Saturday, July 22, 2006

Regarding My Photo of Libby in the Contest

Someone to whom I sent the link to vote for my photo of Libby that was selected as a finalist in the babyzone photo contest wrote an email to me about it. She said that she is "...choosing not to vote because (she) thinks it is unhealthy to try and promote Libby receiving praises for outward beauty..." This comment got Chris and I thinking and talking a lot.

Before I discuss my feelings on that comment, I will say that I brought this here because I want to be sure that it is addressed just in case anyone else feels the same way but isn't saying something to me about their feelings. I want to be clear as to why I entered this, and other, photos in photography (not most-beautiful-baby) contests.

First, I was shocked that someone I've invited into my life and I thought knew me fairly well would think such a thing of me. I felt as though I was being compared to those women who put their little girls in full make up and hair and enter them in frightening child beauty pageants. Whether or not she meant to make this comparison, this is how it made both Chris and I feel. Anyone who really knows me (I think) knows that I (and Chris) am completely in love with our girls. All four of them. I love every little quirk and funny personality trait and messy little hair on their heads. Chris and I encourage Libby to be her own person with her own style. We encourage her to pick her own clothes (and just ask our sitters how she comes dressed some mornings...highly flamboyant and hardly polished) and to instruct me on how to do her hair. She sometimes asks me to paint her nails, which I do, despite the fact that I almost never wear it myself....and I follow her demands to paint them three different colors on each hand....because I want Libby to be Libby and to feel that she is beautiful no matter what she wears or how she looks on the outside. I want Libby to feel safe to always be herself and express her style no matter how "pretty" or "funky" or "weird" it is. As long as it's safe, I'm all for whatever she wants to do with her hair and clothes. For God's sake, I have ten shades of red in my hair, wear a nose ring, and have eight tattoos. Do you think I even know HOW to put on make up correctly or curl my hair?? No. And I certainly wouldn't know how to do it to a three year old girl with uncontrollable curly hair and a love for bugs and party dresses.

Regarding the photo:
Number one--IT WAS A PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST, and I want to be a photographer. I have also been a finalist in contests with photos of Chumley and a different photo of Libby. I am entering photography contests as a way of building a portfolio, experience, and and understanding of what works..and wins
Number two--Libby hardly looks "pretty" in this photo. At best she looks "goofy", as her eyes are enlarged to the size of small melons. The photo is about showing humor, not beauty.
Number three--You cannot see Libby's face in this photo. How can it be about promoting her beauty?
Number four--Libby doesn't even know about the contest or that a photo of her was in it.

If anyone else had questioned my motives for this photo contest I hope that this has cleared that up. I also hope that those who really know me know that my daughters being beautiful is just about the last thing I care about when it comes to them. I love my daughters unconditionally and want them to be their own freespirited, happy, loving, sensitive, and kind souls.


auntcc said...

Hey Girl, I think you are the coolest. You take the time to photograph everyday life and let everyone that you care about and that cares about you know about it. So keep it up and keep taking pic's of my nieces and anything else you feel like. You are are your own person and your raising your girls to be the same. All of you stay happy, healthy, silly and creative. xxooauntcc

auntkathleen said...

As an artist (of some sort) I admired all your work, it's creativiy, the loving thoughts behind each photo, and your ability to capture the love of innocence we all admire in children. Your work as a photographer as always been above bar, its exceptional. As for the comment about exploting your child or to focus on the outside apperance really hit's home to me (especially since I've dealt personally with an ongoing struggle of an eating disorder and exceptance). The photos of your children and family not only bring pleasure to the veiwer but it shows the mastery of photography, it does not come across or even compare to the abusive style of "beauty pagents" for babies. And last but not least I'm proud that my sister has grown to be an exceptional photographer and a loving parent who has the skill to capture so many of our "inner child". Keep it up!! luv aunt KK