If unveiling your body-soul comes through seeing and letting your naked self be seen, can writing do the same to your writing-soul? We speak with Lone Morch to find out.
Lone Morch has that rare combination of a sensual photographer and a delicious writer.
Her latest project, Women Unveiled, lets women dare to enter a world that is probably unknown to them, but they know they want to be there. They’re ready to be there, they just need a hand to hold to help them over that last hurdle. Lone is that helping hand.
As I listened to the women speak about their experiences, it brought about so many Repossibilities or transformations. We get to witness right in front of us real people who are making change happen. Not tomorrow, not last year, but today.
Repossible’s Bradley Charbonneau had a few questions for Lone to see if letting go of your fears of writing and letting go of your clothing might have some overlap.
Bradley Charbonneau of Repossible: Thank you for taking the time to give us some behind the scenes insight into the experience you had with these women. In a nutshell, why did you feel you needed to do this project?
Lone Morch of Women Unveiled: Thanks Bradley, great to be in the Repossible universe and reflect upon a photography project that’s occupied me for more than a decade. To be honest, this project wasn’t part of a master plan; it came to me by way of a couple of coincidences, and it grew on me, when I discovered that, like myself, women longed for a safe place to reconnect and rediscover themselves, as women, outside of the prying public eye. I experienced the camera’s catalytic power, how it could help women confront their shames, doubts, longings andfeeling invisible head on, and thus, was intrigued to investigate more. The book Unveiled is the chronicle of my intimate photographic encounters with close to a 1000 women of all ages and stages of life in photos and prose. A few years back, I realized I was holding all of these women’s stories of both trauma and triumph inside. That I’d been given a unique perspective on women’s inner experiences and the journeys we all have to take to return home to our selves, our bodies, our truths. Part inspired, part pressured, I felt I couldn’t stay silent, and that our story would inspire others to awaken, be brave, be true.
“I wanted something that was going to tease out of me an experience.” — what woman was looking for in a nude photo shoot.
BC: One woman said, “I wanted something that was going to tease out of me an experience and some growth.” What I find interesting about that is she probably has no idea what that experience is going to be. It’s the unknown, it’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, but she’s going to do it anyway. Do you give your subjects any expectations? Do they need them? Want them?
LM: There’s always been an allure around my work and studio. Often I learn that women have known about me for years, before they find the courage to get in touch. Early on, I saw that each woman has her own timing for this experience, that I can’t ‘convince’ her to show up, and that she, in the interim is in fact preparing on all levels, dealing with her inner demons, if you will, around her body, age, vanity, perfection, etc. To me, each session has been like a blind date. I too have entered into the unknown, looking to find the beauty, the spirit, the feeling of this person in front of me. To photograph this way has always required deep presence, all my faculties in play, and so, we both have to surrender to the process. I think of it as dancing. Or, just like with writing, when you forget yourself, get carried away with the words, and start creating sentences and scenes and images you’d never had before, THAT kind of surprise is what I experience through the lens, when suddenly, I see her show up, unguarded, unveiled. This is what I seek. Like with writing, you got to make yourself available for it.
“I wanted to do it for so long … and looking back at the year that I had, why not celebrate it.”
“I wanted to learn something about myself.”
BC: Another woman said, “I wanted to learn something about myself.” Now, I can understand this through writing as I see writing as a type of therapy. But how does this apply to taking off your clothes and having a photographer shoot their exposed bodies for the world to see?
LM: Well, these photos were never for the world to see, we did this privately, so that fact that there will be a book of our most private unveiling is a miracle — the brave women choose to be in the book because they are proud and feel this is important. What do we learn when we get naked, literally and metaphorically, either on the page or in front of the camera? We learn what we’re made of, what we’re afraid of, what we dare to show, what we must protect. It’s like cutting the BS, the facades, the masks, the illusions and ideas we hide behind away, to become honest and real. H
“I discovered that everyone longs to be seen, but everyone is also afraid of seeing themselves.” — Lone Morch
BC: You said, “I discovered that everyone longs to be seen, but everyone is also afraid of seeing themselves.” Again, I can understand this in writing because I want to write out my thoughts, my stories, but I can hide behind them, I don’t have to share them. These women are daring to be seen. What type of woman does it take to be seen?
LM: It’s not a type of women; it’s every woman. There’s no common denominator for the women who’ve come to me. All ages, stages, colors, statuses, whatever. A curiosity, a desire for adventure, to break out of a no-longer-fitting mold, to heal body issues, to reclaim sexual self, to honor and celebrate self, to create a memory of self. We all long to be seen in our own image, our own light, as who we are. Most of all perhaps, we long to see ourselves with love, we long to feel at home and free inside our own skin, to be enough and okay with who we are. I think writing is part of that too – seeking meaning, remembering, contemplating our nudity, our lives, our experiences, discovering it was always there, the beauty, the poetry, the center.
BC: As a photographer, can you see when the walls come down, when your subjects let go and let loose and open up? Can you see transformation happening in front of your lens?
“I realized I was so good at posing, that that was part of the reason I was there. My feelings were moving and she would capture those moments–and that was life changing.”
LM: Yes! This work has taught me to see with my heart and about my own creative process. How I dance with the elements, improvise, experiment, play and conjure, push and call forth, all in some desire to unlock, untangle, unveil the ‘truth,’ the core, the essence – that which is inherent, original or true in a person or a story or a journey. Over time I’ve come to focus on the body, asking women to express with their bodies rather than their mind, because the body tells me everything: here I see tightnesses, shames, attitudes, as well as softening, surrender, sensuality, play, ease, freedom. So in a session there’s often a natural progression from veiled to unveiled, My eyes are trained towards those transformational moments where a woman shows up, not as something or other, but as herself. My reaction is visceral, I happy dance, cry, laugh. And I know, I’m witnessing her shift. It’s pretty amazing, and I feel honored each time, as if I was invited into her inner sanctuary.
“I used to be really quiet and shy and now you can’t get me to shut up.” after a session with Lone.
BC: I can associate with this woman so clearly: I can’t stop writing now, it’s like an addiction. It seems to me that you’re opening up a floodgate in these women that might never be closed again. Do you hear from them later on about things that may have changed in their lives?
LM: Yes I do. The intimate nature of this work has brought us close; it’s like a secret community of women spread out in the world who’ve ‘unveiled’. They often share how the experience continues to affect them; they keep discovering things about themselves, their photos, what they see and are ready to see. Many return for more shoots, wanting to explore new facets, feeling more daring. It’s wonderful to follow women’s unfolding this way. Of course I don’t know the depth of their experience and transformation, but there’s no doubt we’ve all been touched and touched each other.
“It empowers you to do more. If you can bare your soul and the essence of you are on film, then why can’t you just face the real world?”
“I became a lot more freer. I just tend to not really care what people think anymore.”
BC: Lone, I have to stop quoting what these women are saying because there are just too many of them that bring up the similarities with letting go of yourself through Writing Every Day. I know that you’re also a writer, what similarities do you see between these experiences for these woman in front of the lens and with your experience writing?
LM: It’s painting. With words. With light. It’s telling stories in pictures. It’s distilling a moment in a poetic light. It’s capturing a feeling. Rather than me, my paper and pen, my mind, memory and imagination, this is me, her, the environment and everything we both bring to it that very day, that very moment, and from there, we create. The muse definitely shows up. When I shoot I always find myself seeking out ‘the story’, what is going on, what is she trying to express. The light is my main paint brush. Shadow. Light. Disguise. Illuminate. It’s tempting to say I see the light in every woman. But this is pretty much what’s going on. It’s addictive, deeply satisfying, humbling and very alive.
BC: With all of your experience of these women and many more, is this something that you see happening often? What do you think is behind it? What is causing this change in their selves?
“I became me, after the photos.”
LM: I think when we feel SEEN, we feel encouraged and empowered in who we are, and thus, more brave in showing ourselves, trusting ourselves. I also think there’s an awakening going on in the photo sessions. The women experience themselves, their bodies, their freedom, in a visceral way. They feel the reverence in the moment, from me, from themselves. And the many different expressions I capture during a session helps the women see that they are so much more than they have thought; it helps them integrate the parts, normalize that they can be it all, in fact, and THAT is the key to integration. Wholeness, becoming oneself, being present in your skin.
BC: Thank you so much, Lone, for taking the time with these women and sharing their stories.
LM: My pleasure. There’s a lot of repossible in this project and I delighted to share with your community.
Please check back on womenunveiled.com soon. The book is done, to get it produced, I’m launching a kickstarter in a few weeks. Please come join the party. To learn more about Lone, check out lonemorch.com.
- Possible: take off your clothes
- Impossible: hide forever
- Repossible: let your true self out