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Series: “I Do Too” – Samantha

I Do Too – A Series

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Although I make my living photographing commercially some of my most important work is the work I do for personal reasons. I feel that photography can be a powerful medium to convey concepts and feelings. I’m fortunate to have an almost endless source of friendships of people in the arts, people like myself who have chosen to make their living pursuing their passion. Not for the all mighty buck, but for the sheer joy of creating and sharing. Those of us lucky enough to enjoy the blessing of doing what we love as a living are NOT immune to the insecurities we all share as humans.

I have long believed that those thoughts and feelings we hold as the most private, the most personal are also the most universal to all humanity. Doubt, fear, insecurity, self doubt can creep into the most secure person’s thoughts and in some cases can severely debilitate an individual and in the worst cases fear can render a person helpless to find a way out.

I have always contended that my primary reason for choosing photography as my method of expression is simply to meet people. I’m so blessed to encounter hundreds if not thousands of individuals as I journey through life. And almost to a person, I often hear “Oh I really hate having my photo taken, I’m not photogenic at all.” Yet as I look through my lens I invariably witness a beauty that has almost always escaped the consciousness of its owner. In a world filled with media we are bombarded with what ‘should be’ the right look, right clothing, right this and that. And in so many ways the very things we view dehumanizes our society. Some recent tragic events have also highlighted that no amount of notoriety, accolades or wealth can stop negative self talk or doubt. No one can do what only you can do for yourself, being kind to yourself.

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So I’ve decided to start and continue a new series, “I Do Too” which will explore the world we seldom mention, except to ourselves; our worst doubts, fears and negative self talk. My first person for this project is Samantha, who I have photographed many times, but during a recent publicity session we were able to work one on one rather than in a production setting. Samantha is a physically beautiful young woman, yet as I looked into her eyes I could see and feel her self doubt, it was palpable.

A few days later I was prompted to begin a conversation with Sam to find out why she seemed so uncomfortable in our session. The feelings she shared with me were very personal, yet so universal to every human being. The feeling of not being good enough, not fitting or not being pretty enough is so pervasive in our society and without reason.

So I asked Sam if she would consider being part of my project and to my surprise she was enthusiastic about the series. I went to her home late one night and simply asked her where she felt most safe when she had thoughts and feelings of self doubt. “My bedroom and my bed is where I go.” So as we began to talk about the thoughts and feelings she has when she’s low I began to photograph her. It takes a lot of courage to let down one’s guard to discuss fear and self doubt. Add to that being photographed in a manner and situation that is not by any measure common shows the heart of a lion!

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What Sam shared with me is of course private and always will be. But I can say that the very fears and doubts we shared I’ve heard from hundreds of people throughout my lifetime. My hope is as we talk together we find that what we feel is so uniquely ‘ugly’ in ourselves are the most common doubts and fears for everyone. And in those most private of moments we can look upon ourselves with compassion and beauty and begin to judge ourselves as we judge others, with grace and kindness. It all begins with the journey within.  Thanks for your trust and your courage Sam. Love, Mark

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