Monday, June 20, 2011

Where the Truth Lies

(Snapped on 6/11/11)

I got the ideas for the self pics. in this entry, after my youngest daughter had her braces removed a couple of weeks ago. She left the orthodontists' office with a party bag full of popcorn, and bubble gum, and sticky, chewy candy - an assortment of things of which she'd been supposed to deprive herself, for as long as the braces remained on her teeth (ha). But along with all those other goodies, she was also given a bottle of soap bubbles and a bunch of brightly-colored, helium balloons...which I thought to be a very cute gesture, and which made it a more festive occasion than I ever woulda thunk it to have been. 

Naturally my daughter was more interested in the candy and gum and all of that stuff...I on the other hand, was partial to the cheerfulness of the balloons and the bubbles - and immediately began working out ways that I might use them to pepper my pics. with a sorely needed dash of pure mirth.

The timing was perfect, not only because I was curious to see if I could convincingly pull off a convivial shoot, in the midst of my sullen state of mind...but also because I was out of fresh ideas, since I'd been repeatedly unsuccessful at locking-in a location in which to stage the one shoot that I've been absolutely dying to do.

After placing phone calls to two dear friends, I obtained clearance to help myself to both of their residences and whatever of their possessions I needed to use, in order to make some "happy" pics. happen. If nothing else, it's hard to stay totally downtrodden - while on the receiving end of selfless and unconditional generosity. 

(You guys are the best, and I really do mean that)

The photo above is the first one I snapped, while trying to effectively emulate a carefree, little girl...and for the 70 frames that followed, things went completely downhill. In reviewing the photos as they appeared on my Mac, it became glaringly apparent that my 42 year old face, my boobs and my frighteningly dudely arms - had made the close-ups and frontal shots virtually was disturbing that I looked so freakish and weird in the bulk of the "little girl" pics..

(Snapped on 6/11/11)

I quickly switched gears (i.e. costumes, theme and attitude) and drove over to my other friends' home - where I banked on redeeming myself at the day's second shoot. I climbed up onto and leapt off of a 4 1/2 ft. high round bale, 40 frustrating times before finally capturing myself mid-air, with my face not too screwy, and my entire body visible - and with the hay bale completely outta frame. My camera battery died after 15 additional, disappointing attempts...but by then - I was relieved to be forced to havta quit. 

Generally, when a session (like this one) literally kicks my butt, my spirits are buoyed by an even greater sense of satisfaction than that which follows the less physically demanding photo shoots - regardless of the percentage of praiseworthy pics. procured. But my reward for the effort involved in snapping these pictures - was one lone photo that I didn't detest, and 4 days of stiff and sore muscles...phooey.

(Snapped on 6/12/11)

Right so...after going back home, and busying myself for the three hours that it took for my camera battery to charge - I returned to the hayfield and took the pictures that I wrote about in the previous post...and what I found very interesting, was how comparatively facile it was to get into character, and emote wrath, revenge and remorselessness - all sentiments that realistically, are as far removed from my current frame of mind as contentment and happiness are (contrary to what some of you out there might think).

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that even during my first full year as a blissful self-portrait artist, long before my recent emotional implosion - I was far more adroit at purveying morose and macabre images than I ever was at manifesting those which are merry...something that is really just so strange to me, like...I honestly don't understand it.

Nevertheless, utterly unimpressed with both of my botched balloon shoots, I was bound and determined to try one...last...time - to get the genuinely lighthearted snaps that I'd sought, this time with the help of my daughter's soap bubbles... do I feel about the soap bubble pics.? Three words come to mind: "emotionless", "vacant" and "BORRRrrring".

I dunno. I mean...I've said it before, and I believe that it's true - for the most part I'm a very happy person (that is of course - when life isn't handing me my ass on a platter). So why then, is it so terribly difficult to tap into my upbeat personality in my pics.? And on the flip side of that, why does delving into the dark side seem to come so easily to me? 


  1. Andre 3000 said once that artists often put in their work what is lacking their lives. maybe your life and general attitude lack a morose, dark quality so it ends up in your art?

  2. @Anonymous - Ya' know? That actually makes absolute sense...

    And hey, (you're probably gonna think that I'm crazy for asking, but) did you just send something to my gmail account?

  3. good question !

    .. on the other hand, it's not unusual for the most compelling novels to have a tragic angle. it's as if friction fuels the majority of art. how does one depict .. tranquility? it's the sort of thing a person *dissolves into* (and rightly so). the other stuff, though, *fascinates* and we obsessively pick it apart (the appeal of classic noir where there's usually a murder or two or, gosh, your Heavy Russian Novels).

  4. @tdaschel - I totally get that...cuz in life in general, I personally gravitate towards the more unsettling - i.e. music played in a minor key, stories with tragically sad endings (happy endings irk me) car wrecks, things like in a way, it does make sense that I would prefer exploring sinister themes in my pics., as well. I dunno...maybe it's the yin to my jovial yang...part of a natural balance...or something...

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Interesting question and I have to say I have found similar, i can do contemplative, sad, dark, etc but excitement and joy seem much harder to capture.

    AND OMG at the balloon picture and jumping 40 times of the that really is suffering for your art but, oh my, what an amazing result you got in the end.


  6. @Molly - Yeah, what's UP with that? Why IS it so much easier to evoke the darker emotions?

    I havta say though, now that I'm experimenting with photographing my face only - it's become brutally apparent that I look a whole lot OLDer when I smile...ugh. But I still kinda think that there's more to it than just that...

    SO nice to hear that you like the hay bale pic.! I wish I liked it more, especially considering what I put my body through to get the derned thing...