Feel the Funk - How Burlesque Ignited my Creative Spark
I was in a funk. A big funk. I love to shoot what I do, but I felt I needed to step up my game. Many of my friends told me that I need just suck it up and shoot to shoot. I couldn't snap out of it. I was freshly 46. I was feeling old. I was feeling frumpy. The winter was (and still is) killing me. I kept yelling every time my amazing mother-in-law would call from Florida to ask me how the weather was in Boston. I did some crying, some venting and then I realized "please this is just first world problem shit". Then the email came: "Kristin, it's Angie, I'm coming to Boston. I'm a headliner for The Great Burlesque Exposition. Wanna come and shoot it? I'll get you an all access pass."
Well I thought about it for about 15 seconds and of course I said yes! I not only get to see my bride, Angie, and her talented husband, Brian, but I get to shoot this burlesque show ... MY WAY. No rules. Create what I want. Personal work all the way.
So on February 7th, I headed off to the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge armed with one camera, two lenses and a flash (which I decided I would try not to use). It was perfect timing because in addition to trying to get out of my funk, I have been pondering the idea of doing a workshop in the Texas area called the Foundation Workshop. They give you assignments and you work with a mentor and they help you create a story around your assignment. So I treated this shoot like an assignment that I might be handed if I was at the workshop. I really tried to simply tell a story, using some behind the scenes stuff and the performance part. Shoot less but see more.
And something wonderful happened while I was shooting. I learned about burlesque. I mean, yes, my bride Angie was, and is, an amazing Burlesque Queen. But it was at this shoot that I learned more about it. That it's a subculture. That's it's a fetish and it's history. You know what? It's NOT stripping! It's beautiful. It's comedy. It's performance art through and through. It's liberating. Every one performer there was all natural. NO PLASTIC SURGERY anywhere that I could see. There were all types of women performing. We are talking big, small, young, old, black, white, women AND men! Who knew there were male burlesque dancers? Not me. Also, I was lucky enough to be able to photograph and talk to the famous April March. She has been dancing forever. She's 79! YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT! And I must say that she is as beautiful as ever. She's sparkly.
So what did I take away from this little personal assignment? Well in a world of falsified imagery our perception of beauty is incredibly distorted. It's so hard to see beauty without perfection because we are programmed to thinking that perfection is the new normal. IT'S NOT! We as women have ever-changing bodies. And they are all amazing. Go to a burlesque show. You'll see.
This moment of getting out and shooting for me and seeing these amazing people do what they love helped to remind me that I love what I do. Thank you Angie for inviting me and thank you to everyone performing for being so empowering! I hope you enjoy these images as much as I loved creating them.
To find out more about Burlesque in Boston, you can check out The Great Burlesque Exposition, or The Boston Babydolls. Also check out Angie Pontani, Dot Mitzvah, Bobbie Burlesque, Perle Noir, Bettysioux Tailor, Sheila Starr Siani, Dangrr Doll, Donna Denise or you can read a play by play of the event on The Rhinestone Review Mis Mina Murray's Blog post.
And then, because my weekend couldn't get any better, Angie texted me on Sunday morning to tell me that she was teaching a go-go dance class, and I should come over to photograph it. As a former dancer, I was all over this. It was so easy for me to watch her teach the combination, then learn it myself. From that I was able to predict things that were going to happen before they did. I need to shoot dance more, that's for sure.