The Brightside: Refigured Project
MILFORD, Del. – “I’ve met a lot of people in my 43 years, and I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who doesn’t have an insecurity about something,” John Mollura, a Milford based photographer, said. He’s using those insecurities that we all have to make people feel more beautiful.
“I actually need to give full credit to my friend Ashley, I got a message from her a few weeks ago and she said during a long drive to work she started thinking about her husband who had just undergone major cancer surgery,” he said.
John says Ashley’s husband was worrying about a scar from that surgery and how it would look when he went to the beach or to the pool. Those worries gave Ashley an idea.
“She said, what if you created portraits of people showing their scars in a more beautiful way than usual?” John explained.
John says he loved the idea and immediately knew who his first subject would be: himself, photographing his cleft foot, something he’s struggled with since the day he was born.
“It’s not shaped correctly, it’s about two sizes smaller, my left calf is pretty much skeletal, there’s very little muscle mass,” he said.
And that’s when John says a light bulb went off in his head and he knew his project had to be called Refigured. It’s a reminder that anything we consider ugly or disfigured about ourselves can be seen in a new light. Since coming up with the name, John has photographed other people, baring their bodies and showing physical pain and scars they’ve endured.
“This is a colleague of mine named Robert, who had open heart surgery, and the doctor said when they did a basic stress test, ‘we’re not sure how you’re alive right now,'” John said, showing a photograph of Robert.
But John shows their emotional and mental battles, too. One subject is Casey Jensen.
“What Casey is showing here are scars that were left from almost a decade of active addiction, these are the scars left over from his opioid addiction from intravenous drug use,” John said, showing a photograph of Casey.
And while the photos can be sometimes hard to look at, Casey says he hopes people see the scars as stories.
“Some people might see a scar as the end of something, or you know just this big thing, but they’re not, they’re just the beginning, the beginning of a story, a story of redemption,” Casey said.
He says the vulnerability of showing scars is worth it to spread photos and a message of hope.
“Don’t give up, don’t let one experience or one thing define you, just use it as a turning point, or a chapter in your book, just keep on writing, turn it around, and make the next chapter even better,” Casey said.
As for the man behind the camera, John says it’s all about helping people feel stronger and more beautiful in their own bodies. He says he feels like he’s doing just that, especially after getting a message from Kelly, a woman he photographed who had scars after being hit by a car. This is what that message said: “You can do everything they said you couldn’t, you can do everything you said you couldn’t. You can cry, scream, pity yourself, be in pain, and come out the other side happier, wiser, and free-er.”
And it’s reactions like that that motivate John to continue showcasing refigured.
“I had like chills…I have chills again, I have goosebumps,” John said of the message.
If you want to see more of the project, you can search refigured project on Facebook and Instagram. John says he’s going to keep photographing as many people who want to share their story and those shoots are all free. If you want to share your story, you can search John Mollura photography on Facebook.