Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy Place

(All pics. snapped on 7/23/11)

My approach to this shoot, as well as my disposition while taking the pictures that you see in this post - could not have been more dissimilar to that of the last set of pics. that I wrote about. During the fated "amphibious" shoot, I was anxious and antsy and unable to apply myself - all because I was too geeked out over the prospect of meeting a man on a blind date, later that day. 

There is a common thread connecting the two shoots however - "my date" who (sight unseen) had me in too much of a tiz to make anything (good) happen with the "amphibious" pics. - is also entirely to blame for how this "love shack" group turned out. Not only did he provide the location for this shoot (Thank You!), but it was because of him - that I felt a renewed sense of purpose to tap into something more meaningful...and why I was brimming with genuine inspiration.

The tricky part about all of this though, is - for as much as I'm tempted to go into elaborate detail about all of the ways that "my date" helped to imbue these pics. with more oomph than that last dismal set - I feel that I must bite my tongue - in order to circumvent turning The Big Ugly into another over-the-top "tell all" digest, a la my old Big Ugly Blog. I wouldn't dare risk jeopardizing this very new, but promising thing we've got going on, by exploiting it..."my date" deserves better than that. 

What I will tell you though, is that this was unequivocally the hottest shoot that I have ever staged. The mercury was aiming to reach a new summertime high, and that - combined with brutal humidity - had me slipping out of that nighty and into something more comfortable, soon after just getting started. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the temperature inside of the shack was easily 105 degrees or more. I honestly don't remember my body ever being quite that drenched with sweat, before this.

Compounding the sweat factor, was my trepidation over if or when - a snake might come out of hiding to terrify me, or if I'd be bitten by a black widow spider, or finally get stung by the wasps that relentlessly dive-bombed and surprise-attacked me - for the solid hour that I shot these interior pics.. 

But you know something? I loved every single minute of this shoot. I loved feeling focused and exhilarated once again...I loved the setting despite my fear of snakes, venomous spiders, and aggressive, stinging insects...and believe it or not - I actually liked being this sweaty for my pics..

In a nutshell, these self-portraits sort of signify to me - that I was (when I took them), and somehow miraculously still am now - in a much, much happier place - geographically, artistically and emotionally...(Knock on wood that I don't mess it up)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amphibious Unit

(All pics. snapped on 7/11/11)

I'm not gonna lie...this group of self-portraits does not fall into the same category as those that are the result of a diligent effort (but then again - I'm probably not telling you anything, that you hadn't already deduced on your own) My mind at the time that I shot them - was definitely someplace else, and my heart (safe to say) wasn't in it. 

It wasn't that I planned the shoot last minute, or anything like that - matter of fact, I'd come up with the idea, and made the necessary arrangements to gain access to this spot on the river - days before. But between the time that I got everything organized, and the time that I actually took these pics. - an exciting, new development arose...

Out of the blue - a girlfriend of mine asked if it would be ok for her to give my number to one of her single, male friends - believing that the two of us might hit it off nicely. Rarely one to curb my enthusiasm (particularly when faced with the prospect of meeting a man who comes to me - highly recommended) I replied with a hearty, "YES MA'AM!!!" 

Looked like if everything went according to my friend's plan? There just might be a blind date in mama's future...say what?!

After "my date" introduced himself via text, we compared schedules so that we could figure out a time that might work to meet up. I suggested 2 p.m. on the same day that I had planned to stage the "amphibious" shoot - positive that that would give me plenty of time to get done with my pics., go home, get showered - and arrive at the restaurant looking fresh and lovely, and not a minute past 2.

What I hadn't taken into consideration though, was how much bloody time I would spend trying to get one decent picture outta the days' first shoot. You may remember me bitching about the difficulty I had getting the blasted mannequin pics., one of which appears in the last post? Yeah well, those suckers wound up to be a much bigger headache than I ever could've predicted, and consequently - left me crunched for ample enough time in which to try and make these pictures happen.

Sadly, the "amphibious" shoot was doomed to fail from the start...not only because of the time deficit though - but also because I was so giddy about, as well as fixated on pondering - the possible outcome of "my date", that I was too spaced-out to ever get fully into character. For the endurance of the 60 minutes that I was able to devote to this theme - the best I could do, was absentmindedly go through the motions of taking the pics....and I would venture to say that it shows...

And now, if you'll kindly excuse my continued brevity - I've gotta primp and get ready to go see "my date". Coincidentally, our plan is to spend the day in and around water...which somehow (to me at least) seems a fitting way to bring this otherwise cursed "amphibious" post - to a less disappointing close...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


(Snapped on 6/29/11)

Consider this odd assortment of pics., a self-portrait casserole if you will...with each individual image acting as one of the different ingredients. Now...whether it actually sates the appetite or not? I leave that up to you to decide...

For a couple of weeks there, I was on this sort of self-portrait snappin' spree - but rather than spending much time on any one specific topic, I frenetically jumped from theme to theme (think - Adult ADHD on steroids). I staged at least a few of these shoots (the one seen above, for example) armed with props and costumes, and a very clear vision of how I wanted to look in the pics. - but I'd neglected to plan for much else beyond that. What I realized early on was that I'd be lucky if any one of these sessions wound up to be so much as a one hit wonder, and that attempting to churn out an entire story from such lackluster sets - would be like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. 

Time after time, I abruptly abandoned each shoot - and greedily moved on to the next.

(Snapped on 6/29/11)

Part of the problem with the pictures that I shot on 6/29/11 - was the venue where I took them all. Over the 3 1/2 hours that I flitted about my friends' fantastic farm - it felt like my eyes were bigger than my plate. I'd devote a few minutes to one idea, and then turn to see what I thought could be an even better setting in which to pose. I repeatedly explored one fruitless theme after another, in the hopes of producing something, anything - that might not seem quite so pointless...

(Snapped on 6/29/11)

...but instead of gaining any ground at all, I consistently took giant leaps back.

(Snapped on 6/29/11)

Although the delectable contrast of shadow and filtered light lured me up into the hayloft - I was somewhat reluctant to shoot there. It's not exactly like I have a shortage of pics. of this nature, plus standing that close to the edge and looking the however many feet down to the concrete floor below - triggered a near paralyzing onset of vertigo...*gulp*

I talked myself into going through with it though, and like a junkie trying desperately to finally get my fix - I ravenously snapped as many pictures as I could, until my camera battery died and effectively put an end to the madness. All I had wanted was to walk away with one measly stand-out pic., so that the day wouldn't have felt like a complete waste of time. But what I got was yet another string of dreadfully homogenous snaps - poorly-lit, and uninteresting, to make matters that much worse.

(Although I have little to show for my time spent shooting on their farm - I still have to Thank my dear friends for being amenable to letting me at least take a stab at it!)

(Snapped on 7/04/11)

I had an "About Face" shoot in mind, the day I blackened my tooth, stuffed a gargantuan thrift store bra with 6 pairs of rolled-up knee socks and wore a size 11 neglige over top. The outfit cracked me up though, and so I couldn't resist taking a few body shots just for kicks. 

The premise of these pics. was to test see if I was brave enough to put "pretty" aside, and post hideously unflattering face shots on my blog. I'm ashamed to say that for once, I lost my nerve...

Two days after I got such a hoot outta taking these pics., Anonymous' "Butterface comment thrust me into a state of discombobulation. I was well aware that publishing any close-ups from this bunch, would make me vulnerable to sustaining further ridicule...and I decided to can the whole idea.

(Snapped on 7/11/11)

"This really shouldn't be so difficult" is the phrase that ran through my mind on a continuous loop, as I reviewed each of the 44 images that preceded this - the very last one. After struggling for so long to fit my whole self (minus my feet, of course) into that one window pane, having barely deviated from striking the same...exact...pose...every...single...time - I was beyond bored, my patience had worn thin, and the gig was officially up.

(But hey - Thanks once again, to the local gourmet grocery - for not only allowing me to shoot there for the third time! But for also for offering their display window as a backdrop...I really do love you guys!)

(Snapped on 7/16/11)

I have a pen-pal to thank for inspiring me to get up off my duff and take advantage of this weekend's full moon. I knew it was there, and even remarked to my son about its beauty - but it wasn't until I answered, "No" - when my new friend asked if I was gonna do a moonlit shoot, that I realized if I didn't - I'd miss out on a prime opportunity. 

Never underestimate the difficulty of shooting in the dark night without a flash...oh my. I already had my work cut out for me with just trying to "catch the moon" in my hand, but to add - holding my poses perfectly still - into the mix, made for a ridiculously challenging task.

My miserable success rate perpetuated itself with the "moon" pics., cuz out of 80 earnest attempts - 77 were abysmal misfires...grrrrrrrr...

I look at this bizarre collection of self-portraits, all snapped over such a short period of time and wonder, "Good god! Am I schizzo or what?!" But instead of psychoanalyzing myself, I shall blame this unusual phase on an inexplicably voracious hunger that came on rather suddenly, outta nowhere - and that I felt the compulsion to satisfy. 

Bon appetite!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Out of Africa.........ish

(Snapped on 7/03/11)

I'm a little worried that these pictures may be too tame(?) or anti-climactic(?) to be following the last riotous lot. But ya' know? Sometimes ya' just gotta take the bad with the good...

The first of these two shoots came about sort of unexpectedly. My oldest daughter mentioned that she'd like to start jogging in the evenings (when the sun would be dipping, and presumably the temperature would too) at the arboretum up the road from our house. Which reminded me that I'd taken some spur-of-the-moment self-portraits there last summer - when she was on a similar exercise bent.

Something about certain parts of the arboretum (at this time of year especially) have always reminded me of the miniature of course, and on a dramatically less magnificent scale. And, (ever the opportunist) the notion of snapping "Out of Africa" themed self-portraits, seemed the perfect way to occupy myself and add some new pics. to the queue, while my daughter did her part to stay fit.

You know how in the wintertime I bitched constantly about how brutal it was to take naked pictures outside in the cold? Well...I'm hear to tell ya', I think I actually might prefer that - over taking pictures while clothed - in 98 degree, humid heatLawd, was it positively miserable...

Going into this shoot, I was prepared to be frustrated by not having the luxury of snapping pics. indefinitely - since my daughter had predicted that she'd probably only run for a half-hour, or so. Can I just tell you how relieved I was to see her appear on the horizon, and motion for me to finish up so we could head on back home? I sighed, "Hallefreakinluiah" and happily aborted the mission.

Not only was I sweating my fool ass off, but after a paltry 45 frames, snapped over a mere 25 minutes spent running back and forth between camera and pose - my heels had become so shredded by the ill-fitting riding boots, that they bore a striking resemblance to ground beef...yummmm-o.

Adding insult to injury, upon first inspection? The pictures to me, looked like absolute crap. It was only after I tinkered with the "sepia" effect on iPhoto, that I was able to (sorta) salvage this puny group...

(Snapped on 7/06/11)

The thought did cross my mind, that being so buttoned-up (which was mandatory since I'd been shooting in a public venue, with one of my offspring in tow) - had hindered my ability to manifest anything sensual, which in turn rendered the pictures dull and staid. Plus, they looked as if they'd been taken in Virginia (as they had)...and not in Africa (as I'd hoped).

Clearly a glutton for punishment, I decided to try again another time - after spotting this tree in a field that we'd passed, as my daughter and I walked back to our car that first day.

On our second visit though, I was less concerned with transporting myself and my readers to a faraway continent, as I was determined to steer clear of the stuffiness that had spoiled the last set of pics..

I knew however, that I'd still need to be conservative with how naked I got - since my daughter wouldn't be the only jogger on the path, who might chance to catch me in action...

Once again, I shot for 25 minutes - and snapped roughly the same amount of frames...and once again my resounding opinion was that the photos left more than just a little to be desired...rats. Plus those hideous, white shoes (which were at least a size and a half too small) put even more of hurting on my already mangled heels...(see...this is why I'm not a big fan of clothing or shoes...)

Anyway, on our last two visits to the arboretum, I left my handy dandy Cybershot, and those god-awful costumes at home - wore shorts and a tank top, and a pair of comfy flip-flops - and took pictures of other things with my iPhone, instead... endeth the whining...Amen

Saturday, July 9, 2011


(All pics. snapped on 7/08/11)

Right, order for this entry to make any sense at all - ya' gotta go HERE first, and then read the "Anonymous" comment immediately following the entry.   

I'd be lyin' if I said that being referred to as "Butterface" (by a group of folks who've visited my blog) didn't sting just a leetle bit, at first. But rather than bury my head in the sand, I put a bag over top of it (per one reader's clever recommendation)...and set about squeezing somethin' sweet outta their sourpuss opinions of my face.

I spent the better part of yesterday, in a self pic.-snappin' frenzy - my objectives? To produce images that might appease the critical commenter (and his or her cronies), but that would (hopefully) give everyone else a long overdue chuckle (lord knows the humorous posts on here - are few and far between, lately). And finally - it seemed relevant and timely to juxtapose total body shots, with the pictures from my recent "About Face" bonanza. 

 I'm sure that some of you out there, might consider this group of self-portraits to be demeaning, degrading, perhaps even demoralizing - but I really do wish that you wouldn't. My take on it goes something like this: it's not so much that I acquiesced to an asinine suggestion from a mean-spirited reader - but rather that I seized an opportunity to capitalize on something derogatory. And I mean, let's face it - I could've spared myself humiliation, by choosing not to post the comment - but to me that just seemed like the chicken shit thing to do (plus, I never would've taken these there's that

Ultimately I reasoned, "Mightn't jumping on the bandwagon by poking fun at myself - dilute the impact of the reader's passive aggression?" Made sense to me...

When all was said and done though, what stood out to me the most - was how much easier it was to get pictures that worked, when my face wasn't in the equation (ruh roh)...

Nevertheless, the "Butterface" pics. are a novelty, a farce...and my face will reappear in my pictures, without a doubt. 

I'm not sure that I've ever owed this many "Thank You's" to so many people at one time...jiminy! The goodwill that's been showered upon me these last couple of days, is positively astonishing...and so...

Thank You - to the obliging folks at the local, gourmet grocery - for donating the brown, paper bags to my cause...and for not batting an eyelash when next I asked - if I could take pictures of myself wearing one, while "reading the paper" and "drinking a coffee" at a table out in front of the store. 

To the man from Quebec who came out of his shop (as I photographed myself walking my dog while wearing nothing but a bikini and heels - oh yeah! And the bag!) and then offered his storefront as a possible backdrop - je dis, "Merci beaucoup, Monsieur! Vous etes trop bon!"

Thanks to my good girlfriend and her family, for not only feeding me the yummiest meal that I've had in forever - but also for allowing me to help myself to their woods and their barnyard - for several sets of "paper bag" self pics..

Thank You, Good Samaritan at the bar - who (in the absence of a real bouncer) offered to play the part, so that I could get one last picture to round out the "Butterface" bunch. (He did an awesome job...Much better than I, to be sure!)

It would be remiss of me not to thank "Anonymous" - for sending the comment that inspired this entire entry - Thank You.

But most of all, a giGUNdo THANKS - to those of you who went to bat for me - via comments and email, and face to face've all helped me feel a bit better about bein' a butterface :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

About Face - Bamboo-zled

(Snapped on 6/27/11)

Ugh...Ok, soooo...I'm not gonna say a word about how baggy my eyes are (no matter how much sleep I get), and how deeply and permanently carved into my face my laugh lines have apparently become...I'm just gonna shut up and post the picture...sound good?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bamboo Shoot

(All pics. snapped on 6/27/11)

I know this is gonna sound wimpy, but...after those last several shoots? I was definitely leaning towards doing something that might not put quite as many gray hairs on my head...

Whilst on the lookout for a less intimidating venue - I drove past a house (not far from where I live) with a yard that's been practically overtaken by the most fantastic expanse of bamboo. "Ah-ha!" I thought, "that's where I'll stage my next shoot!" My only dilemma was whether to do the right thing and ask the homeowners for permission...or park my car a short distance away, tuck myself deep inside of that massive tract of bamboo, snap some pics., and cross my fingers that I didn't get caught.

I did a couple of drive-by's, while trying to make up my mind - at which time I saw an old friend standing in front of the local, gourmet grocery. I parked my car and walked over to ask him if he happened to know the people who lived in the house with all of that glorious bamboo, and he did. Next I asked if they were nice folks (he said that they were), and if he thought the owners would be cool with me taking some pictures at their place, and he did. Righteous.

I went to the house and knocked on the door. A little girl answered, but she called for her grandfather to come out and talk to me. He was the sweetest man imaginable, no lie - and after explaining what it is that I do, and then asking if it would be all right for me to take some pictures in his bamboo forest - without hesitation he said, "Yes. That would be fine." SCORE! It was shaping up to be an even simpler shoot than I'd ever imagined it would be. That was, until I tried squeezing my body and all of my crap through the virtually impenetrable network of bamboo. I had to ditch my little table after only a few minutes - it simply between the rigid stalks of bamboo which grew so closely together. 

I was also having trouble finding the perfect patch in which to photograph myself. Seemed there was always some sort of out building or fence or something in the background - detracting from the remote jungly feel that I was going for. 

After snaking my way through the tangled mass - I found a 4' x 4' (if that) clearing (if you can call it that) and glory be - there was no sign of anything man-made, anywhere in the vicinity...well, except for the gravel road that was mere feet from where I'd decided to set up shop - but at least I didn't have to worry about it appearing in my pics., since my camera would be facing the opposite direction. I did however, have to worry about whether someone might see me naked and in the midst of my shoot - but whatever, I was too excited to give it much thought.

Before disrobing, I attached my camera to the handy gorillapod (that I've been relying on more and more, these days) and took a few test shots so that I'd know where to position myself. It was actually much better than the little table for this shoot, because I could fasten the camera at any height that I wanted, directly onto the bamboo. Next, I used the garden shears that I'd brought along with me, to snip off a few leafy fronds, and using a length of twine - I fashioned them into a skirt (ain't that cute?), drew black lines on my face and colored my lips, twisted fabric around my head like a turban, and then I got naked, tied the skirt around my waist - and finally started snappin' some pics..

Everything was going just as smoothly as I'd hoped, until the first car came down the gravel lane. I frantically threw on and zipped up my fleece, pulled my shorts on over top of the little skirt, being careful not to snap the delicate branches....and then ducked down and waited for the car to (hopefully) pass...I did this at least a half a dozen more times - which got kinda old, pretty fast. But what really got me in a bit of a tizz, was when I heard the nice man and his granddaughter approaching. The last thing in the world that I wanted, was for that sweet, innocent child to see me naked. CRIPES! Once again I got dressed in a super-hero hurry, and was presentable just as the two of them appeared...

We small-talked for awhile, both of them looking at me funny - as if they were thinking, "She's taking photos of herself looking like that? Weird." Picture the headdress and make-up, plus a black Land's End fleece, and a nasty pair of green velour shorts, with the fronds spilling over the waistband, and dangling out of the leg holes...made no sense.

As we stood there and talked, all of a sudden I could feel my skin in certain places begin to burn like the dickens! I could not figure out what on earth was going on. As soon as the man and his granddaughter were out of sight, I tore off my clothes to see what was the matter. Best I could tell, either the bamboo had some sort of toxic oil that burned my skin? Or I had friction burns from rubbing up against it so much. 

This was what it looked like after showering and toweling off, later that night. Can you see how weepy that one spot is? I'm talkin' major burnage, yo...that mess really hoyt!

I decided that I'd had enough of putting my clothes on and taking them off over and over again, so I fought my way back to my little table - and moved all my stuff to a different place in the forest. 

The new spot was perhaps even more ideal than the first one (if you can believe that), partly because it was isolated, but also because it was much easier to navigate - but besides that, it was beyond incredibly gorgeous! I did have to be mindful of keeping a board fence in the distance, out of the shots - by always shooting from down low, and angling my camera way up - while at the same time, trying to cram my whole self into each frame.

I swear I was like a child at a playground, after discovering that when I climbed up the stalks in this part of the "jungle", they would bend and sway with my weight. It was a bit tricky to get the camera placement right, since I always ended up in a completely different place than I started out...and even though I only got a few pictures that actually worked - the fun that I had more than made up for the moderately negligible returns...

In a lotta ways, this turned out to be the quintessential shoot. The setting was amazing, but I didn't have to poach (yea)...I was just anxious enough where things didn't feel too easy or body was fairly well wrecked when I was done (might sound cuckoo, but to me that can be a good thing)...and the ultimate reward? I wasn't unhappy with at least a few of the snaps.

So...THANK You - to the nice man for giving me the thumbs-up to shoot in his fabulous bamboo forest! I myself, give the entire bamboo experience - two big, enthusiastic thumbs up!

Friday, July 1, 2011

About Face - Train Tracks

(Snapped on 6/25/11)

I'm tellin' ya' what, you guys... I'm not all that keen I am on this whole "About Face" dealio...

There is something decidedly off-putting about cranking down so tightly on my haggardly, aged, flawed puss. I mean, personally? I have no other option than to reconcile myself with everything that's wrong with the derned thing - but is it really all that necessary for me to advertise my physical defects on the internet for the whole world to see? The idea that the photos may pop up as Google image search results, causing viewers to gasp, "Ew! DOG face!" does spur a touch of anxiety. 

I dunno...I reckon I'll give it just a leetle while longer...but I'm not sure how much more my ego can bear.