Body Undefined - New Beginnings

A Fresh Start

 Toni Black - Self Portrait

Toni Black - Self Portrait

Hey there. It’s Toni. The creator of this soon to be poppin blog. How’s it going with you? Fantastic I hope, because winter is coming. Fall is here. And while y’all get to enjoy all things pumpkin spice *rolls eyes*, I’ll be enjoying the lovely scents of frankincense, coffee, myrrh and, ginger, cinnamon and other comforting scents that don’t remind me of all things basic. I KID and I digress... for now. *insert evil laugh* So come and relax while I unpack some things right quick, because I’m gonna be transparent for a moment. And as you find out moving forward, if I’m not anything else, I’m transparent and sometimes a little TOO honest.

 Kevin and I at the  Photo Cookout  in ATL

Kevin and I at the Photo Cookout in ATL

Where We’ve Been

Anyway, it’s been a while. 5 months to be exact. I don’t remember when the days started merging into each other. But somewhere along the way they did. And now, here we are. I dropped away because I was frustrated. Body Undefined was supposed to be this great place where people who didn’t find representation of themselves could come and unpack their shit. Instead, I got a bunch of submissions of skinny white women who looked like every other publication on the internet right now. I was mad y’all. I was mad. And don’t get me wrong, The women were beautiful, but they weren’t who I was targeting. So while venting my frustrations one day, my good friend Kevin Lowery of Skin Like Dawn told me to go with my heart. He let me know that It was okay to just focus on black women.

So I tried that. But I didn’t really have a full direction of where I wanted to go with black women. I mean I am a boudoir photographer who’s venturing away from traditional boudoir. I didn’t feel right just hosting boudoir. I wanted to also feature lifestyle portraiture. I decided to not just be a space for nakedness, but also for lifestyle. That means all things relating to black women. That could be hair, body image, sexuality, raising children… practically anything. I want to focus on the heart of the matter. Facing those insecurities in a safe space away from the eye of society and men. We can define ourselves without any of those influences. Or choose not to be defined all together.

 Toni Black - Self Portrait

Toni Black - Self Portrait

Where We’re Going

Body Undefined is a safe place for black women. Period. Here, black women can shed the thick skin they’ve had to grow because of how society views them. Black women can also avoid the sexual male gaze here. As black women, just existing can sometimes be sexual. And just existing can be political. We are defined in so many different ways, and so many of those ways aren’t even who we really are. We are not monolithic. We are so complex and so dynamic in and out of clothes. And we Because of that, I want Body Undefined to focus on the importance of loving ourselves. Black women are beautiful and we don’t have to undress to show that if we don’t want to.

I want this to be a space where black women can unpack, find representation, and be themselves regardless of their size, self orientation, sexuality, physical features, mental health, self identification or anything else between or outside of that. So black women, come in and unpack. Everyone else, come marvel in the beauty, vulnerability and realness of diasporic black women.

Tomayia Colvin Education Presents Monday's Undefined Bodies

Mondays are a drag for some of us. So what better way to cheer us up than to showcase beautiful undefined bodies submitted from different platforms around the community! So from here on out, Monday's will be for Undefined Bodies. This week, we'll be showcasing photos from the talented photographers over in the facebook community of Tomayia Colvin Education

Tomayia Colvin Education is a community focused education platform that has given a voice to people of color in an industry that is not always so welcoming. The Facebook Group states that it is "a Facebook community that celebrates and supports black female photographers, photographers of color, diversity, and is a safe space for all photographers!" The education provided there is undiluted, real and personal. So are the relationships. I've been a part of this community for a while now, and I am so excited to be able to collaborate with them to bring you this awesomeness from it's community members. So without further ado, here are some of the talented photographers over at TCE.

Instant Connection - Shannon Griffin

Have you ever connected with someone the very instant you met them? This is what happened when I first met Taliah. We met when working together in a restaurant 15 years ago. She was someone that I stayed in contact with on social media, but I hadn't seen her much since those days. There has always been an energy about her that has caused me to gravitate toward her. She's been through a lot, but still maintains such a positive outlook on life. More than that, she maintains a positive outlook on people. 


I had been craving a personal shoot. My blood needed something that made my veins feel alive. I knew that I wanted it to be boudoir focused and that I wanted to photograph a woman of color. Of course, Taliah popped in my mind. She lived in Atlanta and I happened to be traveling up there for a wedding. I reached out, nervously asked if she would be interested, and was delighted when she said,"Hell yeah!" I knew that we would create magic together. 

I showed up to her house and she was finishing up her hair and makeup. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with the warmest full-body hug. My whole being felt warm and welcome; she has that way about her. She has an infectious love and I wanted to convey that through these photographs. I wanted her to just "be" and stand before me. My job was to be still and listen to everything she had to tell me through her movements. I don't know if I did her justice, but it was my goal. I left this session with a feeling of wholeness and hope.

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Shannon Griffin is a destination Wedding and Boudoir Photographer, based out of North Florida. You can find her on instagram here or her website here.

Source: http://www.shannongriffin.com/

One Time for the Intro

Welcome to Body Undefined, it’s so good to see you here. I’m Toni, creator and Creative Director of this project. I’m also an intimate portrait lifestyle, and boudoir photographer based in Texas. I’m so excited that you’re here, sharing in this moment!

You may be asking, “What is Body Undefined and why should I care? Well I’m glad you asked.  Body Undefined is a Boudoir and Intimate lifestyle portrait blog. We are different from any other publication around because we are focusing on every  body. Our aim is to create space for every person no matter their size, gender, or sexual orientation. We desire to show their beauty and share the story of their body... because every body tells a story.

Let me be transparent for a moment. For people of color, there aren’t many places where we can find representation. Couple that with being plus-size, not conforming to the “standard” gender or sexual identification roles or both, and representation is very limited. Looking at most magazines, and media and that representation is non-existent.

There are fantastic intersectional spaces in the photography world, but their intersectionality stops at queer and trans white people. It’s time we have a space that extends beyond what society deems acceptable... a space created by a person who was born intersectional.

So here we are love. Launch day. I’m excited and nervous but here. we. are. I hope you love it as much as I do, because this is yours. It’s for you. And it’s for your clients. I hope that here, you can find inspiration, acceptance and pride.

Grab a drink of your choice and settle into Body Undefined and find your space, your voice, and your body, here.

 

With love,

Toni

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