It began thirteen years ago, long before the immediacy of the selfie-culture, in Rapallo, Italy.
Carolyn—a confident, stare-inducing, superlative beauty—was a new friend of my same age. I was immediately seduced by her embodiment of refined femininity, no-doubt amplified by the light and allure of the Italian Rivera, our first-of-many travel experiences together.
Armed with a Rolleiflex and 50 rolls of Portra film, it was then that Carolyn and I wordlessly conspired to chronicle our overlapping obsessions—portrait photography and her own, disarming self-image.
Questioning identity, ego, and what makes a woman, I watched and admired her. I provoked her uninhibited exhibitionist and I sought to explore her timelessness and vanity.
Shamelessly objectifying her willing figure, I observed the nuances of her maturing. Decorative garments were donned, or often discarded, exposing various states of undress and unblinking glimpses of her anatomy. These telling costumes, however, fail to distract from the raw tenor of her countenance, weaving between terse, lascivious, overwhelmed, or even void.
The more I managed to glorify her eternal beauty—to verify her desire to be seen—the more intimate confessions she presented.
Since 2003, the medium of photography transformed in tandem with Carolyn’s maturing. Her milestones and her mundane were recorded with film, then the first digital cameras, iPhones, and eventually the highest resolution SLR’s. As the megapixels increased, so did the emotional disclosure in our sessions, a sanctioned and freeing departure from the shackles of her publicly projected identity. I, too, evolved from behind my various cameras—from curious admirer, to privileged spectator, to obsessive documentarian, to creative collaborator.
Carolyn is abundantly generous, not only with her lifestyle and her loving friendship, but with the unlimited access she granted me to record the details of her unique vulnerabilities, her body’s bewildering shapes, and the undulation of her emotional trajectories for over a decade.
What remains is an authentic, enigmatic portrait of self-identity.