Cindy Sherman comes to mind.
I've only recently learned to smile when a camera is poked at me. Yesterday all that self-training and positive reinforcement worked! I trumped when a friend photographed me on a group bushwalk (we left the big cameras at home because of the terrible, filthy bum-skid descents and grievous bodily harm rope-assisted ascents up vertical walls. That's me with the :) face, in a place that really had nothing to smile about! How about that? Now people are telling me how sweet I look! Bwa,ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!
This is great and I've been thinking of doing the same thing, not because of body issues as much as to experience life as a model so I can be a better photographer.
I would like you to look at Annie Leibovitz: A Photographers Life (I THINK it's this book).
I can't seem to find the image online. It's of Annie, nude, in a bathtub, of her as she is now, a little older, it's such a beautiful photo, yet in no way is it traditionally flattering to her. But yet it's SO beautiful, so telling, like looking into her soul.
Think about the beauty inside, and the beauty in the telling of your story, bring that out, the pain, don't be afraid, when you are done you will feel better, to look at yourself and truly admit and see it. There's one thing to talk about it, and another to let that emotion show and be released to the world.
I wish you luck, if you ever need help or think it would be interesting to add a section of you taken by other photographers to see how they see you in their art, I'd surely come to (Iowa?) to be a part of it ;)
In the mean time here is another self portrait she did earlier of herself, nude, pregnant, simple, and honest...
I really wish I could find this other photo, I saw it in a bookstore but it was $80 and I'm cheap lol
The Important Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic
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You might look at the work of Jo Spence, whose work is about body image and autobiography and photography as a mode of therapy.
Maybe share a prologue of your project with a very close friend; it will help immensely to talk to someone if you begin opening up memories and emotions you've buried.
And *never* feel ashamed. Shame is a tool people (maybe yourself) and dogmas use against you. Feel dissatisfaction and determination to change, but never shame.
Good luck, and be brave.
Cindy Sherman's work is awesome. David, I'm going to take a look at Jo Spence, too.
The images I'm taking won't just be self portraits. Some of them will be me, some of them won't be. The idea is to tell a story of slowly spiraling into depression, and then clawing my way out of it...because it's basically what I did. I think that it could be more powerful as a body of work if it *isn't* just me, as lots of people go through this stuff. It's going to be a lot of environmental portraiture, conceptual shots, and still lifes.
There are two photos I can have my husband help me with. Others I can probably do with models if I can find people willing. It'll probably take most of next year to do, especially if I do some of the "Middle of Nowhere" stuff between to keep myself from falling into a bad head space.
I figured out that I can't do the shot I wanted to do down the basement exactly as I've envisioned it, but I can make it work if I cover the tripod legs with something dark and futz with the lighting enough that the tripod is out of the range of the lights. It's me in a mirror, so it's going to be interesting to pull off. :D