February 11, 2011

The words on our skin

Soft light

Big conferences are held, usually, in a storyless space: a huge hotel where no one has lived or died, a modern building without ghosts or memories or even cats. But the people at the conference, arriving with suitcases and laptops, wearing black pants and nametags, milling in the lobby or lured into hallways by the scent of free coffee, they carry stories with them, embedded in their bodies.

Thanks to the naked photo project, a woman I’ve just met will tell me how she got this scar or why she wanted that tattoo. A man will tell me how vulnerable he felt that time he was on crutches or why he gave up the sport he played in high school. I’ll hear about what it’s like to lose your hair in chemotherapy, or how breastfeeding can trigger childhood issues, or how it can be painful to water ski naked.

They are not my stories to tell, so I don’t usually put them on the blog. Yep, that’s right. I post the photo and not the stories. Since I’m a writer, not a photographer, that’s ironic. It’s as crazy being a ventriloquist who performs on a radio show.

But still, hearing the stories is a wonderful privilege, and I continued to be amazed by people who are willing to be vulnerable, who willingly take off their clothes for my camera while they confide in me.

I was talking about this with an editor last week as she was stretching back in a chair, letting the soft light from the window spill over her naked body. She said, “Even if you can’t write them, I like that the stories exist in the moment. They become part of the photograph.”

(Readers who want to know the history of the naked photo tradition can check it out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. )

18 comments:

heidi said...

Another beautiful pic. She has such elegant legs.

liz said...

That picture looks like something out of the Renaissance.

Krishnan said...

Good photo. But I just can't stop looking at the photo of the curvy lady with breasts peaking. Can we have more photos of that lady please joe. And also when r u coming to India. I would love to pose for your blog.

Anonymous said...

She looks so graceful.

Jennifer(ponderosa)

Magpie said...

I love the ginchy legs.

You got a mess of posers this conference, huh?

YourFireAnt said...

Beautifully composed, Jo(e). And a lovely profile [looks a bit Jamie Lee Curtisesque].

;-)

Sandy said...

Beauty and grace.

kathy a. said...

gorgeous! you must have spent the whole conference getting people naked. :)

Sandie said...

Loved all of them and the stories as usually, but this shot is so relaxed and everything about her and the lighting just invites the viewer in. I expect her to turn her head and say Hi and flash a very pretty smile.

Amelie said...

I was going to say what the editor said -- you include some of the story in your photograph.

Anonymous said...

Those legs, those legs, that light, those legs!

Anonymous said...

Off topic - there was a long running radio show in the UK called Educating Archie which starred a ventriloquists dummy.
:-)
Esworp

TK said...

Anon: I think jo(e) is referencing Edgar Bergen, who became very famous as a ventriloquist on the radio. His fame still puzzles critics.

RE: Elegant legs. I agree!

Zhoen said...

How very comfortable looking.

Anonymous said...

You can see the storied gracefulness of this gorgeous editor in her pose and quiet beauty. She exudes the kind of spirit I endeavor to cultivate.

Anonymous said...

That neck, that neck
But for a peck on that neck!

julieunplugged said...

I want that leg! She's stunning. So relaxed! Joe, there's a book in this project. You already know that, right? I can see it tastefully done paired with the photos on my coffee table next to Anne Geddes. ;^)

Sue said...

Another beautiful photo!!! Amazing.