Woman contemplating next to a pile of books and a large onion
Photos & Projects

‘Musing’ about a 35mm Film Photography Series – By Tamara Masa

April 3, 2021

When debating about what to write for a blog post, I thought about what inspires me to photograph, because those inspirations are connected and propel my desire to write. I had a realization that more than anything other, humans drive my inspiration. Their bodies, the way that they carry themselves and how they appear in certain spaces/environments spurs my creativity. A conversation with a friend the other day reaffirmed just how different every single individual is – no two people alike. I was once again enthused to write after this conversation.

How A-muse-ing

On my website, timeilluminated.com there is a photography blog post about my series that I call ‘Muse’. It was inspired by the human body as the starting point for a creative force. In this series I play around with the two definitions of the word ‘muse’;
“To muse means to ponder, to think, to examine and deliberate” and “a muse is a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.”

This connects my inspirations: humans and the way that humans are swayed towards creativity and genius. Sometimes I try to capture both ideas in one image. It is almost pedagogical, except instead of learning about the art of teaching, I am learning about the art of inspiration. I ask my models to be natural and avoid any makeup or what I call ‘applied beauty’ in the photographs. Natural is beautiful and I think admiration of a muse comes from the soul- the manifestation of an energy, not their external characteristics. Let’s normalize that.

The Process

When shooting for this series, I ask the model to do what feels most comfortable, to just move around in the given space. This freedom and agency enables them to get comfortable with themselves, me and the space. As I photograph, I am watching what inspires them, why they choose certain poses and what might make them particularly uncomfortable and why. How do the hands speak when other body parts cannot? How do we move from inside our head and the self-conscious to feeling sheer confidence? I also ask comparative questions like; how do eyes tell a story when they look at the camera or look away?

If you do a quick google search of a muse, you are likely to encounter an abundance of feminine figures, typically women that are more than half naked. I do not perceive a muse like this. This version of the muse is the 21st century’s way of trying to impose ideas and to push you to continue to consume sexualized products because- SEX SELLS! I believe that a man can be a muse as well and that a muse does not need to be a stereotypical naked woman. Every individual is beautiful and a creative force in their own way. In my film photography thus far, women have been more comfortable to get vulnerable in front of a camera for me than men. I hope to continue this series and explore more visions of the ‘muse’.

Woman studying

“Just muse-ing.” 35mm photograph by @timeilluminated

Woman turning her back to the camera

I am not a-mused.” 35mm photograph taken by @timeilluminated

Male brushing his teeth

“You a-muse me.”
35mm photograph taken @timeilluminated

Girl looking out of the window

“Muse-ing About You.” 35mm Film Photography by @timeilluminted

Male reading a novel thoughtfully

“Dazed and con-mused.”
35mm Film Photography by @timeilluminated

Two people barely visible in a dim light setting

35mm Film Photography by @timeilluminated

Never Stop Musing

Film photography has greatly inspired me to continue working on creative projects. Generating series that tell stories, invoking inspiration and speaking to audiences beyond their current time is my goal. To supplement my storytelling through photography, I recently launched a phone case small business. My latest collection, “Time Eliminated” stands for willpower, strength and perseverance. My father’s genuine will when quitting smoking inspired this. I guess my fascination with human beings continues. Check out my collection on my website!


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  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    April 6, 2021 at 8:08 am

    This is a ‘heavy’ piece of conceptualisation Tamara, but I guess it’s what feeds our individuality in any of the arts. Interesting and thought provoking. Keep the faith.

    • Reply
      Tamara Masa
      April 6, 2021 at 2:08 pm

      Thank you so much Brian! I do love what I do and will continue to use photography as my preferred language! All the best.

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