We shoot a lot of beautiful women here at the studio. The funny thing is…as I get older they seem to always stay the same age. What is it about youth we are so attracted to? When Kelly texted me images of these three incredibly beautiful, real women, women with businesses, with a history of past love affairs, and with a real friendship out in Montauk as a casting option for our Beauty + Truth story, I was in love.
Their grace, their confidence that only women who have lived a little can possess, their intelligence and peace were so inspiring I could have shot them for days. I could do a photographic study around the lines on their faces…the lines of life are signs of living, and isn’t life a beautiful thing?
As a photographer you have all the control. Whoever is put in front of your lens has to put complete trust in you: how you light them, how you make them feel when you’re shooting them; the crop, what you show and what you leave out; the direction, mood and feeling you set.
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Our story began with three women, three mythical beings: Maat and her handmaidens, Beauty and Truth. In mythology and Egyptian heiroglyphics, Maat was represented by an ostrich feather. The equal-sidedness of the feather, with its division into halves, rendered it a fitting symbol of balance.
Feathers recur as a sacred talisman in many cultures, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, by Mexicans and by Native Americans, who used them in headdresses and in dreamcatchers. Just as Maat was trusted to control the daily path of the sun, so the moon controls the tides ~ and so people have believed for centuries that we can control our dreams.
Dreamcatchers originated with the Ojibwe nation, who believed that, when hung above the bed, only good dreams would be allowed to filter through their sinewy webs; they would pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper, while bad dreams would be caught and trapped in the net. The tides of today bring both nightmares and dreams, for along the shore we find countless cigarette butts and plastic bottles mixed in with natural treasures like seashells and driftwood.
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In the ancient world, myths were used as a means to understand the inexplicable, as a way to make sense of the great wonders and mysteries of the earth and to give meaning to humanity. Inspired by the cycles of nature, the mythology of ancient Egypt still holds our imaginations in its sway today. Ancient Egyptians saw time in the present as a repetition of the linear events of their myths; to them, this mirroring served to renew ma’at (or mayet), the fundamental order of all existence.
Myths were a way of passing down behavioral expectations, codes of conduct, and moral obligation. They were reminders that the actions we take today create the context for tomorrow. Today’s decisions are the gifts and curses we bestow upon our descendants.
Ma’at was the Egyptian concept of truth, balance, and order. Ma’at was personified as the goddess of the stars; it was she who conducted cosmic harmony out of the chaos of creation, she who maintained the equilibrium of the universe ~ the setting of the sun, the rising of the tides. She was justice and she was reason.
Ma’at was the central principle of Egyptian cosmology and ethics, and so the primary duty of an Egyptian king was to be the champion of ma’at. All the daily rituals and sacrifices would be deemed meaningless unless the king and his people were living righteous, balanced lives. The word itself indicated ‘that which is real’, and so for the ancient Egyptians, ma’at came to imply anything that was true, genuine or harmonious.
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