What was your experience like with TBW?
Taking the series of portraits took much more time and effort than I expected, but I am so grateful for the excuse to do some self-exploration. I learned that taking photos of yourself is both harder and easier than I imagined. I found that I had to guard myself against just posing or playing a role. If I wanted to take an authentic picture of myself, I had to embody whatever I wanted to express. I couldn’t take pictures half-assed. On the other hand, some of the images I created surprised me in what they captured. This is definitely not the end to photographing myself, even if only I see those pictures.
What was the inspiration for your images?
My spiritual path relies heavily on the idea of the sacred body. Rather than a barrier to the divine, our flesh and blood provides a link to it, through movement, sexuality, and all forms of self-expression. One of the great things about a self-portrait series is that it illustrates how the body can serve as a keystone for transformation. People have always remarked that I never look like myself in photographs. The fact is, I do look like that sometimes – it’s just not the self they see on a daily basis. By shaping our bodies into different images, we can explore our multitude of selves.
What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
Taking pictures of myself initially made me feel very self-absorbed, and I realized I needed to spend more time doing selfish things for myself. Exploring yourself should never make you feel guilty. Once I got over that, I learned that my understanding of myself is constantly evolving. The portraits captured moments of a process but never an endpoint.
Do you feel you are in the same state of mind as when you started?
This series caught me at the beginning of a new chapter in my spiritual life: walking a path of the sacred flesh. Since then, my understanding of that path has deepened. I know that the sacred body is also the body that works in a garden, scrubs floors, and tends to others. The sacred body is the deformed body, the sick body, the dying body. All of these are sacred.
What advice would you give to those wanting to take their own portraits?
Don’t have a preconceived idea of how you’ll look in the photos – don’t play roles or dress up as things you are not. This doesn’t mean you can’t completely alter your appearance, but your essence has to be there. Don’t be afraid to take pictures of yourself that might be considered ugly, scary, bizarre. These are ultimately more interesting that glamorous, smiley shots of you in lingerie.
Sun Sign: Gemini, but people tend to read me as a Cancer (Cancer Rising and Cancer Moon)
Virtue: I am dedicated to my work and the people I love.
Vice: Being impatient, judging others too quickly.
Secret Self Esteem Booster: wearing jewelry, even cheap stuff.
What Inspires You: my gods, my city, Katelan Foisy!
Playlist (give 5-10 songs on your ipod)
“Moon and Moon” – Bat for Lashes
“Golden Age” – TV on the Radio
“The Pharoahs” – Neko Case
“Silence” – Portishead
‘Blue Ridge Mountains” – Fleet Foxes
“Strong Black Vine” – Tori Amos
“50ft Queenie” – PJ Harvey
“Sawdust and Diamonds” – Joanna Newsom
“Ave Maris Stella” – Monteverdi
Read Anya’s blog here
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