A few weeks ago I got an email from a friend. She is a performer (dance, burlesque, theater) named Jean Wildest and she asked if I would help document her transition from female to male. Of course I said yes.
We took some time brainstorming ideas and decided that right around Christmas we'd shoot her first step, getting her hair cut. We'd do before and after shots and play around with a couple different looks, both feminine and masculine.
On the day, she came in with a couple different outfits and we decided to just shoot as much as we could before she had to leave for her appointment. So we shot for about an hour and then she took off. I spent the next 2 hours looking through what we had done. Honestly, I was pretty satisfied with what we got. If thats all we had shot for the day, I think we'd both been patting ourselves on the back. Jean has always been fun, spirited, and willing to try things. So she's a dream to shoot with.
Two hours later she came back and reinforced everything I believe about the human spirit. Look, I'm sure we can all be reductive and say "it's just a haircut." But take a moment and understand that this is somebody taking a step closer to who they are. A step towards being authentic. A step towards being the person they see themselves as. And it shows in every photograph we took.
We shot for 2 more hours and Jean was so happy the whole time. She felt like herself. You can see it come through regardless of if we were taking a goofy headshot, or a serious dramatically lit glamour shot.
The essence of this boils down to something I strongly believe. We are at our best when we are our most authentic selves. Today, you may not know who that person is truly. But every decision you make can move you closer or take you farther away. When you get taken farther away, you can feel it. Take a moment. Recalibrate. We're not always perfect people. But we can be true.
*All pronouns used match Jean's wishes at this time. Click any of the images to view in a lightbox.