'.
It has become almost commonplace now to proclaim beauty in diversity and to extoll the beauty of older women, and I do find this very positive. But I also find that for many women going beyond stereotypes of what is seen to be beautiful is hard.

Photographer: D. Keith Furon. Models: myself, Cheryl and Rose

Through my membership of groups meant to encourage older women to get in front of the camera and celebrate their beauty I am often bombarded with shabby images showing them in sexy kitten poses which I would find ugly even if the women in the pictures were much younger. By doing this they become grotesque, unwittingly so, reconfirming the stereotype of the older female body as abject and grotesque.
Growing old is  about structure/agency and the subject/object divide and how one as a woman can attempt to transcend those binaries and work towards integration and constant transformation, which does not stop with age but, on the contrary, is part of ourselves as 'ageing process' rather than ourselves as finished products that work to combat the effects of time.
I have found art modelling empowering precisely because it has allowed me to go beyond preconceived ideas of beauty. The beauty is to be found in the pose, in the exploration of space, in stillness, in looking into the camera and drawing on one's emotions.
I still model for life drawing classes and I find it most rewarding when I am booked by schools. The girls and boys who are drawing are not famous artists and make lots of mistakes but through drawing the human figure, and an older person at that, they learn all about the body and how beautiful it is.

Photographer: Jan Murphy. Model: myself

It saddens me to know that in many schools life drawing has been dispensed with. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sunday, 7 July 2013


 Selfie 1
I too have succumbed to the lure of selfies. You know what I mean, those pictures of yourself taken with your iPhone - I have also used an iPad, but I prefer the smaller iPhone.
I do take self portraits, have certainly done so in the past. But selfies are different, they are snapshots, much like those photo booth pictures we used to take for fun with friends before camera phones were invented. I have loads of them, from my teenage years and later, pictures taken while fooling around with my sister, pictures taken with boyfriends, I even have one series with my ex husband, soon after we were married and probably a little tipsy.
You'd insert the right coins, get into the booth and wait for the flash, posing outrageously.
With selfies it is different and yet it is much the same thing, because they are spontaneous portraits. I still have'nt got the knack of taking them, though.
I do think of things such as light, background and so on. So maybe my selfies are not that spontaneous.
I spent a good two hours today trying to get some. The idea initially came because I wanted a picture of me with an accidental splash of blue in my hair - I went to have my lashes tinted, I always have them done because I don't like wearing mascara, since I swim a lot. Unfortunately the beautician spilt a little colouring on my hair, just a tiny bit and of course was very apologetic and wiped it off immediately. My hair being so light it immediately absorbed the colour and I ended up with a faintly bluish strand. I wanted a picture of it.

Selfie 2
 I managed to remove the blue through rubbing the hair strand with my favourite shampoo on a face cloth. But before doing so I began to take selfies and then after I finished fiddling with my hair I continued to snap away. I was trying to find the right spot and the right pose.
I still find it difficult to take pictures with a camera phone, I am so used to changing settings, not much choice there. But I can see the result immediately. I deleted many - background was not right, light too strong, I was not looking in the right direction, but then I stopped thinking too much about the whole process. The point is to be natural, it is a snap, that's all.
Next week I will start taking photos again with my camera. I am told that the iPad takes good pictures so I will experiment with that too.
I don't know why people keep on discussing selfies as a form of narcissism. Are self portraits necessarily narcissistic? I think selfies have made self portraiture accessible to everyone.
I will continue and use selfies to support my self portraits with my proper camera.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013