I’m at a point in my artistic life where conceptual art is most meaningful to me. I find topics that speak to me: body positivity, emotional health, biases, prejudices, and human interactions and relationships. I tend to work in series, in narratives. I feel this is an upper tier in my self-actualization as an artist. And then sometimes I want to create a beautiful picture for it’s own sake.
I think of photography like paintings. It’s not that I think of photographers who happen upon or capture slices of our reality just as it is seen as less, I just think of creating the components of my images, piece by piece, as purposeful: it gives me control, which I like to have and to manipulate. Though I like candids as much as the next photographer, I find that I rarely include them in what I consider my “fine art.”
In the case of this shoot, my subject and atmosphere fell into my lap. I needed a break from pre-meditating; I put about 30 seconds into planning and then walked across the street from my family’s front porch. I was in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia for Christmas. Not home, but where my family now lives. They moved from my home-state when I was in college and transplanted themselves to the East--at first, in a dingy, crime-ridden corner of West Virginia; now, to a beautiful, expansive mountain-scape with apple orchards swallowing every angle of scenery.
In my current life (of working, working, working, to pay off student debts, to search for career options, to take pride in my precarious financial independence) I only see my family once a year, for Christmas. Considering my emotional and creative closeness to them, this is sad. Especially in the case of my oldest younger sister, Chaste. An expanding artist, she enters her first year of college, and I see every day her steps of development and talent. I want to influence her life as a supportive older sister, but my role is limited by distance.
She is my favorite model. The first reason is that she does exactly what I tell her to do. The second, of course, her beauty. Third, her eagerness to bend to whatever bizarre artistic endeavor that I demand of her; yet I realize that these projects always blossom into a collaboration, unlike many shoots. Every time we see each other, we do a photoshoot.
Here, I styled her and plodded with her to the orchards in the fog and rain and shot her. I think these are the best images I have ever taken of Chaste. Of course, because I cannot operate artistically without a narrative, I ended up with pictures reminiscent of Snow White or Eve. Instead, Chaste and I (in retrospect and impulsive thinking-on-our-feet) consider our creation to be more of a Lilith.
Lilith, in Jewish folklore, was the first created woman, before Eve. She was Adam’s first wife, but she refused to be subservient and opted out of the garden of Eden. She’s also referred to as a demon lady. Basically, Chaste and I wanted the essence of a badass. Though it was Eve who picked and ate the apple from the garden of Eden, we envisioned our Lilith as romping around her own garden of wickedness and eating as many apples as she pleased, looking as rebellious and wayward as she possibly could.
In sum, we had a damn good time.