First off let me thank you for checking out the blog. Make sure you click through the website and see what this Fort Ord : Beauty project is all about. I want to give a little background on how this project came to be, where it is at currently and where it is headed but before I do that let me introduce myself.
I was born in Grand Rapids, MI where I lived until 2008 when I moved to Monterey, CA. Before this move my only experience with photography was the occasional snap shot at a party or family picture. As I began to spend more time hiking and exploring the beautiful coastlines around Monterey, Santa Cruz and Big Sur I decided to buy a camera so my friends and family back in Michigan could see the amazing places I was going while they endured the horrors of winter. It took very little time for me to become completely enamored with the entire photographic process. In many ways, photography became a way for me to deal with the loneliness of having moved all the way across the country to a town heavily populated by retirement age people and short on social activities. I threw myself into photography in a way that I had done with very few other things in my life. It was an escape, an inspiration to get myself up, out of the house and into the beautiful nature that surrounded me.
My early photography was almost exclusively still life and landscape work that incorporated very little, if any, human elements. As my interests progressed I began to recognize that I was drawn to human images in a way I had never recognized. In many ways I think it was my background in social science, combined with my own extremely social personality that led me to take such an interest in capturing the human form. I began looking for interesting people around me to photograph and started studying the portraiture of both historical greats and the current generation of creatives. I tried to understand what it meant to actually capture the essence of a person. I wanted to find ways to create artistic images that didn't involve heavy levels of manipulation but instead presented an authentic expression of the uniqueness of each person photographed.
As part of this process, I did a shoot at an abandoned tank garage on the old Fort Ord Military base in Marina, CA. The building was an absolutely incredible backdrop filed with natural light from a wall of windows and covered with graffiti. The floors were littered with things left behind by the military and things brought in by others over the nearly 20 years since the base closed in 1994. The images from this session stood out to me as having a little something special that seemed to be missing in many of the other portraits I had done.
Three weeks after this first Fort Ord shoot, I was in the area and decided to drive by this fantastic building. I was shocked to find that it had been torn down. This was the moment the Fort Ord Beauty project was born. I was struck by the finiteness of this unique landscape and all of the great image opportunities it presented. I knew I had to shoot as much as I possibly could in the locations that remained.
I started with the idea that I would represent femininity by featuring models wearing soft, flowing material with light, neutral colors set against the rough backdrop of the abandoned spaces. After a few shoots following this theme I realized how limiting this stereotypical approach to femininity truly was. I was asking women to represent femininity in ways that didn't coincide with their own experience of it. I was subjecting them to a gender profile that was not representative of each of them individually.
Having come to this realization, I knew what the focus of the Fort Ord Beauty project would be; the aim is to create an exploration of femininity in all of it's variety, diversity and uniqueness. I expanded my reach to include women of all ages, sizes, ethnicity and social backgrounds. I now ask each one of the subjects to choose wardrobe options that they feel most accurately represents their own personal form of femininity, their own style. Many of the women have told me that they found this both difficult and enlightening as it forced them to consciously assess how they relate to the concept of femininity.
So where does the project stand today? As of yesterday I have photographed 38 women of the project goal 100. I have a very busy couple of months ahead of me but I am really enjoying this project. I want to thank all of the amazing women who have participated thus far. One of the most interesting parts for me has been meeting people from different backgrounds, hearing their stories and getting their perspectives on femininity.
Thank you for checking the project out. Make sure you go look at the amazing work the team at No More Tears is doing! You will be hearing more about them very soon on this blog.
Also check out Little Film Lab and all of the fantastic services they offer photographers. Without their partnership I would never be able to make this project nearly as beautiful.