Why Women being naked is important.

So here we go. 

I posted some of these photos on Instagram yesterday knowing that, despite these images being clearly artistic, tasteful and empowering, that it would be taken down for the censorship of the female nipple. I knew it was coming, but I posted it anyway to get a conversation started. I was upset, not because my work has to be altered and censored in order to be viewed, but because of the message it sends that women's bodies are sexual objects, graphic, inappropriate, pornagraphic, etc. Male nipples are the same thing and never censored for nudity. And this isn't about wanting to have a nipple out, it's about demystifying the female body and unveiling the taboo around the over-sexualization of our bodies. That even we are fully clothed we are harassed, and sexual violence taken against us to only be asked " What were you wearing? " The taboo of our bodies makes the porn industry thrive. If we freed the illusion that this body wasn't a sexual object, financial empires would crash. When women are shamed for using their breasts to feed their children, the actual utility they were made for, it's largely because breasts in society are only seen as something sexual, so it's gross when they are normal. Therein lies the dysfunction. Hear me when I say this, it's not about wanting the right to show ourselves naked, it's about wanting to free ourselves from being shamed and the violence that's committed against us because our bodies are taboo or feared. They are powerful and delicate, grow life in our wombs, birth them and then feed them, on top of carry the burden that it's our responsibility to not tempt others to commit violence on them. If the female body is subjected to censorship when it's presented as powerful and artistic, it's because it's offensive for those who can't see how beautiful they are without sex being the intention. I can see tons of men with their shirts off without getting aroused because I'm used to seeing it. But if the rules where the same? That mystery of what's underneath might make most women see men differently. It's like when people turn 21 and get so wasted because they can finally drink, get so sick after because it was so taboo for them to drink but now they can, and they go out of control. But if your parents demystified the taboo and had wine on the table at dinner and it was something you had in your environment, you wouldn't feel the need to go out and get wasted, because what's the big deal? It's just alcohol.  But if boobs where everywhere in the same capacity that male ones are, it would be like "What's the big deal?" the taboo would be erased and sex wouldn't sell. Most of what's viewed of women is behind closed doors, fantasized and perverted but perversion can't live in the light...So welcome to the light show. 

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.
— John F. Kennedy

Religion and modesty is specific to each person's preferences, but I'm an artist. So the way I think is not according to what society demands because I have to constantly challenge myself to think outside of the box. It's necessary. And the type of artist I am, is not even political, but I always want to empower my subject. Bring light and beauty to the world and make a safe place for people to accept themselves. I knew going into this, this would be the issue, but knowing that people are still shocked by a female nipple, they will be less shocked the more and more they see it. This is why it's important for women to be naked. Our bodies to no longer be shamed, sexualized, and as natural as men's bodies. Welcome to freedom and taking our bodies back.

This only inspires me to shoot more work like this, like I've wanted to for years but had been too afraid of speaking my truth but that's all over now. There will be more of this. A lot more.  

My Philosophy on Family Photos

I have a lot of inquiries as to whether or not I shoot family photos. You rarely see them on my social media or website, because to tell the truth, I don't often enjoy shooting them. It's not that I don't love kids or that I'm not good with them ( quite the opposite actually) but it's the stress that's always involved. "But aren't weddings stressful Alea" YES they are, but I'm still allowed to do the part of photography I love most, which is be a photojournalist and tell a story. Somewhere out there someone decided what "Family Photos" should look like, and I didn't get any say in the matter. So parents come to me with what they think they are supposed to do and the Pinterest photos they want, rightfully so, and I have to try to fit into the mold on what their vision is. That is not the part that bothers me, rather, it's the pressure tied to it for the children. The children are introduced to this stranger that is holding a foreign object in their face, they are wearing something they likely don't wear everyday, they are taken to a place they have likely never been before, its hot, or its cold, or there are dogs around that they just want to pet for the love of god, or its loud, or the energy is just off and it makes them cry. They don't want to smile or sit still, or listen to this stranger squeezing a loud toy to get their attention - all for a "good" photo. I have to try to reassure the parents that the kids always cry, they aren't the only ones and their " She never acts like this" or " I don't know what's gotten into him, he must need a nap" embarrassment isn't necessary but something makes them feel bad, like they failed at something. They are stressed that their normally well behaved and attentive child is acting out the one time they really need them to do them a solid ( especially since money is involved. )

The truth is, the kids read our energy and when we are stressed about "making something happen" boy o' boy that feels uncomfortable to them. There is too much pressure to have this picture perfect family, and from the likes of pinterest and instagram we've put in our heads this idea of how this little life should look. Personally, I don't like it. I've skimmed the surface of what I could do with families because the lack of photojournalism and authenticity makes it hard for me to do what I do best - which is tell a story. While some photographers are great with the setups and props and posing babies in the perfect little flower ( which is so darn cute I have to admit) I would make rather capture your kid playing in the mud or you guys having a real moment, that you always have when I'm not there. So when you look back at your family you remember "Oh, Indi used to love playing with cars...she would never leave the house without at least two of them." Instead of having a really cute photo but stressful memories of " Allie would not stop crying the whole time, but we finally got the shot." 

I would like permission to change the expectation and let the kids be kids. For me to come to your home for a couple of hours and hang out and capture your family as you are...rather than what you think you should be. These are moments I feel like will be more important as the time they stay that little goes by so fast. The children grow up, and move on and what you have left of the story of your growing family changes at light speed.  I don't believe those moments should be retrofitted into a box of what was trendy at the time, rather...how you would like to remember them. 

We walk into people's homes and see the traditional family portrait gracing the walls in matching outfits, and while there is a place for that, is that who your family is? Is that what represents your life best in those moments? I'm not asking to get rid of the "family photo" rather, if you're reading this and coming to me for portraits that it is because you want me to tell your family's story. ...whatever the story is that day. 

The Myth of Masculinity.

I've recently become intrigued by the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man. With all my travels lately, I have begun to observe and experience men with different societal expectations and gender roles. In those encounters, I've found certain experiences to lead me to the conclusion that American masculinity or at least the definition of it, is a deep chasm of idiosyncrasies that are predicated on a false idea of what manhood really means. This kind of American Machismo that is taught from childhood such as "man up!" or "Boys don't cry", being made fun of for being too sensitive, or having to lie about their virginity and brag about sexual conquests to gain street cred, has limited our men in the range of behaviors they are allowed to exhibit. The idea if boys are mean to us or pull our hair that means they like us. "Boys will be boys" enforcing when they misbehave, that boys are innately unruly or unkind. One of the few male emotions that is seen as manly is aggression or anger. But if a man, doesn't show anger to being disrespected he's pressured to react impulsively rather than praised for being calm. I see so many couples walking around here with the girl holding his arm with his hand in his pocket, as if he's not really with her... because if really loves openly, or shows affection he is criticized for being "whipped". If he cries or get emotional, he's a "pussy" ( which lets be clear should be a compliment, pussy's are very strong). Being a man means being the antithesis of anything feminine and seeing such a dichotomy after my travels has shown me we have given our men a very narrow view of what masculinity is. Their masculinity is constantly up for question of what it means to be a " Real man." But what qualifies as real? It's something that they constantly have to prove... instead of get to be. And when a man is sensitive or outside of our manufactured ideals, we almost don't know what to do with it. 

These are my own thoughts and observations. As a feminist I believe that as we empower women and dispel the myths and social constructs that damage us, I believe that should also include the ideals and constructs that damage men. I have started this personal project to dispel the narrow idea of what "being a man" looks like. For my first one, I focused on the tears. I think it takes great courage for a man to be able to cry these days.