Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wanna Know How I Feel Today?

THIS is how I feel today...pretty much the epitome of sanguine...

(Snapped on 9/28/10)

Wanna know why I feel so danged dandy today (and by the looks of the above photoas though I've just stepped onto the set of some sort of feminine hygiene advertisement)? Well, I'll tell ya'...It's cuz the Big Ugly is officially open for business. That's right - I have a real web addy now, I got my business license this morning, I have a dedicated phone line and just got done recording my Big Ugly "away" message. I am this close to ordering merchandise and creating an online STORE, and I am currently in the process of setting up my PayPal account. Ain't that so damned cool?! 

I know it may sound strange to those of you who actually know me, but this flurry of positive, promising activity has me feeling (almost) quasi grown-up. Of course, that's entirely subject to change - but for now - that's my story...and I'm stickin' to it...

Ok, enough of all the jocular merrymaking, I gotta get back to! Did you hear that? I said, "I gotta get back to work" I actually have a job now or something, haha - love that!

Oh, and one more thing before I head back to work (hee hee, work!) - I really need to thank you guys. Were it not for your continued encouragement and support, this would still be just some pointless hobby. Worse yet - I woulda hung it up already, in order to follow god knows whatever other flight of fancy...and for that, I am truly grateful - THANK you!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yesterday was Monday...AND Rainy...

(Snapped on 9/27/10)

Soooo...I overshot my alarm yesterday morning. I'd gone to bed, bleary-eyed - well after 1 a.m., and then reflexively cold-cocked the alarm clock when it had the audacity to so rudely interrupt the tail-end of my mere 4th hour of sleep, after which I fell back into a deep, deeeeep slumber... 

When I reluctantly roused myself from the amorous embrace of The Stig (in a most vivid dream that I hated to see end...*sigh*) and then realized that I'd overslept by an hour and a half - I leapt outta bed and shot through the house in a panic to go and wake my 12 year old daughter was distraught...

And so began my dream with The Stig cut short, before getting to the part where surely I woulda removed his jumpsuit and helmet (what can I say, I'm sorta sweet on The Stig), an hour and a half deficit in the time I require to get through my morning routine, and with one weepy child scrambling to finish the homework that she should've done over the weekend *ehem*...but the fact that she'd never be able to complete it in time, was now entirely my fault...imagine that...

It also happened to be raining, blah. The sensible me appreciated the rain as the welcome remedy to a brutally long, crunchy drought  - BUT. I am a vitamin D kinda gal. I LOVE the sun. And I can't help but find waaay more inspiration (not to mention motivation) for my self-portrait shoots (life in general, for that matter) - when it's hot, dry and sunny outside.

But since I hadn't had the chance to take any self-portraits in just one day shy of a week! I simply had to get my booty out there...the rain was no excuse to put it off...

I came up with a few different possibilities beginning with Plan A. - an indoor shoot (yes, I am a weanie) at a diner in a neighboring town. I figured I'd take some pics. there, while riding out the steady downpour - in the hopes that it might let up just a leetle, so that I could then execute Plan B. - a real shoot at the historic gardens across the street. 

I am delighted to report that goodwill among men does actually happen to exist...not kidding! I mean, I do live in an ultra-conservative region after all, and so I never really know what to expect when I ask a business or property owner if they'd mind very much - if I invade their space and barge in on their lives - for the sake of my quirky self-indulgence. But the folks at the diner could not have been fact they were incredibly cool and open-minded! 

While they passed around my portfolios and perused the pics., I tried something I hadn't done before. I shot a whole series of photos, fully clad in regular attire and doing nothing particularly interesting at all. I have to say, it was a nice break from tradition to be (relatively) normal for once.  

I'd arrived just behind the lunch crowd, and left before the dinner rush, thus my timing proved to be pretty perfect. I had the restaurant practically to myself, and so didn't really have to worry about bothering customers or disrupting the wait staff while they worked. 

After finishing my third cup of coffee and the yummiest sausage I've ever eaten in my life, I learned from the restaurant owner that unfortunately, the gardens across the street are closed every Monday...which left me no choice but to move on to Plan C....

(Snapped on 9/27/10)

Plan C was very simple really - it consisted of stopping by my house, changing clothes and then driving to an old building nearby. I drove through a veritable deluge to get there, but by the time I arrived, the rain had tapered off. I still managed to get drenched, but it was warm and I had fun AND I didn't get in trouble with the property owner, who showed up and caught me redhanded...whoopsie...

I know, I know...this entry may be a bit disappointing for you guys, since neither of these pictures nor the stories behind them are gonna make anyone jump up and shout, "WOW!". But I guess for me there's value in the fact that rather than let a miserable Monday keep me from taking my pics., the shoots and the pics. and the people I met actually made me enjoy a cruddy day... 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Once Upon a Time, I Left the Farm...

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

Looking back on it now, it's kinda hard for me to believe that I spent 4 whole months snapping half-nekkid pictures of myself, before I ran out of ideas or got bored enough or whatever, to venture away from my home and my yard to take pics..

I've definitely got a thing about trains, and since there are railroad tracks bordering the back end of my property, trains are an inescapable presence in my life. So it's no real surprise that my first big idea for a nearby "on location" shoot - should somehow incorporate the trains behind my house...preferably one covered in graffiti...but an unembellished train would certainly do.

Next, I had to figure out how I was to be dressed and ready, and within close enough proximity to the tracks (which are several acres behind my house and studio) to then be able to jump out and quickly photograph myself, in the fleeting moment before the train sped just how in the hell was I supposed to do all that?! My biggest issue was timing, since the trains don't run on any semblance of a predictable schedule. Many hours can elapse between the different trains passing, but it can be as few as 30 minutes...or less...

The strategy that came to mind, was to get myself dressed, tote my camera and junk to that side of my property, hang out until I could hear a train approaching, hop the fence, race to the crossing and fire off as many pics. as I could in the minute or so, before it was gone...seemed (sorta) feasible.

...and so...that's just what I did...well, almost.

One problem was - I tend to get antsy when I'm idle, and so as soon as it registered that I could be waiting indefinitely...I kinda freaked out about sitting there doing absolutely nothing for an indeterminate period of time. But I came up with a solution. I got naked, picked some flowers, stuck 'em in my hair, and shot a whole series of wood nymph-ish photos in the interim. I was entertained and productive while I waited for the train.

After a little less than an hour though, I had exhausted the wood nymph concept completely. Largely because I hadn't wanted to migrate away from the narrow path where I'd been shooting, so that I might stay close to the section of collapsed fencing that I'd planned to climb over to get out on the road. But I couldn't move any closer to that spot, otherwise I would've been visible (in all my naked glory) to the cars and the curious number of cyclists going past that day.

Discouraged, I gave up - and went back to my studio to download the pics. that I had taken, and wouldn't you know it...not 10 minutes after I sat down at my desk, I could hear the train rumbling up the tracks.

I took the flowers outta my hair, quickly collected my stuff, and high-tailed it back across my yard. I spastically clambered over that crushed spot in the fence (getting hung up in the barbed-wire just a little) placed the camera on the table, set the timer on the camera, and then dashed over to figure out my pose.

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

This was the sole image that I managed to capture, before the train disappeared out of sight...poop...But you know? As crappy as it is (and as dumpy as I look, ugh) it still signifies something of a landmark occasion - I left the farm to take pictures out in public.

Besides the the fact that I (for some reason) was heading back to my camera while the timer still ticked, and that I neglected to kick off my flip flops, before I had gotten into frame - once the adrenaline wore off - I also realized that I'd ripped a good chunk of meat outta my shin, presumably when I got hung up in the fence...yuck.

(Snapped on 7/14/10)

I was so frustrated by my apparent inability to take a decent portrait with the train, that I pretty much gave up on it ever happening at all. 

A few days after that first, failed attempt, while doodling on my Mac and scheming where to shoot next - yet another train roared by adding more salt to the wound. I hated that something that I'd always enjoyed, might forever remind me of my disheartening shortcoming... and just then something incredibly fortuitous took place...

(Snapped on 7/14/10)

Being that this entry is heavily-laden as it is, I won't bore you with the details of how I finally got 'em, the important thing is - that I did get my train pics....better even, than I'd imagined they'd be. And so rather than having become synonymous with defeat, the sound of the trains reminds me that anything is just sometimes takes timing...or luck…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chasing Windmills

(Snapped on 9/20/10)

Ok, just a quick little post and then I'm on Big Ugly probation until I fulfill my obligations as a guest contributor to a friend's blog...more on that later. And yes - I will def tweet the link to my article as soon as it's up. Don't forget to follow @biguglyblog, if you don't already...THANKS! 

So hey look, yooz guys - I got my windmill pics....finally

Several times a week, I drive past this humble but tidy working farm with its noble windmill - forever standing sentinel...and for whatever reason, it seems like I'm always going past during that fleeting moment late in the day, when the sun bathes the gentle giant in a warm, amber glow. So it kinda goes without saying that I've been bandying about the idea of working in concert with such a delicious vignette, for quite some time now. 

The first order of business in seeing my brainchild come to fruition, was to get permission from the property owners, to enter their cow fields and photograph myself at the feet of their windmill (or even on it, if they'd be so kind as to let me) evening, a week or so ago - I figured, "No time like the present" I got dressed and made-up and drove over to the farm, hopeful that the owners would allow me to take pics., that very night.  

The nice woman who came outside to greet me, said the folks who owned the farm were not home at the moment, but she wrote down my number and assured me that she'd have them call and let me way or the other. I was surprised to hear from 'em just a couple of hours later, and elated when they gave me the thumbs-up!

This past Monday marked the first break in my schedule (and with perfect weather, no less) in which to finally make time for the windmill pics.. Upon arriving at the farm, I went up to the house to check in with the people (before helping myself to their property) and again I was met by the "nice woman". She told me that the homeowners were away, but they'd explained to her that I did have permission to shoot there. I asked if she thought it would be ok for me to climb on the structure and she pointed out that it's equipped with a ladder-like thingy (joy!) and far as she knew it should be fine..."But be careful, because it is old...and I don't know how stable it is." 

(Snapped on 9/20/10)

This was as high as I ever managed to climb, and since my 10 seconds were up before I could strike any sort of pseudo-elegant pose, I quickly pretended I was terrified instead...

Immediately after this picture was snapped, my good friend El Sol said, "That's it...time's up" and he dimmed the lights as he slipped away to retire until morning...

To be honest, his timing could not have been better. My poor abused feet were now begging for a break. They were throbbing from racing - full sprint across the ground, hitting hard on hidden landmines of half-buried limestone, and from frantically shinnying up the old, rusty 40 flippin' times in a row...But you know something? I wouldn't even dare to complain. That's a small price to pay for the auspicious opportunity - to chase down that coveted windmill…

Monday, September 20, 2010

On "The Land" and Off the Grid

(Snapped on 9/17/10)

I'm just back from having spent the most refreshing and relaxing (albeit productive!) weekend on and around "The Land". "The Land" (as it has been tagged by my dear friend Copeland and her family) is a remote and scenic parcel of property in rural, central Virginia - on top of which sits the family's off-the-grid, pre-fab, modern design weekend home - now in its final stages of construction. This place is incredible you guys; the house, the land itself and the surrounding environs...I was absolutely blown away by the whole thing of well as endlessly inspired by the seemingly infinite number of photo ops.. Trust me, I will return to "The Land"...often...

We arrived at "The Land" late last Friday evening, and after visiting with Copeland and her kids, and then bidding the children, "Goodnight", I couldn't resist taking my naked ass outside to snap pics. under the gorgeous moonlit sky, before I myself - turned in for the night...I even caught a glimpse of a shooting star...quel bonne chance!

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

Yep, this was def not a bad place to find myself in the morning...Oh - and in case you're wondering - that's authentic bed-head, yo...(got that shit honest...slept like a damn rock) but on top of that - there was very little I could do to fix it. You see at the moment, the only shower is an outdoor solar shower (brrr...) and the solar-powered electrical system has yet to be fully installed sooo...since I did not have the option of showering and re-styling (blow-drying, straightening) my hair for each different shoot, I had to be sorta creative in making due with what I had. Needless to say, I was glad that I'd had the accidental wherewithal to pack an assortment of hats, headbands and scarves...

While taking the pics. from the series above, it was funny to overhear one of Copeland's children through an open window exclaim, "Mama, she's wearing her bathing suit!" (Probably a good thing the child didn't realize that I was parading around in vintage - what they don't know won't hurt 'em, right?) Understandably the tike musta thought I was nuts to endure the morning chill for the sake of taking half-naked pics. of myself...

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

After changin' up my garb and attempting to hog-tie my messy mop with a scarf, the children and I made our way out to the galvanized shed, inside of which I discovered Copeland's signature scythe (you'd have to know her to understand why it is deemed as such). 

Although I'm probably not even holding the derned thing properly, and have no real knowledge of how to effectively implement such a did prove to be a handy little prop.

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

In exploring the property for my next series of pics., I happened upon this old tobacco barn. I'll admit that its "Leaning Tower of Pisa" slant, warned that it might be best to stick with shooting myself strictly on the exterior of the seriously compromised structure, which I did first...But when it comes to my self-portraits, I can be a bit foolhardy at times...especially if it means getting a somewhat grittier shot. 

Later in the day, when Copeland clicked through my camera to view my new collection of pics., with a raised eyebrow she commented, "I couldn't figure out why you'd taken so many pictures of the tobacco barn, and then I realized that you were in them! These make me very nervous Lauralyn, tsk, tsk.........Soooo...what was it like in there, anyway?"

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

Just a few feet away from the old tobacco barn, is a tiny foot bridge...and this creek. I was so lovin' that for 3 out of the 5 shoots, up to this point - I hadn't needed to worry with any sort of costume at all. I had started out wearing tall rubber boots for the photos that I took in the creek, but I nixed 'em completely, after only a couple of frames.

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

As the day warmed up (and before Copeland's Handsome Husband showed up to join the rest of us) I decided to try out the solar shower, not so much to get clean (I never even bothered with soap or shampoo, and quite honestly - I hardly got wet!) but instead because I thought it might make for a nice group of pics....

Turns out - a bag of ice that I'd brought along in my cooler had melted and leaked all over the back of my car, and the real pisser was that most of the clothing in my duffel was either damp or completely soaked by the time I realized it. The necessity of hanging my clothes out to dry, was a bit of an unexpected nuisance - but in setting up the shot for these pics., I immediately saw it as a classic case of blind luck. 

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

I definitely prefer my method of utilizing the old wringer/washer, over its intended purpose and ultimate me lazy but... 

Btw, have I mentioned yet - how impressed I am by Copeland's determination to get "back to the basics"? Her commitment goes way above and beyond what most of us would consider "doing one's part" to save the planet. She literally looked at me like I had ten heads, when I naively asked if she was actually gonna use the old washer to launder the family's dirty clothes...she's a far better citizen than I, fo' shiz...

(Snapped on 9/18/10)

Once the rain collection system is set up, this livestock trough will serve as the family's the short term though, I couldn't help but see it as a fun backdrop (backdrop...get it?) for a late night photo shoot. While the rest of the household was deep in slumber, I borrowed the Coleman lantern cum nightlight - to illuminate this gaucho-inspired lot...

(Snapped on 9/19/10)

Ever since driving through this ghostly little town, Friday evening on our way out to "The Land" - I had been salivating at the thought of snapping pics. here. I knew that the light would be best in the early part of the day, and so Sunday morning, I packed up my stuff, gave hugs and thanks to Copeland and her delightful fam...and said goodbye to "The Land" til next time. 

After arriving on the scene, I got dressed in my car and then rapaciously snapped pictures (until my memory card was full) to an audience of one, a man...He is one of only a couple or so residents who still dwell along this otherwise abandoned Main Street...and he was an absolute gem.

(Snapped on 9/19/10)

As I drove towards home (more than 3 hours away) I spent the first leg of the trip reviewing the pics. on my cam (while simultaneously trying not to wreck my car) and deleted as many of the duds as I could, to create space for more pics., should something photo-worthy catch my eye. 

I've been dying to do self-portraits by a pay phone, and I figured surely I'd find one somewhere along the back-country, two-lane road that I was traveling. But it wasn't until I got into the bigger small town of Warrenton, Va., that I came across not one, but two separate pay phones. Su-weet!

And so a BIG hearty "THANKS!" to my four gracious hosts (*muah*) and also to that surprise shooting star - which apparently did bring me luck...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sorry...We're Closed Until Monday...

(Snapped on 7/14/10)

Ok, all you beautiful people...Mama's gotta split for a few days...takin' a little road trip to a place where I've never been. Gonna snap a few pics. in an amazing locale, catch up with a dear friend at her fab off-the-grid home, and if I'm really lucky - she'll let me christen the brand-new, just off the truck, fresh outta the crate...composting toilet! 

After all that though, I'll hurry back home and get right to work - updating The Big Ugly. Look for a new post by Monday afternoon. Right, "by Monday" might be a bit optimistic, but I'll definitely get one up by Tuesday...I swear!

Anyway, apologies in advance for the little hiccup in this - my new (fairly) regular posting trend. I realize that it's practically inexcusable for me to take leave already, when I only just launched the new Big Ugly - two weeks ago...TODAY! (*clink*) But I do promise to make it up to you guys, as soon as I get back. I dunno...maybe I'll flash my tits or somethin'.........Nah, that's no good - I do that all the time anyway...Eh, don't you worry - I'll figure somethin' out...

Enjoy your weekend...Be safe but have FUN! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Five Faces of...Me?

Ok boys and girls, besides the demonic stare (now do you get why I so seldom look at the camera?)...raise your hand if you can tell me what's wrong with this picture. 

Yes...very GOOD, class! The correct answer is: it appears that I have no nipples

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

By the time the photos in this entry were taken, I was out of a job (the woman I worked for - had died) which - sad as it was (heartbreaking, really) actually worked out in a weird kinda way, since my kids were out of school on summer break...Oh! And speaking of breaks...this also happened to be just a couple of weeks following my fluke "flip off of the lifeguard stand" accident...I'll spare you the deets and just say that as a result of my inebriated stupidity, I ended up with a broken bone in my heel and a fracture at the top of my fibula (right leg). Too hardheaded and stubborn to follow doctor's orders and wear the knee brace or bother with the crutches, I chose instead to gimp around in a good deal of pain...the legacy of which, lingers on to this day... 

During the summertime, Monday is the only day each week, that my children aren't with me at all...making Monday - the optimum day (and night) for me to get a few shoots under my belt. The photos in this entry were plucked from five separate shoots - all staged during the latter part of one such Monday (between 7 p.m. and midnight, with a cocktail break in the middle...mais bien sur!)

After digging through the archives, choosing pics. for this entry, and then stacking 'em all up on top of each other - it struck me that over the five shoots that day (in just as many hours, coincidentally) I'd kinda run the thematic gamut...I mean seriously like - can you say, "multiple personalities disorder"? 

Ok let's start with the "veggie patch" series - it was, do I put this...a complete and utter FAIL?! In fact before now, I've never done a thing with any of those pics. (other than try and erase them from my memory) 

In planning the "veggie patch" shoot - I'd decided to make use of that brief time in the evening, when the sinking sun cuts a swath through the yard to my garden. And in order to render the pics. "safe" for Facebook (but still revealing enough for #HNT) - I wanted to try a l'il something that I thought might be "cute", soooo...I criss-crossed several brightly colored band-aids over my nips, which (unintentionally in keeping with the whole garden theme) took on the appearance of flower-petaled pasties (awwww...)

Once I got out to the garden though, I was blinded by the intensity of the late afternoon sunlight, and - although I didn't realize it until I viewed the pics. full-size, I clearly overcompensated while trying not to squint (as is evidenced in the photo above)

The sun insisted on slipping below the tree line and the ensuing shadows threatened to shut down the whole production, but - just I was about to hang things up for the night, I happened to glance over at a stack of large locust logs, awash in a spotlight of the last light of day...

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

*Lightbulb*...As I raced over to my studio, I rrrripped off the makeshift pasties *ow* (although whiffed on 86'ing the tiger lily, oops) then went straight to the dress-up pile to root around for something new to put on. I settled on one of our (many) yard sale crinolines (kinda sucked that I grabbed the one with a dry-rotted waistband) and tore back across the yard thinking, "Damn! On those logs, in that light - these pics. are bound to be good!"...

...the jury is still out on this group of photos, as I personally - have yet to reach a verdict...

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

The sun nestled itself deep into the horizon, deeming the "damsel in this dress" shoot - finis. But not wanting to lose my pic.-snapping momentum, I came up with one last concept to attempt.

For awhile I'd entertained doing an overhead shoot, but it wasn't until I ran across an incredibly beautiful, aerial self-portrait (which a Twitter friend had posted on his blog) - that I thought, "I might be able to pull it off too..."

I fetched my step ladder and placed it in our livestock trough, then hunted around for two boards of equal thickness. Indeed I found a couple (hooray), laid 'em across the ladder hinges, and then rested the camera on them, the lens facing down through the space between the boards. Still sportin' the old crinoline, I set the timer and dunked myself...again...and again...and again...

Can I just tell you something? That shit fairly well kicked my fool ass, I ain't lyin'! Out of 50 attempts - I got 3 photos I can use and the other 47 turned out more like this...neat-o.

I finally quit when my nose became so stuffed up, that I could barely breath through it anymore. My sinuses felt like they were literally on fire - I guess I never realized how difficult it is to hold your breath while lying on your back under water...somehow, either air bubbles seep out or the water seeps in, and I'm here to tell ya' - it BURNS! I also struggled to get myself submerged and perfectly still (in a scant 10 seconds) in my virtually victory-less battle against "fun-house mirror face"...

Anyway, after all that, I was ready for a respite from my pics. for a spell. I put the memory card in the thingy to download the images and went over to the house to grab some food, mix a cocktail and decompress in a warm shower...

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

Now sated, I giddily sat down to my Mac to peruse all the new photos I'd snapped - and you know? I found it absolutely amazing that out of three...whole...shoots, there were so few pics. that I actually liked. I was especially displeased with the creepy "android" effect that the band-aids on the nipples in the bright sun had produced. But was particularly mortified by how short and stubby I looked, in each of the wretched "veggie patch" pics.. (more like "Cabbage Patch"...sheesh) Frustrated, I stomped back over to the house to do another round of hair/make-up/costume. I simply could not let the day end on that note.

Swiping a tightrope idea that a friend had recently mentioned, I used the ladder to shine a clamp-lamp on my studio deck railing, and I quickly learned that sprinting around to where I could climb up, find my balance and then walk along it, was an absurdly preposterous idea...On my only attempt, I barely got up on the railing (much less to standing) - when I fell and landed squarely on the dining set below. My leg was ok (dontchu worry 'bout that!) but I did hurt my shoulder a little...*whimper*

The trapeze thing seemed a reasonable (and safer alternative) although it was absolute murder on my knee...I didn't really mind though, cuz I was lubed up on liquor and for the first time all day - I was thoroughly enjoying a shoot.

(Snapped on 7/11/10)

I was happy enough with the "trapeze" pics., to feel good about calling it a night. I carried the ladder back over to the garage, but made the mistake of pausing outside of our sun room, for a sec.. The giant sliding doors were wide open...the collection of house plants spilled forth...and my make-up was still pretty good...I would've been a dunce to have passed on experimenting with the ladder and the clamp-lamp and the camera - all positioned outside in the yard, aiming up into the elevated green room...(which consequently taught me a thing or two about flattering camera placement - sweet!)

Might sound crazy, but I am seriously more exhausted from writing this derned thing, than I was from taking the pics. that are in it...and now, you dear people - you may please be excused...class revoir...that's a wrap!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Watered-Down Divine Intervention

(Snapped on 9/05/10)

After two friends suggested it a few times this summer...and after turning my nose up at the notion for weeks...curiosity (vanity?) got the better of me - and I signed myself up on a modeling site.........That's right I said "modeling site"...what? What's so funny?!

Nah, I know. What a harebrained idea, right? Especially since I'm old and I'm short. So, why did I bother. To be honest - I'm not sure. I guess I'd hoped it could lead to any combination of the following: added income, a better portfolio, or possibly becoming some burgeoning photographer's muse, HA! Who knows. What I do know is the instant I submitted my profile to the site's admin for review and "approval" (or not) I couldn't help but wonder, "Who would even pay me to pose for their pics.?" I mean, besides being vertically challenged and ancient, (other than my silly self-portraits) I have no modeling all. And on top of that I kept asking myself, "Must I rely on someone else to photograph me, for the sake of plumping up my portfolio?" The way I saw it, I was already doing a bang-up job of filling my books by myself. 

There were other issues that gave me pause, about modeling for a photographer who didn't happen to be me. I did not like the idea of giving up the control of deciding which photos wound up on the internet...not so much because I was worried about my tits or my ass being plastered all over the web (lord knows they'd both long since made their debut) I was more afraid that my (numerous) physical imperfections might end up in circulation...and we couldn't have that now, could we? And furthermore, what about the pesky issue of organizing two people's schedules? I've grown accustomed to picking up on a moment's notice and going wherever, to shoot pics. when I want - without making arrangements to do so - days or even weeks in advance. I was also faced with the hassle of driving long distances to the studios of the photographers "in my area". Adding another human to the equation, seemed to upset the balance of my reliable routine of flying solo...and the uncomplicated spontaneity that comes with it.

Nevertheless, I forged ever onward...and while creating my profile on the modeling site, I chose 10 self-portraits that I believed displayed diversity in what I'm physically capable of - as a model, but also what I've achieved from the other side of the lens. Once I'd been approved and my port was visible to other members, I received glowing comments on my photos (*blush*) and offers from photographers to schedule shoots with me. Sure, it felt good and all that - but I was still kinda thinking, "what in the hell am I doing here?" It turned out I wasn't the only one scratching my head...more than a couple members asked, "Wait...what are you...a model? Or a photographer..." Which got me to seriously - what am I? I'm not exactly jonesin' to pose for other folks, nor am I confident enough to snap pics. of someone else. Although through self-portraiture, I experiment with modeling and photography...and if I'm lucky I'll wind up honing both skills - but what does any of that mean...and what am I supposed to do with it all? Does it make me an amateur model/photographer? Or simply a self-absorbed artist...or something...

The backdrop of one of the 10 profile pics., was of an abandoned, crusty old house (which I own). A number of photographers inquired about shooting in the old house, and since doing so meant only traveling a mile from my home, I agreed to a collaborate with the photographer who was available the soonest.

In a nutshell - the night before my first official photo shoot with a real, live professional photographer, and after packing my car with the costumes and props - the dude completely crapped out on me. There's no sense in dwelling on his (bogus?) excuse for canceling our plans at the eleventh hour like he did - or the fact that he's still not called to reschedule - instead I prefer to focus on the good that came out of being left to my own devices that day...not the least of which - the incredible venue where I shot my pics., in the delinquent photographer's stead...behold!

(Snapped on 9/05/10)

Just LOOK at this place! Is it not fanTAStic?! I loved how it somehow sucked every ounce of color from my normally tawny matter where I positioned myself or the camera, in relation to the light. When editing the photo above, I clicked "color boost" 5 x's and still somehow, I appear to be this milky white...

The coolest thing though, was being granted immediate access to an often whispered-about, local curiosity. Unfortunately, I can't say much about the specifics of the location, because the owner is terribly protective of his property and privacy, and in exchange for him so graciously allowing me to shoot here - I promised not to reveal the site's "identity" on my blog (hence, no exterior shots...which just KILLS me, you've NO idea!)

At the end of that exhilarating day of snapping pics., I saw it as something of a godsend that the photographer had decided to bail. I promptly resolved to remain a one-man operation...and have deactivated my account on that modeling site. And! Instead of doing a repeat at the old abandoned house (*yawn*) I got to tromp in and around a very special, sorta secret, almost magical structure - and revel in the beauty of serendipity…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Inevitable Pin-Up Period

(Snapped on 4/28/10)

During the first 4 months of my 10 second timer self-portraiture mania, much as I loved my new hobby and longed to devote every minute to it - my schedule only allowed for one or at the very most - two shoots per week. Needless to say, I relished every opportunity to partake in such frivolity.

At that point, I still had yet to consider the option of taking my half-naked pics. anywhere other than the privacy of my home, so my thought process in planning each upcoming shoot was fairly basic: in which room of the house, or - where in my yard - should I stage each consecutive shoot. And in determining the "where" - the theme and appropriate, provocative attire - generally fell in line, somewhat effortlessly. 

I guess given the nature of #HNT pics. and the limitations of only shooting in and around my house, as well as the fact that I was still such a newbie and my creative juices were just barely percolating, it was probably part of a natural progression that I ended up inadvertently dabbling in a cliche "pin-up"-style phase. The strangest part for me during this time, was to see this unfamiliar person appear in the pics. as I downloaded them onto my computer. I mean, the "real" me is a tomboy...a slob even - and goofy! I rarely wear make-up or give a rat's ass about what to put on my body most days. And so to see that vaguely familiar, scantily-clad (middle-aged!) woman - her face painted up like a ho' - working sexpot poses and come-hither gazes - was definitely a bit say the least.

The pictures from the above - "fridge shoot", were (comparatively) easy to capture, only in that - the room is quite small and so I had very little wiggle room as far as where exactly to place the camera. My only real option, was to set it in a cubby on a shelving unit that's fixed to the wall. Since I couldn't get my head behind the cam. to look through the viewfinder, it took a few tries to get the angle just right. But after that - it was pretty much smooth sailing. I did have to give the refrigerator a rest, after the upper bulb shut off from the door staying open for too long. But after a cocktail and a ciggy, I was right back on track. 

Although I ended up with less pics. than normal, overall - I liked what I got. They are a tad dark and there wasn't much variety and they did mark the horrific (yet fortunately - tail-end of the) "big boom" era. But since I'm nearly certain that my ass is like half that size now...that part doesn't really bother me anymore.

(Snapped on 5/11/10)

The instant it came to me, I was all over the kitschy concept of the "washing dishes with rubber gloves wearing only an apron" shoot...and because of its simplicity, I felt confident going in - that getting a heap of good pics. (in very little time) would have to be practically failsafe...The moral of the story? Keep your expectations LOW

Over the course of three separate, hours-long attempts (one in the morning, one - late afternoon, and the last ending sometime around midnight) to come up with something...anything - even just one measly picture to like - I wound up (mostly) entirely disappointed. Maybe it was because of the repetitiveness of never deviating from standing at that sink, for christsakes (for a total of what - 6 or 7 hours?!) that left me stuck in a rut and clinging to an idea, that bottom line - produced nothing nearly as compelling as I'd hoped. But rather than give up completely, I kept coming back to experiment with the changing light of morning, afternoon and night...and in the end, out of a couple hundred shots, I ended up with at least a few that I didn't totally hate...meh...

(Snapped on 6/08/10)

The "popsicle" shoot was different, and I can't put my finger on why, precisely...maybe I'd gotten more than my usual 4 - 6 hours of sleep the night before? I dunno...but I liked how I looked in the majority of the 100 or so pictures that I snapped that day, and unlike the "sink" session - my reason for taking so many pics., was because I felt that since I seemed to be on a bit of a roll, I oughtta stockpile as many good pics. as I could.  

My only problem with this shoot, was the fact that I had to eat 10 - 15 popsicles over the course of the day. I'm a low-carb gal, and so - not only was it a shock to my system to ingest such a large dose of sugar, but I swear I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that - by the time I took my next set of pics., my rear end was noticeably bigger!

(Snapped on 7/04/10)

The only thing I have to mention about the "bikini in the bathroom" pics., (besides the fact that my face looked haggardly AND - the tag on my bikini top was visible @#%&*$) is that I just wanted the whole thing to be over in a hurry. Why? I'll tell you - because this bathroom is haunted by our little girl ghost...*shiver*...How tha hell else do ya' think I could keep it so clean? Lord knows no one in my family would ever dare use this bath...(among other odd occurrences, the toilet flushes at random - which we all find raaawther disconcerting...)

As instrumental as the "pin-up" phase was in helping me evolve as a soft porn, self-portrait artist (or "dilettante", as I've recently been dubbed)...I'm reminded when looking back on these earliest of my pics., that although I do like 'em (for the most part) - I'm way more excited about the things that I've done since.

Friday, September 10, 2010

SOMEtimes it's NOT About Me...No SERiously!

(Snapped on 9/04/10)

Last Saturday, I broke up the monotony of vacuuming my studio (for the first time in two years, no lie) - to go watch my son's first football game of the season. It was a great game, our boys played really well, and they slaughtered the opposing team (WOO!) The hugs and high-fiving eventually wound down, and quick as a wink - it was time for me to head home...alone...

It was my ex's weekend to have the kids, and so I was to be on my own for the next few days. But instead of getting all "woe is me" during those times when I'm here by myself - I try to maximize the days when my children aren't with me - by doing the things that I simply can't do when they are...subsequently I distract myself from missing them so much. Not long ago, I filled the downtime by dating like a muthah...and then penning the deets in my other Big Ugly Blog. Lately though, I have no time to date, since I am perennially scouting out kickass locations and brainstorming ideas for new pics.. If an "ah-HA" moment hits me when I'm minus my kiddles, I get dressed, pack my shit, hustle to my chosen destination, and sometimes spend hours snappin' pics.. After which, I stay up late into the night - downloading and editing the spoils from the day. I swear it's like Christmas, only better I discover the handful of pictures I can actually use, it feels like I'm opening presents for once - YEA! 

By the time my head finally hits the pillow - my body's exhausted, my morale is lifted and my mind's already plotting whatever's next...I can't even tell you how terribly rewarding the entire process has become for me, most especially because I am amply entertained, during my days in a row with no kids...

This past Saturday was no different. The weather was was warm out but not uncomfortably hot. The azure sky arced domelike overhead, while flocks of curly clouds skittered across it like sheep. The humidity was low which made everything seem extra in-focus, in fact - that it almost felt as though I was wearing that pair of prescription glasses I've been desperately needing for years. It was nearly four o'clock, and the slightly acute angle of the sun cast a brilliant, sideways light on every object it touched and the resultant wicked shadows bled like ink into cracks, drawing lines around each detail with the deepest dark black...I knew I just had to get out in that sun, but where on earth could I go? ("C'mon, c'mon...think, Lauralyn - THINK!")

The short trip back home from where my son plays football, takes me past one of my favorite old barns in this area. I love it because there are always black and white dairy cows milling around at its base, and because its kept in immaculate condition...but its best feature is a prominent, glazed brick silo on its facade, which I've daydreamed about exploiting in my pics.. On Saturday though, that barn in that light, looked more amazing than ever, and I instantly decided - "Hell's yeah! I'll shoot THERE!" 

There were a couple of drawbacks to shooting on the old farm - first of all, I was gonna have to trespass. I had no clue where to even begin identifying the owner on such short notice, therefore no way of asking for permission. The good news - I live within walking distance which meant - with no car parked out front, I'd be less apt to advertise to passersby that I was there, right? exactly. You see, the second problem was that the side of the barn with the silo and all that good sun, is completely visible from the road, or no car - folks were still gonna see whatever cockamamie outfit I'd put on...yikes...

In lieu of sporting my naughty milkmaid getup on the jaunt up my road to the farm, I'd opted to wear street clothes, but that meant - changing clothes in the middle of the field (which I did quickly and no one saw, so phew!) Expecting folks to spy me from the road during my shoot though, I had put together an outfit which provided a leetle more coverage than my typical #HNT ensembles. But either the outfit (prairie skirt, apron, bra, bright yellow bucket) or the unusual nature of what I was doing (running back and forth between camera and barn and posing for one shot after another) caused every single vehicle that passed (and there were many) to slow down to 15 mph...or less (a couple passed by more than once - eep!) No doubt I loved having an audience, but it was still somewhat nerve-racking wondering if or when the farmer who tends to the cows, or the property owner might show up...

In order to get the entire barn and silo in each frame, I had to place the camera on the little table, a pretty good distance from where I needed to be situated in each shot. I would set the timer and dash over (barefoot) to get in position and each time, no matter how hard I tried to avoid 'em, my poor abused tootsies would inevitably find a thistle or that other vicious weed with the needly thorns...(It's almost a week later, and I'm still digging prickers outta my feet)

I always look at each pic. after I snap it, to see what I need to switch up in my pose or the angle of the camera...and in reviewing the pics. on my camera's tiny screen, I was tickled with how incredible the barn and sky looked, but at the same time flummoxed by how handily they'd stolen my thunder! When I zoomed in on myself, I essentially cropped out all the good stuff, and in doing so - bastardized the quality and the integrity of the pics.. I was starting to accept that this series of pics. was more about the gorgeous setting and less so - a stage for my theatrics. Quite honestly - by even being in these pics., I feel I detracted from their very aesthetic.

It reminded me of when my (now ex) husband and I while traveling, would quibble over whether or not to include ourselves in snapshots of the famous landmarks that we visited. My husband found the pictures to be boring, unless one or the other of us was in them. I, on the other hand, preferred to capture postcard-like images of only the monuments, that's it. And yet there I was contradicting myself on Saturday, in attempting to upstage such a majestic tableau.

Long story, well...long - after conceding defeat to my surroundings and - not wanting to push my luck by poaching indefinitely, I got dressed and climbed back over the fence to leave. But in glancing to my right, I noticed the most glorious pasture - full of cows, and despite the drought - still somehow lush, but best of all - completely hidden from the road. Once in that field, I got back into costume and took a whole 'nother batch of naughty milkmaid pics....but this time it was all about me! So see? I CAN share the limelight...I just can't quite duck out of it completely...

(Snapped on 9/04/10)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It DOES Get Better Than This, I Promise...

If you ask me, these two photos are only remarkable in that - when I shot them, it was still technically winter. And yet the temperature remained unseasonably sweltering - for two consecutive #HNT shoots in a row! What glorious good fortune to take pics. outside in early April (wearing only the bottom half of a bikini) and NOT freeze my bloomin' (and I mean that quite literally) tuchus off...which in hindsight (pun intended) might've actually been a blessing...since apparently I was a bit "thicker" than I realized, back then...ew? Trust me - the poor composition and boring content of these pics - isn't the only reason I decided to post 'em so small...*cough-cellulite*

The picture above got a few positive comments, which surprised me considering my elbow and toes were lopped off (personal pet peeve) The handstand photo however, earned nothing but silence, and to be frank - I completely understand why... 

I personally find it terribly uninteresting - just sorta static and stark and stale...and I'd otherwise have forgotten it entirely by now, had I not torqued my left ring finger during one attempt to get into a handstand in time. To this day that finger pops outta socket without warning...a constant reminder of how one truly must suffer for their art...haHA! 

These shoots weren't total disappointments though. I was delighted that the sun had worked wonders in washing away my wan, winter pallor. Plus, I'd invested very little time in styling myself beforehand (I did nothing with my hair and didn't bother with make-up) and spent no time preparing the "set" it wasn't as if I'd put forth this enormous amount effort, only to have been met by a chorus of chirping crickets. 

(Snapped on 4/17/10)

For my 5th installment to Twitter's #HNT, I selected a black & white photo from this series of pics., in which for some reason - I wasn't blowing a bubble...(wtf?!) In my opinion, the bubble is what makes these pics. cool... well, that and my killah cheetah print couch...But if memory serves me, my body looked better in the blk. & wt. shot, than it does in the color version above (e.g. loose belly skin?)...which would explain why I chose it for my #HNT...*dur*

Sadly, I knew that I'd be relegated back inside my house for this shoot...since the late winter chill had returned for an encore performance, before making its final curtain call. (And - because I'm a wuss about bein' cold) With the venue now determined, the next order of business was to pick a specific room in my house to snap pics.. I settled on the den, largely because - it's one of 3 rooms in the house that my kids and I virtually never occupy, therefore - I wouldn't have to waste precious time tidying-up first. 

The den is where we keep our small collection of books, which since none of us are "readers" would explain why we rarely go in there (sad but true) Nevertheless - "how bout I shoot myself pretending to read" seemed a logical theme for a shoot in that room. I was aware that simply lying on the couch, looking at a book - would pose very little challenge, if any...and upon pondering how I might add an element of difficulty - I thought, "I know - I can try to blow a bubble!" I should mention that, similar to my lack of natural ability to snap my fingers, blowing bubbles has never been my forte...

Suffice it to say, I was able to blow a bubble in 10 seconds (obviously) but in concentrating so hard on that critical aspect, inevitably other details were often neglected, such as: my legs or arms ended up out of frame, or I spaced on getting the entire painting in the shot, things like that. Where I really fell short though, was in paying attention to my body (bad pose) and my face (funny grimace), in each shot where I tried to blow a bubble...

Despite the leg of the couch being somewhat abbreviated and the fact that my foot is not pointed enough (grrrrr), the above photo gets my vote as "the one that's the least bad" - out of the 40 or 50 in the whole lot. It may not be as physically flattering as the one that I chose for #HNT but...the entire painting is visible, same with my body - and I blew a pretty good damn bubble, for pete's sake. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Gentle Winds of Hurricane Earl

(Snapped on 9/03/10) 

By last Friday evening, I was feeling sorta guilty about the fact that I hadn't taken any new pictures for four...whole...days - especially since my kids are back in school now...and I have gobs of free time during the day to indulge myself. Thing was though, after a successful shoot at the local fire station on Monday, I felt that I'd ended on enough of a good note, to justify taking a short break from my self-portraits, so that I might (maybe? please?) stay on task creating this new photo blog. And let me just say, that it's no small feat for me to squelch my natural inclination to jump around from project to project (translation = Adult ADHD) and focus on any one of 'em for an uninterrupted period of time...

The weather on Friday had been a bit of a mixed bag...mostly grey though, with brief, intermittent periods during which the sun managed to somehow burn through the heavy low ceiling. I tried comforting myself by blaming another day without pics. - not on my still yet-to-be-unveiled photo blog, but instead - on conditions so unfavorable, that I probably wouldn't have taken any...even if I coulda. Nevertheless, utter discouragement for essentially having nothing to show for the last few days, had begun to override my tenuous positive outlook. I turned my face away from my Mac as I began processing my growing disgust with myself, and out of the window I was surprised to see that the sun had found, and was filtering through several tight chinks in the thick, rolling cloud cover - it's intense rays vividly contrasted against an otherwise deeply shaded group of trees in my yard. Simultaneously, a playful breeze blew in through the open backdoor, and scattered papers from my desk - all over the place. I jumped outta my chair to go outside and see what was up with this dramatic change in the weather, and immediately I knew that it would be practically irresponsible of me to not drop what I was doing and mastermind some way to snap photos amid that insanely gorgeous light and mischievous wind...and FAST!

Powerless to arrest or even slow down the descent of that fantastic evening sun, I knew that - in order to take advantage of it, I'd have to hurry the hell up...which ruled out the option of driving to a specific location. I settled on - hopping my across-the-street neighbor's fence, and hoofing it up to a high spot on her rolling cow pasture...yeah, that would work! There was no time to take a shower, which sucked since I hadn't shaved my armpits or legs since the last shoot (I'd just have to be mindful and not raise my arms over my head). I did have to do something about my hair though, and so I wet it under the faucet and slicked it back and in place using an absurd amount of gel and hairspray (pretty standard fare, anymore). While applying my usual, heavy-on-the-black-eyeliner "stage make-up" - I racked my brain to come up with what in the world I should wear...hmmm......Well, in order to catch a hold of those surprise winds "It needs to be something flowy", I thought as I raced upstairs to rummage through my closet. I chose a dress of lightweight fabric, with a nice full skirt and a long black sash. A minor hissy fit triggered by an uncooperative zipper, threatened to derail the entire process...but a few long, deep breaths were the solution to my agitation and just like that - I zipped my dress and was all set to go! All that was left was to grab my gear, and to get my ass out there before it was too late...

I took the first pic. that night, at 7:17...and the last one was snapped at 8:05...I never dreamed that the sun would afford me 48 whole minutes, to shoot this impromptu set of pics., made possible by gentle Earl and his generous contribution.........awesome...

I reckon I was pretty immersed in what I was doing, because it wasn't until I started packing up my things to head home - that I realized I was encircled by a herd of curious cattle....evidently they aren't really bothered by the color red...whaddya know...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Don't Really Read the Paper...Ever

(Snapped on 3/31/10)

While waffling over whether or not to post my very first #HNT pic., I remember pacing back and forth in my kitchen...all clammy and jittery with excitement and dread. I'm not even really sure why I was so nervous about posting a "half-nekkid"(!) photo of myself on the INTERNET(!) I mean like - what was the worst that could happen, you know? I'd rarely ever withheld the gruesome (i.e. mortifying) details of my sex life in my Big Ugly Bog, so why the hell was I worried about a little ole, semi-nude photograph of myself...floating around on the web...for everyone to see...until the end of time? In trying to decide if I should "fish or cut bait", I turned to the Twitter pal who had originally put the #HNT bug in my ear. His gentle coaxing and genuine reassurance that it would all be ok - was ultimately the kick in the pants that I needed, in order to finally bite the bullet and click "Upload"

Evidently, all it takes to get me motivated to pursue a new hobby, is just a wee bit of ego-stroking. After receiving a few positive remarks on my pic., I thought, "WOW! I've never gotten this kind of feedback on my blog!" Now quite convinced that I'd made the right decision to participate in Twitter's #HNT, I immediately began brainstorming the concept for my next shoot, and eagerly awaited the next available time slot in which to stage it.

It was winter still, and even though I'd lucked out with warm temps. and had been able to shoot that first series outdoors, by the time the next opportunity to shoot presented itself, I was forced to take my half-nakey pictures indoors - since the weather had reverted back to cold. Also back then, I was working during the day, and since my kids are always with me on Wednesdays, Thursdays and every other weekend (my free weekends - already booked with online dates) my time to snap pics. was somewhat limited. I decided to designate each Monday evening after work, as my weekly "photo shoot night".

In preparation for my first ever "photo shoot night", I left work, picked up a newspaper, eagerly hurried home, fed myself, fixed a cocktail (no, that's not actually coffee in the cup) got dressed (or undressed, rather) did my face...and set about taking this next group of pics..

While shooting this series I realized that as goofy as it felt, I was gonna have to warm up to the notion that a certain amount of "acting" would be necessary, in order to convincingly portray an idea. Although I was pretending it was morning, it was actually 6 or so in the evening...additionally, I've not read the paper in eons, nor sat at that particular table drinking coffee, since back when I was still married (over 6 years ago)...and my hair wasn't actually wet...psyche!

Folks seemed to dig this self-portrait, and compositionally I guess it's all right. But as is my affliction, all I see is everything that I wish I could's underexposed, and so a little too fuzzy for my liking. There's not enough sharp contrast between the blacks and the whites, and again with my stupid, cloddish feet! If I'd just been up on my toes a tiny bit more, they wouldn't have looked nearly as clunky...Oh, and there is that little matter of the unsightly roll of pudge, draped over the waistband of my shorts...ugh...