Over the past few years, when we were in the states, the majority of my shoots were at my house. It would have been nice to be able to change environments, but with the limited resources of an artist, I was forced to work with what I had. Creative confinements are good and though there was nothing particularly grand or ornate about my surroundings, our 1920's home provided plenty of charm.
From the outside people said it looked like a doll house. Standing quietly on a corner lot, there was a humble cuteness to the tudor-esque housethat half confined itself within a white picket fence. Inside there was enough appealing architectural features to enjoy, but what was usually most striking to people had nothing to do with this.
Coming through the door most models were instantly greeted by my family, which consists of my wife and me plus, more often than not, hugs from our four kids. The regularly, slightly shocked look that most people have in meeting them obviously doesn't come from having never seen a family before, but more so from my wife and I being relatively young. Mix this with the fact that the ages of the three oldest girls (currently) range from eleven to eight with a three year old boy at the end and, from most peoples perspectives, we "got some susplainin' to do", so to say.
At this point there's always a series of diplomatically asked questions: Are they all yours? Are the kids off school today? How old were you when you had your first and got married? What religion are you? The progressive yet respectful prying is something that I'm accustomed to. I've experienced it so many times, not only with my own family, but also growing up, that it's amusing. I guess when you're raised in a way that defies the cultural norms and expectations you get used to the rabbit hole of questioning, because the answers rarely have the desired satiating effect they're are looking for. "Yes they're all ours. We homeschool. Married at twenty one and had our first at twenty two (and started dating a few weeks into our freshman year in college). Agnostic.", are the answers in order. Contrasting all this with the fact that it's not a secret the model is there to be photographed nude makes it more difficult for people to explain us with preconceived notions about what an American family is supposed to be.
Where my life is isn't a construct of novelty or different for it's own sake though, it's where it is because of what my wife and I am compelled towards. The task of raising an informed and intelligent generation, the beauty of art, the respect and appreciation of culture, the importance of self actualization, etc. are all things that we try and actively implement into our lives. Though we don't hit all these notes with perfection this is how I would simply explain our position.
To me my life is good and makes sense. If, in this process, we contradict the assumptions of most peoples inductive reasoning's of how things are and should be, then I'm fine with that. I have no problem seeing the grounds of dogmas we overly rely on being undermined if they conflict with reality and I know I can't be alone in this.