Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Old Red Barn, in Black and White

swear if it wasn't for my kick-ass, close friends...I'd have no fresh ideas for places to shoot. But the latest trend has kinda caught me by surprise...cuz it's the very youngest of my friends who've not only given me good leads, but have pointed me in the direction of remarkable venues - some of which have brought me tremendous good luck.

(Snapped on 2/28/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram effect)

For instance...a little over a week ago, my good girl friend's 14 year old son mentioned that he'd ridden through some property on his horse, and the first thing that came to his mind (as he made his way across a beautiful, broad expanse...and past a run-down, red barn and a few other cool buildings) was me. in the context of my pics., specifically. He told me, "Oh mah gosh, Lauralyn...I found the most awesome place. I think you might like it for your pictures." Now...I wasn't sure if he meant my self-portraits or my square pics., but that was neither here nor there - cuz either way? I definitely wanted to hear more.

As soon as he started explaining how to get there, I knew exactly which property he was talking about. I myself, have ridden there on horseback (but that was absolutely ages ago). I believed that my young friend was correct in thinking that the old barn would be a great place to snap great in fact, that I decided to go there the following day.

(Snapped on 2/28/11)

I awoke the next morning, knowing two things for certain - where I'd be shooting, and that the weather was stellar - especially considering it was the last day of February. It was sunny, and warming up nicely, which was fortunate - since I'd have to park my car where it wouldn't look suspicious, and the closest place that I could think of to do this, was about a mile away from the property with the barn. I was looking forward to walking though - warm sun on my face and fresh air in my lungs, would make schlepping my gear, much more pleasant.

What I wasn't quite as clear about, was what to do, or who to become - once I finally arrived at my destination. It's a little tricky to map out a shoot, when I haven't seen the location with my own eyes in years. And because I wasn't terribly familiar with the barn or the property on which it stands, I also didn't know how much privacy I would have, how likely the chance that someone might catch me, or how much warning I'd have before they did. 

Still unsure about what themes I would adopt, I rifled through my costumes and chose two neutral garments: a simple, black, velvet dress, and a vintage, white slip. I also tore a length of fabric from a worn-out, white sheet (nondescript wardrobe elements like that, do come in handy - more often than you might actually think) I didn't bother fussing with my hair and face much...I left my messy mop mostly alone, and drew heavy, black lines around my eyes. 

Rather than become anxious about wingin' this shoot, I eagerly awaited facing the unknown.

(Snapped on 2/28/11)

After walking up the road from where I parked my car, I cut through some woods, and then came out onto the vast, wide-open field. It was plain to see that I would be completely exposed while hoofin' it the long(ish) distance over to the barn...and the probability that someone would see me, was fairly good - because dotting the southernmost property line, were a number of houses overlooking the field...I could even hear voices coming from the yards. My vivid, red camera bag would most certainly alert anyone who should happen to glance my way, of my presence...whether they cared (or not) would decide my fate. 

I made it to the barn without incident however, and while I waited to see if someone might still show up - I loosened up by snapping pics. with my Holga and my phone. 

Right away, the old barn and its adjacent structures spoke to me. Curiously, I felt comfy and welcome - like I was actually supposed to be there. As my nerves dissolved, I thought to myself, "Might be best to get the naked stuff over with first, that way if someone does find me, there's a better chance I'll be clothed, at least." 

All I really remember about the first two groups of pics., is that I took off my clothes, and let the barn dictate what I oughtta do next...I know this'll probably sound completely cuckoo, but...there was no elaborate thought process behind the two self-portraits above, nothing deliberate at all on my part. They were the product of something organic, or amoebic? It was this very sort of natural fusion with my surroundings, and a little bit outta my control. I gelled with that barn. You a person can bond with a building...I did.

(Snapped on 2/28/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

When I was just about ready to try something new - the most fantastic storm blew in from out of nowhere. 60 degrees and sunny was suddenly - 50 degrees and windy with thunder and lightening and torrential downpours...I absolutely loved the whole thing of it, 'twas thrilling! This strange, new weather situation (I bargained) would surely prevent anyone from interrupting my shoot, and at that point I felt truly free. I didn't worry about intrusion, or how much time was passing, or walking to my car in the pouring-down rain...I wanted to get as much as I could out of the maximum amount of time possible - spent there in that wonderful barn. I felt protected and safe, immune from repercussion - almost as if I'd acquired temporary ownership - simply because I wanted to be there so badly...It was the oddest sensation that I've ever experienced on any self-portrait shoot to date.

(Snapped on 2/28/11)

The abrupt change in the weather cued an apropos change in theme. I zipped myself into the long black dress...and continued to go with the semi-lucid flow…


(Snapped on 2/28/11)

I don't know about you guys - but I'm a color person...seems to me a break from the somber palette of this post is definitely in order (plus this shot was taken in a different red building - so it's exempt from the black and white theme dictated by this post's title)

(Snapped on 2/28/11)

The longer I stayed in the old barn, taking tons of self-portraits while gladly taking shelter from the storm, the deeper I dove into my fantasy world...

As a grown-up, I feel so lucky to have mandatory make-believe as such a huge part of my life...I mean, not many adults come home after work, and gloat about how much fun they had - running barefoot through cow shit, dodging inhabited gopher holes, and climbing hay loft ladders repeatedly - all the while pretending to be someone they are the midst of an imaginary scenario... 

But that's precisely my idea of the perfect workday...and why I truly love this strange thing that I do.

(Snapped on 2/28/11)

I took about 20 frames climbing up the ladder - and then attempted to get situated in the hayloft before the shutter clicked. I did it once (the picture sucked) but after surveying the loft before climbing back down - I scrapped the ladder shoot altogether, in favor of taking pics. all the way up in the hayloft - on a crate set precariously on rotting floor boards, amid inches of pigeon poop, and directly under a leak in the roof. My costume was nothing more than the length of cotton fabric, wrapped several times around my sopping wet hair. 

On the very last frame, before my camera battery died - I knelt on the crate, heard the snapping of wood...and for a halfa millisecond, I thought, "This is gonna hurt"...But I didn't crash to the floor down below - I only crushed the poor apple crate (thank god)

I was sad to have to leave, but intensely happy just the same...I couldn't have asked for a more rewarding day. I packed up my stuff and walked to my car, while the driving rain revived me from my trippy, euphoric fog... 

So, again - big thanks to my friends for lookin' out for me...particularly the young ones - who ironically treat me and my pics. with a more mature mind set, than many adults that I know. Maybe most young people relate to my refusal to grow up, where most grown-ups refuse to relate to it…


  1. Lauralyn,

    I really like the last image on this post, the light hitting your legs and shinning through the boards provides a lot of visual interest. The differences in the textures and shapes really draw the viewer in.

  2. @Steve - So glad that you LIKE it! I think the rain coming through the holes in the roof, improved the lighting...made it glow a little bit...or something...

  3. Awesome!!! Great pictures, I love the story telling, I just want to know how often the 14 year old boy has seen your pictures?? I remember being 14, long time Keep up the good work, love it!!!

  4. @Anonymous - THANK You! I'm sure you could probably tell from reading this entry, how MUCH I enjoyed this shoot...truly a magical place, that old barn...

    Ooooh...yeah...welllll...I'm not exactly sure if the 14 y/o boy has seen my BLOG before, but I'VE only ever shown him self-portraits where I was (mostly) clothed. His mom is one of my best friends, so he's been present for many a convo between his mom and me about my pics...guess by now he's probs pretty desensitized to the whole thing, haha!

    I really appreciate you visiting The Big Ugly, and for sharing your thoughts about it!

  5. I haven't seen anything here that a 14 yo child shouldn't see. None of your images are, heck, I can't bring myself to type the p word - it would debase your lovely blog to have it on the page but you know what I mean... your imaes are art, and good art at that. Yes, some of them might be edgy - thinking of ones like the empty swimming pool set which slighty freaked me to start with, but that is your intention I hope But none of them are anything to be ashamed about or that any normal parent should feel that their child shouldn't see.

    Anyway... this page. I can see how much you enjoyed your time in this building. I am a mono person I am afraid, rather than colour, so I enjoyed them especially. Mono brings out shape and form and since so many of your images are just that, shape and form, mono has doubly enhanced them for me.

    I like all the images on this page but the one that stands out especially is the one of you in the half open doorway. I mean WOW. WOW WOW WOW!! Your silhouette looks S T U N N I N G !! I mean, who IS that film star?? The way the other door, with the light around its edge, almost seeming to float in the gap also adds a surreal quality to the whole.

    The second omage, of you crouching by in the corner by the door is a striking shot too, and the first... heh, I will stop now before I become repetitive :-)

  6. @Adrian - You're too KIND! THANK You!

    Yeah, this was one of the best days ever...I absolutely loved my time taking pics. in that old barn. And although I tend to be more of a color photo gal (at least as far as my self-portraits go) I very much preferred these images in black and white...

    My 4 children (ages 9 - 14) have seen all of the self-portraits that I've posted on The Big Ugly (plus lots of others) and far as I can tell, it has in no way affected them negatively.

  7. Should have said this before, when you originally posted it... shot #2, where you're hanging from the barn gate, is one of your best, IMO. It does awesome things with your muscle tone. You really should shoot more where you're hanging from something because few people are so buff. Make the most of it!