Human Connections Through Photography3 min read

(WARNING: NSFW nude image below the cut)

I think I first picked up a real camera in 2007. My motivation, really, was to capture photos of my growing and adorable children. But it turned out that my kids hated having their photos taken. And fast forward to 2008, I find myself working with models.

An not just models; others seemed happy to let me just take photos of them while we were hanging out. The photos that resulted from this tended to be more beautiful, to me anyway. And I started trying to capture that same dynamic with models. But my success with that approach was mixed, mostly because people who show up expecting to model will want to pose. If I’m just hanging out with a friend and taking photos, I can capture them being beautiful in normal every day moments.

It was in the capturing of every day people that I found myself really most pleased. They give me only who they are, nothing more, nothing less. And it’s on me to capture that.

Sometimes I would catch them in the middle of something. A breakup, or some good news coming in… or maybe the other kind of news. There’s no “hey, act like ______”. I just get them as they are, where they are, in that moment.

It’s not that I dislike my model photography from back then. It’s not that I think it was bad. It was just another drug, just something to make the itch stop until I had a friend to hang out with that would let me photograph them.

Sometimes the best fun was hanging out with a friend, but just goofing around and seeing what we could come up with.

But at other times, the conditions were more contrived… more directed. I got some nice images from those shoots, for sure. But that’s not what I love.

Around 2014 I was really getting tired of the model shoots. I’d sort of been there, done that. You know? And while I was in it hoping to get something real, my creative collaborators often wanted something very produced. I think I got one more shoot done in 2015 and that was it. I knew I was done. And so I stopped.

But something unexpected happened. Most of the friends I’d been hanging out with stopped inviting me out when I stopped producing photoshoots. I started living a pretty solitary existence from a creative perspective. A hermit, you might say. I didn’t get out much.

2016 came and I took a new job. I was a manager in a really big company. And for a little while, that job really ate my soul. I wasn’t writing anymore. I wasn’t taking photos anymore. I had to move around a little inside of the company before I found a place where I could thrive. And I’ve been there for about 9 months now.

And now the itch is hitting me again.

I want to take photos. Real photos of authentic people. Not just young models. And not just cisgender women.

Here’s where it gets weird… as an autistic adult, social skills aren’t my strong suit. Especially getting out with people, bootstrapping friendships, taking the initiative to nurture them. I’m more the type… if I’m invited, and I’m available, I’ll show up.

So I have to have a new beginning here. Find new friends, friends who are happy to hang out and have a camera pointed at them while we’re talking… and just make like it’s not even there.

Beauty is so ephemeral, so wabi-sabi. I feel like it’s the photographer who can anticipate those fleeting moments, capture them, and allow us to cherish them before we ourselves eventually decay.