Letters to DOMAI
Dear DOMAII'd like to send you my regards again. Thanks for your suggestion I take photos along with me on my wilderness trekking! What an unusual experience that was... One sunset I'd climbed atop a hoodoo (one of those magical, strange, tall, red sandstone formations of the American Southwest high-desert regions), enjoying the light and spaciousness and then the sudden inspiration of opening my pack and pulling out those well-chosen prints of NN and Carol (and also the inspiration I'd had to check emails at an internet cafe and print out Zulfija!) Wow. I'd been curious to see if my city-circumscribed aesthetic sense held up in the Great Outdoors... it did. In my imagination I wished they could have seen and shared those vistas I saw there. I know the dialogue of light between them and where I was would have been amazing.
Is there nothing more beautiful than the look in a woman's eyes who knows you are appreciating her? And even more so, when she has chosen to be seen nude by you? What is it about beauty -- the beauty of a sunset, of a broad vista, of a woman -- that is so moving? Deeply moving -- not just superficially?
The directness, the smile and acknowledgment. Even a sort of sharing of pleasure.
I don't know how to describe what the feeling is, but it's rare to me, what you've introduced me to finally noticing.
That Look is new to me. I never saw it at nude gatherings I've attended, or growing through the '60s and '70s sexual revolution. We were too busy pretending we were all grown up about it, that nudity was "no big thing."
So, if nudity wasn't sexual then it must be like how we are with our clothes on -- a-sensual. More concerned with how our clothes make us look and how are bodies appear shaped by them.
I never saw it in my lovers -- it was tinged with embarrassment and a knowing that it was just a *preliminary*...
I never saw That Look in pornography or on nude dancers -- it was all sexual. In fact, if you were a woman nude, you were almost programmed to act a certain way, to *give* a certain look to be appreciated. As the clothes came off, you either didn't know what to do or how to look -- that vulnerability heightened -- or you went into program mode and acted like you had seen other women act. And where were those models of nude behavior? Magazines, movies, where relationships are almost always dumbed down to knee-jerk responses, to fit a story: manipulating again, calculating again.
I might have seen it in the faces of models, but that's a manufactured look, calculated and marketably manipulating.
But through Domai...
I think you're helping teach women a new way of "looking" -- a new way of being in front of a camera, of being appreciated -- and you're teaching men a new way of appreciating, of acknowledging beauty. Not where it's furtive appreciation... Not of finally appreciating how it is to be nude, alone or with others of the opposite sex... No, of how it is to be vulnerable and yet still feel beautiful and alive and worthy and glad of appreciation. Not as a sex object. Not as someone about to be made love to. Not as a lover, even.
Not a theoretical, abstract, or an intellectual experience. But one that is fully sensed. In the heart and stomach flutters and in the loins and in the heart and in the smile that spontaneously forms on lips. An experience that happens as I click through each set you offer of these amazing, knowing and generous women... an experience that may yet someday happen in real life to me. Who knows. But at least I have finally experienced it, and am growing to be aware of it... and understand it and explore its potential in me.
The camera admires her as even a friend cannot. And yet it's a respected viewer, so it's offered something important by the woman. The camera is not a person (the photographer after all is hiding behind the contraption), so there doesn't have to be the consciousness or concern of, "Will this guy take it somewhere you didn't want to go..." She can be herself and explore herself with a companion who's just as interested in her process as she is. What an encouragement that must be...
My continuing congratulations (and membership to DOMAI for life, as far as I'm concerned!) to you and your photographers and models for opening my eyes that have been wide shut for too many years.
Your site is awakening me to so many things about women I never thought I'd get to experience in life...