Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

(Snapped on 2/17/11)

When I first threw my hat into the analog photography ring, I worried that the nifty, square pics. that my Holgas and iPhone produced - might unseat my self-portraits as the current governing body of my work. But what I've noticed instead is - that rather than oppose or compete with each other, these two dissimilar forms of photography have managed to meld their staunch differences, and in doing so have forged a seamless, symbiotic relationship.

(Snapped on 2/14/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram effect)

Over the entire (almost) year now, that I've been doing my self-portraits - there have been many times when I've come up with a theme, specifically to suit a chosen venue. In other words, it is not uncommon for a particular location to cause the spark that ignites the shoot. 

Something my Holgas and iPhone have taught me, is that it's absolutely okay to take pictures of people and places and things, without always putting myself in the shot. Before discovering the panorama mode on my Cybershot, I used self-portraiture as my excuse to photograph those things that I normally would've felt silly about capturing with an inexpensive point and shoot camera. Oh, and speaking of my "inexpensive" point and shoot camera - it's funny to me that the combined cost of all my "toy" cameras, equals that of my most recent Sony when going on dollar value only, my Sony holds rank as my most valuable piece of equipment. But defining "value" can be somewhat arbitrary, and much as I love my trusty Cybershot (cuz you and I both know that I do) my Holga and my iPhone have proven to be invaluable, not only because they've helped me branch out from self-portraiture, but in some cases they've actually enabled and encouraged me to take selfpics that I mightn't have otherwise...

Take for example, the image above. It shows the interior of an out building that sits on the same property as the creepy house that I wrote about last post. Taking Holga and iPhone snaps around that property, gave me time to get used to the unpredictable environment. I dunno, I guess there was comfort in feeling like I might be forgiven for poaching, if I was caught taking innocent pictures of stuff...rather than half-naked pics. of myself. 

By the end of this little photography spree, I was proud of myself for not pussin' out, and terribly excited to finally sit down and study my newest batch of self-portraits. The real surprise though, was how much I was diggin' on a few of the pics. that I'd snapped with my phone, while warming up to the sketchy situation...including the photo above. What I realized and liked, was although I do now enjoy taking pictures of things that aren't me, some of those pictures actually give me ideas for future self-portraits to stage...i.e. - the photo at the top of this post. 

(Snapped on 2/17/11)

Here's the thing...where my truly cheap cameras have opened my eyes, so much wider that I literally see more - it's those people who continue to comment on my pics., offering wise suggestions and sound advice - who have opened my mind to concepts that I hadn't given serious thought before.

Someone left a comment on a recent post, that totally inspired me to experiment with simply juxtaposing the curves of my body against the more severe and/or graphic of the backdrops I pick. All too often in my self-portraits, I lean on the crutch of becoming a caricature of myself....and that, coupled with the comment on my blog - led me to approach (certain of) my self-portraits in a less literal, more abstract way. And as soon as I saw the Instagram image of that gloriously light-filled, slatted shed...I knew exactly where I wanted to start.

Now, what I found interesting - was the commentary from folks with whom I shared the shed pics.. After noticing the nails sticking up through the boards, one friend skipped the critiquing and expressed concern instead - asking if I was up to date on my tetanus shot...I am relieved to say that - yes. I got a tetanus shot last summer while in the E.R. for some other injury...and it's a damn good thing too, considering I sustained puncture wounds in my feet and one ankle, while taking the slatted shed pics.. 

Another friend visualized photos very different than the ones that I presented to him, saying he thought I should've stayed upright and exaggerated the length of my limbs, whereby mimicking the lines from the shadows and light...rats.

And the last friend thought that by actually being in the picture, I made it nowhere near as good as the original that I showed her on my phone (I can't say that I totally disagree with her there) Her complaint though, was one that I hear often and mostly from women - that the nudity is just too distracting...that it detracts from what could've been a much more interesting pic.. She would've liked the photo better if either I'd stayed out of it completely, or if I'd told more of a story by wearing a costume, and affecting a persona - thus creating more of a scenario (lord I cannot seem to win for losin') She stated however, that in her opinion, being naked in the picture above...did make sense. (Hmmm...could be to some people, nudity is tolerable - when it's not quite soooo "in your face")

(Snapped on 2/19/11)

Clearly, it's not possible for me to please everyone, and what I've come to understand in my post-social network time of solitude - is that as grateful as I am that people take the time to look at my pics., and as much as I appreciate and always hope to get feedback, I make these pictures first and foremost - to satisfy something in me...

I've continued to and will continue to pose nude in some of my's my most favorite costume, after all - so versatile, convenient and (almost) always relevant.

But I am fully aware that the nudity can get just as tiring as my goofy costumes tend to do.

I also know that sometimes it works... 

(Snapped on 2/23/11)

...and other times ^? Mmmmmm...not so much (heeHEE!) 

I've said it before, but it bears repeating, since it seems to mean more to me now...this whole thing is all just one big learning curve...and honestly? I'll never learn anything unless I am open to trying most everything...


  1. I do adore the pics you take! That first one will definitely be in the March photo favourites, next month :)

    xx Dee

  2. DEE! HI! I MISS ya', girl!

    Thank You so MUCH for featuring my photo in your blog! (btw...I'm green with envy over what looks to be a wonderful holiday with Hylas...grrrr...)

    I'm so happy that you stopped by...and I hope you'll check back again (there's a picture that will appear in my next post, that is similar to, but still quite different - than the one that you liked in this post...I actually kinda prefer it)

    Anyway, hope all's good with you...Enjoy the rest of your vaycay...and thanks again!

  3. Oh, WOW!!! Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!!! The first image is awesome!! ...a soft body, in hard light, painted almost like contour lines across the land by the beams between the boards! And the fourth image is awesome as well... an eerily ghost-like figure, in motion to slip the bonds of gauze-like ether... SERIOUSLY good shots, IMO... wish I'd taken them myself! See how good you are when you aren't feeling the need to play-act, but simply being a beautiful and graceful form against an unforgiving landscape? This, IMO, is on par with your best work... or maybe, it just might be your best. Keep pushing it on!

  4. @Steve - WELL, my dear man (giving credit where credit is due) if it wasn't for your comment a couple of entries ago- I'd probably be stuck playing dress-up, all the time (maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks, after ALL!) I do still wear costumes in my pics. sometimes, but thanks to you - I'm thinkin' outside of the proverbial box more often. Thank you so much for coming here and heppin' a stalled sistah OUT!

  5. Hey, and no intent to limit you in any way... it's just that these images are so GOOD... really appreciating them!

  6. Welcome back!

    Love the first shot, especially with the rough look of the wood and the curves contrasting the setting. The outdoor images where we have to look for you in the shot, like the tree and some of your older body paint images make the viewer have to look longer.

    Keep them coming

  7. @Steve Mouzon - I definitely don't feel at ALL limited...quite the contrary, actually! I'm just hoping that I can live up to these pics. that you like so well - in FUture entries...*bites nails*

    @Steve - THANK You! It feels really good to be at it full tilt, again. I've been busy building up a nice little reservoir of new pics., lately. Now...if I could only find the time to write about them...

  8. Hey hon - the March photo favourites are up, with that lovely pic of yours!

    xx Dee

  9. Thank you, THANK you - dear Dee! You...are...the BEST!

  10. These are just amazing pics. I think I'm going to have to subscribe AND go back and read your old posts.

  11. @Bob Brown - Why THANK You! I'm delighted that you found your way to The Big Ugly :)

  12. ooookkaayyyy... so, what do I think? Self-portraits versus "landscapes" (putting all your non-portraits into this convenient container)... two VERY different genres. So often, portraits (self or not) detract from the scene because the person dominates the scene. Your images, whether conciously or not, are not like this, at least not in the main. I have rarely seen so many images where the two parts - the person being photographed and the surroundings - both complement each other and work together and at the same time can be viewed either as a landscape or as a portrait. It does help that you live in such photogenic surroundings of course!

    Well, as so often I do at your images, I gasped when I saw the slatted room shot. The juxtaposition of your body against the hard lines of boards and light are the shot to me. I then saw the nails and I imagined you running (lordy how I would love to see you making a shot ! hehe) back and forth through the minefield of those nails and having time to make your pose too.

    Looking again at the image I can see the room as it is - and appreciate the image for that - and I can shift my attention to the girl in the room and see her lines and form. (Okay, okay, it was actually the other way around, hehe). Finally I can view the image as a whole and appreciate it in the ways I mentioned above.

    Yes, I like your pure landscapes (I just spotted your new blog "Little Pretties" and have had a quick look - nice, very nice) but for me, your self-portraits are your growning glory - both portraits and landscapes simultaneously. As for your costumes? Well, your Birthday Suit does add something to the images. Its difficult to express exactly what (I wish I was more eloquent!!). Nudity adds a tension in the images that just isn't there with a costume. I half hear a voice that says, when I first see an image, "whaaa? Whyyy?" but by goodness, the image has grabbed me.

    I LOVE the image of you leaning against the tree! In fact, all the images on this page are stunning, especially the last one.

  13. @Adrian - Haha! I totally know what you mean! So often, I look at the pictures I've just taken, and all I can think is, "Hmmmm...that photo makes no sense at all" and I just cross my fingers and hope that it doesn't necessarily have to, in order to impact the viewer in some way...

    Thank you again, for taking the time to read and WRITE so much! 'Tis greatly appreciated :)

  14. You are welcome. Thank YOU for your blog!

  15. Replies
    1. @Joan Sanders - Thank YOU for stopping by The Big Ugly - and for leaving comments!