It’s something I have never been good at feeling in my life. Up until fairly recently, I wanted to control everything down to the smallest of details because I didn’t like not knowing what was next for me. I had trouble focusing on individual moments, because my brain was always focused on the “big picture” of my 1/3/5 year plans.
Recently, I decided to be more vulnerable. I started to speak my mind even if it was a thought or opinion that could be uncomfortable. I went to places that sounded fun even if I didn’t know who else would be there. I asked cute people to hang out with me. I wore clothes that I liked even though my thighs aren’t thin or toned. And about a month ago, participated in photo project of the amazing Jedediah Johnson. The Makeout Project explores the act of kissing and each portrait is different in the length of the kiss, the intimacy, etc. This quote I read from him in a Huffington Post article was particularly interesting to me:
"I’m trying to sort of divorce kissing from an intimate act…. The idea that a kiss has to be romantic, I’m sort of trying to question that truth." This really spoke to me & made me even more intrigued than I already was about potentially participating in this project.
As an art lover (and maybe a bit of a narcissist) I committed to being involved when his Makeout Tour came through Cincinnati. It wasn’t until that day that I really thought about it though. I asked a friend to participate and their response was “is he hot?” I hadn’t thought about that. I had no idea who this guy was. I had only seen his hand in these photos. But how important was that in this project? Is my attraction to whoever I am participating in this with important or not? A couple other friends who were going to participate mentioned that they’d need to be drunk to do it, which made me think maybe I needed to as well. Spending a few moments thinking about this though, I realized this is another opportunity for me to be vulnerable and to have an experience in my life that might be weird, uncomfortable or awkward—- or it could be amazing, fun and empowering. Using alcohol to make myself comfortable with a situation seemed counterintuitive to the entire point of this experience.
I realized through thinking about all of this that The Makeout Project wasn’t just a one sided series just for Jedediah to shoot, print and hang in a gallery, it is also a big experience for those being photographed as well. While standing in front of a camera always creates a bit of vulnerability for the model, The Makeout Project took that vulnerability to the next level— for all involved. As a photographer myself, I loved how connected this series makes the model & photographer in the creation of the photo. I loved that Jedediah’s involvement is more than just pressing a button (as most of my shoots I am just sitting on my invisible director’s chair telling the model what to do while I can be positioned comfortably behind the camera). I loved the sense of fear and excitement in the set-up and the act itself. And, on a personal note, I loved being put into a position of feeling butterflies, fear, excitement and vulnerability that manifested itself into a fun afternoon with some of my closest friends and a beautiful portrait of myself.
The Smallest Slice of Revenge
from Jedediah Johnson's Makeout Project.
This is Jesse Fox. Looking at her photography makes me feel inadequate sometimes. I guess looking at her in general does too.
Shot at Famous Neons Unplugged in Over-The-Rhine in Cincinnati