As Vanessa

As the music played and she moved, sitting in my mama’s wheelchair, I could feel my eyes water. For the first time in my life, in the middle of shooting, I found my self moved to tears. She was unafraid to be so raw.

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Unedited. Untouched like the first photo in this story, I will aim to write about this session with all realness, just to give justice to the moments that brought me where I am at present.

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She came in bare-faced, loaded with energy. We immediately got talking and I shared with her my vision for the shoot. A concept that goes along the lines of “imprisoned but free” – this thought just brought to mind a book I read for my philosophy class in university, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Good read.

Vanessa and I found common ground in parallel feelings, we laughed about dark times and enjoyed ourselves in the present. Then I said something that surprised me, I directed her by saying, “Just be me.” I let her in my little world, and we captured it. This post could also be aptly named, “As Vanessa, As Ritz” because… Well, just read and watch the story unfold.

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There’s an old saying that goes something like the body is the prison of the soul. But I choose to see it from a different perspective, that the body is a shell for our soul. Have you ever marveled at the beauty of a simple shell? If you haven’t, try it out and just marvel at the flawless design of nature.

There were just those times when I felt like I was behind bars. Sometimes imagined, and sometimes real. But no matter where these pockets of prison were, the element that saved me was my imagination.

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Dreaming would soothe my spirit. I knew that the reality I faced, harsh as it may have been, was merely temporary. Though I had no idea how to get myself out of the situation, I trusted the universe to bring me to a much better place. Some may call these concepts, faith and hope.

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No matter what darkness I found (or lost) myself in, I would always hope for a better tomorrow. No matter what.

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When I would try to curve for a smile between my lips, I would feel my tear ducts swell. It was like my body was giving the world the honesty I could not accept.

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“Are you okay?” They asked.
I would stay silent and think, “Do you really care?”
Then they would look at me like I had a disability.

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It got to a point where I became exhausted just trying to explain myself. So for a few months, I became a hermit trying to find peace in my little shell of the world.

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As the winds of change swept through my existence, my self evolved.

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I felt a strange surge of strength. However, I questioned my ability to sustain that power. Then, I realized that the strongest people were once the most broken. I scrambled to find silver linings in the situations I found myself faced with.

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Time brought a certain sense of healing.

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Until one day, I found myself able to hear the beauty of sound again. I chose to embrace this profound experience of pain and listen patiently to the message it was trying to relay.

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Music became my sanctuary. Space, my guide.

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Though darkness still enveloped the horizon, I remained still.

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For it is only a matter of time when night gives way to the day.

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“Remain still.”
I constantly reminded myself.

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I remained in my little corner of the world.

With songs on repeat, I paused time and let me be me.

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Like a lunatic, I stared at the moon.

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Some may call it madness, while some may call it genius. I’d like to see it as a process. I just did what I know I had to in order for my joy to awakened.

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I set forth to create.

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Create a reality worth living.

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In my silence, I screamed.

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In speaking, I was silent.

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In destruction, I felt life.

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In darkness, I found light.

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In chaos, I found peace.

Then, I realized that everything led to me remembering my self. In so few words, let’s just say I found who I am in myself.

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I am different.

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In a place where everyone wants to be seemingly normal, it’s a challenge to be something else.

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But sometimes one just has to fuck with normalcy (pardon my well-used profanity) and embrace who they are, as they are.

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I embraced my trinity.

Model: Vanessa (Elite Manila)
Photographer: Ritz Marie

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