I painted my husband’s soon-to-be photo gallery today, while he was out taking more photographs. Many women would call me crazy to do such a thing…I’ve volunteered to work in his gallery in the hot afternoon while he’s taking pictures of a naked woman. My husband is a landscape and figure photographer, and often shoots naked women in outdoor settings.
When my husband first broached the subject of photographing naked women with me a few years back, I was leery. There is quite a history of male painters/artists having affairs with their female subjects. I also knew, however, that if I asked him not to pursue this, our marriage would eventually end. Photography is my husband’s life-long passion…and so is capturing the natural beauty of a woman. (He was only 15 years old when he worked as the assistant photographer at the Miss California Pageant, and only 17 when he, with his boss at the time, participated in his first figure photography shoot.)
As I saw it, my choice was to either deny him his passion (or have it be a bone of contention between us if he decided to do it anyway) or to trust our relationship and honor his freedom to follow his heart. It really was about trust. Frank and I know each other so well and are so present with ourselves and each other, that we would know in a nanosecond if there was something amiss in our relationship...and we would talk about it – as we always had in the past with some fairly difficult issues. I couldn’t say that with other relationships, but this one with Frank is raw, authentic, and totally honest. If something happened between him and a model (either physically or emotionally), it would only point to something that was lacking in our own relationship. We would then embark on a voyage of discovering what was at the crux of the situation… seeking outside assistance from our dear therapist if we got stuck. We are not afraid of what comes up for us in our relationship…we don’t make a habit of keeping things totally safe to ensure the longevity of our marriage. We trust our process of working through issues. It’s not a forgone conclusion that I would leave Frank if he had an affair…there are many ways to dishonor ones wedding vows that don’t have anything to do with sex. These other ways are often worked out, but for some reason society places a higher value on sex. I see an affair as a blatant cry to look inside the relationship. What is missing? What has gone astray? What do we each want? What are the healing and growth opportunities?
The models just love Frank (ha, what an interesting word to come forward). First time shooting, they generally come with a brother, a boyfriend, or a male friend. Two seconds after meeting Frank, the male escort is off to a coffee shop, telling the model to just call him when she’s done. The girls often tell him of some sleazy photographers they have worked with…not someone as wholesome and safe as he. When Frank is in a photo shoot, he is all business. He is looking at lines and angles, shadow and light, form and color. He shoots more photos than most photographers…fully utilizing the limited time (and money) he has with the model. They often comment that he works hard and diligently. And some have even refused to have him pay them…or only charge him half price for subsequent shoots. He has met their husbands, children, and even a mom. If we happen to run into a local model on the city streets, he’ll introduce them to me. (The first time this happened, my response was, “Oh yes, I recognize you.” On further reflection, I thought it best to come up with a more appropriate response). I even found my tattoo artist through one of his models.
So, yes, I am supporting my husband in his passion and his new business by painting his newly-built gallery where pictures of naked women will hang. That’s the kind of relationship we have…we trust our process of working through issues…not denying each other our souls calling just because we are afraid of what issues might arise. Let them arise and come into the light. It is in the light that things can be seen and start to be worked out.