Tara Layman and Kat Reed first met at a diabetes camp in northern California. Layman, a photographer, was working on her Master’s thesis photographing families touched by diabetes. As she worked, she was struck by the invisibility of the condition, so she and Reed joked that they should create a calendar showcasing people with Type 1 in tasteful, nude silhouettes, clad only in CGMs and exposed sensor sites.
Now, after the successful release of a 2015 T1D Exposed Nude Diabetes Advocacy Calendar, and an immediate outpouring of support from the diabetes community, the project is back with a new calendar and a fresh batch of body acceptance.
For this year’s model recruitment, the pair conducted Skype calls of potential subjects. They had plenty of people from which to choose. Layman and Reed enjoyed being able to have a bigger pool of models for the 2015 calendar, as it was important to them to show more diversity in age, body type, and ethnicity in the calendar’s second edition.
“I was just amazed at the people willing to fly in from out of state,” said Reed, a health care professional who works as the calendar’s project manager.
After putting themselves in front of the camera for the 2015 calendar, Reed and Layman had newfound respect for people willing to expose themselves and share their stories. The two wanted pieces of those stories to come through in the 2016 portraits, so they allowed models to pose with props reflecting their passions. Models posed with swimming gear, a bowling ball, or a musical instrument, for example. Model Kiana McCourt says she was proud to be part of the calendar.
“This project literally strips us down, no photoshop,” said McCourt. “I think it’s cool to have something so real and authentic out there.”
McCourt is currently a senior philosophy student at the University of California Berkeley and also helped with the T1D Exposed Instagram account (@t1d.ex) to increase social media presence. She jumped on board shortly after hearing about the first calendar.
“I feel their project is really empowering for everybody with Type 1,” McCourt said.
Reed and Layman were ecstatic about the increased production value this year, as well. Thanks to sponsorship from Rebel Sun, a camera and lighting rental company, the two were able to host shoots in a studio, unlike last year when they created a makeshift studio in a house. However, they did decide to stick with the black and white portraits of 2015. They believe minimalism is what makes the photos so eye-catching and empowering.
“It’s about the person and their body,” Layman said. “[Black and white] feels more powerful and the emotion comes out more.”
During a phone interview, the bond between Layman and Reed became very evident, especially when they finished each other’s sentences. Layman says the pair play off each other’s strengths.
“I think the way that you get a beautiful project is by having a little bit of structure and also letting what naturally happens create what it’s going to create,” Layman explained. “I think we balance each other out. Kat is very organized and I’m very…”
“Artistic,” Reed finished while laughing.
“Artistic,” Layman echoed, not missing a beat. “[Kat] keeps me to a schedule and I keep her on her toes.” Reed burst into more laughter in the background, and it seems that volumes were spoken without words between the two during this exchange.
The two say they never set out with the intention of creating an annual calendar, it was just a cool idea to try. But since releasing the calendar last year, they’ve received messages of support from around the world and requests from people who want to model for the next year’s calendar. They’ve already compiled a list of 40 models to pick from for 2017. The duo is expecting to donate an estimated $10,000-$15,000 to several diabetes organizations with the projected sales of the 2016 calendars, more than five times the amount they raised the previous year.
To purchase a calendar, you can visit the official T1D Exposed website. If you live in the San Francisco area, you can purchase one at the free launch event on December 4th at the Institute of Possibility.
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