"I hope to convince the total stranger before me that this work will be aesthetically resonant in some universal way and worth the risk he takes in making himself so vulnerable. It's a tricky moment; taking the picture is an invasive act, a one-sided exercise of power, the implications of which when considered in historical perspective, are unsettling. Photography is always invasive, but these experiences are consensual and, in the best hours transcendent. I have had men, complete strangers, trust me enough to offer up physical characteristics about which they were sensitive - missing digits, scabby, eczema-ridden backs, surgical scars, - with no prompting and no embarrassment in the quite afternoon light of my studio deck."
In January I read Sally Mann's autiobiography and this paragraph stuck with me. I know I ask a lot from the people who sit for me. But I believe that people need each other, and that we are, together, creating something that is changing the world.
This weekend I started a series about abortions. I am asking women to tell me their story while I photograph them. This is a way of taking photos that I've never tried before, and it entails a great deal of trust. Stef has been present at a handful of photoshoots of mine over the past year and every time she has expressed her hatred of having her photo taken. I know that telling her story while being photographed was very, very much outside of her comfort zone, and it's a testament to the amazing person she is, that she sacrificed her own comfort so that other women won't feel alone, and that in the future this stigma will end.
"She asked me if I wanted to see the screen, and although I said no, I don't know if she heard me, but she showed me anyway. It is ingrained in my head. This little black sack where a heartbeat is supposed to be. This is when I found out the fetus had died. I suspect it had died two days before when I felt all of the pregnany symptoms stop."
If you have an abortion story to tell and you'd like to participate in this series please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.