This exercise was an exploration of memory, familiarity and vulnerability. I placed two plane mirrors in front of the subject while photographing them, using a documentary approach. The mirrors are not shown in the photograph. They act as a practical piece of equipment; a light source on the subject. The mirrors emphasize a beautiful, unique quality that the subject encompasses.
During the process of meeting, interviewing and photographing the subjects, I was also acting as a mirror. There is a parallel between the photographer and the mirror, the photographer is just as much the mirror as the mirror itself. The mirrors are society, self judgement, acceptance or rejection. They shone a literal light not only on the subject, but metaphorically for the viewers to see them in a new light.
Naturism was first started in Germany in the 18th century. The philosophy made its way to France pre World War II, and to North America in 1927. There are various forms of the Naturist philosophy and their values and beliefs change depending on where you are and who you are speaking to. Naturists believe that by being nude you are your most ‘authentic self’. This community, only 40 kilometres North of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, felt like an escape; a step outside of the “real world”. Naturism is society and social image stripped away. Clothing is a boundary and a layer between you and nature. Here, there is nothing to hide. Your nakedness is just “skin over bones”. The Naturists’ hope is that everyone would be a Naturist and bring those values to other parts of life.
Cheryl and Al, Leon, Jacquie, David, Legacy and Cristina, Lance, Philippa, Tony, Shelley, Teresa, Tom, Stéphane. Bare Oaks Naturist Community, 2017.