"A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.” -Gloria Steinem
There was a time I would have seen someone who looks like Josh and assumed we had nothing to talk about. Which would have been my loss ... our conversation during and after the shoot ranged from photography to economics and living abroad, a few of my favorite things.
Yet, there were too many times in high school and college and probably this morning, when I made unfair judgements, assuming people were dumb because they were athletes or stuck up because they dressed well.
Getting to know models, I've found that such prejudice is just the beginning. I've heard horror stories of sexual harassment, manipulation, body shaming and even attempted rape--the actions of people treating them as commodities.
This is not a post about the plight of pretty people. There are definitely privileges that come with looks, just as there are increased risks. Rather, my point is snap judgements based on a set of enculturated assumptions are a waste of time. I have friends now who I could have gotten to know years before if I hadn't been trapped by my prejudices and fear of rejection. The lost opportunities were mine.
I realize my photography feeds a culture of objectification, one of many manifestations of bias. And yet, for me it's been quite the opposite. Photography has given me the opportunity to know so many interesting and complex individuals--not just as collections of abs, biceps, jawlines and sundry other parts. I have shot with geeks and nerds, caregivers and poets, scientists and men of faith ... who happen to be ridiculously good looking.
I wish I could convey all that through a photo alone ... personhood and personality rather than object or art. But I'm not sure the medium lends itself to that--or perhaps I'm just not good enough. So I'm stuck with a rambling blog post.