The Art of Vulnerability by Bridget Laudien

As many of you know, aside for the Unraveled Academy, Coleen Hodges & I have created a workshop called, Becoming Unraveled. Throughout that workshop, we try our hardest to help every artist cleanse their creative spirit. We do our very best to walk with our students hand-in-hand to help them evolve their voice, find balance, and effectively live the creative life of their dreams. We always hope that the end result will be a creative awakening where the artist feels ready to put themselves out there into the world in the most raw and authentic way possible. Only then can an artist truly create the art they were made to create. 

We were so incredibly touched by Bridget's homework submission during the last run of our workshop that we wanted to share it with you all today. Bridget is one of the strongest humans we have ever known and we are so proud and grateful to walk alongside her as she authentically shares her story and bares her soul. Bridget, you are forever cherished here at UA. 


The Art of Vulnerability by Bridget Laudien

There’s no way to ever really circumvent the truth so embracing it has always seemed like the
best option to me, even when it’s scary. I’ve suffered multiple traumas throughout my life; most
of them before I turned 21, the worst of which was at the hands of a family member before I was
even a teen. While these tribulations certainly did many things to me, I was never silenced. My
early years as a photographer were spent chronicling the emotional and physical scars of
everybody I knew, very much including myself. Self portraits became an incredibly cathartic way
for me to explore and process who I was and everything that I’d been through.

By the time I began the Becoming Unraveled workshop in January it had been many years
since my last self portrait. I’d been busy healing, working, getting married, building a new life for
myself. As soon as we were assigned our big, meaningful shoot I diligently started planning. We
could photograph whomever we wanted and I did not want to use myself. I felt beautiful now,
and loved. I’m more at peace with my past; the poignancy of which seemed to pale in
comparison to the old me I used to photograph so artistically. My fear spent weeks convincing
me that I wasn’t worth capturing, that the images wouldn’t be good enough, that I wasn’t ready.
It almost worked too, until one by one, all of my sessions fell through. Time was running out and
I realized it was time to silence my fears and stand face to face with the woman I’ve become. I
was going to do this whether I was ready or not.

So one day at home, with some lighthearted music playing in the background, I set up a tufted
bench in front of a clean white wall. The timing was just right so the room filled with soft ambient
lighting and I disrobed. For the first time ever, I got in front of my camera with the intention of
capturing the softer side of myself. The images were light, airy, and simple; the worst set of self
portraits I’ve ever taken. I created them with what I thought my triumph over darkness had to
look like, but they were not me. I had become so relaxed with my body that the nudity felt
irrelevant, almost lazy. The brightness made for perfect exposures and honest depictions of
what I look like, but not who I am. I reread the Unraveled content again, “share yourself
authentically with the world.”

A couples days later I photographed myself again. Only now I focused on my interpretation of
this glorious place I’m at; very dramatic low light, a flowery dress, my wedding ring, my
cleavage. I used movement to celebrate and visually represent my transformation. My husband
came in for the transition shots because of how massively integral he’s been to my journey.
These images are me: deep, complex, strong, emotive, dynamic. At first it was ironically rather
uncomfortable to see myself in my new, comfortable state of embodying womanhood. That
initial uneasiness with my vulnerability has never fully disappeared, but then it’s followed by a
wave of empowerment and liberation. Of course now, like every time I share my most vulnerable
work, I’ll go into a slight state of panic because wherever my courage is, my fear isn’t far behind.
But naturally, I’m not letting that stop me.