” I’d take a moment to share a little about what Stripped Down as meant to me. Like all of you here I’ve always been drawn to photographing women. For me it’s not as much about the physical grace of a woman’s body as it has always been the emotional openness and strength women exhibit. Having been raised by a single mom all of my examples of strength and compassion come from her and the circle of friends she has. A few days ago I was shooting a wedding of the daughter of one of my mom’s friends and I got to thinking about how in my upbringing women always had the dual role of strength and compassion. Power and emotion. As I got to be around my mom’s friend Ann that whole day, and watch her interact with her daughter my mind got to thinking about why it is I want to do what I do.
But first I have to describe my pre-Stripped Down mind. Before the workshop when it’s came to photographing women in boudoir or any sort of way where another male might say something typically douchebag-esque about how great my job was (wink wink nudge nudge) I would do whatever I could to avoid that. Generally that meant just not pushing the envelope. Keeping it sterile and safe. Rarely showing any of that work. Even though I know and the women in my life know that I’ll never be *that* photographer, the very notion that anyone would ever perceive me like that was a barrier. And if you’re wondering what I mean by *that* photographer, he’s the guy on Model Mayhem who has a portfolio filled with beautiful women who just aren’t photographed beautifully. You probably know what I mean. The creepy guy. The last thing I wanted to do was either be that guy, or give the douche-bag guys something to comment about.
That was my mindset before Stripped Down. Worrying about what other people thought before they even had a chance to think it. What on earth is that all about? Seriously – fuck that.
What I love most about the experience is that whether or not you want to shoot boudoir or not, everything I learned has impacted my photography. Being mindful of emotion and breath has forever changed my approach. Better yet – I took away some confidence, and while I’m still a work in progress I feel like I’m much closer to my goals than I’ve ever been.
Since Stripped Down I’ve felt more and more that where I should be is in fashion and editorial work. I’ve started working towards that goal for the first time. And though my experience and path isn’t really focused strictly on boudoir, before Stripped Down I would not have had the courage to get a girl naked in the desert, cover her in glitter, and have her breath deep and feel something good. So thank you Denise” – Joshua Mitchell