This article was originally published on December 23, 2015.
Photographer and filmmaker Deidre Schoo
had only just moved to New York City when she met burlesque performer Rose Wood. "I had been photographing the neo-burlesque movement," she recalls. "It was at one of those shows where I met Rose. I think she actually approached me….She was so friendly and inviting; we just clicked. The relationship began there, and I photographed her closely for two years."
At the time, Wood — who was assigned male at birth — was on the cusp of her hormonal and surgical transition toward a female body, which she invited Schoo to document. "I met her through performance," Schoo says, "but, really, our relationship was a lot about transformation. At that time especially, she was beginning her transformation, and she was kind of figuring out what that was going to be."
The trust that Wood and Schoo established led to deeply intimate photographs of Wood at the doctor's office, backstage at performances, relaxing in her apartment — moments that Wood's audiences did not witness. "I was surprised at how open she was with me, because she is a pretty private person….She took down her website because she would rather people experience the live performance and not know prior to going in, if possible, what is going to happen," Schoo says. "She really allowed me to photograph her, I think, not as a performer — the showmanship went away.
"Regardless of gender identity and transformation being [a] main topic of the photos," Schoo adds, "more so it's really about the human journey and desire to understand oneself and to be understood, and to find oneself." That's a desire to which we can all relate. Click through to experience 24 of Schoo's striking portraits of Rose Wood alongside Schoo's captions.