Beauty and Beholden

This past Monday, I had another photo shoot with my photographer, Celeste Giuliano. It marked the thirteenth photo setup I’ve done with Celeste, since 2007. Of course, it being the thirteenth shoot, we were cursed with a few difficulties (late trains, blown lights, and rain!), but I had an amazing time, as I always do.

I first started these photo shoots as a way to feel better about myself. I’ve never considered myself a Gorgon, but, I’d started to feel plain, unnoticed. Kind of worthless, actually. Especially when I looked around and saw all these beautiful others, who weren’t me.

Gorgone ceramica

By Italiamoderna at it.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Celeste’s pinup shoot sounded like a great idea to get out of my personal rut. I contacted her, and she sent me some possible photo ideas. I started simple, but, over time, experience, and nurturing, I feel like I’ve really grown into the sexy, assertive woman I’d always wanted to be. Testament to the true photographic auteur she is, Celeste has given me a lot of free reign over the years, too, to push outside the boundaries of “typical” pinup shoots. I went from a rather tame Veronica Lake look, to an Andrews Sister nosecone pinup,Β  girl boxer, 30s vintage Follie, a dark-haired Barbarella, and beyond.

Pinups_CollageAs well as being inspired to do these photo shoots, they also inspire me. For days, even weeks, after a shoot, whenever I look into a mirror, I remember how empowered it feels to be proud of who I am. I don’t see the flaws in myself, but what makes me beautiful. I try to remember those feelings when I look at my work, too.

When we review scenes, chapters, or whole stories for editing, we often focus on the imperfections. That’s not a criticism of editing and revision; it’s important for us to note where our stories can be stronger, what we can change to make them better. But, sometimes, in seeing all those imperfections, we can lose sight of what’s beautiful.

Never forget the essence of your story. It may not be as handsome, as charming, as strong, or as popular as the one you saw while strolling through the aisles of your book shop. But it’s got its own beauty. Nurture that. If you do, you’ll feel – like I did, after my latest photo shoot – like you’re fifty feet tall.

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11 thoughts on “Beauty and Beholden

  1. Those photos are wonderful! Do they ever give you insights into any of your characters? I love the way you combined your perceptions about your looks with our perceptions about our writings. As you might guess, this post really strikes home with me. I need to regain this perspective with Death Out of Time. And your post is helping me to begin thinking about it more positively. Thank you for that!

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    • I’m glad to hear that, JM!

      We all need some time to look at things objectively. Too often, objectivity can turn into negativity, especially when we look at our work (or our bodies). No work of art is perfect, just like no body is perfect. We need to remind ourselves that there’s beauty in imperfection, too. πŸ™‚

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  2. I love your photo shoots! You look fabulous and feisty! πŸ™‚ Great takeaway too about remembering the essence of your story. You are so right. Every day I remember the three things I messed up, not the 300 I did right. I’ve got to work on that. Thanks for the reminder.

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    • Thanks, Kourtney! These shoots are always a blast to do. I feel lucky to have found a photographer who “gets” me, too.

      I know I get so caught up with what’s wrong with my work, that I often forget what I enjoy about it. Outside comments help a lot with that, but I think many of us are our own harshest critics. Being critical doesn’t have to mean being negative, though. πŸ™‚

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        • Thanks, Kourtney. I think every artist of any sort is their own worst critic, most of the time. And, it’s important to be tough on ourselves. But it can be quite refreshing to let go of that when we need to do. The trick is knowing when to be harsh and when to be forgiving. I’m still learning that bit. πŸ™‚

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  3. These photos are always awesome to see, and I’m glad you enjoy them so much. I think my personal favorite is the “nosecone art” style. Big surprise, I realize.
    And it’s true that when a story comes together in its full power, you do feel pretty unbeatable.

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    • Thanks, Shade. The nosecone one was fun because it was so simple; I think I did the hoop one the same day. I do enjoy pushing the boundaries, too, though.

      My writing is really going through a rough patch, right now. A hectic lifestyle is simply not conducive to good writing, as I’m sure you know!

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  4. Mayumi! I’m so glad I have returned from my internet holiday in time to see this post. I love the essence of what you are saying here – and also those photos – it’s empowering just seeing how you look for each set-up. Go girl!! Great to be back. Hope you’ve been well xx

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    • Thanks, Gabriela! I love getting the prints for my shoots, but it’s really about the “me” experience. I have no real vices, except I’m an insufferable ham in front of a camera! πŸ˜€

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