Saturday, November 27, 2010

So, a Dog Walks Into a Bar...

(Snapped on 11/20/10)

My kids had a bunch of friends over, last weekend - and as a sort of precursor to the feast that the grown-ups would fix for Thanksgiving just a few days away, my middle daughter and a couple of her pals manned the helm there in my kitchen, and prepared an elaborate repast for themselves and the rest of the children. Ever the opportunist - I offered to set the table with the good china and silver not only so that the wee ones could enjoy the fruits of their labors in elegance, but also so that when they were all through with dinner, (but before the table had been cleared) I might use the tableau as the setting for a few self-portraits. And here I'd been thinking I wouldn't be able to take any pictures while the kids were with me that weekend...guess I showed me

Several of the girls hung out and watched for a few minutes, but after face-planting in a plate of whipped cream-covered mixed berry shortcakes again and again, the novelty kinda wore off and they left me to my own devices, while they went in search of something more interesting to do. Admittedly - I did not exhibit the full extent of my range in this shoot…this set is more than just a touch boring, if you ask me.

(Snapped on 11/22/10)

The mock "stick-up" was one of the shoots (no pun intended) that I mentioned last post - for which I'd been given permission earlier in the week - to come back and do at a later date. The store owner and I picked last Monday to be the day when I would return to stage the bogus heist. 

I have never been as anxious before any shoot, as I was - leading up to this one...I ain't lyin'. Beginning midday the Sunday before, my stomach got all tied up in knots after my imagination started getting the better of me. I kept thinking about things like, "What if a customer walks in while I have the gun pointed at the clerk, and then ducks out of the building to go call 911? After which the cops burst in - guns a-wavin', bullets flying. Or what if some average Joe who just happens to be packin', takes matters into his own hands by actin' a trigger-happy vigilante? That actually might kinda suck." I also worried about being a nuisance to the employees, lord knows they're already busy enough without having to cater to my selfish needs...

But every person who worked there, could not have been more obliging. The whole thing turned out to be a crap ton of fun! I could not believe how cool the guy at the register was with me brandishing a firearm (albeit a toy) and pointing it directly at his face. 

Only two customers walked in to catch me red-handed - the woman was super freaked for a sec, but after we explained everything she laughed. And the man just shrugged and mumbled something inaudible...

And...although an officer of the law did come in to shop, he was none the wiser to my charade. WOOT!

Everything went far more smoothly than I'd imagined it would, but even so - it wasn't until hours after I'd packed up my gear, thanked the store employees and got in my car to go home, that I finally started to calm down a was like the hugest adrenaline rush of my life, and by far the most enduring.

THANK YOU! To ALL of the wonderful peeps at my fave corner market - for allowing and helping me to try my hand at larceny - it was a day that I won't soon forget!

(Snapped on 11/23/10)

So, a dog walks into a bar, "How are you doing?" asks the bartender. 
"Ruff" the dog answers

Don't ask me what the deal is with the dog costume, cuz I honestly couldn't even tell ya'. I just saw it in the dress-up pile and decided to try and make it work...even though it is a child's costume and I couldn't put it all the way on without suffering an alarming degree of crotchal pain...ooof.

The bar owners were totally fine with me doing my thing (THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) especially since it was at 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon and the the place was quiet, for the most part. The only problem I had was that in order to keep things authentic, I did actually order a drink...and then one more...and then a nice man who was clearly puzzled by my unusual behavior offered to buy me a drink...and then another. Having only had 4 Tbs. of peanut butter for lunch that day and that many cocktails to boot, by 5:00 - I was fairly well-lit. But the good news was - I didn't havta drive home anytime soon, since the nice man who bought me the drinks, also happened to live in an old, haunted building right across the street from the bar...So...  

(Snapped on 11/23/10)

...I let him give me the tour of his apartment building and the skinny on the ghosts that inhabit it, and the instant I set foot in that creepy, dank attic - I knew that I just had to take some pics. up in that piece. 

Of course, with no other costume options besides my boring old street clothes and the now obsolete dog get-up - I was forced to rely on the birthday suit.

Too bad you can see the imprints from my knee socks and bra...see, that kinda thing really irks me.

I was up there shooting for ages, it was cold and dirty but I loved it! By the time I was done, my buzz had worn off and I was home by 7:30 to download the pics..

(Snapped on 11/25/10)

(Rockin' the BIG girl panties, UH huh!)

Thanksgiving is a holiday which anymore - I don't feel particularly motivated to celebrate, mainly because I don't really do food or family (outside of my offspring, of course) But for the past two years my children have spent Thanksgiving with their dad and his family, so it's becoming a tradition for me to celebrate Thanksgiving by working. 

I wanted to do one more set of pics. wearing the hospital gown, before I laundered and returned it to the Emergency Clinic. And what better day to act like an escaped mental patient digging through a trash can for food, than one of the only days of the year that the fast food restaurants are shut. 

I shot two pictures before a car pulled into the otherwise barren parking lot, and the driver - a woman - sat in her idling car, staring at me and my little freak show. I had a feeling she was gonna call the cops, and after I got my 5th frame - lo and behold, who should appear? But a county sheriff's deputy - surprise, surprise. 

It was a lady cop this time, and she was awesome. She could tell from the outset that I was not certifiable (although I almost wonder about my true mental state, since I actually did eat french fries from the trash) and while she ran my driver's license number through the system, I took the liberty of changing clothes in my car, really quickly. The lady cop drove her patrol car over to where I was just finishing getting dressed, and she got out to tell me the good news - that I am not wanted for any crimes, phew! (I was a little afeared that the incident in the park the other night, might somehow come back to haunt me) and then the bad news - that my driving record ain't so great (which believe me......I already knew)

As annoyed as I was that the nervous nelly had blown the whistle on me, at least I could add "not getting arrested" (again) to the list of things for which to be grateful that Thanksgiving.

(Snapped on 11/25/10)

(Wait a that a piece of gum hangin' outta mah mouf? For shame!)

Disappointed that the photo spree that I'd anticipated had not materialized, I went back home and regrouped for another shoot. I decided to play it safe, this time - and planned something for which I would wear acceptable clothing and not do a thing that could get me in trouble. And as you can see, in being overly cautious - the photos also turned out to be painfully "safe"…Ruff.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shot in the Dark

(Snapped on 11/17/10)

I awoke last Tuesday, jittery with excitement and rarin' to meet the day head-on. It was to be my last chance for the next five days - to get out there and take some self-portraits.

I spent the morning digging through the Mount Everest-sized pile of thrift store clothing that I've amassed over the last few decades, but which I've significantly fortified over the last few months - and walked away from the excavation with both arms brimming and my head full of (what I thought were some) innovative ideas.

I spent the afternoon pounding the pavement - stopping into various locations where (after considering my costume selections) I'd decided that I wanted to shoot...places where it would be necessary to have permission though, in order for me to do so.

I had packed my car with all the essentials that I'd need for the four very different shoots, juuust in case any of the property or business owners/managers decided to let me take my pictures that day. One guy said, "No" another said, "Yes" but asked that I do it some other time, please. And the two remaining shoots were "maybe's" until I was able to solicit the "first in command" for the final stamp of approval. But! I did rustle up a hospital gown (BIG thanks to the local Emergency Clinic!) something that I'd had an astonishing amount of difficulty doing, up until that point.

I was glad about the gown, but bummed that I was going back home without any new photos to download. Back to square one, with nary a notion what to do for my consolation nighttime shoots - I did as much of the local thrift store circuit as I could squeeze in before cocktail hour, hoping to find key pieces that might move me - and Honey...lemme tell ya'...did I ever!

The "old lady" pics. were the result of an of amalgamation of the clothing and wig that I purchased that day along with an interesting suggestion that a trusted photographer friend had recently offered...I loved my middle daughter's reaction when I showed her my fave from this group. Her lower jaw dropped, her eyes popped and she said, "Mom...your pictures are getting so much.........better!" which I took to mean, "not so naked for once".

I mentioned in my last post, how much planning and organizing goes into pulling off back-to-back shoots, especially those that have nothing in common with each other. Last Tuesday night was one of those times. I took the "old lady" pics. first, out of the three on the night's docket, because I knew I couldn't recycle the wrinkled face that I'd drawn on, plus - I staged this series just up the street from my house, so it was no sweat for me to swing back by my house to wash my face, fix it all over again, change my costume, and pack up everything else that I'd need, before leaving out again for the next two shoots.

(Snapped on 11/17/10)

I did my make-up and hair for the "pretty" shoot, knowing that I was gonna intentionally mess it all up for the last pics. of the night, stepped into the (way too big) nighty that I'd plucked from the rack at the thrift store, put on my Carhartt and my warm, comfy Uggs (the best for slipping on and off between shoots) and drove to a nearby town.

I parked my car in a dark, hidden lot and carried my things to the gazebo (I was so happy to see all of those party lights - I'd completely forgotten about them!) It was 11:45 on a Tuesday night, and although I was technically trespassing by being on the park grounds after hours, I wasn't nervous about it at all. Who was gonna see me? Besides possibly (but not likely) a motorist in the late night traffic out on the main road - which was a pretty good distance away... 

It had stopped raining for the moment, so I set up my camera out in the grass, kicked off my Uggs and left 'em layin' there with my jacket and got right to work, snapping about 15 pics. like the one above. There was something about this group that bothered me I tried shooting inside of the gazebo instead, to see if that would make a difference...and right away I was glad that I had...

(Snapped on 11/17/10)

It started to rain again, so I went out to the grass to fetch my jacket and boots, and brought them up to the gazebo to keep dry...and thank goodness I did because not 30 seconds later, a car pulled into that dark private parking lot and pulled into a spot near my car. I was shitting a brick, thinking, "Oh jesus lord, now who's this?" Dreading having to diffuse the unwanted advances of what I was certain would be some lecherous perv...I crouched down so I wouldn't be visible above the railing, pulled on my boots, zipped my jacket up over the sheer nighty and like a dumbass - rather than just grabbing my stuff and hot-footin' it back to my car - I started clicking through the pictures I had taken. For some odd reason, I felt the need to make sure that I'd gotten at least a couple of photos worth keeping, before accepting that my shoot in the gazebo was ovah...

Sitting on my haunches, my eyes fixed on my camera, I heard a man who was mere feet away from me say, "Hey". I didn't look up I just said, "Hey" back to him. The man then said, "Whatchya doin'?" I replied, "Takin' pictures" I then looked up to see the man squatting just below the steps that led up to the gazebo and holy crap - it was a cop - not a nefarious molester, as I'd feared...

(Snapped on 11/17/10)

(Indulge me, if you kindly - while I wax romantic for a moment...)

My sensible head knew that I was most likely in a world of trouble, but there had been something so sorta tender about the way that the officer had knelt down before me, and calmly questioned me in his kind and gentle voice. And when I'd finally lifted my head to size up the soft-spoken intruder - that initial zing of panic after realizing he was a cop, morphed into a flutter in my tummy cuz he was so damn CUTE!

I don't get crushes anymore, I really just don't. I don't have time to go looking for the object of my desires, and besides - I'm totes jaded about men and relationships and all that - after years of rapaciously dating unsuccessfully...

That's why it felt so strange to be silently swooning, when I shoulda been terrified that he was more than likely gonna take me to jail. I listened as he explained about the security cameras in the park, although I did wonder what took him so long to come bust me. I'd photographed myself for more than 30 minutes, and the police station's only 3 minutes away - if that. I was attentive as he educated me on the severity of indecent exposure (a class 1 misdemeanor. Huh. Who knew?) However I silently queried whether it's truly indecent exposure - if there's no one around to see your if a tree falls in woods, blah, blah, blah...

Understandably, the hot cop was having difficulty grasping why I was doing what I'd been doing. I figured my best line of defense against being mistaken for a pervert - would be to tell him about my blog as well as show him the pictures in my I did, which also afforded us more time to hang out.........(ok, now that sounded kinda messed up)

Before sending me on my way (on foot, to sneak my last photo shoot - hee hee!) the hot cop strongly urged me to keep mum in my blog. Aghast - I argued, "How could I?" It was my most thrilling story to date! But even as I write this entry, I find myself torn. I would hate to think that something I say, might wind up biting him in the ass, especially since (he's so CUTE!) he displayed humanity by granting me amnesty. Yes, he let me walk - but it wasn't for a lapse in his devotion to the force...the guy took his job very seriously, that was clear. He just happened to be that one reasonable cop in a million, and I happened to be lucky enough to get him.

I'm not sure what repercussions could ensue, should he catch wind of this little expose. Naturally, I'd prefer that he show up at my door holding flowers (or serve me breakfast in bed?), but if he must show up to serve me a warrant - so be least I'll get to see him again.........(What tha I mental or what)

(Snapped on 11/17/10)

I hurried down the 3 or 4 blocks to try and reach my last destination (a quiet side street with this wonderful row of dilapidated buildings) before the skies opened up. As lightening struck and thunder clapped, I undid my hair and rubbed my eye make-up then frantically changed out of the jacket, nightgown and Uggs and into the hospital gown. I was not fast enough to beat the terrific storm that blew in like a veritable hurricane, however. I have never known November weather to be anything like that before...

(Snapped on 11/17/10)

(No. That is not me "acting" in this photo...that is actually precisely how I felt)

No mincing words here, I struggled with this shoot. My camera was exposed to the elements so, many of the photos were distorted by the raindrops that repeatedly rolled down the lens. ALL of my clothes were soon drenched (my beloved Uggs did not survive the ordeal - RIP) and the only dry thing I could find in my bag to use to wipe the lens - was a hair scrunchy, which actually worked pretty well. The temperature wasn't too cold really (maybe 55 - 60 degrees?) but the whipping wind and that relentless downpour, coupled with the me only wearing the gown - caused me to became so cold that my hands and whole body began to shake convulsively. I wound up shivering so badly that I could no longer set the timer on my was definitely a very freaky feeling.

I swapped out the gown for the soggy nighty, put my sopping wet jacket and boots back on (yuck) and defeated - I schlepped all my gear the however many millions of blocks it now felt like I had to cover, before making it back to my car. 

Now...wouldn't it be just so wildly romantic if the hot cop read this - and instead of feeling exploited he felt compelled to look me up? *sigh* I know, I know - it's not likely to happen, but at least it's a shot in the dark...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Honing My Social Skills

It's so rare that I go out to party anymore, but twice in one weekendImpossible...

(Snapped by a friend using my camera on 11/14/10)

Those of you who so graciously followed my old Big Ugly Blog may still envision me to be the tireless gadabout that I once was...spending every childless moment drunk and stupid - bar-hopping with friends, or hustling one disastrous sexual escapade after another. For two straight years I willingly (and diligently) sacrificed whatever dignity I (ever even) had (to begin with), my main objective - to raise eyebrows with each successive, more scathing or self-incriminating post. 

The transition from social butterfly back to worm in a cocoon - did not happen gradually. And don't be misled by this seemingly unflattering analogy, look at it this way - one minute I was using provocative self-portraits to lure men from dating sites into my den of iniquity, the next - I was backing out of dates so that I might stay close to home to take pics...just for fun...and just for me. Now I ask you - which of these is the more attractive of the two? I'll take primordial pupa over slutty butterfly any day... 

My socializing halted abruptly and completely, the instant I fell in love with dash photography. It's become such an all-consuming hobby(?) that I simply don't have time to play anymore. Going to parties and bars with friends or out on dates with random guys - takes too much time away from snapping pics....and editing pics....and writing about my pics. in my blog. I literally have not taken a whole entire day off from this stuff, since I became so obsessed...what - like 4 months ago? If it weren't for leaving my home to go out and do the derned shoots, I'd have become a full-blown recluse by now. 

And I know it may sound strange, but this thing that I do requires an enormous amount of quiet time...absolute silence and total isolation from the rest of the world doing nothing (sometimes) but thinking, that's it...about where to shoot next, and who to portray and what the character should wear, and how or where to collect critical props or the essential elements for each ensemble. I honestly can't even listen to music anymore (and I'm an avid music-lover) since I'm incapable of staying focused on whatever task is at hand, whilst singing along to "Meat is Murder"... 

Leading up to the days or nights (or full weekends!) when I leave my house, not to return until multiple consecutive shoots have been executed - there is a considerable amount of planning involved with making sure that I'm prepared for each shoot, and as a result - I've become moderately to extremely OCD about being certain that I'm organized before venturing out. 

Last weekend however, I made a brilliant discovery: a photo shoot doesn't have to be mapped out to the letter, in order for it to be even marginally gratifying. Case in point - the spur of the moment hotel shoot detailed frame by frame in my last blog entry...I'll admit - the photos weren't remarkable in quality or content - but they taught me that I am capable of being spontaneous, as did the photos that I took the following night...  

(Snapped on 11/13/10)

I went to the big party up the road from my house, with my camera on my person as usual, but with no preconceived notions about what shoot(s) might arise. Although having learned my lesson the night before, about always being somewhat prepared costume-wise - I broke tradition and wore undies (underneath of skinny jeans, no less? Just awful!) along with a matching(ish) black, lacy bra. That way I knew that I'd be covered (so to speak) should an irresistible opportunity present itself...which predictably (or luckily) - it did.

After walking from my car, through what felt like acres of cow pasture, past hundreds of cars and then down a long, lovely lane lined with dozens and dozens of Ball jars illuminated with tiny white candles (spectacular!) - I finally arrived at the party, where I claimed a spot amid the throngs of party people who were warming themselves by the bonfire...I had probably been there for all of maybe 30 seconds, when I looked to my left and noticed the most adorable, mini camper nestled cozily and close to the tree line. Right away the thought of shooting in front of it became firmly fixed in my feeble brain.

As soon as I got permission from the hosts to have at it, I began psyching myself up to disrobe in front of any number of the hundreds of guests who might happen to glance over and see me. After mustering the courage to go for it - I carried my stuff over to the camper but once there - I decided to shoot on the opposite side - putting the camper between me and the folks by the campfire. I know, kinda lame...but I was NERVOUS!

(Snapped on 11/14/10)

I thawed out by the fire for a spell, downed another voddy cocktail (or several) after which I decided to go back to the camper to take a second set of pics. - this time - in plain view of the poor, confused souls who were powerless to miss my shenanigans. I was proud of myself for removing more clothing (although my feet were so frozen by the time I was done, that it felt like I was walking on stumps) but - the way that my flashlight shone on the trees above my head - fairly well douched what were pretty weak pics. to begin with.

I was so happy to realize that it had been worth it in a weird way though, when afterwards I overheard chatter 'round the fire 'bout "the woman taking her clothes off by the camper"..."did you see that?!"  

(Snapped on 11/14/10)

Although the photos were cruddy, I still felt a mild sense of accomplishment for having pulled off a shoot in front of that many people wearing as little clothing as I'd had on, and because of that I couldn't have been more pleased with my decision to go out for the second night in a row that weekend.

A few of my friends and I went inside the house (I don't even really remember why) and when we found this itty bitty playroom in a closet under the stairs - I knew that I could not leave the party without taking some pics. in there first. Again I asked for and was given permission (TA - you guys are the BEST!) and despite a much more up close and personal audience, I felt far more at ease doing this shoot than I had with the ones by the camper...(wonder why)

My friends poked their heads in and asked if it bothered me that peeps outside were taking my picture through a window, and as I'm sure you coulda guessed - it didn't...I swear the whole thing was too perfect - it was heaven! I was absolutely stunned that so much goodness had come from attending a neighborhood field party. And just when I thought that I'd reached the pinnacle of happiness...

(Snapped on 11/14/10)

...The Feral Kid squeeeezed into the tiny closet with me. She didn't waste a minute of precious time on long-winded "how do you do's" or inquiries as to what in the world I was doing - she's a like-minded artist, no need to explain...she totally "got" what I was doing. The Feral Kid shed her shirt (my kinda gal!) and got busy right away - collaborating with me on photo after photo - until my blasted camera battery died...

The whole thing was utterly amazing, truly. A virtual stranger shows up on my shoot (a kindred spirit in so many ways) we barely communicated about what we should do - we just did it - as if we already had, a hundred times before...And somehow we managed to snap some swell shots, in spite of the cramped, confining conditions in the closet...That girl was the shiz, I shiz you not!

Despite being slightly hungover Saturday and Sunday (a foreign sensation of late) I was delighted that I'd gotten out of the house to recreate. I so enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones, but mostly I loved cultivating productivity...from play…

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Night in the Hotel: A Rock Opera, Well...KINda

A few weeks ago I suffered a near miss (which in retrospect - was probs a good thing). I'd been invited to go visit this adorable little hottie at the hotel where he was staying, but at the eleventh hour he bagged out on me. Needless to say, my intentions going in - were quite different than his. All I could think about was the chance to take self-portraits in a hotel room (preferably without using him as a prop)...and - not too surprisingly - ever since his and my deal fell through, I've been utterly fixated on finding a way to finagle a hotel room shoot.

This past Friday night I went "out" for the first time in eons - my way of rewarding myself for gettin' my blog updated like a good little girl. I arrived at the bar where I met three friends, at approximately 10:30 p.m....and I quickly deduced there was little chance that I'd ever catch up to their level of inebriation, since as it turned out -they'd been imbibing since 2 in the afternoon, but! At the end of the night, I was no doubt - over the legal limit, and so woulda been a fool to not accept their invitation to crash with them at a swank, downtown hotel - the sensible alternative to any of us risking driving back home and getting pulled over for driving while drunk.  

By now I know that a photo op can arise at any given moment, and because of that - I rarely ever leave the house without bringing along my camera and the little dish packed with tin foil that I set it in. Friday night was no exception. Woulda been nice if I'd had the forethought to wear a saucy matching bra and undies set. But I was just wearing a boring black bra, and as usual - I was goin' commando...

Thinking on my feet, I stripped down to nuttin', grabbed a towel from the bathroom and (figuring I'd be more productive working alone, as opposed to in a cramped room with three boys) I went out into the hallway to take selfpics all by myself.

I have no clue how long I was messin' around out there, but it was long enough that I shoulda gotten into some sort of trouble. I mean, aren't there surveillance cameras in the hallways of hotels? Someone had to have seen what I was doing. I'm still mind-boggled that I got away with this nonsense...not complaining - just stoked that I did!

And now...without further ado...A Night in the Hotel

(Cue music)

(All pics. snapped on 11/13/10)

After being chased by an invisible aggressor, and running helter skelter through the seemingly endless labyrinth of hallways...

I frantically beat on a stranger's door, seeking refuge from my imaginary assailant...

But when no one came to my rescue, and the phantom stalker gave up chase (and the towel mysteriously vanished) I lightened the mood by staging an impromptu peep show for the night watchman, presumably privy to my antics via hidden camera...

After all that I was pooped and hungry...

I foraged for a midnight snack... 

curled up on the scratchy hotel carpet...and promptly fell faaaast asleep...


Unfortunately, I cannot share with you any of the photos that I did end up taking inside of our room (such a shame since there are a couple of real cherries in the bunch) but I'm in enough hot water as it is - thanks entirely to some big mouth who recently felt the need to stir up shit about my blog with my ex-husband. 

I hate to feel like I have to curb anything that I do just because an uptight jackass (who didn't have the balls to express his concerns about my blog directly to me - when coincidentally, we were face to face mere days before he tattled) would rather me censor my work, than take matters into his own hands by installing adult content filters on his home computer...He mentioned to my ex that his child came home one day, talking about my blog (I actually have good reason to believe that this statement is in fact, false) after which he further riled my ex by speculating - if word about my online indiscretions leaked out at their school - (mine and) my ex's children could be forced to field uncomfortable ridicule from their peers...

I call bullshit. 

That guy found my blog completely on his own, after which he felt the need to exact revenge on me for some reason (could be he felt guilty about the emotions it aroused? Hard to say) but whatever the reason - it still sucks and was a common-ass thing to do, in my opinion.

I asked my kids if they've ever had to deal with kids at school, coming down on them for this thing that I do which is totally out of their control...and they said "No". I then recommended that if anyone ever does give them grief about my pics. and/or my blog - to please be sure to tell me, and to explain to whomever - that their mother is an artist, and that what she does on her time, should never reflect poorly on them...

Thing is, I truly believe that my pics. only make local peeps uncomfortable. (I've never gotten an ounce of grief about my blog, from anyone who doesn't know me personally) I guess it could be kinda weird to have the mental image of my pics. running through their minds when they see me at soccer games and stuff. But it doesn't bother me, so it shouldn't bother them. However, if they insist on making strange with me in public and so vehemently disapproving of my behavior - then may I suggest - that they refrain from visiting the damn site! I swear to god, people - grow the freak up! Hate to break it to ya' but art is oftentimes naked - and has been since the beginning of time (essentially). I wonder...would they keep their children from visiting museums, for fear their poor, fragile eyeballs might burn outta their precious little skulls - should they chance upon an artist's rendering of the naked female form? Let's hope not. 

Don't worry though, I tend to err on the side of incorrigible...and so I do not plan to stay on lock-down for long...

Bring on the witch hunt, the book-burning, the's all just fuel for my fire...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tart at the Mill

(All pics. snapped on 11/11/10)

There are a couple of things that I actually like about the pictures featured here in this post. The first is that someone has offered to purchase a print - from one particular group that I shot in this mill (YIP!) Second? They signify the end of a years-long cold war between me and a former adversary...

A few weeks ago (maybe a month?) I was forced to muster the courage to approach an arch-rival and ask permission to do self-portraits in a building wherein most (if not all) activities fall under her jurisdiction...Eh, I dunno...maybe "arch-rival" is too strong a term to accurately describe the person in question, but what I do know is that there has been a significant amount of uncomfortable tension between us for as far back as I can remember. Presumably because for years we shared the curse of being two unmarried, middle-aged women, residing in the same small community where the pickings are slim for eligible men, and after competing with each other for the same man at one point - she rose victorious......and she has way better hair than I do (mumble...*expletive*...grumble). That whole drama happened ages ago (and I'm totally over it now, no I am! Seriously!) however, our palpable resentment towards each other has for whatever reason - never flagged...

I got the idea to shoot in the historic Burwell-Morgan Mill (just up the road from my home) after seeing signs around the neighborhood advertising "Art at the Mill" - the local historical association's biannual art show. It's so funny because I drive past this landmark countless times each week, but the thought of shooting inside of the meticulously restored working mill, had never crossed my mind before then. Aiming to kill two birds with one stone, I stopped in to beep at the art, but also to (hopefully) get the green light to make my own art there soon. I cringed at the thought of groveling to her, but she was the go-to-girl after all, and the decision - yay or nay - would be entirely at her discretion. 

I laid everything out for her right there on the front desk (including my portfolios so that she'd be clear about what it is that I do)...and although at first she sort of bristled at my mere presence - after discussing my intentions like reasonable adults, I felt the iciness that historically has kept us estranged - begin to melt away, and ultimately - become water under the bridge...Her kind gestures of complimenting my work and agreeing to let me shoot at the Mill, indicated that we might be moving towards rising above our differences and burying the hatchet for good. 

My preference was to wait until the art show was down, so that visitor traffic would be minimal as I roamed the venue taking pics. of myself in varying states of undress. A childless weekend closing-in, I called "her" to see when it might suit for me to pop by The Mill and do my thang. Now check this - she offered to let me into the building on a day when it wasn't even open to the public, that way I'd have the whole place to myself - BONUS! I was stunned by her willingness to shift her schedule for my sake and her friendliness towards me was icing on the cake. (Muchas gracias!)

What I don't like about these pictures is how inept I was at harnessing the intense natural light while at the same time barely coping with the exaggerated shadowy darkness that flanked it. In scoping out all three floors prior to shooting, I'd become overconfident that there would be no possible way I'd end up with anything less than a pile of great pics.. Lo and behold - out of two full memory cards (and 2 1/2 hours racing from camera to pose) I came away with only 5 or so images that didn't completely insult me...

  This ^ is not one of them...
But since I do still appear to have eyes, nose and a mouth, it is marginally better than the rest from this lot...

That tantalizing light that streamed in through the window and misled me into thinking I was golden - instead erased contours and burned the pigment from my skin. I manipulated the hell outta these pics. on iPhoto, but in all except three photos snapped from the angle above - I looked as if I was either wearing a white body stocking...or was a freakishly, featureless not good. 

Although hesitant to shoot right into the light and directly facing the sunny window - I thought, "It certainly can't hurt to try. Could the pictures be any worse than the ones from the last set?" 

Upon reviewing the first coupla shots from this direction, I was pleased to see a marked improvement (although other issues plagued the bulk of the pics. from this set) Lucking into making use of that scrummy light, is proof positive that I ain't nuttin' but a greenhorn still, and a long way from finessing finding the "right" light...on purpose.

OH! And how bout that truce reached between me and my nemesis? It's comforting to know that good things can come from this silly, little hobby of mine...

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Trite Stuff

(Snapped on 11/03/10)

After scrolling through the pics. that I chose for this post (plucked from five consecutive, recent photo shoots) I hated that what immediately came to mind was, "Dear god, have I plateau-ed? Or, perish the thought - regressed?!" And as I considered my bleak first impression, the notion that on some level any number of my self-portraits could be considered obvious and/or banal - sent me into a full-on tailspin. It sucks because now I've got myself all in a tizz, worried that no matter what I try or have tried - there's some probability that the end product could come across as corny or cliche...

I'm gonna chalk up this discomforting epiphany - as a necessary part of the learning curve, K? And rather than bury these photos and pretend that the problem doesn't exist, I shall instead tackle the issue head-on. (Here's hoping in the process, I'll be more cognizant of what to watch out for when conceiving and staging future shoots) 

Outside of the minimal feedback that I get from my viewers, I have no idea what most people think or even feel when they look at my pictures. Compounding that - is the fact that I don't deliberately try to manifest anything specific in my pics.. I just decide on the costume and the venue...and when I get there (more often than not) I do my best to look pretty when I pose. Other than that - I kinda throw caution to the wind, and if I'm lucky something cool happens - completely by accident.

Most times I select the pics. that I post in the blog, based on basic things like compositional aesthetics or the desire to gloat about my more physically difficult accomplishments. I don't usually find myself digging much deeper than that. (Am I an idiot to actually admit this? Maybe)

Let's take the first picture in this post. Why did I pluck it from the rest of the bunch. Simply because my whole body and the jar of JIF were totally in frame, the contrast was decent and my new battle wound was clearly I'm here to tell ya' -that's some pretty deep shit.

I asked my son if he thought that I looked convincingly like a squatter? He said, "Um, yeah sort of......I guess" I responded with, "Really? Hmmmm...Where do ya' think I went wrong?" His succinct yet sage assessment put it all in perspective and made me officially loathe the damn photo, "You're wearing make-up, Mom"...true, true...'nuff said...

(Snapped on 11/08/10)

The next four photos were snapped all in one day, and in roughly the same location (two neighboring farms belonging to friends)

I'd already made arrangements to shoot with the bull and the old truck, but when the goat thing came to me last minute (always one to be economical with my time) I called my friend to see if it would be ok to add "milking the goat" to the docket...and it was (Thank you, T.!) 

I justified doing this my second milkmaid shoot - by telling myself, "That last shoot was primarily about the barn. This one is all about the animal." Seemed foolish to pass up an opportunity for fear of being redundant, especially since I'd scored that way-too-small-for-me country gal outfit at the thrift store, just a few days before...

I took some pictures pretending to milk ole Glory - and she was perfect. Plus the lighting in the milking stall was divine! But ultimately it was I who fell flat. Every photo just looked so contrived (way worse than the picture above, believe it or not) 

I coaxed Glory into her stall with a bucket of grain, and I think we did a little better messin' around in there, although in exchange for posing for my pics., she insisted that I sacrifice my straw stool to her epicurean cravings. She's a GOAT, for cryin' out loud - lord knows those suckers'll eat ANYthing!

(Snapped on 11/08/10)

Next stop was where a 1940's International truck had sat paralyzed for years, after its driver broke the axle and left it for dead. I had not seen the truck before the day that I photographed myself with it, but going on the landowner's description of its condition and whereabouts - I fashioned the wood nymph costume believing it would somehow coalesce with the skeleton of that truck - forever stuck on the limestone outcropping...

...and I have to say...I'm not convinced that it did...

In slogging through the hundred or so pictures from on and around that remarkable relic, my overall interpretation of them was that they were cheesy...such a pity.

And while desperately trying to salvage the best (overstatement?) of the lot - I resorted to experimenting with unfamiliar effects on iPhoto (see above). It was a last ditch effort to overcome critical background snafu's...the results? Storybook sappy...two thumbs down.

(Snapped on 11/08/10)

I posted this one so you wouldn't think that I'd completely lost my marbles...and it may be a teensy bit better. But still - to me? It's hackneyed and nothing really jibes...

(Snapped on 11/08/10)

My aspirations to play matador with my friend's prize 2000 lb. bull - were dashed when the bull continuously eluded me and my camera. I musta walked four miles chasing the bastard around that field, but anytime I got close enough to set up my equipment, he aloofly lumbered away with his bevy of babes...grrrr...

I can admit, that I did come to this shoot, knowing full-well how utterly ludicrous the whole concept was. I mean, for one thing the bull has no horns...although I had no sword, so in a way we'd have been well-matched opponents. Also there was no arena or audience - the very idea of a mock bullfight was balderdash. In the end though, none of that mattered - since the bull refused to cooperate with my far-fetched theatrics. But I was there, I liked my costume and I wasn't quite ready to retire it...and the wind did nice things to my makeshift cape :)

The photos from this series bring to my mind, an escaped mental patient...roaming the countryside...stalking indifferent cattle - in an attempt to satiate delusions of (female) matador-esque grandeur. Plain weird.

(I wasn't unhappy with the colors though, so there is that)

(Snapped on 11/10/10)

A hooker shoot? Shocking. It's almost like, "You're only just now getting to this?" 

Thing is - this is a second try at this particular theme, very different from my first attempt but no more innovative. I did enjoy going out in the middle of the night (thank you H. for loaning me the wig, btdubs) and I liked that cars (even cops!) drove by and didn't mess with me one tiny bit. But I'm still not quite sure how I feel about these photos. My mind right now is so fixed on believing everything I do is unoriginal, and because of that I've temporarily lost my point of reference...I'll get it back though, I promise. I just have to keep reminding myself that this whole thing is a matter what I do or how I interpret it...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Magical Mystery Tour

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

The older I get (and the more decrepit my vehicles) the less I like to venture very far from where I live. I've always been a bit of a homebody, but over the last few months I've become more and more content to keep busy in my studio during the quiet times when my kids are with their dad. Yeah sure, I go out and about to do my pictures (mostly around my immediate "neighborhood", though) - but outside of visiting my daughter at her boarding school - I rarely travel solely for recreation. And even then, my fingers are crossed the whole time, that I won't end up stranded - my car completely kaput on the shoulder, with no AAA and no money to get myself towed. In other words, unless I'm going someplace where the risk of breaking down is somehow worth knowing that if I get there, I will be productive - I prefer to play it safe and stay at (or somewhere close to) home...where I'm certain to get plenty of stuff done.  

The reason I'm boring you with all of this, is because I'm trying to illustrate how out of character it was for me to take precious time away from working on my blog, and risk car-tastrophe by making the 3 hour + drive down to, and back from - where my friends Copeland and George have homes in central Virginia...not just once, but on two separate occasions now. Only something exceptionally enticing, could make me break tradition like that.

Obviously I went, fully intending to spend quality time with my friends, but I made no false pretenses about the fact that for me it would be more of a working holiday than a time to kick back and relax. 

You guys may remember how blown away I was, by my first visit to the region back in September (see entry, "On "The Land" and Off the Grid"). The combination of coming home with a treasure trove of pics., and a long mental list of venues where I longed to snap more pictures there some other day, all punctuated by my new friend George's invitation to shoot at his place - was ample reason to get my butt back down asap!

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

I blabbed on and on in the last post, about the two cool spots that I'd noticed (and where I was absolutely dying to shoot) while on my way over to meet George. The crumbly, old house seen here in the three topmost pics., was my first stop - after departing a prosperous afternoon spent with George...and his land...and his trailer.

I initially caught only a fleeting glimpse of the old house, and had been so captivated by what I'd seen of the facade that I made up my mind to shoot my self-portraits using the exterior of the house as my backdrop. But upon arrival, I realized - that this would not be feasible. The entire yard was a tangled, dense mass of head-high overgrowth, which completely enveloped the abandoned abode. I pulled my car as much off of the road as I could, barely onto a makeshift driveway (presumably the resting spot of the bulldozer that I'd seen parked there earlier in the day - yipes) My precious SONY Cyber-Shot safely zipped-up in my pocket, I grabbed the rest of what I needed and struggled to navigate my way through the sea of hateful brambles and weeds. 

After clambering up and into the front hallway, I literally gasped and let out an audible, "Oh my god..." I was jittery in my amazement to have ended up in a place, unlike any other I'd ever seen before.

The late-day light spilling in through the pane-less windows and doorless doorways - was beyond stunning, and a cold breeze teased my diaphanous dress (also now translucent - since I'd cut out the pesky, black underskirt) There were vestiges indicating that the once proud and fine homestead had been repeatedly raped for it's desirable mantles, stair treads, light fixtures and doors. Savagely stripped of its distinguishing features, and consequently - protection from the elements - the old house was succumbing to malignant decay...after decades of neglect, betrayal and abuse...

It was terribly sad and beautiful all at once. I have chills and feel inexplicably emotional thinking about it, even now. 

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

I could've easily stayed there shooting for hours, but unfortunately I knew that my time inside the house would have to be brief, since it's situated close to the road in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and nobody would recognize my car. To have stayed there much longer, would've been asking for trouble...

(When I got back home and downloaded the pictures that I'd taken inside the old house, I was floored. Miraculously most of the pics. needed minimal tweaking...besides cropping, I left several of them otherwise untouched)

As regretful as I was, to say goodbye to the house, knowing that it might not even be there next time (that bulldozer that I'd seen parked out front, ominously predicted a grim outlook for the perpetually deteriorating structure) - I was ok with it, because of my urgency to shoot at the last location on my list. 

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

This lonely general store sits so close to the road, that I barely had room to park my car much less keep it out of the pictures. More so than at the old house, I was blatantly advertising my presence at a place where I really had no business being.

The other tricky thing about this particular shoot, was that I had to change costumes inside of my car...

(Snapped on 9/22/08)

How's this for a fishbowl-type dressing room? Ya' think there's any chance that passing motorists and the folks living in the house across street - couldn't see what I was doing? Haha! No matter, it's the adrenaline rush that comes from such things, that injects me with the courage to make a spectacle of myself...

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

It's kinda hard to explain, and it may sound silly but after two fortuitous photographic excursions to this specific part of Virginia, I'm convinced that there might be something magical about the area...

There's this strange serenity about the landscape, a sort of quiet calm blanketing each pristine acre. The way the light behaves, seems totally different to me - could be it's more intense because the air is so clean? I know it seems crazy - but I really can't make sense of it! The architecture although humble - is arresting and oft eerie. And somehow I manage to always stay safe from harm. I mean like seriously - I go to Richmond to attend an innocuous party and end up in the ER with stitches in my arse. But in this special place, I have repeatedly scaled the walls of a collapsing building, and tromped around barefoot through tons of brittle plaster and lath riddled by thousands of nails - remarkably impervious to injury. I've been alone in old buildings, remote locations and public spaces - for extended periods of time, and never been bothered by any single spirit or living soul...

It's entirely possible that I could travel a fraction of the distance from my home, to countless points in any direction (and I fully intend to do just that) and discover equally enchanting locations to shoot. But I have this hunch that that no other place will replicate the exulting feeling I get - while in and around that part of Virginia. And...much as I detest driving long distances, the je ne sais quoi of Charlotte County and her environs - will inevitably lure me back.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Post-Trailer Stress Syndrome

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

After two straight hours at my friend George's trailer, spent ravenously snapping self-portraits - my only alternative was to cease and desist. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and I knew that if I was to get pictures elsewhere on George's mouthwateringly exquisite property as well as at the two come-hither spots that I'd spied while driving over to his place - I'd have to hurry before darkness put the kibosh on my plans.

I toted my gear outside, pushed the lock on the knob and reluctantly closed the door to the trailer. I shuffled to my car, slowly slid off the wig, and let the neglige fall past my body to rest in a heap around my feet....and as I stood there stark naked in the interim between shoots - I felt melancholy displace my euphoria. I was definitely excited about taking more pics., but wrapping the trailer shoot was strangely bittersweet...I worried that no matter what I tried next, it would most certainly pale in comparison.

Digging through my jumbo bag of costumes though, was just the prescription for getting myself right back on track. I selected a fringy poncho and my well-worn Ugg boots* (*the photos with the Uggs were promptly vetoed, btw) believing they'd meld perfectly with that pristine field...and the plots of fading wild flowers...and the autumnal tree line in the distance. Perhaps in the process I'd procure a happy set of "hippy chick" pics., a yin to the yang of the somewhat somber trailer shoot.

I dunno though, whadda you think? Feels decidedly more Sasquatch than hippy chick to me. What'd I tell ya'...see? Anti-freaking-climactic. Ah well, no sense in whining - K, NEXT!

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

Because I was traveling in my low-profile vintage sports car with its rear-wheel drive and two bald front tires, I didn't have the option of venturing as deep into the property as George had been able to take me in his SUV. Luckily though, my second favorite spot was just a short, easy drive from the field with the trailer, and since my costume required no thought or effort - I was able to get started right away...

F'you ask me, shooting naked is the tits - it's easy and quick and I mean - how can the pictures turn out all that badly when the subject being photographed is nude? I reckon it helps that I've no problem bearing my all - especially when I'm in the middle of a remote, natural setting. But there was one eensy problem with slinking naked through the forest, right then...'twas opening day for muzzle-loading season, and the deer hunters would be out in force. Not necessarily on George's land per se, since he'd given no one hunting privileges...but let's face it - with that much acreage, and trespassing so common - it was entirely possible that a gun-toting stranger could happen upon me in those woods. This conjured in my mind scenarios as simple as a mortifyingly uncomfortable encounter, or as grave as some trigger-happy hunter's hasty mistake...

I had assured my friend Copeland, that I would wear some article of blaze orange clothing, after she voiced her concern over my intentions to shoot in the woods that day...but when it came time to do the pictures I decided to take my chances, and forwent the safety precaution altogether - all for the sake of unencumbered pics.... 

(Snapped on 10/30/10)

(Not to change the subject or anything but you know what I just realized? This is likely to be the last current photo that I'll post of my ass without the stitches or what's sure to be a pretty grody scar...bummer. It's the end of an era, I suppose...)

All right, so - taking all factors into account, i.e.: the chance that it might be up to me to chase poachers off of George's property (while nude), the potential to be mistaken for a deer by a hunter (whereby giving new meaning to the term "buck naked"), the fact that the damp forest floor and the dense canopy of trees made for uncomfortably chilly conditions and the time I had left to do my two other shoots - swiftly reaching its critical mass...the woodland pics. were snapped in a panic (to put it mildly) and I would venture to say that it shows.... 

Although I feel like I failed to "deliver" in the photos from this part of the day, I cannot fault the backdrop at all...totes fantastic! It's just funny to me that I could be so comfy and content to shoot in that creepy ole trailer, but lawd! Get me out amidst Mother Nature's magnificence - and I totally seize up...go figure…