Over at Ann Street Studios, a blog by Jamie Beck about her photography career with her husband, I found the most moving set of photos. (Here).
The above shot is just one of many that blow my mind. They were all shot on film, ostensibly by the bride, the day after Beck’s wedding one year ago.
Tina and I photograph a wedding or two a year. And I wish I had the foresight at my own wedding to take the kind of photos she took the day after her big day.
We have photographed a couple of your weddings. Xina’s anniversary was yesterday (Happy Anniversary, Xina and T!).
The thing about weddings is: the older I get, the more weird, wonderful, wonky and wounding they can become. I’ve seen friends and family go through the wringer with what they thought was “forever.”
And the people who make marriage forever, they either have secrets, and some have not-so-secret secrets, that would make a mockery of marriage seem like a parody of a blood bath.
Marriage. This so-called sacred institution that religious folks seem to hoard and hold over the heads of those whom they want to feel superior over is not all it’s cracked up to be. Not all the time, anyway.
The reality is: Marriage is real. And sometimes it feels more real than other times.
Tina and I have to pinch ourselves. We share an amazing marriage together. One that, mind you, isn’t perfect. Why just last month, we had a knockdown, blowout fight.
I can’t fucking remember.
But it was bad. She was leaving. I was taking the dog. No, she was. I would get her on weekends and every other holiday. The house was going to burn down. We were ready to flush the ideal life down the toilet.
But that’s the thing. Marriage, just like so many things in our human psyche, is an ideology. We exit childhood with the perception of its perfection. We glamorize it to a level that becomes a confusion maze of, “Oh, I guess I was wrong about that.”
We do this shit to ourselves. We lie to our children. We set unreasonable and unreachable expectations on things like marriage, friendships, family.
We show kids magazines and movies with images that lead us to believe they are a step up from regular and that they can achieve that for themselves.
We don’t expect to learn that “temptations” are easily acted upon and asking for forgiveness and admitting wrongs is so difficult. We don’t teach kids to get past stubborn, selfish insecurities fast and be quick to move on and actually listen to their partners.
We teach kids to fight, and where we don’t kill with guns, we kill with words and actions.
Sometimes I get the feeling Tina wants to hurt me. And maybe it’s because some times I want to hurt her. Why?
It’s the thrill of retaliation, perhaps.
Or the surge of strength to demolish the securities of others.
These ideologies translate to so many things. And I’ve found that as a photographer, as an artist, my ideologies are crushed more often and replaced by realities.
Take for example photographing women. Clothed women. Half-clothed. Naked women. When you’re young, and you turn the sticky pages of a Hustler magazine, you get the feeling that every women is a perfectly posed, horny hot mess of sweaty sex with a side of fulfilling every fantastical dream you’ve ever had.
When really, that woman would come with a side of all the same problems and all the brown grass that goes with any relationship. The sex with a Hustler model, with her Brazilian wax, hot boobs and irresistible ass, is really a bold-faced bitch, with a heap of daddy issues, a caddy shithead who points out her best friend’s biggest flaws, berating your mother and a penchant for screaming, “Your penis a pathetic” just after pushing her dessert plate back and stomping out of a dinner in a crowded posh restaurant downtown.
Now that I’ve spent HOURS touching up photos of the most beautiful women I’ve personally met, women of all ages, I realize that there’s no one, not one of us who are perfect. Look at a woman’s perfect mouth and eyes. Glorious. Look a little harder, and there’s an oozing, white head — like a nipple on the face — that needs to be removed. There are tufts of hair that inevitably get airbrushed. What a amazing, milky cleavage next to armpits that look like saggy vaginas.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not quitting my day job. I LOVE shooting women. I love shooting people. But the reality is, our bodies aren’t perfect.
I walk down the street, and while other guys ogle a girl, I tend to see everything I would touchup after photographing them … in gorgeous lingerie, of course.
Men don’t get a free ride. We’re all a bunch of ugly goons.
Nose hair. Ear hair. Awkward bodies. Tubby bellies. Scars. Tattoos. Weirdness all around.
Not you, mind you. That guy behind you.
But those are just appearances. Outward ones.
The more people I meet, the more married couples, the more I learn that, Holyfuckingshit, we are a screwed up lot of lovers, fighters, suckers, slappers, stinkers, foul-smelling, butt holes.
And I love every one of you.
I’m not immune to the embodiment of ugliness that will offend you to the Nth degree.
I’m still finding out how ugly people are, inside and out.
And you will, too.