LAUREN

PHOTO ESSAY 1/4

Lauren, Through The Woods We Ran.

“I was really nervous about Tasj shooting me. Not because of Tasj specifically, but because of being in front of the camera instead of behind it – having the whole thing rest on my shoulders, be all about me. It felt like a responsibility, I didn’t want to ruin anything. But I was also excited – part of that excitement was just for being asked to be in a shoot. Being a wider woman I’m not the the first person that people necessarily think of to model things for them (or at least, that’s how I feel!) – so I felt quite proud that she’d even ask me. But I was also excited just to spend time with Tasj, my beautiful friend, where I’d get to actually hang out with her first, spend a whole day just me and her, which is rare anyway but especially since I live so far away.

On the day I felt some mixed feelings about how I should look – I was so conflicted about whether I should put extra effort into looking nice, or whether I should just try to look as I always do. One second I would think – maybe I should wear lipstick?? Next second – no, you never wear lipstick. Maybe I should borrow something cool to wear? No, I should just wear my own clothes. I overthought it a LOT. So in the end I wore some of my current fave clothes, and just took some extra time on my hair and make up, while doing the same routine I always did. So, just me, but with a little extra sauce. I even took a selfie of myself to send my husband, which I never do – I felt really nice. But still me. 

Tasj came and picked me up and we chatted as we drove to the city – she has this way of making me feel so comfortable while at the same time giving me the absolute giggles. Like I’m back in high school and I’m not supposed to laugh but that just makes me laugh more.

We got to the city and decided to sit out on a picnic table and have pretzels first (which were DELICIOUS) and my hair was getting blown around like CRAZY in these high winds and I was trying really hard not to care. My hair looking crazy and ratty is also very me, to be fair.

We went into the museum and looked at all of this amazing and confronting art – I took notes in my phone that said ‘Australia as a country “both arriving and departing” (Curtis Taylor indigenous exhibition)” – that line in particular really resonated with me. It still does, reading it has made me start thinking about it again. 

At one point Tasj starting watching one of the pieces through a viewing hole, listening on headphones – and was giggling and said ‘you have to watch this.’ I came over and watched it, and it was some porn using a didgeridoo. I was pretty shocked – I yelled “oh my god, that is offensive!” and then I was embarrassed that I reacted so strongly (reacting to things strongly: also very me) – but also that if anyone else had heard me (they hadn’t: we had the whole place to ourselves), it would sound like I thought the porn itself was offensive, rather than the message the artist was conveying. Which was a strong message: next to that video was one of people climbing Uluru, both pretty offensive, and I thought that had been done in such a convincing way.

Once we finished at the exhibition Tasj took me to this shop that was more like an art gallery – it had these amazing pieces for sale that were practical but also beautiful, that looked like art but also cost like art. There was a keyring there for $300. Not even exaggerating!  $300.  THREE HUNDRED. So I was trying to look at everything like it was a gallery rather than something people could buy, because there wasn’t anything in there that I could ever afford to buy. It wasn’t a place that I would probably go to on my own – defs not a place that I would normally stop and spend time in, anyway, but because Tasj was looking properly I did too, and I noticed more and appreciated it more when I slowed down. Maybe I should always look at shops, I mean particularly things made by independent shops and stuff, as art – stop and really appreciate it rather than just sweeping through and thinking about what I want or need. Think about it as an art piece. Anyway, the shop was a really calming place and the whole experience was nice, doing something that wasn’t necessarily me, challenging my normal way of doing things.

Then we drove out to my Mum’s house to do the shoot – which I was so grateful for, because I was so nervous about the shoot again by this stage, and I knew it was going to be easier doing it somewhere I felt comfortable, that I knew well, but most of all was secluded so no one could actually see me – I could feel really free. We got there and it started raining IMMEDIATELY, as soon as we started shooting. My windswept hair was plastered to my head, mascara running down my face. But I didn’t care – the rain just added to my feelings of freedom. There’s something so wild and exhilarating about standing in the rain, letting it soak through your clothes,  seep into your skin. It’s one of my favourite things, embracing the rain, and it seemed so fitting that it was happening during this shoot – that it was, again, really me – in that I love rain but also in that my standard way of being is a bit of a mess. Happily being a bit of a mess, I should say – I choose comfort above everything most of the time, so it felt right.

Shooting with Tasj felt something like floating through space. It was this weird calm, where she was slowly guiding me through this weird and vaguely confronting  experience, making it feel normal and making me feel totally peaceful. It would still be a bit weird sometimes, and I’d feel like maybe I would be doing something wrong, and then Tasj would bring me right back, move me to where I needed to be to keep going. Not to mention – the giggles were still obviously a thing. They always help. I started to feel really confident, kind of like a real actual model – Tasj would get really excited or tell me how amazing something looked, and I would really believe her, and really started to feel like I was nailing it.

At one point I was in the middle of this rose bush, having just fought my way through the thorns to get in there, and Tasj’s film ran out. She had to run back up to the house, to change the film under cover, away from the rain, while I waited. She was yelling to me, keeping me updated on what she was doing, I guess so I wouldn’t stress about standing out there on my own – but actually it was this really surreal and peaceful experience, standing out there in the roses and the rain. Listening to Tasj say: “Rewinding!” “Still rewinding!” “Ok I’m done rewinding!” I couldn’t help think, imagine the neighbours walking past the garden right now, seeing me standing alone in a bush, hearing Tasj yell at me from the house, me cackling like a maniac. It was pure joy, and I loved it.

The last place we shot, me sitting on some steps, was where I felt like Tasj and I were the most in sync – I was feeling super confident, smizing the shit out of it, and Tasj was getting so excited – and saying it was her favourite shot of the whole day, it had all led to that moment. It was like we had slowly worked our way to that point together, and when we got there we both knew we’d done it.

I was starting to feel the cold by then – the rain had stopped, which made me aware of how soaked I was, my clothes plastered to my body. I had a quick shower and got changed, and Tasj drove me home, me not wearing a bra in public for maybe the first time in my life. I left my underwear on though, even though they were also soaked – a gal can only go so far.

The drive home was a weird feeling of pleasant exhaustion – partly from that feeling after getting soaked with water and then having a warm shower, but partly from the comedown from the experience of shooting. It was like a weird kind of adrenalin through the shoot, that had worn off and I was left feeling fuzzy and content. So content, in fact, that I missed the turn and we had to take the long way back to my place. Soz Tasj.

I still think of that day so fondly. How lucky I am to have such a human in my life, who can make me feel so calm and yet like a superstar at the same time, who can make me feel so valued. Someone who is still one of my heroes, but I never for a second feel intimidated by, or nervous around – who just makes me feel happy. And makes me giggle a lot. Love you a million <3″

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