Week 0, “Before Nudes” by Photographers Joni Kabana and Bill Purcell
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Photography by Joni Kabana, http://jonikabana.com/ Photography of photographer Joni Kabana by Bill Purcell http://www.billpurcellphotography.com/, Hair by Tamara Dayton of Oranjstudio www.oranjstudio.com Make up artistry by Terresa Clark. Alimapure.com
One of my favorite human beings is my friend, mentor and photographer Joni Kabana. Joni has the hub of creative people, projects and energy, and my world in this arena often overlaps with her. I feel lucky beyond words to have met her nearly 8 years ago when I left my career at The Art Institute of Portland to go back out on my own as a creative. At the time I was torn between photography and painting and looking for studio space to sublet and explore. Joni encouraged me to move into her small studio and really dive into photography. She gave me the push and support I needed to launch a new business by sharing with me how she had done it just two years prior. I’m not sure I would be a professional now without that crucial intersection of colliding with her powerfully loving force.
When I asked Joni to photograph me for the “Before” images for the “Finding Beauty –in cancer” project she immediately said yes. The problem was finding an hour in her incredibly busy schedule to make that happen prior to my starting chemotherapy on July 15. In her usual engaging fashion, Joni was able to incorporate me into a huge 2-day fashion shoot she was doing with a studio full of designers and artists. She rallied them around my project and both the hair stylist and make up artist volunteered to add me to the shoot on their own time. I got to sit and watch Joni work her fashion magic with the young gorgeous models then step into the lights myself. Our friend, Bill Purcell, was assisting her that day and when I handed him my Canon 5D and asked him to photograph Joni photographing me he didn’t hesitate. I forgot he shoots Nikon and everything would be completely backwards for him. I also forgot that he would have no light and this was a very complicated task. I expected a couple snapshots and instead I got back some amazingly creative images like the ones where he framed me through the triangle of Joni’s arm. The entire experience of being photographed naked, my first time, was very liberating. I had never considered doing a shoot like this before, no less putting them out there in the world. However, along with the diagnosis of cancer, I felt a need to document my body. How it looks now and has looked for the past few years and the process of change it will go through now with chemotherapy, surgery, reconstruction and radiation. It’s suddenly important to remember what I’ve always taken for granted. I’m no longer shy. My body is no longer something only I or an intimate partner sees. Many many doctors have looked at my breasts now. Many more will. They will look, touch, poison, remove, rebuild and radiate them now. The body I have will no longer be the same very soon. Bionic, perhaps! Better, maybe. Not the same however and I somehow need to watch and show the transition as I’ve never witnessed it in another woman.
I feel exhausted, beautiful, privileged and indulged by the end. Joni cries at some point during the shoot. Walks straight up to me and lays her hands on my breasts. It seems the most natural thing in the world to do. Not sexual, but an acknowledgement that there they are, a part of me that will transition. She cries and then I cry and then we continue the shoot. I’m very grateful for these images by her. Thank you Joni Kabana and Bill Purcell.
Photographer Joni Kabana above
Photographer Bill Purcell below