Showing

Carl Bower

Carl Bower

 
 
About the Artist

Carl is an American editorial photographer based in Denver, CO.

 

I was first attracted to Showing because of the title. The very word—showing—implies a choice. Usually, one elects to show something. But when it comes to a pregnancy, there’s really no choice at all. When a woman is pregnant, she shows it whether she wants to or not. Carrying a developing human being inside your body is an intimate experience. And yet, it’s also out there for everyone to see.

 
 
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Private Viewing

35mm B&W film, 1995, © Carl Bower

 
 
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Scrutiny

35mm B&W film, 1995, © Carl Bower

 

That contradiction caught my attention. While I hadn’t done a series on pregnancy before, some of my previous work does attempt to capture the incongruity between outward appearance and inner life. Chica Barbie, a long-term project on the culture of beauty pageants in Colombia, dealt with the absolute mania surrounding the contests and the experiences of the participants. And, more recently, I’ve been making portraits of people who share their innermost private fears with me. It’s not that I’m particularly interested in fear. Rather, I’m interested in the relationship between who we are and who we appear to be.

To me, that’s what my series for Showing was all about—the contradictions between how a woman experiences pregnancy, and how she presents it to the world around her.

 
 
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Whiskey Judging

35mm B&W film, 1995, © Carl Bower

 
 
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Backstage

35mm B&W film, 1997, © Carl Bower

 
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Aguardiente

35mm B&W film, 1997, © Carl Bower

 
 
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Chica Barbie

35mm B&W film, 1995, © Carl Bower

 
 
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Circle of Men

35mm B&W film, 1997, © Carl Bower

 
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Cellulite

35mm B&W film, 1998, © Carl Bower

 
 
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Miss Coffee

35mm B&W film, 1997, © Carl Bower

 
 
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Janine

Digital Photograph, 2018, © Carl Bower

 

I photographed three women; all three were well into their third trimesters.  One owned a local restaurant, and another worked there as a cook. The third was an occupational therapist. I hadn’t known the first two before the project, but the therapist was working with my two-year-old daughter.

During the shoot, I tried to avoid interfering with their work as much as possible. By hiding in plain sight, I felt I could better capture their actual experiences in an immediate and visceral way, rather than allowing my presence to influence the scene.

All three women had physically demanding jobs, either standing on their feet for hours in the restaurant, or bending, squatting and crawling on the floor with small children. I went in looking to capture a degree of physical duress, but I didn’t find it. All three planned to work right up until their delivery dates and, surprisingly—to me, at least—none of them seemed at all physically compromised in what they did.

Sometimes the important thing to see is that there’s nothing to see at all.

 
 
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Chelsea

Digital Photograph, 2016, © Carl Bower

 
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Julia

Digital Photograph, 2017, © Carl Bower

 
 

Jennifer

Digital Photograph, 2017, © Carl Bower

 
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Angeline

Digital Photograph, 2018, © Carl Bower