18199104_10155411537599548_6644532035788320021_nMaking friends is probably one of the strangest social activities that we do. You find someone that you might have something in common with, you connect with that, and then you proceed to talk more and more until a friendship is created. Friendship itself is odd, too. You aren’t related to this person, you only have connections based on respect, admiration, or even desperation, but sometimes your bond is stronger with a friend than it would be with a family member. This is true especially within the Spectrum Community (LGBTQ+ people). Most of the people in the Spectrum Community have been ostracized by their family, or ridiculed enough that they might not even want to be around them, then they make those friends into their new family. Sometimes, the family you chose is better than the family you were born into.

18402126_10155428616229548_3642720823581515464_oJaime and I met on Growlr. Growlr is an app on smartphones that allows thick men (of all C levels) to meet other thick men and those who admire that thickness. In the beginning, my wanting to meet Jaime was so we could have “fun”. Instead, I sat on their couch and played a video game with Jaime, then they made me Chicken Helper (like Hamburger Helper… but with chicken).

After our first hangout, we did manage to have “fun” a few times, but our friendship grew into me seeing Jaime as family. We even did a shoot together, and it was the first time I captured a male-identifying person wearing makeup. You see, at the time Jaime didn’t identify as they/them/their/she/her/hers, they identified as a male, and their name was Jeremey.

18209167_10155408855789548_4857978714242307370_oSometime within our friendship, Jaime enlisted in volunteering for the Silence Shoot, as my direct assistant. Essentially, they were my right hand, my second in command. They had previous training in how to use a camera (they went to the Art Institutes as I did, and majored in film production), so it was an easy transition. Hopefully as easy as the transition that they came out about during one of our Silence Shoot events. Yes, Jaime (Jeremey at the time) told Michael, Sharon, and myself, that they plan on transitioning into a woman, into Jaime Fischer. We welcomed this with open arms and open minds, as family should, and nobody in our family has called Jaime “Jeremey” in years.

18451789_10155433404889548_7527218962842061701_oFor a while, we had been talking about doing a shoot together. True, I did one of Jeremey, but I didn’t do one with Jaime. Jaime was her own person, a concoction of their past, their alcoholic tendencies, and Kandi Hart. Kandi is their drag persona, and she is a true piece of work. She likes to use the catch phrase “The Fruity Pebbles of Crystal Meth”, which is what inspired me for the locations for the photographs we did. I tried to focus on the spots in Lansing that were a bit neglected, run down, and unclean- like Meth, and Jaime was the Fruity Pebbles in the center of our images.

18449420_10155433404834548_5894222393287061776_oOverall, I truly loved the images captured in this shoot. It was a form of surreal thought I had, driving back to my house from the shoot. I thought- I shot them in the forms of a caterpillar almost. It started as Jeremey, the caterpillar, then to the chrysalis- Kandi Hart. I know, one day, I will be able to capture the fully transformed, metamorphized woman that is going to be Jaime Rose Fischer.