Be Vulnerable

2016-08-14

Too often, I’m not satisfied with my photographs. Superficially they might be ‘beautiful’ – but what do I feel when I look at them? Nothing. They’re like a pretty face that’s pleasant to look at, but exchangeable with any other, blank.

I figured that the lack of emotions is due to the fact that I’m still a beginner. My focus isn’t on conveying emotions yet. Instead, I’ve been working on the theme and atmosphere. I’ve also been playing safe, following other photographers and trying out their different styles. Things that have worked for themI’ve been copying other people’s visions instead of developing my own – just in order to make my work more likable so it reaches a bigger audience.

Fortunately, there’s music, and it inspires me in a different and better way. Music doesn’t saturate my eyes with finished pictures. Instead, it fills my heart with emotions I want to express.

I’ve loved the band Keane ever since I discovered their song Somewhere Only We Know playing SingStar at my best friend’s place seven or eight years ago. They published their last album, my favourite one, during my exchange year in Uruguay. Broken and hopeful, I listened to their songs for days – also after my return to Switzerland. No matter how lonely I felt, their music was always there for me.

Unfortunately Keane disbanded before I got the chance to see them live. In the meantime their singer, Tom Chaplin, has started his solo career and published his first song this week – the reason why I’m writing this post.

I watched the music video and from the first seconds on, I was captivated. This is it. This is exactly what I want to express with my art. The emotional song accompanied with those amazing shots in nature – perfection. The mixture I strive to achieve. I can’t let my vision lose its way, trying to please beauty standards instead of following my heart.

selfportrait-monikaFor years, Tom fought against his drug addiction, finally liberating himself two years ago. His songs are about the transition from darkness back to life and happiness. I love how open and vulnerable he is about his experience.

With my photography, I want to express our vulnerability. I want to show that all of us hit rock bottom and are close to giving up at some point – but somehow find the strength to rise again, stronger than before. There’s nothing more beautiful than vulnerability, no matter whether it’s conveyed by writing, music or photography.

It’s challenging to create this kind of art because it requires us to open up and show your innermost self. To be honest, I never thought I’d take self-portraits that show so much skin like the one on top of this post. I grew up in a very conservative environment in that regard so I was quite skeptical before publishing it. Will I regret it? What if people judge me?

Finally I published it, knowing that I’ll never get where I want to be if I don’t take the first step, make myself vulnerable and open up to criticism.

I’m a big believer in the concept of vulnerability. We’re only able to see each other for who we really are if we decide to put our armour down. That allows us to connect in a more meaningful way. I want to connect with you through my blog/conversations and my photography.

The hardest part besides learning how to express vulnerability through photography is probably finding models who are willing to open up and expose themselves like that. However, I believe that when I go ahead as an example, I’ll find people who join me soon enough.

Back to Keane, my inspiration – I know their music is not everyone’s taste, but there are so many fans like me who can relate to it and love it. That’s the kind of art I want to create. It doesn’t have to please everybody, but as long as it’s raw, honest and inspiring to at least some people, I’m more than happy.

One day I’ll hopefully create photos that are emotionally as powerful as their music.

59 Comments
    1. It sounds like you and your photography skills are evolving. It takes vulnerability to grow. I admire the work you are doing. Cheers!

      1. Thank you so much for your ongoing support, Christopher! I really appreciate it a lot. Take care and have a lovely week :) saludos desde Uruguay!

    1. Very courageous… opening up and being vulnerable is difficult, but that’s what’s required to get the subject really imprinted in a photograph. Congratulations for the beautiful insight. I wish you’d continue capturing those emotions in a photograph.

      Hey, it’s weird, I was going to write something about music and photography too actually, but I decided to put in on hold, hehehe, and then this! :) I too listen to songs and get inspired. It helps me boost what I wanna tell my audience through photos. And this song, Dark Water and Stars by Natural Calamity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyjmXO494z4, is my safety net (if you may) most of the time.

      Your portrait photography is very good as it is, and your realization will only make it better. :)

      1. Thank you so much for your comment (and sorry I haven’t replied to the others yet)!

        Yeah I really hope I can capture more emotions in my portrait work too. It’s definitely not an easy journey but I’m willing to work hard for that.

        Oh, that’s really cool, I hope you’ll publish the post soon :)) I checked out the song and liked it, it’s very soothing. Very interesting to see what kind of music inspires other photographers – thanks for sharing :)

        And thank you for the compliment :)) hugs from Uruguay!

    1. The higher love ,the love for self,self acceptance needs us to be vulnerable. We have to drop our armor; that is painful. WE need not to be constantly on guard. we need to drop the calculating mind. we have to risk. we have to live dangerously. The other can hurt us and this is the fear in being vulnerable. The other can reject us… that is the fear in being in love with oneself,accepting oneself……

      When we have become vulnerable it means we have become vulnerable for both God and the Devil — light and dark, love and hate — IN REALITY WE HAVE NOW BECOME AVAILABLE FOR BOTH OPPOSITES……..not at all bad this beautiful MONIKA.
      It is you who have chosen not to suffer, so you are closed. but see it may not be suffering but you will feel see that your life is a boredom, because although you don’t suffer as much as you will suffer if you are open, there is no blessing either.
      The door is closed,yes it already closed because there is — no morning, no sun, no moon enters, no sky enters, no fresh air, everything has gone stale. And in fear you are hiding there. It is not a house where you are living; you have already converted it into a grave. Your cities are graveyards, your houses are graves. Your whole way of life is that of a dead man.
      Courage is needed to be open — courage to suffer, because blessing only becomes possible then. And this is one thing I see you understand but at times tend to forget……spending time with self besides thinking about modelling,photography,all philosophy of life just be with you,yourself……you have accepted yourself now let this deeply penetrate in yourself that yes I am what I am…not worried about what others say ,I do my best and everything I do is from my self from inner self and then you will see everything is very beautiful ,everything is lovely wonderful because you yourself are beautiful,lovely,wonderful.
      Time for you to come out of the self created fear…….

      1. Thank you so much for taking your time to write those beautiful words! I believe you are right. I love the metaphor you used – I definitely don’t want to house death in my home. Instead, I want to open the windows and let both sunshine and fresh air, but also the storms in :)

        Thanks for the reminder and have a wonderful week. Take care!

      1. Beautifully written, our brain computes assumptions provided by society which block the traffic of information our soul requires. Once we remove the assumptions the soul begins to process and the brain becomes it’s secondary entity.

    1. It’s great that you’re moving towards finding your own voice now–the mark of a true, growing artist. Good luck, looking forward to seeing those photos of vulnerability :)

      1. Thanks for your comment, Raf! :)) haha now I feel pressured ;) what’s your focus in photography at the moment?

        1. Lately I’ve narrowed down the style I’d like for my photos–dark and dreary a la Taxi Driver. Have you seen that film? Travis is a character I can (unfortunately) relate to very much, so I’d like to see my photos project the same kind of self-inflicted isolation and contradiction

          1. Unfortunately I haven’t, but it’s very interesting that you decided to focus on that! Also, I didn’t realise that movies (or movie characters) can be a source of inspiration too, but it totally makes sense. I’ll try to watch the movie soon. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Ich finde es unglaublich mutig von dir, dieses Foto dir zu posten. Und ich liebe es! Es passt auch einfach perfekt zu deinem Post. Ich bewundere dich dafür. So offen zu sein, anderen sein Innerstest zu zeigen ist nicht einfach. Ich wünsch dir alles Gute, Moni :*

      1. Herzlichen Dank für deine lieben Worte, Mara! ♥ freue mich immer sehr darüber von dir zu hören. Ich bin noch lange nicht da, wo ich sein möchte, aber so Kommentare ermutigen mich weiterzugehen und meinen Ängsten nicht nachzugeben. Ich hoffe, dass es dir gut geht ♥

    1. A thought while reading your lines: I realize I might like your self portraits most… To me, your poses almost always show vulnerability. I am not at all sure about this, but maybe an artist’s body can become an element of her/his work. Maybe, on the other hand, we’ll want to translate what we have to say into something more detached from ourselves. And maybe I am babbling…

      1. Gosh, you’re totally right! A model admiringly told me once that I always pull off those poses, but I never realised till your comment that it’s something in my photography I do better than most of the people I photograph – probably because I fully trust myself and know what I’m going for. I definitely have to work on the trust and communication with my models .. thank you for your comment! I feel enlightened :D

    1. A beautiful journey to begin! And yes, I think your photography is beginning to show that vulnerability. We can only reach others when we are willing to set ‘us’ aside and all the packaging we think we need.

      1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Deborah! I’m really glad to hear that :)) take care! x

    1. I think I know what you are talking about, I get the same feeling about my writing. Sometimes I don’t write about some topics or I delete some sentences in order not to risk. I give up my voice or point of view to please more people – or, better, not to displease. But I guess that’s what life is about- and my life is A LOT about this right now: finding yourself. And vulnerability is the only right path.
      I love you and your photos and I can’t wait to meet you again! <3

      1. I might be able to give you a piece of advice concerning the writing problem: find enough people (other bloggers preferably) who support you and don’t judge. The last couple of months, since my posts have become more open, I created the new habit of first publishing it here in WordPress, let it sink in, and only after some days share it on Facebook with the people I know. At that point, I don’t worry about what they could think anymore (and since the statistics show that I have some ‘silent readers’ that are people from Switzerland who know me, I just tell myself that they don’t read it – hope you get what I mean).
        And yes, I think through our work we’re striving to find and express ourselves so we can connect with others better.
        I love you too and am looking forward to the next time we meet!! <3 big hugs from Uruguay!

    1. I think you just need to find out what you’re most passionate about in this life—and then let your camera be the vessel through which you express that passion. Then, your photographs will be truly powerful. And I think you’re right about the beauty of vulnerability. It was always a part of God’s original plan for us.

      1. That sounds like a great idea, thank you for the inspiration! I’m currently really trying to figure out where my blog and photography should head.. thank you for your comment and have a wonderful week <3

    1. “There’s nothing more beautiful than vulnerability, no matter whether it’s conveyed by writing, music or photography.”

      I really like that.

    1. I am simply your fan. Love for your emotions expressed in these writings.. so frank and delicate.

      1. Aw, thank you so much! I’m happy to hear this, very kind of you! :)) have a lovely weekend!

    1. Hi Monika.

      I am glad I stumbled across your blog. I look forward to reading more of it. Keep up the great work!

      Rolain

      1. Hi Rolain, thank you very much! I’d love to hear from you again. Have a wonderful weekend :)

    1. Being vunerable is hard, and I would imagine it would be harder behind a camera. But if it’s a desire then it will come from your seeking. Recently, I found a quote from Ernest Hemingway (I love quotes!) “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” I like that you’re not afraid to tackle a tough issue like vunerability, truth in any form is beautiful. Enjoy your view.

      1. You know, thanks to all the encouragement I got lately (like in the last two weeks) it’s become relatively easy :)) I’m so glad I have supportive people like you around! Thanks for sharing the quote! I wonder what he was talking about..

    1. Being vulnerable is never easy, so I commend you for taking the risk and posting these photos here where anyone can see them. I also think it’s impressive that you’re so candid about the times when you felt alone and depressed, because sharing such experiences with so many people takes courage too!

      Based on the way you’re starting off, I think you’ll develop your photography into something very powerful.

      1. I’m super late, but thank you so much for your comment, Josh! I think the scary thing is not sharing these experiences on my blog where strangers can read it, but rather where people I “kinda know”, acquaintances, classmates etc. can find it too. Their judgement is more imminent. But I get the feedback that what I do is encouraging/inspiring/etc. so that helps a lot :)

        Thank you for believing in me! I hope you’re doing well.

    1. I firmly believe you must be the atmosphere you want to create. It’s like a relationship – you put out what you want in return. If you want to photograph vulnerability you must be and show them vulnerability or you will never get that out of them. Bravo to you for taking that step! Great post!

      1. I’m sorry for my late reply – thank you so much for your comment! That sounds like an amazing piece of advice, thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful Sunday :)

    1. Good Evening Monika,
      thank you for looking into Agnellus Mirror and liking what you saw there.
      If you hadn’t told me the top picture was about vulnerability, it would not have struck me that way. I’d have seen a secure woman (if not Everywoman) about to look up and begin to tell her story.

      Which you are doing.

      Will.

      1. Hi Will, thank you for your comment! It’s so interesting that you saw something very different in my photo. I hope you’re doing well, take care and sorry for the delay!

      1. Thank you so much for your kind feedback ♥ and for following me – I appreciate your support! Have a wonderful weekend x

    1. Hi Monika,

      Being vulnerable is a big part of art and I admire your courage to put yourself and your work out in the world. It is a scary thing to do, to put your stuff out without knowing what sort of comments you will get back.

      Personally, I often wondered how I will feel about the comments I would get from people and there’s still a lot of self-exploration about my emotions and how I handle praise and criticism. I may not be sure how you are feeling exactly when you are being vulnerable but I am guessing that this could be one of the many facades of feeling vulnerable.

      Look forward to your journey in capturing what makes us humane in your photographs. All the best~

      1. Hi, I’m so sorry, I must have missed your comment! :o Thank you so much for your kind words :)
        So far, I’ve been getting lots of kind support for what I’m doing. I’m sure there are people who don’t like it as well, but that’s okay, I don’t really mind when I know that there are people who support me too :)

        I hope you’re doing well! Hugs from Switzerland :)

    1. You liked a note I published on WordPress, so only fair that I reciprocated, right? Seldom that one piques my interest, however, your writing feels true and worth enjoying. Keep it going.

      So….thanks for the like. I will remember to return, no doubt. Cheers.

      ps- funny how the most gifted are typically the most succumbed to doubt and critical of the self

      L

      1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, L! Take care and have a lovely week :)

    1. I happened across your page and am very moved much of the content… in a lump in the throat kind of way.. what a beautiful site..

    1. Photos are unique. They capture a moment in time that was only there for a fleeting glimpse. They also capture the vulnerability of that moment. Each one is your own special artwork😊

    1. Those who are willing to be vulnerable are the strongest ones. I admire your courage!

    1. The hardest thing for the most people is to give yourself up to others, to open the soul for all to see. It takes strength of character most of us do not have. Great photos.

      Tim

    1. Loved this post. I would love to learn how to take beautiful photos too. Very raw. Followed and subscribed.

      Check out my blog sometime? I’ve partnered with some friends at Illumena.storenvy.com to give away free jewelry for every new email subscriber! Check it out? https://noirerewritten.com/freebies/

      Thanks,

      Mena

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