Friday, September 3, 2010

Let's Go Back...I'm Talkin' Waaaaay the Heck Back...

My current, nearly obsessive compulsion to stage and shoot 10 second timer self-portraits, consumed me quickly and frankly - quite by accident...

After a two year tenure as an aggressive online dater (during which time I blogged candidly about my many sordid exploits) I finally hopped on the Twitter bandwagon (as @biguglyblog) in order to promote my - you guessed it...Big Ugly Blog. For I first 6 months(?) on Twitter, I protected my true identity by hiding behind a phony avatar - a nondescript portrait of the namesake and mascot of my blog - my rusted-out, crusty old Ford truck...But after suddenly (and inexplicably) attracting a new group of followers (most of whom posted sexually suggestive avi's) it occurred to me that like my new friends, I might also attract hundreds of followers (thus visitors to my blog) were I to swap out the innocuous truck pic. for something a bit more provocative.

On an unseasonably warm, early March evening of this year - I donned a simple, white wife-beater and a pair of pink panties, and giddily skipped outside to snap pics.. I started out by implementing that classic method of self-portraiture that most of us resort to when documenting a night out with friends...we've all done it a hundred times before - you know, you hold the camera out, away from yourself and whoever else is supposed to be in the shot...and everyone makes some silly-drunk-kissy face. using this technique, I started out taking pictures of just my torso and legs, while intentionally keeping my head out of frame. At the time, I was concerned about my face sharing space with my nipples - which weren't exactly well-concealed - behind the thin layer of white tank...(oh the horror) But the more pictures I took, the more courage I mustered, and before the low evening light of the late winter sun had given way to the encroaching chill of night, I was not only well-acquainted with the self-timer feature on my inexpensive point and shoot camera, but also surprisingly comfortable posing all around my yard (including up near the road as well as in my neighbor's line of sight) wearing nothing but those pink cotton undies...*woot*

As I'd hoped it might, my new Twitter avatar (the wife-beater/tits/no face pic.) did generate a respectable response in the way of a slew (relatively speaking) of new followers (YIP!) but it also earned thumbs-up from a few of my existing Twitter friends - one of whom suggested that I further promote @biguglyblog, by contributing photos to Twitter's #HNT (H)alf (N)ekkid (T)hursday. I hemmed and hawed at first...("Half-naked photos of myself on the internet?! The VERY iDEa!") but after discovering a blog which featured an amazing collection of re-posted artistic nude and semi-nude photos, I realized that a.) there was (to me at least) literally nothing distasteful about that genre of photography, matter of fact - I found it positively captivating...and b.) ...fuck it. Had I not basically stripped myself naked already, via the self-derisive stories in my blog? And although I had never officially attached my real name to my blog, the gossip mill here in my insular community, had been buzzing for awhile - with rumors of my reprehensible indiscretions. The way I saw it, I had nothing to reputation was already tarnished beyond repair. Instead of only half-heartedly acknowledging my inherent wantonness, I decided to capitalize upon it. Why not embellish my unapologetically foul-mouthed, trashy blog - by conjoining it with weekly, racy pics.? And that is just what I did...

According to TwitPic, I posted my very first #HNT photo 161 days ago...and here it is:

(Snapped on 3/17/10)

Ok, sorry...but I just gotta bust on this pic. for a sec...I mean yes - I was sorta proud of it way back in March - for the plain fact that I took the derned thing myself (whoopie) but more importantly, it does mark my first documented stab at public(ish) exhibitionism. That being said though - wouldya LOOK at that thing?! Dreadful...I wouldn't DARE post it on #HNT today, and here's why: For starters, there's this - my damn foot is chopped off! Now, it's one thing to crop a pic. on purpose, in order to focus on a certain body part or the face or whatever...but this shit's just plain honestly drives me insane. I've gotten to the point now where, a major part of the challenge of procuring a self-portrait that I like and can use - is making certain that my entire body makes it into the shot. Also - I can't stand that I'm walking flat-footed. The good news is - it didn't take me long to figure out that if I pose on tippy toes, I can fudge the fact that I'm only 5' 4" and create the illusion that I'm more like 6 foot. And finally...although I know I'm at risk of sounding ridiculously hyper-critical, I can't keep mum about my pasty, pale, white, winter chub.........gross...

 (Snapped on 8/31/10)

Fast-forward 5 1/2 months to the most recent of my self-portraits...

I got the idea for this series, while sneaking a smoke behind my studio one day. As I puffed away out back, beside the propane tanks (doh) I absentmindedly peered into one of the windows, and when I happened to catch a glimpse of a forgotten yard sale lampshade, I immediately saw it as something more than just the clutter it had become. I stubbed out my ciggy and rushed back inside to "try it on"...and was stoked when proportionately, it fit perfectly! I went to LOWE'S and bought a garden paver, coated it with clear varnish and voila ~ I had my lamp base. An IKEA lamp cord, with a light bulb socket on one end and a plug on the other, made it possible for me to be illuminated - like a real lamp. I taped as much of the cord as I could, behind the table, although there was little I could do about the section of cord between the table and the bulb. And sadly, so many of the pictures from this shoot, I consider to be unusable - since the cord was usually peeking out from behind me (what can I say? I'm anal and I don't use Photoshop) I also taped the bulb end in place inside the shade, in order to minimize the chance that I might burn my hair or my face...ow? And finally, I covered myself in baby oil, so that I'd more convincingly resemble a ceramic table lamp. 

My first attempt at getting these pics., was late at night...and it for several reasons. 1.) the light bulb attracted tons of bugs, which then stuck to the baby oil slathered over my body. 2.) Per my usual, I'd set the camera on my little thrift store table, and it wasn't until I'd downloaded the first group of pics., that I realized - the camera at that angle was aimed up at the underside of the table...bummer. 3.) When I noticed the snafu, it was already 3 a.m....and by then I was absolutely beat. I decided to shower and tuck myself in, and wait until morning to try again...

With the addition of natural light (I almost never use a flash) the quality of the daytime photos was dramatically improved. The bugs were now a non-issue (thank god) and after placing the cam in its dish on a high ladder step, the perspective proved far more appealing. I still ended up taking two more sets of pics., but only because my ability to get into pose more quickly and accurately, improved with each hop onto the table and into place. Although at the time it seemed like overkill to take soooo many pics., ultimately I was glad that I had, since the only 3 frames that are even worth using, were some of the very last pictures I took.  

I'm determined to become more and more prolific in this medium, my main objective - to keep on improving, stylistically as well as technically (despite my shoddy equipment). I'm hellbent on always challenging myself - physically and thematically and to continue pushing the envelope by staging photo shoots in questionable locations and attire (*snicker*) Oh, and I gotta give a "shout-out" to all the good peeps who've allowed me to shoot on their property, or loaned or even given me their personal belongings which consistently inspire compelling concepts....THANK YOU ALL! (You know who you are...)

My next order of business is to chronologically document all that's transpired, since snapping those pink panty pics.. Chances are though, I'll stick a few new ones in the mix, cuz sometimes I get so excited about 'em, that I just have to show someone right away...


  1. Ohhhhh self critical, while you have polished your art, your first picture is Darling, and some of us like a little meat on our chicken bone. ;)

  2. oh good there it is

  3. Jeez sorry! I'm only just NOW seeing your comments on here. Musta been sleepin' on the job...or sumpin'. (Thank you, btw!)

  4. Well, what DOES one say about that first photo. I think its rather cute. I don't mean you directly (though that is true too) but more the whole picture. I can see you are a bit self concious - hence the panties and the pose away from the camera. Shame about the cut off heel but 9 out of 10 people wouldn't notice that. Yeah, I know, ~you~ do. You are like me, I see faults in my photography that I HATE and others look blankly at me when I point them out.

    Now, the table lamp image is something else! Where did you get that body from? ~grins~ I just imagine you making these images, running back and forth to your camera over and over again. (Hmmm... just worked out where you got the body from!). I know from experience how short a 10 second timer is and I marvel at how you manage to do these images.

    Thinking of ideas for images is always my problem. Technically I can make photos but rarely are they artistic. I can do composition and all that stuff but coming up with novel, eyecatching ideas? ~sigh~ No.

  5. I love the table lamp picture and the account of finding the lamp shade and how it set of the whole idea. Now you have not only got me thinking about getting outside more but also finding props.


  6. @Molly - Oh my gosh YES! Props are my best friend! I get TONS of ideas for pics. from objects that inspire me, inCLUDing the costumes (which I guess in a way - could be considered props themselves!)

    I can't wait to see what you come up with!

  7. L,

    The lamp shot is fantastic. Great concept. Everybody wants a little light thrown on the subject.


  8. @Anonymous - Thank You! It was a tough one to get right...

  9. Lauralyn,

    The lamp photo has always been one of my favorites. It's been a pleasure watching your photos evolve over the last couple of years and I would encourage you to keep shooting and posting.

    1. @Steve - I'd kinda forgotten about the lamp pic., to tell ya' the truth. I'm looking forward to going back and reviewing my old entries as I repost 'em...I'm curious to find out if I've improved as a self-portrait artist, or worse case scenario - regressed or plateaued. Either way though, I can honestly say that I am more eager than ever to be totally committed to this art form!

  10. your first pick is so adorable that I just might have to yank on out all over it, but the lamp picture elevates in to true art. It's quite stunning and I had to go back to see if it was real. Your blog is certainly entertaining and inspiring to me as a budding (and awful) photographer.

  11. @Advizor54 - One of the best things any artist can hear about their work, is that another artist finds it inspiring - Thank You so much for telling me that you feel that way!