Thursday, December 30, 2010

Transcendence- Ace

A new photograph from Transcendence.  I really love this photograph and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet awesome people like Ace.

Ace, 2010


"My name is Ace.  I identify as male (female-to-male). I've been out in the community as male since I was 14 years old.  I knew who I was at 11 years old.  I was always looked at as the tough "lesbian" since I was little, but always referred to myself as queer/gay.

Being an FTM of color, people already give me the stereotype of a dark skin, bad behaving person, that has no morals. Even when I completely pass as a guy I am still looked down upon as someone of lesser value in certain places.  I have seen some people respect me more for being an FTM of color and others look at me like I am only doing it to try to pass as a male just to have power in society.

Facing many different challenges in my life has made me a stronger person today, and I wouldn't change anything.  Something people don’t know about me is that I can be a hopeless romantic, and I enjoy being a shoulder for others in need."  -Ace

Monday, December 27, 2010

Transcendence- Micah and Michelle

Two more new photographs from Transcendence:

Micah, 2010


Michelle and Micah, 2010


"Transcendence.  Being yourself in spite of the world. What does it mean for me that I have embraced my transgender identity? It means that I can now look at my body and all of its flaws with pride and a genuine smile. It means being able to look in the mirror and marvel at the way that my Creator God made me. It means that the world finally makes sense. It means that I can sit before you exposed knowing that you are looking at a 300 pound person without fear of judgment.  I can see me for the first time and not the weight. It means that you are finally seeing the real me. With each and every day that comes I am able to present more and more of who I really am to the world. And that is the beautiful miracle of me coming out to myself as transgender... I am no longer a foreigner living in a strange body but rather me living in a body that I reclaim and am now reshaping into who I was created in the flesh to be... A man created for the purpose of serving God."  -Micah

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Transcendence- Jesse

I have recently been making a lot of new photographs for Transcendence, shooting in color and collecting stories from my subjects.  I am only in the beginnings of this new part of the project, but I'm very excited about it.  Yesterday I got my first batch of color negatives back, and below is one of my favorite portraits of a wonderful person, Jesse.

Jesse


"For years I thought that what I had been feeling inside would eventually dissipate.  I was afraid that I'd lose people.  I never really felt like a man or wanted to be a man, I just knew I wasn't a woman and I wanted to be comfortable with my body and for the dysphoria to go away.  I wished I could be comfortable being somewhere in between.  I longed to know what inner peace felt like.  Though I now look like a man, blending in in the world and never standing out, I still feel like I'm somewhere in between except now things finally feel right.  That's the only way that I know how to explain it.  My identity is ever-evolving.  Today, I am just a happy guy who happens to be trans and queer.  Ask me next week and it will likely have changed a bit." - Jesse

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New photos from Open View

Here are some new photos from Open View.  As you can see by the weather, it takes me a little while to edit and scan, so these photos are from late September, but I've been shooting regularly since then and will have more photos to post soon.

Puja preparing Cow for the fair
Puja and Cow
Avery
Cooking
Dan and Kyla
Campfire
The farmhouse at night
Skulls and skins
Flystrip

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sometimes it takes two years to make a picture

Judy, Curatorial Associate, Mammalogy, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, 2010

I first met Judy two years ago.  As part of my museum studies program, I took a class called "Collections and Curation," which was taught by the Curator of Minerals at the Harvard Mineralogical Museum, Carl Francis.  As part of this class, we took a behind-the-scenes tour of the collections storage at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, where Judy works as, essentially, the keeper of the mammals.  Her title is much more formal, of course, but I came to learn that she has worked in the mammal department for the past 21 years and is clearly an integral part of the department.  She had set up all of these animals for our class to see, and she was standing behind a bench full of hides and skeletons, talking about her job and her interest in mammals.  She told wild stories of seeing a moose on the side of the road and making an impromptu decision to pull over, skin it, and load as much of it as possible into the back of her pickup truck, both to keep for the museum and to eat.  She explained all about how the museum gets new specimens, what she does with them once they arrive, and the kind of research that they're used for.  At one point, she held up a bat for us to see, one hand on either wing, stretching it out in front of our class before returning it to its little jar for safe keeping.

I was immediately taken with her.  Here was this incredible woman, so passionate and knowledgeable about mammals- I instantly wanted to photograph her.  I approached her after class and explained that I'm a photographer and asked to take her picture.  She was very nice and took my business card, but for one reason or another, we never got in touch after that.

Fast forward one year, by which point I had finished the museum studies program and was hired by the same curator mentioned above, Carl Francis, to photograph his collection of minerals, which placed me in the same building as Judy.  Long story short, I got to know her since I now worked in the same museum complex that she did, and after many, many months and multiple attempts to make a photo appointment, we finally got together last month and made the picture that has been on my mind since I met her that first day, over two years ago.

It turns out that Judy is an even cooler woman than I knew back then, and we have plans to take another photo of her with her horse, Seeya.  Sometimes, people and moments just stick in your mind, and you can't rest until you've captured them on film.  Even if it takes two years.

Monday, December 6, 2010

598 miles

598.  It's a good thing I like driving my little pickup, because that's how many miles I put on it this weekend.  I left Boston Thursday morning, heading west to Open View Farm to continue photographing as the weather turns colder and we are officially entering winter here in Massachusetts.  As always, being at the farm was a wonderful experience and I left with a bag full of exposed film.  It is interesting to look back at the photos I've made so far and see how much everything has changed.  I don't notice the changes so much from trip to trip, but looking back at the contact prints from the summer makes it drastically apparent how much things change season to season.  I photographed many of the daily farm activities, such as feeding animals and gathering sheep for worming, but I also took some photographs that I'm particularly excited about of Emmy and one of her neighbors making wreaths for a craft fair.  There were evergreen clippings everywhere and it smelled absolutely wonderful!  It excites me to include activities like this in the farm project, as it is about much more than the actual farm work.  It is about the sense of community that is both intentional and essential to living on a rural farm in Western Mass.  This sense of community is what drew me to the farm originally and what continues to make it a place I love.

On Saturday, I drove from Western Mass to a town right outside of New Haven, Connecticut to photograph a group of people for my trans project.  I am usually the one seeking out subjects for my project, but in this case, the subjects found me and asked to be included in my project (a huge thanks to Jesse for organizing the day!).  I am always looking for new people to photograph, so of course I said yes.  They took it upon themselves to organize an entire day of photo shoots and even made a huge pot of delicious chili for everyone to eat!  Most importantly, I had a great time getting to know 8 wonderful people.  I am truly humbled that I am invited into peoples' lives in this way and thankful for the opportunity to keep making my work.  Many of them told me how important they think my trans project is because it puts a positive and accessible face to an often marginalized and overlooked community, which I found very moving.  At the end of the day, this is the goal- to show trans and gender variant people to the world in a way that allows others to see and connect with who we are and to begin to bridge the gap of understanding.  It is also so important to me that the images resonate with other trans folks, and I'm honored that people find the images validating and are excited to be a part of the project.

I am very actively working on this project and will be showing my work at the First Event Conference this January in Peabody and also plan to attend the Trans Health Conference this June in Philadelphia.  I am interested in photographing anyone who identifies as transgender or gender variant as well as the providers that work with our community, such as surgeons and gender therapists.  If you are interested in being photographed for the project, or in hosting an artist talk or exhibition, please e-mail me at jesstdugan@gmail.com.

After this amazing day of photo shoots, I drove back to Western Mass for my last night at the farm.  I went with Emmy, Puja, Violet, Jennieke (and the farm dog, Puppy!), to church on Sunday morning to photograph.  I am thankful to the church congregation for being so welcoming to the guest from the city lugging around a big tripod and camera.  I try to change my film while the choir is singing so nobody hears the click click click of the film advance lever, but I'm sure I still don't go completely unnoticed.  In the afternoon, I photographed Emmy choosing which sheep will go to slaughter next week before packing up my truck with far too many camera bags and a huge bag full of vegetables and heading home.  When I was unpacking my film holders last night, back in Boston, I was overcome with the smell of campfire coming from my photo bag, which left me with a huge smile.  I can't wait to see the new photos.