Photographer Shares Her Emotional Turmoil In Compelling Self Portrait Series [NSFW]

Jul 6, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Photographer Shares Her Emotional Turmoil In Compelling Self Portrait Series [NSFW]

Jul 6, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

samantha-geballe-header

One of the hardest things to find in today’s society is real, unabashed honesty.  There’s no shortage of people spouting their views and opinions, but very rarely do we see beneath the surface or reveal our true selves to those around us.

Samantha Geballe is an exception to the rule.  The fine art and conceptual portrait photographer explains that she strives to “explore human emotion from the inside out.”  Samantha, who has long struggled with self acceptance and body image due to obesity, took a step of courage to convey her emotional struggles to the world through honest and revealing self-portraiture.  While art is often reflective of our inner selves to some degree, we are often not willing to become this vulnerable and real.

(Warning:  Graphic content after the jump.)

The series is broken into two phases, one depicting her struggles before gastric bypass surgery, the second phase depicting her road to recovery, both physically and emotionally.

Phase 1

This is not another fat kid’s story.  There are times when I do assume that role, but it does not define me.  I don’t have the body I have for no reason, but it would be all too easy to extend blame.  What people don’t often see are the functions of obesity.  I hide behind my size, mask vulnerabilities, and create walls as a way to protect myself.  Something I have learned and portray in my art is that being vulnerable and forming connection have created new function and even healing.  I share my body and my story not as a way to seek pity or define myself as a number, but as a venue for a viewer to say “I’ve been there too.”

I take self-portraits as a way to reverse perspective from how I see myself to my interpretation of how I am seen by others.  This body of work represents the feeling that interpretation provokes.  This work does not exclusively relate to obesity or size.  It is also about misuse of a human and not being seen as such.  This is a body of work that requires fearlessness.  I have had to set my fears aside in order to convey my intended message.  I think judgment derives from lack of information, meaning – when we don’t know the whole story, we fill in the missing pieces with our own knowledge.  I think the reason we fight as a community is that we dissociate from humanity, not allowing ourselves to really know a person is a person. 

Regardless of appearance, everyone has been made to feel small at some point.  My hope is to generate a relationship between myself and others through my work, and I ask you, as a viewer, to look for the similarities instead of the differences. 

– Samantha Geballe

samantha-geballe-phase-one-02

samantha-geballe-phase-one-03

samantha-geballe-phase-one-01

samantha-geballe-phase-one-04

samantha-geballe-phase-one-05

samantha-geballe-phase-one-07

samantha-geballe-phase-one-09

samantha-geballe-phase-one-10

samantha-geballe-phase-one-11

samantha-geballe-phase-one-12

samantha-geballe-phase-one-13

samantha-geballe-phase-one-14

samantha-geballe-phase-one-16

Phase 2

A shift happened. I wasn’t expecting it, and then I saw it start to happen. I tried to stop it and I couldn’t and then it was just here. And that is when my feelings about the work changed.  

Here’s how it happened: When I began my self-portrait series, it was an expression of my pain and anger, a journey through self-acceptance, and way to bridge the gap between myself and others.  Now that I feel like less of a target, I can see that I photographed myself to cope.  It made me feel better.

I am realizing that this series helped me process my own denial about my eating disorder.  I had once again lost control of my weight/eating and unknowingly, my dysfunction became my muse.  This insight is what I initially resisted. I didn’t know if I was ready to move away from feeling angry. It felt good to scream as loud as I could in a silent photograph. I am upset about that phase ending, but it is over. I try to go back and can’t.  It doesn’t feel real anymore.

I don’t want it to seem like my shift happened because I had gastric bypass. It honestly just materialized that way.  My life looks radically different now than it did before surgery and I’m realizing it will look radically different again soon. A new chapter is beginning in my life, and I have to embrace it whether I like it or not.  This is the direction of my work.

There is absolutely no denying the fact that life is easier at a smaller, healthier size.  I feel privileged to be able to cross my legs.  And not worry so much about seating situations, fitting in chairs, and fitting in general.  The world felt unmanageable at that size.  If only I had known then that it would all change and I would still be myself.  

This phase of self-portrait work is about embracing changeIt’s about learning to navigate life without the dysfunction and defense of excess weight.  It’s about learning to live in a new body.  It’s about awareness of time and what changes time will bring.  The weight has been a distraction from life.  It’s easy to lose sight of priorities when size monopolizes your daily living.  As this series has started to develop, so has my clarity.

After surgery, everyone thought I would just be happy and all my problems would disappear. The odd thing is that I feel left with myself now more than ever.   There’s no fantasy or smoke and mirrors.  It’s just real.  

– Samantha Geballe

samantha-geballe-phase-two-02

samantha-geballe-phase-two-01

samantha-geballe-phase-two-03

samantha-geballe-phase-two-04

samantha-geballe-phase-two-05

samantha-geballe-phase-two-06

samantha-geballe-phase-two-07

samantha-geballe-phase-two-08

samantha-geballe-phase-two-09

samantha-geballe-phase-two-10

samantha-geballe-phase-two-11

samantha-geballe-phase-two-12

samantha-geballe-phase-two-13

Samantha’s bravery in sharing her life and struggles is a challenge to many of us who prefer to slap on a pretty face and parade around an image or identity that WE want the world see.  What kind of world would it be if each of us could peel back our masks and be so brutally honest about who we are, our struggles, and failures?  What kind of world would it be if we saw people for who they truly are and treated them as such?

You can see more of Samantha’s outstanding work on her website, or follow her on Facebook for continued updates.

[Self-Portraiture by Samantha Geballe]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 responses to “Photographer Shares Her Emotional Turmoil In Compelling Self Portrait Series [NSFW]”

  1. Ayo Odumade Avatar
    Ayo Odumade

    Scott James Seggie should pies do this?

  2. Garr8 Avatar
    Garr8

    I admire your bravery and honesty, Samantha. And I wish you health and happiness for the future.

  3. spectremANDROID Avatar
    spectremANDROID

    Well… That is brave. I certainly don’t have the balls…

  4. Kay Vaillan Avatar
    Kay Vaillan

    Thank you, Samantha’s work is very moving

  5. Paul Menard Avatar
    Paul Menard

    powerful, alot of pictures do capture those difficult emotions

  6. akshayjamwal Avatar
    akshayjamwal

    This takes tremendous courage.