Saturday, February 12, 2011

Less is (Not Always) More

(Snapped on 1/23/11)

2011 marks the first year that I can ever remember making a New Year's resolution (two actually) that I'm really serious about wanting to keep. Just a few days into January, I resolved to rid my life of aaaaall the superfluous crap that I've collected over the years...and I'm not just talking about tangible crap either. Along with purging my house of nonessential items and belongings that are literally of no value to me anymore - I've been eliminating "things" that distract me from being productive, and relationships that bring me no joy. 

My second goal for 2011 - is to sell my house and my studio, and move to my favorite run-down cabin on the river...which is in a lotta ways - a derivative of my first resolution. I want less land and less house to havta maintain. I want to move into the little river house with less possessions. I wanna be forking out less money for utilities, insurance and real estate taxes...and probably most important - I want to live someplace where I at least feel like I'm less visible to other people. 

Scaling back, paring down, living simply - whatever you wanna call it - has sort of become my theme for 2011..and so far I've been diligent about abiding by the guidelines that I've laid out for myself. 

(Snapped on 1/24/11)

Putting my house on the market was priority #1, and was possibly the best way to ensure that I got started with the purge right away. I have to always be ready in the event a prospective buyer decides they want to stop by, and with fewer random items scattered about, it's a million times easier to get the place picked up at a moment's notice. Needless to say, getting (and keeping) the house in tip top condition, plus packing up boxes in preparation for our eventual (fingers crossed) move - has monopolized time that I would've otherwise devoted to my self-portraits. And although this definitely stressed me out a bit, what really gave me a panic - was the idea that using my own house as a backdrop for my pics., might soon be a thing of the past. So, after ending a weeks-long dry spell by staging the pictures in the previous post - I decided to crank out a few here at home. 

(Snapped on 1/25/11)

As soon as I got started, I was totally unenthused about shooting self-portraits in my studio and house because in essence - it was taking the easy way out...and I think that the pictures produced, undeniably prove that point: The fridge pic. is weak...a feeble follow-up to the one I took way back in April '10. The  "baby bottle" shoot felt sorta weird and wrong - and not in a good way, I'm afraid. Coming across as a convincing teenybopper escaped me - both times that I tried to pull it off, and after dismantling my bed and totally rearranging my bedroom - the pictures with the pillow hardly seemed worth the trouble.

(Snapped on 1/27/11)

There had been nothing challenging or thrilling about shooting in the safety and comfort of my own home. I hadn't put myself in harm's way by risking hypothermia or trouble with property owners and Johnny Law, there was no audience of strangers to egg me on, there was literally nothing controversial about how I got the pics., thus no real story to tell. Shooting in a safe environment had given me a terrible bout of ennui, and because of that - I wasn't at all on point and my performance was regrettably sub-par.

(Snapped on 1/30/11)

All of this worried me a tremendous lot, and I struggled to come up with a reasonable explanation for why even after my refreshing hiatus - I still seemed to be losing steam...why something that had been my be all/end all - was suddenly a thorn in my side...

Maybe I wasn't as good a multi-tasker as I'd thought. Maybe sandwiching a few self-portraits in between trying to sell my house, and my recent obsession with analog photography - made it nearly impossible for me to give anything in my life - ample attention. Maybe I'd plateaued. Maybe I'd run out of clever ideas. Maybe I'd raised the bar too high...maybe in becoming such an adrenaline junkie - in order to "get my fix" - I'd have to be willing to face jail time or real physical harm...and maybe because of that, I was losing my nerve.

It's confounding to me, that my habit of publicly peeling off layers of clothing, had never made me feel quite as naked and scared, as I've felt while stripping away the excess in my private life...  

But this happens to people, right? From time to time we step back from what we're doing, evaluate the situation and make adjustments where needed. We prioritize by deciding what's most important to us, and as a result - certain other things take a back seat...or - disappear altogether...


  1. Actually, less could be more in your house... the black & white checkerboard tile and the tongue & groove wallboarding are just begging for a more abstract shoot, IMO, where it's just you and the backdrop. A shoot like that would be all about the fluidity of the model's body against the severity of the black & white squares... curves of flesh against straight lines and squares of black & white. No need to dress up as a teenager or whatever... just a body and a backdrop. Just a thought...

  2. Ooooh...I LOVE it, Steve! Nothing like that ever crossed my mind for that space (or any OTHER ones, for that matter) I'm not really sure WHY I always feel like I have to play some sort of character...maybe that's the reason I've been so stuck, and uninspired, lately...

    I'm not just saying this - but...your comment has me thinking...and very differently than I'm USED to thinking about all this stuff...Thank you so so SO much!

    (P.S. I'm really glad that you're still in touch with me, even though I gave good ole Twitter the axe. You are one of only a few - and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!)

  3. You made me think of my own situation and it must feel liberating to strip down "junk" aka stuff you don't need.
    Good luck stripping down your urge to play a role and just be your fabulous you in your pics.

    All the best,

  4. In many ways this whole strange phase that I'm in - HAS been a teensy bit terrifying...every once in awhile I'll ask myself, "What in the HELL are you DOing?!" But all in all, it has been a very good thing for me...Each day I feel like I can breath a little better.

    So happy that you came here TOO, Pieter...thanks very much!

  5. The only picture here that I really liked was the B&W one that coincidentally was taken on my birthday, the same day that you purged yourself of all your social networks. It's the only one that actually looks like it might have reflected the state of your mind when it was taken and rings true. I, as I'm sure many others do as well, support you in whatever you do, and will always be here for you.

  6. There's a thought a writer told me once, regarding writer's block. (I know this isn't quite the same thing, but sometimes a lack of inspiration -- ennui, as you put it -- can amount to the same thing.) He said that when you enter a dry period creatively, it's not that you've run out of ideas, or have lost your edge. It's that whatever creative impulse was driving you is recharging. It's kind of like entering into a chrysalis state. When your energy and excitement for the work returns -- and it will -- do not be surprised if you find your approach has changed to a degree. You're an artist, and you're evolving. It's scary but quite natural.

  7. I sincerely hope that this theory applies to me, and this weird transitional phase that I've been stuck in, lately...Thanks so much for sharing this with me, Nathan...ALL of the comments above, have inspired me to be proactive about leaving the doldrums behind...

  8. I like that... a chrysalis.....

    And, you are responding in kind, without knowing. Transforming. Evolving. Daring to see what is next. A little scary, sure - but for a moment, all things are possible.

  9. yeah, i see what you mean: what comes through most in that group of photos is .. your house. ..with that said, it seems like a *fine* one and i wish you well on the selling !

  10. I have this sort of (that is an understatement) predilection for heels (not personally, you understand!!), so your 'fridge shot somewhat grabbed me ;-)

    Then I read your text. I WANT to do that. Get rid of the cr*p. I WANT to do that! It is too scary for me though. I have tried before and chickened out. Buk buuuk... chicken.

    oh, and I disagree that your shots in the house are second rate. That first on the bed with you on the phone to someone is so expressive!

    And the mono shot at the end is just beautiful - only marred ever so slightly by the fussiness in the top right corner.

  11. @Adrian - Well, you're very nice to say so...Unfortunately, I look at every one of the pictures in this post, and I literally feel embarrassed by them. This was the point at which I essentially bottomed out. I'm just so relieved that I was able to claw my way out of the doldrums and move on...Thank you so much for reading btw, AND for commenting!

  12. I forgot how much I really like the last photograph in this post(and the pic of you in the onesie watching TV cracked me up!).

    xx Dee

    1. @Curvaceous Dee - I actually cringed when this post came up as the one next in line to the time when I wrote this entry, I remember being terribly disappointed with each one of these pics.. It's nice to know that You at least - found something to like about a couple of 'em :)