From Cambodia to Cuba to California, photographer Cebe Loomis has traveled all over the world exploring the phenomenon of the human condition and capturing moments in time through her photography. 'Women and the Still Image' is her diverse and fascinating documentation of female truth captured in the moments that matter most, raw and unprecedented.
Words from the Photographer
As an anthropological photographer interested in the human condition, I’ve come to find that the most self-conscious photographic subjects are women, girls, older, younger… all over the world. The interaction begins as an awkward laugh, shifting eyes looking from my camera to the floor, jumbled words or gestures that always express a variation of the question, “Why me?, “Why would you want to shoot me?”. Even when the subject is willing to be photographed, self-doubt inevitably begins to creep back through the assumed ability to instantly see the image, disapprove, scrutinize and retake the frame because a thigh may not be at the right angle for an optimum gap.
This is why I shoot with film. Normally, I will take one, maybe two frames, that’s it. Whatever I end up capturing is what I saw in my subject for those few moments they allowed me. No redos and no editing. What I’ve come to realize through this shooting process is that when I eventually get the roll developed and show the subjects their images, many of the women feel some pull, some connection, some emotion, some something to the honesty of the image, and how it seems to truly depict their personhood at the time.
It’s interesting because sometimes self-doubt is an emotion felt within the portrait, but for the most part, what is seen is a moment of self-acceptance and ease.
When using film, there is a relationship the subject must form with the camera because of the silence and time needed for the photographer to capture the image. During these extra moments spent in silence and stillness, the subject is forced to stop spitting guarded words, halt defiant gestures, and be silent with themselves, their observer, and ultimately, confront the tool that had initially caused their cycle of self-loathing. The result of this vacuumed moment often manifests itself through the image, as an honest confrontation of self.
Women and the Still Image
Cebe Loomis is dedicating her career to further exploring the power of anthropological photography as a form of art activism. Specializing in ethnographic photo essays, Loomis has conducted research in various countries, from exploring the street art movements in India, Senegal, Argentina and Germany, to exploring the deeply rooted nationalism still present in Cuba's socio-economic framework today, to illuminating the hopes and fears of a group of boys graduating from high school in Malibu, California.