by Autumn Lee on December 29, 2015
I get to play in front of the camera for various adventures. This picture is from my life as an event host. Side boob (or lack there of) is not really my thing, but fake eyelashes are my favorite!! I love to try on sparkle. It’s different than dress up. It’s ornamenting yourself with somethings that makes you feel more yourself in that particular moment of life. Even the profoundly depressed poet Emily Dickinson in her poem, The Morns are Meeker Than They Were, writes of the seasonal change slowly rolling in and her need to put a trinket on to match the landscape of the moment. Trinkets make us feel in character for our role in the day. For me, fake eyelashes feel like insta-glam, like the promise of a party, like a glued on sassy badge. What fun it is to shimmy into a glitzy persona and bounce around a while in oversized smiles and undersized clothes. It’s a time-out from my flowy pants, mala beads, hot tea and an addiction to moisturizing that normaly clads my day. It’s like dressing in drag to explore the other parts of me that need a trinket nudge to be self-expressed.
When I take pictures of people it is fun to see what trinkets they put on. My people “try on” all sorts of stuff. There is literal and figurative baggage at every shoot. Literally the suitcase comes to the shoot with trinkets that define the person: red lipstick, a cowboy hat, a snazzy blazer, a power tie, well traveled boots, an heirloom necklace….then the mental baggage makes its appearance. We all have it. It normally sounds like this, “I have a good side, can you edit out this scar, I only want one chin in my pictures, try to avoid the bump on my nose.” I pride myself on seeing the light in people apart from their external and internal baggage. I work to capture that light and the rest somehow yields to make the best in them rise to photographic presence. Still, the trinkets aid in the nudge to find the us of the moment. They help you display the you of this day.
When I was little my family was Seventh Day Adventist, in Junior High I was baptized and confirmed Presbyterian, then I went to a Lutheran college for undergrad and then a Methodist college for graduate school. After college I tried to join a meditative order, I was denied. I joined the Martin Luther King Gospel Choir of San Diego. I was married in a Catholic Church. Later, I was a baptized and practicing Mormon for five years. I tried on Universalist and now I am studying Buddhism. I have studied “religion” in many forms. There are lots of paths up the same mountain and lots of people holding lots of different trinkets, trying on what feels right at the moment. And you know what…there is truth in every one and everyone.
“Treat everyone you meet as if they are God in drag.” Ram Dass speaks this truth and it resinates in my life like no other quote. Perhaps side boob and fake eyes lashes do not speak to you in this life. But something does. What do you put on when you feel most yourself? Or better yet, what trinket do you try on when you need to feel less yourself and more something else? We are all journeying up the mountain; doing the best we can to love ourselves and each other. Trying on this season of life and then the next. As Emily Dickinson noted, trying to match the landscape of this life-moment by putting trinkets on.
This winter I am working on a photo-adventure exploring drag queen performances and the beauty of this path. It promises to be vulnerable, truthful and mostly importantly…. beautiful! There will be a photography show in March and I hope you will come celebrate with me by wearing your favorite trinkets and treating everyone there as if they are God in drag. I, of course, will be wearing the longest fake eye lashes EVER, but will probably skip the side boob. See you there!
All my love,