Portrait of A Woman


Glenn Love
Digital Documentary Photography
December 2008

This project inspired far more conversations than my time allowed me to incorporate. Over the last few months, I think I’ve had the “how women feel about their bodies” conversation with every woman close enough to me to have it be discussable. I did a good bit of research on other photographers who have compiled similar projects as well. It has been a fascinating and enlightening process! It struck me as truly amazing how many women are unhappy with their bodies. Being one myself, you think I would have expected it, but it exceeded my expectations. Being dissatisfied doesn’t necessarily mean these women are embarrassed by or allow their imperfections to keep them from fully enjoying life, but it seems like such an extraordinary waste of our precious energy to be so concerned with things we either cannot change or don’t need to. Sure, our weight is in our own hands for the most part, but our perception of what is desirable is entirely incompatible with what is normal for some of us, making that aspect of our lives a constant uphill battle. Thus, the message I have taken from these discussions is to love and nurture all the wonderful things about yourself, and don’t dwell on your imperfections. Hardly profound, I know. But it’s a good thing to be reminded of every now and then.

Turning now to the mechanics of the project, many aspects of what it entailed were entirely new to me. I’ve always shied away from portraits, and I’ve never worked in staged situations (as all of these photos were); I have never felt comfortable with the responsibility of capturing someone’s true character with my camera. I think I’ve come to appreciate how much can be captured with a picture though. And this project allowed me to show multiple pictures and include the women’s voices too, so I feel like viewers get at least a more complete, partial-portrait of who they are.

I had never shot anyone without their clothes on either; it started off blatantly awkward, but that got better—at least on my end—as I got more experience. I learned more with each session and became more comfortable moving and directing my subjects. I did both individual and group sessions, and each had its own dynamic. I did three sessions individually, and one joint session, totaling around 320 pictures. Using audio was new too, and I realized after the fact how backwardly I approached it. I used a tape recorder (how archaic!) and then re-recorded segments to make the digital clips I used. That was a tremendous amount of unnecessary work, but I know better now.
I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, and hope it prompts thought or at least intrigue into the lives of the women featured. I would also love to hear viewers’ thoughts, regardless of the nature, so please contact me! Glenn1987@aol.com