Crack Me Open: Vulnerability & the Creative Process

June 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Several years ago, during a look-book shoot for an up-and-coming fashion designer, I took a several photographs that didn't end up making it into the final product. But those images inspired me for many years, and I kept wanting to revisit them in an art-related project somehow:

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But, as often happens, the inspiration was a quick blip on the radar and it faded just as quickly. (Which is why I always recommend having some sort of sketch pad available. It's important to honor your inspiration. Use a napkin or post-it note if need be!)

The inspiration sat dormant for years until just a few weeks ago when Jess, the model that I work with often, texted me one of the above photos, reminding me that I had told her that I wanted to do something with it.

I sat there looking at my phone, drawing a complete blank. "I have no idea what I was originally thinking about," I confessed to her.

Knowing the theme and palette of my current project, Jess made some suggestions for how to alter the pose and intention and listed some costume choices that she had available. 

Let me just say that as an artist it is such a great gift to have friends that I can be vulnerable with, who understands my vision AND who are willing to do some of the crazy things that are required to model for me.

Luckily this was one of the most simple shoots I've done, and we were able to nail the shot in less than four takes:

A graceful woman in a white tutu pulls at a giant red wound on her bare back."Crack Me Open" Fine Art Photography by Jen Kiaba.Click to Purchase a Limited Edition Fine Art Print.

This image ended up being titled "Crack Me Open" because, sometimes, things have to break wide open in order to heal again properly. To me it is about the vulnerability needed to even get this photograph in the first place.

Just like in the creation of this image, if we never allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to be seen, we'll never be able to let others in. There is a power in the creative process when you involve others (I'm talking select, trust worthy others here. Remember, I'm a big believer in the healing power of sharing in safe spaces).

One one hand there is the pain and shame we can sometimes associate with being vulnerable. I had to open up and say, "Hey I want to create something beautiful and meaningful out of my pain. Can I trust you enough to see all of this and not judge me?"

But when we find those safe spaces, we can let go of the shame and revel in the deep beauty and creative energy that being vulnerable allows.

Because in the end, we're all a little bit broken. But I believe that there is deep new strength to be found within the process of healing. 

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