Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quick Change Artist

(All pics. snapped on 3/05/11)

Ooohhhh...I can see the looks of disappointment on your faces, right now. Go on, admit it - you're bummed...because just when you thought I was finally maturing in my art - experimenting with the contrast of light and shadow, hanging up my goofy costumes in favor of juxtaposing the contours of my naked body against harsh angles and severe colors - I go and pull a stunt like this...tsk, tsk, tsk...

Please allow me to explain this recent (and temporary?) regression back to where I started out with self-portraiture - the pin-up. It goes kinda like this: When the opportunity to photograph myself among an entire shed full of antique farm trucks presented itself - naturally, I jumped at the chance. The only trouble was - the whole thing came about so suddenly, that I was to be going to the site right away, sight unseen. With no knowledge of what the venue was like, very little time to prepare, and in my haste to just get to the derned place - I settled on perhaps the easiest, most cliche of photographic themes - "girl washing truck in bikini"...*yawn*

I packed up my car, drove to and then through my friend's several hundred acre apple orchard. I covered what felt like every square inch of his property, searching aimlessly and in vain for the well-hidden truck shed. Right when I was about to give up completely - I spotted it (yesss) shining like a beacon in the distance. 

The shed stood in plain view of a tenant house, and when I saw people talking in the driveway - I thought it best to go over, introduce myself, explain why I was there, and make sure they were aware that I'd obtained permission from the property owner to be there - that way they wouldn't come to me asking questions. But the indifferent couple just shrugged - as if to say, "It's along now, honey".........Huh. Well...that went better than expected.

The next order of business, was to go back out onto the property - to try and find a water source with which to fill my bucket full of dish soap. Mission accomplished, I was rawther proud of myself for successfully navigating the rough and bumpy drive back to the shed, without spilling a drop of the cold, sudsy water. And finally, I swapped out my jeans and my sneaks - for the neon green bikini and I was all set to get down to business.

The first set of truck pics., didn't really work out. In trying to keep a large wooden post out of frame, I minimized the space in which I was able to pose. In almost every picture, either my butt or my shoes were truncated, and in the few where I was completely visible - my body appeared restricted and crunched. So, I tried my luck over by the red truck instead, but after 20 painfully mediocre attempts - I decided to throw in the towel.

Honestly though? I was okay with wrapping the truck shed shoot, since I'd taken tons of pics. with my iPhone, as well (which frankly, I liked more than the self-portraits I'd snapped) but that wasn't all. Thing was - the moment I'd been given free reign to take whatever pictures I wanted, that day at the orchard - I resolved to kill two birds with one stone. Which meant - doing another self-portrait shoot, in a different building elsewhere on the farm.

You guys might remember the Looks Can Be Deceiving entry, in which I posted a photo where I dangled from the peak of a barn roof...yeah? Well, that little barn has a dank, dungeon-like cellar, and as soon as I saw it - my eyes glazed at the thought of staging self-portraits there...someday. Lo and behold, that day was upon me!  

Working outta the trunk of my car, I transformed myself from the robust (yet vacant) pin-up gal - to an ashen-complected, sickly-looking wretch. I mercilessly teased my poor hair, and covered the cheery pink make-up (that made sense for the truck shoot, but not for the next one) - with dark grey shadow on my cheeks and my lips. I immediately identified with this sullen, new character - and was itchin' to see how she'd fully manifest, once I banished her to the little barn's cellar.

In comparing the two shoots from that day at my friend's orchard, one thing is glaringly apparent - the amount of energy that I put into any shoot, is a direct by-product of the level of difficulty therein. Matter of fact, most times I associate how much I like my pics. - less with the content or quality necessarily, and more with the amount of effort that went into taking them. The truck shed shoot had been too easy to excite me, and because there was nothing especially challenging about it - I gave up after barely getting started. 

The dungeon shoot on the other hand, was a whole 'nother story. I was naked from start to finish, which was disquieting mostly because - I could hear the voices of the apple pickers who were working very close by, for the duration of the 30 minute shoot. After climbing up the ladder to set the timer for each frame, I had to perch in an open doorway right by a well-travelled gravel road. Although no one ever spotted me, I never stopped worrying that someone might (which I loved).

The ladder itself upped the ante a bit. Once I concluded that the pictures might be more sinister without it, I came up with a way to nix it from the pics.. It wasn't as simple a task as it might seem...but it was clearly a change for the better.

This just in! Soooo...while writing this entry, I was informed that I'd been refused permission to shoot on a nearby farm. Reason being - the owners were leery of fostering an artist whose work is viewed as "scandalous within the community". And you know what? I'm good with that. Why? Because there are plenty of other people in my life (like my wonderful orchardist friend) whose generosity more than makes up for the setbacks...and that's one thing I hope never changes...


  1. First of all, great pictures and like always I love the story telling. Now, I know that art is subjective to everyone's opinion, however I still find it amazing that in 2011 people are concerned about work that clearly is not pornographic and could very well be added to an art gallery!!! I guess some of us do not care to change....sad

  2. DANG you say the nicest things, THANK You! But yeah, it IS pretty pathetic that folks like that, are comfortable with essentially admitting to being frightened/disgusted/embarrassed (whatever their hang-up is exactly) - by the naked female form. Thank goodness there ARE more evolved people like you, and so many of my readers - out there in the world...

  3. Wow. Those cellar photos just blow my mind!

    xx Dee

  4. Now THAT'S what I like to HEAR! Thanks, Dee!

  5. I'm lovin the lime green heels ;-)

    The cellar images are amazing! So creepy. One's mind just has to try to make up the story of why you have seemingly been imprisoned there.

    I can quite understand what you mean about the difficulty of the shot being the driver. I am really quite jealous of a) the time you seem to have available for making these images b) the drive you have to do them and c) the fact that you are a girl (and attractive) and I am a guy and therefore could never do anything like you are able to.

    Dang, did I just write that? *blush*

  6. @Adrian - like the SHOES, eh? I got 'em at the thrift store for $3 *woot* (I think they're like a size and a half too big, haha!)

    I wake up every morning, and go to bed every night - feeling incredibly fortunate that I am able to do what I'm doing with my art. Outside of being a parent, there has been nothing in my life that's made me even HALF as happy as self-portraiture has...