(or — thoughts on coming out during a global pandemic)
I straightened my back. Inhaled a bit. Exhaled. Threw the black smock on and lined my shoulders up to create a series of angles with the soft filtered Seattle winter light coming through the window. One of these pictures will work. With a camera on a tripod, I wouldn’t know for certain which would turn out.
I haven’t practiced portrait work in a while. Not since what started out as being called in jest The Before Times. I haven’t had anyone to practice with besides myself in over a year.
The Seattle talent gigs are full of photographers begging for new models to give up time in exchange for portfolio refresher pieces. But we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. Being the one taking pictures, I somehow rarely end up with many of me. I’m not a daily selfie taker. Humans are rarely my subject work.
The last time I posed as a model, I accidentally became stock photography available for purchase on Getty Images. For the fourth time. I worked as a model from 2009–2014 and still find my own face sometimes. Which is hilarious, because most computers seem to struggle with uneven melanocyte destruction caused by vitiligo. I’ve been a challenge for my photography classmates and an undesirable model historically — Winnie Harlow being the first mainstream model to help a world see our skin variation as anything other than disfiguring.
I don’t know if that’s because I don’t understand what I look like to myself — constantly creating my own mental Photoshop over my own skin. Or is it that I have always hated being the one in front of the camera unless it was for work?
In April 2020, when we still lived in Montana, zero active COVID 19 cases was an achievable dream. We did achieve it in our imaginations for almost a week before we had accurate reporting. The reason Montana achieved it was because of state border restrictions, masking guidelines, a low, diffuse-density population, a strong early intervention response, and by keeping everyone at home. And that previous thing I…