Katherine painting Jenny. Photographed with Nikon D300, 35 mm lens.
A little over a week ago, I scored two free passes for a private screening of a not-yet-released movie.* I asked my friend, Katherine, to go with me.
Before the movie, we decided to meet for an early dinner. As we sat down at our table, she suddenly said, "Oh, I have a favour to ask you."
"I'd like to put together a promo piece for my book, Everyone is Beautiful. And I'd like you to shoot the images for it."
"Sure," I responded. "What's the subject?"
"Well," she began carefully, "I want to write words all over a woman's body, and I'd like you to photograph the words. Jenny has already agreed to be my canvas."
I laughed. "Of course she has," I said. Jenny is nothing if not outrageous (you might know her from her extremely popular and wildly hilarious blog -- but if you're not familiar with her work, do not click this link to her site if you blush easily. You've been warned).
Yesterday, we finally met for the shoot. Because Jenny, Katherine and I (and Laura, who joined us later) have become good friends, the shoot was incredibly calm and low-key. We sat in Katherine's mom's back garden and gossiped and talked, and while Katherine painted all over Jenny, I snapped away.
What was amazing is that even though, admittedly, the concept of shooting someone whose body is being painted is sort of ... well ... weird, the truth is that for some reason, the entire experience felt really natural. And Jenny, as irreverent and bawdy as she can be, has this wonderfully and intensely sweet side, and I was so honoured that she allowed me to capture it with my camera. And even more powerfully, the words that Katherine was painting -- words which were actually the final paragraph of her book -- are so beautiful, that more than once Jenny mentioned that it felt very therapeutic to have those kind, inspiring words, phrases and sentences slowly painted all over her body. The entire experience, I think, felt very affirming and empowering to all of us who were there.
And really, the best part of the whole thing was the reminder that yes, everyone in the world is, indeed, beautiful.
* The movie and I Katherine went to see that night was Away We Go. I could tell you how great it was, but really, all that needs to be said is that it stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, and was written by Dave Eggers. If you're familiar with the work of any of these people, you know that when this movie hits your city, you really have to go see it.