Pain & Loneliness by Hannah Kozak

Editor Carrie Seitzinger, Photography, August 18th, 2014

Art that mends what life painfully destroys.

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Hannah Kozak: Julia Margaret Cameron 5th Edition – Female Photographer of the Year for Nudes from Pain and Loneliness. Award reception for the 3rd Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography at the Heritage Municipal Museum, in Malaga, Spain, September 18th to November 9th, 2014.

From the photographer:

“I use my camera as a means of exploring my feelings and emotions. My photos are my emotional predicaments. When someone allows me to photograph them, they give me a piece of themselves that I can forever hold onto. In moments of melancholic desire and solitude, I can feel them again from the connection of our photos. My photographs are direct, honest and without pretense. I love natural light. Artificial lighting is a travesty of reality.

“I create pictures of love, passion, hope, fear, abuse, heartbreak, acceptance, resurrection, rebirth. I paint life. I dream, hope, need and desire to create something about our world with my expression.

“I am an extremely private, concealed person, and I have never allowed myself to be vulnerable. My whole life, I have played the tough girl: for twenty-five years I earned my living as a Hollywood stuntwoman. In relationships I mastered the sweep-you-off-your-feet, typically male role of the pursuer, and in my family there was so much dysfunction that I learned how to bury my feelings. Expressing tender emotions or being vulnerable was never an option in any part of my life…until I fell in love.

“It wasn’t the ‘being in love’ that softened my hard exterior, it was when my love was no longer reciprocated. Being rejected re-opened my childhood wound of abandonment and threw me into an emotional tailspin. From there it was a short trip to shattered self-worth, obsession, and then depression. At these times, at my deepest, darkest lows, when I was most vulnerable, I reached for the camera. These images are not about sexuality, but rather vulnerability.

“Rather than run from the depths of my loneliness, or revert to obsessive-compulsive or self-abusive behaviors, I chose to turn into the pain, let my guard down, and surrender in front of the camera lens. My hope is that these photos withhold as much information as they give.

“These un-retouched photos remind me how brave it is to be revealing, honest, and raw while showing my soft, feminine, vulnerable side. Instead of focusing on being naked, which is accidental, I like to think of the portraits as nudes which are purposeful, powerful, and intentional. Exposing myself with such truth and authenticity is empowering and it is my way of telling my psyche that I am okay.”

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Hannah Kozak was born to a Polish father and a Guatemalan mother in Los Angeles, CA. At the age of ten, she was given a Kodak Brownie camera by her father. While working in a camera store at the age of twenty, she met Victoria Vanderkloot, who helped  her begin a 25 year career as a stuntwoman. She worked as a stunt double for celebrated stars Cher, Angelina Jolie, Lara Flynn Boyle and Isabella Rossellini. Kozak looks for things to photograph that feel real and honest. After decades of standing in for someone else, she now is in control of her destiny and vision. Find her official website here.

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Carrie Seitzinger

Carrie Seitzinger is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Seitzinger is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.
Learn more about her at her official site.