Decisions For Healthy Living

I’d been looking forward to this shoot for a long time, and was tickled to death by the time we got started yesterday. There are a ton of frames to sort, cull, edit, and process, and I’ve probably already found two dozen shots with which I’m completely in love. But of course I had to start with the shot for The Book Club.

There are many facets of healthy living addressed in this book, and many more that are probably brought to mind: what to eat, what to drink, smoking cessation, regular check-ups, how much to exercise, and so on. But something I find interesting is a facet of healthy living probably not addressed in such a book. I would be shocked to open this book (or one like it) and find a chapter addressing our collective decisions regarding body image, and public display of our bodies.

I’d be a rich man, had I a dollar for every time I’ve heard some variation of “I’d love to have you do photos of me, but first I have to lose X pounds”. We’re taught from a young age what society deems an acceptable body. How strange (and boring) the world would be, if every body looked the same! In my profession, I’m privileged to see all sorts of bodies, in all sorts of shapes, and sizes, and colors. I’m tickled to death that my models and clients don’t all look the same. There are two things they all have in common: none of them – not one – perfectly fits society’s demands, and all of them – every one – has given society the finger and put their body on display to some extent on this website. And they’re all beautiful, don’t you think?

Another aspect of that decision is this overarching disapproval by some segments of society for putting anyone’s body on display, no matter the shape or size. Nudity is this weird thing in our society that is somehow shameful or taboo. It’s bizarre, really. Everyone is naked when they’re born, everyone is naked when they bathe, everyone is naked under the clothes we insist are mandatory at all times in public. And it’s this strange graduated shame that puzzles me the most. There are places where “a little” nudity, or nudity of specific body parts is allowed, for certain purposes and in certain circumstances. So a painting of a nude woman in a museum is ok (though once it was only under the pretense of divine beings). A similar photograph is relegated to a “men’s magazine”. Nude nipples are allowed sometimes for men in public, but usually not for women, even when they’re breast-feeding. What’s that even about? A nude ass can be cheeky in very strict circumstances (I’m thinking of the old Coppertone bottles), but certainly not on a city bus or in a public park. Vulva are almost always verboten in any but the most liberated of art spaces, and then in very limited moderation. And penis? If it’s not flaccid and in a 400 year-old painting, there’s an arrest on the imminent horizon (outside of porn, which of course no good, decent folk would be caught dead viewing).

I guess with genitals one could argue they’re linked directly to sex (which of course is dirty and shameful itself and should never ever be done, much less in public, am I right???). But I’m still not clear on what that has to do with anything, really. It’s a weird bunch of hang-ups, if you ask me. What the hell is wrong with us?

Anyway, I’m rambling and venting at this point. That happens.

So it’s appropriate to the topic at hand that there was some discussion about which of Mirielle’s poses we were going to put up for The Book Club shot. In the end we went with this one because it was somewhat less revealing than our first choice. It’s a decision we made together, and one I nearly always have to make with each model and client about each shot we use. It’s an important decision. It has to be a healthy decision for them.

And that’s just as much a Decision for Healthy Living as any other in that book. Let’s not forget that.



To repeat the disclaimer, this is a project about re-discovery. It’s about remembering who I am, what I’m about, what I love and what I do not. Fair warning, this project will be posted here rather than at my SFW site because there will be nudity from time to time. Some of it will be of me, some not, some artistic and pretty to look at, some just raw.

I don’t intend to think of something every day and then shoot it, though I may do that sometimes, too. But sometimes I will just shoot, and then find something about myself in the frames and post about that thing, whatever it is.

All my #365SelfDiscovery posts will be filed here.


Related Posts


Louis Shackleton is a boudoir, portrait, art, event, and wildlife photographer formerly based in Wilmington, NC and now traveling the continent in his 2001 VW Passat named Gypsy.

Head on over to the About page to read more about him and his work.

More About Me
Like it? Share it!

Privacy Preference Center

%d bloggers like this: