A woman in a black dress

Excerpts from a shoot yesterday.

Woman in a black dress

In front of the camera, behind the lens, and inside the mind.

In the beginning, I loathed being in front of the camera - a mix of never knowing how to look natural or my "angles" and also the fear that someone would think I'm vain or narcissistic for being in the shoot - funny these little dialogues we create in our heads. The reluctance slowly turned into a work thing, a duty outside of myself and more to my brand, that I need to have images so my customers would know what each piece looks like on and to give some style inspiration. It became easier to be in front of the camera because I had a purpose, not just to try and look pretty, but to convey a message and a feeling.

Black and White image of a woman with knee on a stool

I often think about how, as a woman, I'm taught to perceive my place in society and how I ought to think of myself, how to act. It's a mix of culture, external pressures, family upbringing, and personality. Wading through all of that, I'm trying to discover what my actual purpose is, outside of all the forces that tell me to be something. A cacophony, it's hard to hear your own voice, but each day it gets louder.

Woman in a mirror sitting on the ground, taking a photo.   

Through this process of photoshoots, I'm slowly shedding the image that I think people have of me and finding the image that I want to convey - the message, the feeling, all of it. And with time, this fear that people may think I'm vain, narcissistic, or the slew of other cruel, false adjectives I could assign myself, slowly fades to a soft buzz in the background, nothing more than a din that I can choose to hear or just allow to exist without interfering with my own symphony. 

Woman in jeans and an orange jacket

A story behind everything

Woman in a black dress

Aside from these internal thoughts, what's kind of cool about this photos is that each item in this photo has a story:

The dress is from Nieves Lavi, where I interned during fashion school at Parsons - it was one of my first expensive dresses in NYC that I got at their sample sale and I wore it to every important event. I felt like an adult, an NYC-fashion-y kind-of-adult, hoping that I could live up to the chicness of the dress and that I would give me some of it by proximity.

Necklace is my grandmother's, strung together with a safety pin because the clasp broke somewhere along the way, and the gold cuff is my mom's. I like to think of all the places and events they wore them, how they felt and what they thought, their joys, anxieties and hopes - what feeling they hoped to invoke, like my black dress, when wearing them.

The jacket is my own design, made in Barcelona with a business partner, now friend Hafiz, from fabric I got while traveling through Malaysia (obviously I went to Little India in search of dosas and proceeded to spend a lot of time and money on the fabric stores near the restaurant). Through this jacket, I can remember the trip, what it meant and what I experienced during it, the hopes, fears, joys and all.  

There is a story behind everything.

Image of ourselves

Reflecting a bit further on this theme, photography and how we get dressed every morning aren't really that different - each a way we wish to convey ourselves to the world - what we can invoke about ourselves to others and how we can curate the image we hope others may have of us. Nothing vain in that, it simply the human request to express themselves on their own terms. Same as art, music, poetry, movement and any other way the our endless creativity takes us.

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