April 14, 2011

Beautiful Naked Women

Pensive

It’s tradition. When I go to a conference, I asked friends to pose naked for my blog.

It makes perfect sense, really. Most academic conferences are held in the basement of a huge hotel, with concurrent sessions held in carpeted box-like rooms. The air is stale, the walls are beige, and the lights are fluorescent and weird. Conference attendees race about with styrofoam cups of coffee, satchels of books, and laptop computers dangling in black cases.

I escape this scene by retreating to a hotel room with a friend. I adjust the settings on my camera while she strips off her clothes. We talk about the way the natural light falls on her body. Often I snapped the photo quickly, while she’s just standing, looking out the window. We don’t have time, usually, for elaborate poses, and often the best pictures are unposed.

Sometimes the woman might be someone I’ve known for years. Sometimes it’s a woman I’ve just met.

She takes off her clothes, shows me her scars. We talk.

“I could use to feel beautiful this week,” one woman said to me as she posed. And that, of course, the secret to these photos. Every woman, once she removes her clothes, is beautiful.

I am not, actually, a photographer. I’m someone who likes to listen to stories. And it’s a privilege, an amazing honor, to listen to the stories women tell me as they pose. I’ll hear stories about their childhood and about their relationships. I’ll hear the narratives hidden beneath folds of skin, words tucked into laugh wrinkles or stretch marks, words hidden beneath swirling hair. Sometimes, we’ll be in a hurry, ready to dash off to another conference session. Sometimes we talk for hours.

I get a glimpse, in these sessions, of their complex lives, their emotions and dreams, and all that makes these women so beautiful.

Just a minute

Both my models are bloggers I've known for years, but I'm going to preserve their anonymity by not even revealing their pseudonyms.

(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 and here. )

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Long live tradition! And yes, these women are beautiful. You seem especially to have a talent for finding women with gorgeous hair.

TK

Krishnan said...

Excellent photos and beautiful women. In the second photo, it would have been more beautiful if the lady had nt tied a towel around her waist. Im ready to pose Joe's blog, but as Im in India Joe is nt able to photograph me. :( :)

jo(e) said...

Krishnan: Yes, sooner or later I'll come to India and take your photo!

Heidi said...

Lovely!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

YAY for keeping the tradition going!!

Leslie F. Miller said...

I might be a lady in a towel.

You are wrong. You are a photographer. And you are a writer. And you are a storyteller. And I come back each time because you've married the three of them into one beauty.

(word verification mis rag)

jo(e) said...

Aw, thanks, Leslie. And I'm definitely going to take your photo one of these days ....

Anonymous said...

What's funny is how anonymous we really all are once we take away the conference blazers and black pants. We're all the same underneath.

julieunplugged said...

My favorite blogging tradition on the Internets! Yay! Gorgeous women with such grace! Your photography tells their stories for us. Than you.

Magpie said...

I love these posts. This one actually made me a little weepy...

Sandy said...

Such beautiful women! I'm always amazed at quickly people take their clothes off for you.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

liz said...

I love this awesome series.

Anonymous said...

This project is great. If your ever on the west coast, I will pose.

Kathy

UsedtoBlog said...

Love this series.

Sharon said...

In this day in age it is hard to deal with aging and feeling beautiful about who we are. You make us feel that no matter what we are beauty in our own skin. I am going through some issues myself and reading this helps. I wish I coudl just chat with you one day over tea.

Thanks and please do not stop. You are freeing.

Zhoen said...

A sacred gaze.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I love that you say scars and folds. The best way to hear a person's life. I'm a writer, no one needs to look perfect.