Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Heathen in the Chapel

(Snapped on 7/17/10)

After finally tackling those pesky train pics., the notion that the world was far bigger than just my yard and my house really began to crystallize. I was relieved to have finally gotten over the intimidating hurdle of snapping self-portraits in public, and because of that - I began conspiring to shoot myself against all sorts of interesting backdrops...and quite frankly, I didn't care who might see me doin' it. The tricky part was, that I was still staging my self-portraits with Twitter's #HNT in mind, and the "half-nekkid" part of #HNT would no doubt prove to be a bit more difficult to pull off in front of an audience.

The Sunday just after the train shoot, my oldest daughter was at a friend's house (having slept there the night before) my son was at camp and my ex had stopped by my house early in the morning - to pick up my two other girls in order to drive them to their camp. It was 6:30 a.m....and I was childless. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out there and do a photo shoot. Additionally, we were in the midst of one of the hottest spells of the summer, so the idea of shooting pics. before the temperature and the humidity rose to suffocating highs, was appealing - to say the least. I did my face and hair, threw on an old nighty (omitted undies in #HNT's honor) and drove to the Old Chapel Cemetery - just 5 minutes away from my house. 

As I parked my car it occurred to me, "Oh shit. What if it's locked?" but when I got to the entrance I was delighted to discover that not only was the gate unlocked, but best I could tell - it wasn't able to be locked. Visions of a nighttime cemetery shoot went swirling through my mind...but that would have to keep, cuz for the time being I'd have to be content with integrating myself amid the mammoth mature trees and the patina of the ancient headstones in one of my favorite places in Clarke County...during the daytime.

(Snapped on 7/17/10)

I took a few pics. lying on my back draped over this old stump, and then I got the idea to stand on it and pose. Next I took a few pics. while leaning into this sort of slow-motion step/fall, and then I got the idea to try jumping off the stump. I spent what felt like an eternity, struggling to get a satisfactory photo of myself in midair. It quickly became quite clear that capturing my body in motion would be a far less simple task than I'd reckoned. Despite becoming more and more pissed off at my ineptness, I did not see this obstacle as insurmountable. Matter of fact, I was excited to have added something new to the equation and I refused to quit trying until I had a couple of pics. that I didn't absolutely hate. 

The Old Chapel shoot marked my first real attempt at photographing movement and I definitely considered it a pretty big deal. My mind reeled with the promise of a plethora of possibilities...

(Snapped on 7/17/10)

After about an hour and a half of flitting about between graves and leaping off of the lichen-covered stump, and with the temperature now well into the 80's, it shouldn't be difficult to imagine how profusely I was sweating. The little white nighty was soaked through in the seriously - totally saturated. I posted the photo above, not because it's so fantastic or anything (in fact I don't even particularly like it) but it was the best example I had to illustrate just how wet (and translucent) the nightgown had become.

At this point I felt like I'd kinda maxed-out the whole cemetery thing, and since I had a few other shoots on my list for the day - I packed up my things and went toward the gate to leave. As I exited the cemetery, a truck pulled up and blocked the path to my car. I was thinking, well - a couple of things actually...1.) Dagger! Maybe I wasn't actually allowed to be in the cemetery taking pics. of myself...barely clothed. Had a motorist who'd seen me galavanting around the grounds, called someone and snitched?...and...2.) My tiny little nighty (which barely covered my naked ass in the first place) now in such a soggy state - blatantly advertised the fact that I didn't happen to be wearing a bra...*awkward*

The little old man who stepped out of the truck, bore a genuinely pleasant smile and was just as sweet to me as he could be. I had braced myself for severe reprimand, but he immediately diffused my anxiety...I was shocked. He didn't seem at all perturbed that I'd been photographing myself in the cemetery nor embarrassed by my tits which were screaming at him from behind the diaphanous layer of moist cotton. 

The old man introduced himself as the groundskeeper and said that he was there to unlock the chapel. He asked if I was the photographer who'd called and made arrangements to be let inside the building to take pictures, that day...I said, "Oh no! I'm not a photographer, I just do this for fun. I know...I'm weird"

And then he said, "Well, if you like - you're welcome to take pictures in the chapel." I answered with, "Um, I'm probably not appropriately dressed to take you up on that today, but you're very nice to offer!"

(Snapped on 7/17/10)

I was kinda bummed to have to decline the old man's generous invitation to let me snap pics. inside the Old Chapel...and just then, I remembered seeing a dress lying in a heap in the back of my car (probably filthy and on its way to the dry cleaners, but oh well) I ducked behind my little car, stripped naked and got myself zipped up in the other dress.  

Me: "On second thought, maybe I will take some pictures in the Chapel...that is, if it's still all right and all."

The little old man: "Oh my yes. Help yourself."

I just could not believe how lucky I'd gotten...the entire morning had been an absolute gift! Later I learned that I was even luckier than I'd realized. After a few local peeps saw some of the photos that I shot while inside the Old Chapel, they were stunned..."How in the world did you manage to get in there? It's only open to the public once a year?!"

Could it be the photography gods were smiling on me? Maybe. But I'm more inclined to think that one should never underestimate the power of a see-through nighty...

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