Thursday, September 29, 2011

There's Nothing to See Here

(All pics. snapped on 9/28/11)

I ain't lyin', you guys...there simply aren't enough hours in any day for me anymore. Lately it feels like all I ever do, is frantically sprint from one activity to the next chore or errand - and by the time my head fiiiiinaly hits the pillow late at night, I've accomplished only a fraction of what I'd intended to do... 

...and on top of all that - I've spent the last week or so, bunched up and in a wad over tons of other stuff that's been further rattling my ability to focus clearly on my pics. and my blog. Suffice it to say, my mind has definitely been elsewhere.

Somehow though, I did find a way to fit snapping the pictures seen here in this post, in between getting off of work and picking my kids up from school. But just the same, for the practically unprecedented hour and forty-five minutes that my camera actually allowed me to shoot before it died - I can honestly say that I was far too distracted thinking about the rest of the day's hellishly complicated schedule, and how anxious I've become over the latest developments in my personal life - to ever get satisfactorily lost in this shoot. The whole thing is really just a blur...

Even now, as I sit here spastically trying to write this post, before I jump back in my car and go fetch my children from their extra-curriculars, knowing damn well I'll never finish in the scant ten minutes that I have left before I have to get up from my desk chair to leave - my stomach's all bound up in knots. Partly because I'm in another terrible hurry...partly because I'm trying, but can't seem to recall anything noteworthy having taken place during the time that I spent in this house...but mostly because my heart hurts even worse than my gut.

And so unfortunately, my sweet peeps - this is all that I have to offer. I'm sorry, and I promise to (try and) do better next time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hauntingly Familiar

(Snapped on 9/19/11)

Well folks? The weather's been getting just a wee, little teeeeensy bit cooler around here. And ya' wanna know what the best part about that is? All of those icky snakes, and other scary, wild critters that inhabit the creepy old houses where I love to stage my shoots - will be hunkering down soon, in preparation for winter's hibernation period. Which means, I'll be far less likely to startle them (and vice versa) as they become more and more sluggish and inactive (at least...that's what I like to tell myself...) 

Let the abandoned house shoots recommence!

(Snapped on 9/19/11)

On a side note, this past weekend was far and away the best one I've had in absolutely ages (can I just tell you how badly I needed it?) The only problem was - it yielded no new pictures about which to write. And so by Monday, to say that I was feeling a bit fidgety - would definitely have been quite the understatement. I knew that I had to snap some pictures, and fast - if I was to publish a blog post on time.

Once again, I relied on the cache of Instagram pics. (stowed in neat, little files on my Mac) to give me a nudge towards determining a venue, as well as prompting a viable idea. And just as I'd hoped, I came across a set that triggered a totally doable plan. 

Because I was pinched for time that morning, I'd wanted to avoid venturing too far away from home (so I could get to my destination in a quick) or work (since I'd be going there straight from my shoot) - whereby maximizing the time that I'd be able to devote to my pics.. Like a gift from above, the Instagram snaps that immediately jumped off the screen at me - harkened back to my discovery of a classic, American ruin - conveniently situated on an overgrown lot, about a mile up the lane from my house, and on the same path that I travel to get to work. I had photographed the exterior of the crusty, old house - one snowy day, last nine year old daughter in tow. And had been tempted (but for her safety) resisted introducing her to the thrill that would predictably accompany scuttling through the building's busted-out windows, in order to explore it's presumably dilapidated interior.

(Snapped on 9/19/11)

Last Monday though, I was flyin' solo - and was beyond excited (plus the right amount of nervous) to finally have the chance to climb over the collapsed porch roof, and in through the broken window. Once my feet touched the floor, I was overcome with that queer but familiar sensation - specific only to the abandoned houses that I enter - a feeling somewhat akin to the saying, "It's good to be back home again". Not literally, as in - being back in my own home (obviously) - but more that feeling of bliss to be back in the type of environment, where I believe I've gotten some of my better self-shots. 

Humming along at a productive pace (all the while keeping my eye on the clock), I had just started to get to that euphoric stage where things really begin to click nicely (think - runners' high of the self-portrait artist) - when all of a sudden, my camera shut down unexpectedly. I was like, "Wait, wha?!" There was no way that the battery had died already, as I had fully charged it before leaving my house, at that point - I was only like 90 frames in...and - I was able to turn the sucker back on and view the last picture that I'd snapped - but as soon as I tried to set the timer, the blasted thing turned off again...hmmmm...

After removing the battery and trying numerous times to get the camera functioning properly (to no avail) I had no other choice but to throw in the towel. 

You guys are probably gonna think this sounds crazy, but I kinda got the feeling that the old house was telling me that I'd overstayed my welcome, and that it was time for me to I did. But. Since I hadn't gotten nearly all of the pictures that I'd wanted, I decided to go back that night to snap even more. I left my battery on the charger for the entire time that I was at work, so there'd be no way in hell the thing would fail me again.

I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty damn spooky entering the old house in pitch black dark. I did have my flashlight, but since I didn't want the neighbors to be alarmed by a suspicious light in the long-forgotten house, I shone it down and super close to the ground. After I gingerly made my way up to the second floor, having incited no sleeping animals to attack me (thankfully) - I switched gears from bein' a-feared - to getting my butt straight to work.

This time I fired off only 69 pics., before something else inexplicable happened. I went to set the timer, and the camera alerted me that I had no more memory on the card, which wasn't a big deal because all I had to do - was delete one or two older sets of pics.. But just as I was about to do that, something small but solid (like maybe the size of a marble?) hit me dead center on the kneecap, really hard! I took the hint right away, got dressed, packed my things, thanked the old house, and skeedaddled outta there in a hurry.

(Snapped on 9/20/11)

Perhaps not surprisingly, I still hadn't had my fill of that old house. So the next day, after work - I made myself right at home there, one more time. 

I started out by messin' around on the small set of hay-covered stairs - but it was so hard on my poor, old, aged body - that I couldn't stand more than a puny thirty tries. (wuss)

(Snapped on 9/20/11)

I'd had every intention of posing in both of the upper level rooms, but wouldn't you know it - after setting the timer and getting into pose, a scant 53 times that day - my camera did the thing where it shuts off for no reason...and just like the last time, I never could convince it to cooperate. 

Nevertheless, after sitting at my computer and poring over the spoils begot from all three of my trips to that fantastic old house - I was tickled with enough of the images to consider the place to be a truly lucky find...and even though the old house clearly indicated on each of my three separate visits, that it didn't particularly appreciate my presence - I'm just so relieved that it allowed me to find myself back in my very most favorite element…for a few brief, but productive moments.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hang Tight

(Snapped on 9/19/11)

I swear I haven't forgotten about y'all...promise, promise, promise!

It's always been my Big Ugly policy, to (try and) not let a whole week go by, without sharing a new batch of pics.. But after extenuating circumstances put the kibosh on what I'd hoped would be a pretty radical shoot over the weekend, it was starting to look like I'd have nothing to write about for the next foreseeable future.

Yesterday however, I did manage to squeeze in a quick, little shoot - but since I was scheduled to work, I was crunched for time (plus my camera inexplicably started actin' kinda wonky), and was forced to call it quits juuuuust as I was starting to gel with my surroundings. 

In any case, here's a little teaser to tide you guys over - until I've collected all that I'll need in order to compose a proper, full-length, respectable post...

Thank you so much for your patience!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Encore, Une Fois

(All self-pics. snapped on 9/06/11)

Although in the not-so-distant past, it was nothing for me to stage back-to-back photo shoots (three or even more in the same day, on occasion), lately I'm so busy with work and other things - that I feel fortunate to wind up with a single batch of new pics. per week. Riding the wave of my little Labor Day free-for-all however, along with the fact that I had the following day off of work also - I was totally jazzed about spending a rare, second day in a row - somewhere, anywhere - in front of and behind my trusty camera...

I have no idea why shooting at the venue that I chose - hit me. But it did. Ya' see, there was this day late last winter, when I strolled around downtown taking Instagram pics. with my phone, and at some point I came upon a vacant property on which stood the most incredible assemblage of antiquated warehouses - their rich patina so irresistible to me, that I knew I just had to find a way to breach the tall, solidly-constructed, seemingly impervious board fence that fortified the property, and (presumably) protected it from intruders. Luckily, I found a spot in the imposing barrier, where two boards had been conveniently removed, creating a small space just big enough for me to barely squeeze through. 

Once inside and exploring the grounds and buildings, I was happier'n a pig wallerin' in shit. There was just so much awesomeness to see and to snap, and so I stayed and took pictures until I absolutely had to that I'd be at school in time to pick my kids up at dismissal.

(Snapped on 9/07/11 - using an iPhone and an Instagram filter)

I haven't really thought about that place very much since then, but for whatever reason - it popped into my head last Tuesday, literally the instant I began brainstorming where to stage some new pics.. 

The weather that day was atrocious, which was really of no consequence - since my plan was to shoot under cover and out of the pouring rain, as well as more discreetly - inside of the buildings. I drove into town, parked my car around the corner from the conglomerate of crusty structures, and walked to where I remembered slipping through the crack in the fence the first time. But this time, there were two brand new boards where the crack used to be. "Damn", I thought..."now what do I do". Without breaking stride, I continued to walk the perimeter of the property - but paused when I noticed a gap where the fence met the chain-link gates (see above). It looked pretty tight, and turned out that it was - my butt fit ok, but I couldn't smash my left boob down enough to slip the top part of me through...*pffffft*

So. I trudged on through the rain, the rest of the way around the entire property - looking for something that I could possibly sneak over, or under, or through...but found no such place via which to gain entry. I decided to go back to that gap by the gates, where I next tried sliding one boob through - by itself first, and then the rest of me (and my bulky backpack) around the pole until I was all the way inside of the fence. I panicked for a second, when it felt like I might actually be stuck - but I squoze while I pushed really hard one...last...time, and just like that - bloop - I was in...Giddyup!

The space was outstanding - overwhelming, in fact. There were almost too many options to consider...and although that is undeniably a good problem to have - I still milled around aimlessly, for the first ten minutes - marveling over my stellar surroundings, and having made the snap decision to go there. Eventually though, my awe morphed into lucidity (thank god) at which time I set up my camera, got naked and posed. 

After spending an hour and fifteen minutes shooting inside of the same structure, I hopped down through the large opening (seen in the image above), and placed myself up against the corrugated, galvanized wall (seen below) that reflected and magnified the odd, rainy-day light.

At this point, although there was a roof over my head, there was no wall out in front of where I'd set up my essence - I was outside...which primarily meant - potentially visible to folks who might glance out of the upper floor apartments across the way, aaand spot me...trespassing, naked and actin' a fool.

In the end though, I abruptly called it quits for a completely different reason. A train engine had come slowly rolling down the tracks (which are juuust on the other side of that high board fence that I mentioned) and came to rest at the tiny station nearby, giving the engineer a clear line of sight into my shoot.  

I got dressed and packed my gear in a furious hurry, smooshed myself (once again) through the gap by the gate, walked briskly back to my car, and left for home still feeling sorta hungry for that place.

I returned to take some more pics., later that evening while it really rained (this time though, I was clothed, and posing out in front of a building on the opposite side of the street)...mostly because I felt like I'd only just started warming up, when that train so rudely pulled up to the station and cut my derned shoot short...

Even now, I keep thinking of all of the things that I wish I would've done while I was at that remarkable place, earlier that day...and with so many ideas swirling around in my brain, I don't think it's completely out of the question to think that I will indeed go back there - encore, une fois...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor (Day) of Love

(All pics. snapped on 9/05/11)

Here in the U.S., we honor the "economic and social contributions of workers" on the first Monday of every September - by enjoying a day of rest, in order to celebrate a holiday (somewhat ironically) named "Labor Day". I personally, never think too much about the reasons behind this particular holiday - but more that it signifies the unofficial end of my most favorite season (Summer)...and the unfortunate ushering in of Autumn...*sigh*

Ideally on Labor Day, the weather is quintessential summer: all hot and sunny, with azure skies and cottony clouds - the perfect conditions for spending one last day at the pool, before the gates are closed and locked until Memorial Day rolls around at the end of May the following year. Folks convene on or near some body of water, or at backyard barbecues and cookouts - and everyone gets as much as they can out of those last few minutes before bathing suits and flip flops, hand the baton off - to blue jeans and sweatshirts and socks and shoes. 

This past Labor Day, was in no way conducive to being spent by the pool, or even outdoors for that matter. It was cool and drizzly and grey, and I'd bet that there were any number of fetes either cancelled altogether, or moved indoors - on account of the unseasonably cool, dreary weather. 

Luckily for me though, none of that mattered. I mean, let's face it - I'm not exactly the girl who makes it onto all (or any of) the guest lists for parties thrown around here...and so having made no plans to celebrate with others that day - that also meant that there were no plans for me to break because the weather happened to be shitty. 

I was home alone, since my kids always stay with their father on Mondays, and I also had the day off from my "real" job, so...I decided to spend Labor Day, well...laboring....i.e., doing the "work" that I truly love best. 

While my camera battery charged, I decided on the setting for the day's shoot, showered, and chose what to wear. Next I fussed with my hair and put on my make-up, and then when my battery was at a full charge, I drove to a neighborhood nearby. I parked and left my my car on a dead-end street, nimbly climbed over electrified fences, tromped across cow fields - and stopped when I finally reached this train bridge and creek. 

As I changed out of my t-shirt and shorts, and into the diaphanous, white nighty (while also ducking and dodging to keep out of view of the motorists driving past on the roadway in the distance) - I surveyed my surroundings, while trying to decide just how exactly - to go about staging my shoot. Finding sure footing for the little thrift store table (atop of which my camera and gorillapod stand) - was definitely no easy task...there was simply no solid ground on which to place it. But besides that, slogging through the gunky, gloppy muck that swallowed my feet with each deliberate step that I took - across the bank and through the dark, murky water - took more than a few minutes to get used to. For the sake of my pics. though, I put it out of my mind - despite being sucked down sometimes, practically up to my feet meeting sharp, hidden mystery objects that littered the mushy creek floor. 

After shooting diligently for a good, solid hour - I'd had my fill of the ick factor, and also began to worry that some horrific bacteria might infiltrate my body via the puncture wounds in my feet, and the lacerations on my legs...*shudder* 

I wasn't quite ready to call it a day though - and so I packed up my shiz, and retraced my steps - until I reached a much cleaner, clearer stretch of the stream.

By the time I left to finally go home, my body was essentially thrashed. My mind however, was reeling with excitement, and my heart was overflowing with pride and satisfaction. The way I look at it, physical exhaustion, especially when coupled with a few battle wounds sustained while snappin' my pics. - is the very definition of, "It's all in a day's work"...and I feel fortunate in that I can say without a doubt - that I honestly love what I do...

Saturday, September 3, 2011


So HEY! Guess what today's The Big Ugly's ONE YEAR BIRTHDAY!!! And since I already sorta did my celebrating late last night, and into the wee hours of this morning - plus I had to get up and go to work after sleeping for (possibly...maybe) three hours only - I'm gonna save the few remaining brain cells that I do still have - by keeping the text here, very simple.

Mostly, I just wanna thank all of you wonderful readers out there! I can't tell you how much it means to me that you take the time to peruse my pics., as well as the stories and thoughts that accompany them - and also that you regularly prop me up when I'm down, and continue to nurture my growth as an artist...your comments are positively invaluable, "THANK YOU!"

Also, a jumbo, cyber hug and a peck - to the nice folks who've so graciously allowed me to snap my self-portraits on the properties and/or with their belongings and pets. I would barely have even a fraction of the pictures in my collection, were it not for your generous contributions to my craft, "Thank You, so, SO much!"

And finally, in commemoration of one of the most rewarding and gratifying years of my entire life, I'm posting a selection of rarely seen self-portraits - each one representing the 12 individual months that have passed since I created this blog last September...and none of which have appeared here on The Big Ugly before now. Consider it a token of my sincerest appreciation, for all that you do for me...

(Snapped on 9/05/10)

(Snapped on 10/01/10)

(Snapped on (11/10/10)

(Snapped on 12/07/10)

(Snapped on 1/27/11)

(Snapped on 2/19/11)

(Snapped on 3/21/11)

(Snapped on 4/12/11)

(Snapped on 5/30/11)

(Snapped on 6/24/11)

(Snapped on 7/08/11)

(Snapped on 8/31/11)

Thanks to self-portraiture, and those of you who've stuck by me over The Big Ugly's first year (along with some other swell stuff that's been happening, lately) - I can honestly say, that at this very moment? I feel like the luckiest gal in the world!

Here's to next year!