I’m stymied by beauty. Mystified when confronted by what I think it is in my field of vision, and confounded by the intellectual and political grappling that has to be done in order to even attempt to explain it, get a handle on it, wrestle with it. What is it? And is it purely socialization that accounts for my own and others’ orientation towards it? I know nothing.
I do know though, that I’m increasingly wary of exposing myself and my family online, and yet I do it, I continue to do it, as so many of us do. I think they’re so beautiful (my kids)! And yet, because of everything, I’m wary of telling my daughter that I think she’s beautiful. She is so much more: brilliant, hilarious, insightful, wise, sensitive. And somehow the latter amplifies her beauty. It’s blinding, to me. The very same goes for my sons, and I tell them so all the time.
I also find my friends beautiful. And I know that I have many friends whose faces plastered on a billboard would not be considered beautiful by the casual observer, and yet I know them and love them so well that all I see when I see them, is beauty.
I have always considered hiring a professional photographer for pregnancy photos, but there was never enough money, and I brushed the practice off as self-indulgent–narcissistic even. It’s also the case that I don’t necessarily find most pregnancy photos appealing to my own taste–I’m not a fluffy, cutesy or precious sort of person–although I can see and appreciate the adorableness of all those photos that I can’t imagine myself actually occupying!
But when I met Chantal Richard-Mercier, and she told me she is a photographer, I didn’t even need to look at her photos to know that her aesthetic aligned with mine. She is such a stylish understated person, and I loved her right away. When I finally did see her work (at Tall Grass Photography) I was blown away–pensive, thoughtful images, with a hint of playfulness. It was right.
The day of our shoot though, was just awful! I had had a rip-roaring fight with Lee and had decided that we were definitely getting a divorce, and that was that. But we trudged up to the field behind our house anyway, and the evening sun beamed through the trees, and somehow Chantal’s mellow presence managed to coax out of me some semblance of grace–outward, anyway–and I was kind of flabbergasted to see the gorgeous results. Even though the images really are kind of incandescently lovely (and truthfully, I am not) Chantal still managed to capture what I think is a me-ness and an us-ness about the photos. I’m in there somewhere, amid the gorgeousness, and I don’t look like a wedding cake, which is quite nice.
I also love the photos of the kids, and even the one or two which include Lee, while he was sour and sulking.
Maybe it is entirely self-indulgent, but I’m happy to have them, and I’m glad my kids will have them to look at and to show their own children.
I do feel lucky, and privileged to feel beautiful during my pregnancies, whatever that means, and however little that is worth, so I suppose that at this stage, I may as well accept and enjoy it.
Photographer Chantal just discovered that one of her gorgeous self-portraits was accepted by the Voice Image Portrait competition. So well-deserved! Congrats, Chantal.