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Alas

Alas

I mentioned that my camera is kind of busted--well, my first reaction upon seeing this frame was annoyance, followed by chagrin. You can get enough of a sense of what each individual capture looked like to tell that both of them would have been keepers for this particular assignment, and knowing that I'd lost them to a camera error both frustrated me and made me sad. As the days go by, though, I find that the result of that error is really sticking in my mind.

I'm not usually one for camera tricks, and multiple exposures are usually one of the first things that you play with as a budding photography student--certainly my friends and I all did, back in high school. Moreover, I tend to view art as something purposeful, and the accidental nature of this image's genesis is the sort of thing that makes me think it's a throwaway.

And yet, I can't stop thinking about it.

There's just something about the chaos of it all, the happenstance. The way things come together at odd angles, and the way that the little gestures of each individual exposure come through on their own while still seeming to contribute to the resultant whole. I find it compelling.

Maybe I'm reaching, but I think there's something there.

Morality Police/Enlightened Man

Juliette and I took Eva to the post office today during my lunch break to apply for her passport. She'll be accompanying Juliette and Jason on their trip to Canada later this summer, but that's really neither here nor there.

Afterwards the three of us had lunch together. At one point during the meal, I looked over and saw a young woman wearing a pair of shorts that was by no means the shortest pair I'd seen this month, but still fairly short. This isn't unusual, times being what they are and today being a sunny day in San Diego.

I turned to Eva and asked, "Are you going to wear short shorts when you get older?" Eva didn't dignify the question with a response, and continued stuffing Cheerios into her mouth. (One at a time! With a proper pincer grip and everything!) I had to admit that it was a fairly dumb question; after all, this is San Diego and that's what the kids are doing these days.

And of course it isn't just "these days." I was flipping through a slideshow at Time's LightBox this evening and I couldn't help but notice that the shorts in 1983 were pretty short, too. (And not just the girls' shorts.)

I also read today's article at NYT's Lens blog, about Iranian girls and youth culture and Westernization and oppression and morality police. And these images and the story that goes along with them, it outrages me. The thought that some group of men goes around Tehran, ordering women to cover their hair or detaining them if their clothes are deemed too provocative just incenses me. As it also outrages me when I hear people claim that it's about protecting women, or that this sort of modesty is empowering--because how can it be empowering not to have the choice?

And yet... And yet... I'm also increasingly appalled at the hypersexualization of young women. I don't want my daughter to go out wearing shorts that leave her butt cheeks hanging out the bottom. I don't want her to look like that.

It's not because I'm a prude. (Well, maybe a little bit.) It's not because I don't want her to have sex. It's not because I have a problem with sexuality or even promiscuity (for people who are mature enough to understand and deal with the consequences, positive and negative.) It's because I don't want her to define herself by this one narrow view of what men want. I don't want her to engage in that kind of attention-seeking--or, at least, if she must seek attention I don't want it to be only that kind of attention. And I know that there must surely be women who dress scantily for reasons other than attracting sexual partners, who don't define their worth by their image but I feel--rightly or wrongly--that many (most?) are dressing that way because of this ridiculous standard of beauty and worth that is mostly about male attention. And this is especially true of young girls. And I don't want that for my girl.

And yet... And yet... I do want her to feel beautiful. (Maybe because I never have.) And I want to tell her she's beautiful and not have to feel guilty about it. I want her to be confident in her appearance, not confined by it.

And I have to admit that I am, ultimately, a hypocrite. Because what are the most common compliments I offer her mother? I tell her she looks nice, or that her clothes look nice, or that she's beautiful, or desirable. And, yes, I do tell her other nice things, too, but not as often, if I'm being honest. When I do this, what kind of self-image am I setting up for my daughter? Does it even matter that these are compliments my wife wants to hear?

At the end of it all, what does it mean to be a good father to a daughter, a good husband to a wife, a good man? What is it that makes me different from the morality police? How can I raise a daughter who is strong in her character and secure in her sexuality, who is not beholden to the male gaze? And is it even my place to be deciding how she ought to be?

I wish I had the answers to these questions, but I don't. I hope that some day I will, or at least that I don't mess things up too badly.

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Edit:

Just after I posted this, a female Facebook friend of mine posted a link to a YouTube video described as the "BEST Pole Dance Ever." And, watching it, the dance was impressive both for its aesthetics and its athleticism. The performer clearly has training in contemporary dance and it was perhaps the least overtly sexual pole dance I've ever seen. But I just don't know what to make of the whole pole-dance phenomenon. Is this empowering women by giving them a way to reclaim their sexuality on their own terms, or is it really just a way of getting women to participate in their own exploitation?

It's just too much for me. I don't know if I'll ever know what to think about it all.

Super Girl

Super Girl

It's going to happen soon. She's going to be crawling, maybe even before my birthday.

When she was newly born and she was so quiet and easy-going, I worried that perhaps she wouldn't be motivated enough to get around on her own. Maybe she would be one of those happy little lumps that always made us say (after we'd left the party) "You know, Jason may be kind of a handful, but I'm glad to have a kid that's at least interesting." (I know, we were assholes. Some of us still are.1)

But, no, Eva's got spark. She wants to get around. When I got home from work today I saw that she had pushed herself backwards into a corner and gotten stuck; as soon as she saw me--but not before--she cried for help. And every little thing that catches her attention, she wants it. She's not content and boring. No, this one is motivated.

I'm so happy to know that it runs in the family.

----

1 I mean me, of course. No one who has met both of us would ever be confused about that.

Spoon

Spoon

It's been four days since I've seen a scene like this. Feels longer. Juliette and Eva came home from their trip tonight, so I suppose that means more little spoons will need washing in the near future. It's weird what you will end up looking forward to.

Signs

Signs

When you share your living space--that is, your life--with another person, every time you enter a room you will be met with signs of her presence. A light left on in an empty room. The way the sheets on both sides of the bed are rumpled. A sweater that didn't look good today. These things are trivial, they mean so little when you happen upon them. You may even find them annoying. Yet while this person is away it is the absence of these signs that will really drive home the reality of your solitude.

 

A Quiet Moment

A Quiet Moment

I love this picture. I think it's my favorite from the entire session we did for Juliette's dad. I love it for a lot of reasons. I love it for technical reasons: the lighting, the textures, the selective focus. I love it because it looks like what Jason looks like right now. And not just the way his features look, but his personality, too--the way he's fiddling with his shirt, belying the calm, almost tired look on his face. It's a truthful picture in many ways.

But it's funny how pictures can lie, even when they're telling another kind of truth. When I look at this picture, it looks like a quiet moment. There's a serenity to it, a peacefulness. It's in the gesture and the light, the way darkness brushes over half his face. And that's not what that shoot was actually like.

In reality, Jason had his normal morning energy. He was playful and silly, full of smiles and constantly moving, even when he was sitting still. In order to keep him engaged enough to actually get his picture I had to wheedle and bribe and tickle and make faces.

And yet, it's funny how pictures can tell the truth, even when they're lying. Because, as I said, the way he looks in this picture, that's him, too. It may not have been him on that morning, but it is in him, and for the split-second of this photograph, that's what he showed me.

All this, and more, is why I love photography. And parenting.

Serendipity

The shutter on my medium format camera (a Bronica ETRS) sticks sometimes. Fortunately, there's a little indicator light in the viewfinder that blinks when the shutter has properly actuated, and when it doesn't blink I just flip the double exposure switch and reshoot the same frame. Unfortunately, when I don't see the blinking light I'm never sure whether it didn't actually blink or if I just missed it. So I end up with a lot of unintentional double (or triple or quadruple) exposures. This one just happened to work out well.

Peek

Peek

This weekend, Juliette and I bribed Jason to take some nice pictures for his Aba (that's what we call Juliette's dad). It may not be obvious from this shot, but he was actually very cooperative.

Orchid

From a couple of weeks ago, picking up a to-go order at a Thai restaurant.

One of these days I'd like to try my hand at printmaking. I could probably handle developing my own negs even now--it doesn't take much space or money, and I have done it before, even if it was over ten years ago at this point. But to make prints you need an enlarger, and a light-tight room big enough to hold it and the developing trays. Not something that's really in reach right now. It's nice to dream, though.

Arts and Crafts

Instructions

Jason can be a pretty good listener when he wants to be. When we're at an Easter party at our friends' house and it's time to learn how to do a new craft, he's all ears. When it's time for him to go to sleep, not so much.

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