Exploring Non-Monogamy – Many & More

Big Love’s Polygamist Mormon family

A few years ago I made a friend who told me his was polyamorous and I genuinely had no idea what he meant. I’d come across the idea of polygamy (more than one wife, generally not viewed very favourably in western society) but really as far as I knew it, a relationship was always two people, that was what was normal and that was what worked. For some people, being monogamous isn’t something they’ve ever felt comfortable with and they see this as part of their identity, a form of sexuality. For others, it may be a lifestyle that they choose to be a part of. The rather amazing and comprehensive map below shows some of the various forms non-monogamy (by Franklin Veaux, click to expand).

One of my friends is a poly activist and through a lot of in-depth conversations with him and my own experiences and explorations, I’ve come to a place of questioning how we arrive at ideas of what a relationship ‘should’ be. Some of the ideas he and others have espoused to me have definitely challenged some of my previously held views. In the same way that we might be brought up to think that a relationship should be between a man and a woman, of similar age (perhaps the man can be a little older, but not too much), race and background, but may later go on to reject or adjust these views to include more diversity of experience. Similarly, I wonder if notions of monogamy just something I’ve swallowed from my upbringing and taken on, without ever really considering? (note – I’m not expert on this topic, these are merely my own thoughts and reflections and no doubt they don’t reflect all of the complexity of different forms of non-monogamous relationships)

Love doesn’t run out – This was one of the main ideas I’ve heard people using, and it rings very true for me. Is love a finite resource? And if I love one person, does that mean I don’t have any left for others? Indeed, I have a lot of friends and family members that I love. The presence of others doesn’t seem to impact on how much I care about these individuals or the quality of our relationship (provided others don’t actively interfere). So I do believe it’s possible to love more than one person, and that I’ve often seen that in romantic/sexual love as well as the more platonic  So it seems very possible that you can fall in love with more than one person at the same time, so what happens then? I guess traditionally (and as is often part of the plot of the cheesier of soap operas), you have to (often painfully) pick. But what if you didn’t have to? It feels quite a strange notion to consider that you could love two people (or even more) without it being a conflict, which to me feels quite freeing.

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Adventures in Photography – 2012 so far

I like taking pictures, but I’m loath to call myself a ‘photographer’. My status is definitely that of an enthusiastic amateur. I’ve never had any kind of formal training, everything I know about photography has been gleamed through a trial-and-error process, youtube tutorials and impromptu lessons from knowledgeable and talented friends. I couldn’t tell you what most of the settings on my camera do, and most of my best shots are happy accidents.

Fast-forward a couple of years since my then-boyfriend got me a second-hand dSLR for my birthday (possibly the best gift I’ve ever had!) and I think I’ve definitely come a way. Work demands have meant that I never have quite as much time for photography as I’d like, but I have done several shoots with both models and friends, as well as taking my camera along to capture adventures and the world around me. I’ve created some shots that I feel really proud of. I still couldn’t tell you what most of the settings on my camera do, but I have a better idea of how I can use them to get the effect I want (even if I can’t verbalise exactly how I did it!). I still place a lot of emphasis on luck and accidental discoveries!

One of my motivations for moving to my current room was the size – it’s big with wooden floors and large windows and is well suited to a small (portrait or 3/4) studio. This excited me muchly. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only used it twice in the 10 months I’ve been here, but I’ve recently had some inspiration and am feeling inspired to do more!

Pretty much all the photography I’ve done in the last 8 months has been personal commissions. I don’t yet feel confident enough to take payment for my photography, I’ve been tending to work on a trade basis (usually I get paid in tasty food!), but working to a brief and a deadline focuses me and forced me to get my arse in gear and get on with it! So here’s a little run-down of what I’ve been up to! Often the shoots were quite a different style to what I’m used to, but it was a great opportunity to try things out and learn. It’s a real  honour when people want to use and keep my photos, it’s quite humbling.

Couples shoot

Two friends of mine who had recently got engaged asked me if I’d take some shots of them, as they said they had few together that they liked. This was a much more natural style than I usually take, but I didn’t static, studio portraits would suit them, a bit too formal! So we went off on a wander to the beautiful and leafy Snuff Mills in Bristol, which provided some nice background texture. It was a brisk and blustery day. Many shots of the couple looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, it was rather lovely and heart-warming. The shots look warm and have some personality to them, they’re hopefully not too sickly sweet!

Naughty (and nice) Shoot

One of my most fun collaborations! A friend asked me if I’d take some photos of her to give to her boyfriend as a surprise for his birthday. She wanted something a bit sexy and said she’d be most comfortable doing this with a friend than a stranger. We spent a whole day dressing up in underwear and corsets and generally being silly, striking poses. The shots ranged from a soft glamour look, a kind of geek-chic and more sensual part-nudes. I think she really enjoyed the experience and apparently his face on receiving the pictures pretty much summed it up! Very satisfying to create something that other people get so much enjoyment out of! I can’t post most of the photos as they’re for his eyes only, but I’ve included a fun one of her in her Rogue (X-Men) outfit.

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