Thursday, August 30, 2012

The LBD Report

Ah yes...the "little black dress''...a staple wardrobe element that most every woman has hanging in her closet. For its universal appeal as the perfect answer to that age-old question, "What on earth shall I wear?!", it has become the quintessential go-to garment. Timeless and versatile - the LBD can be dressed up or down in order to suit most any formal or semi-formal occasion. I myself have several little black dresses, of which I am especially fond. Although I couldn't even tell you the last time that I wore one of them, as I haven't attended a social function in ages. 

This past weekend, while doing the thrift store circuit with my three girls - I came across the black, silk, Alberta Ferretti dress (that I'm cutting and ripping to shreds in these pics.), and happily paid the puny six bucks that Goodwill had it marked for sale. It's not maybe as simple as a more typical little black dress - nevertheless, for the sake of this post, it's gonna havta do.

The dress stood out among its far less interesting counterparts - not so much because it was something that I would actually wear out in public, but more because it was of a higher quality than the garments that I usually find at Goodwill. I decided that even though I hadn't a clue why or where I would ever don the derned thing, it was so inexpensive, and such a nice dress - I simply couldn't leave it on the rack there, for someone else to buy.

Earlier in the weekend, while driving my daughter to a friend's house for a party - I spotted a teensy, abandoned cabin peeking out from behind a thick grove of immature trees, on property that we passed along the way…and the instant I saw it, I knew without question that I should stage my next photo shoot there. And so yesterday, when I finally found the time to go out and take the pics., I stuffed my recently acquired, little black dress into my camera bag, along a couple of other dresses and the rest of my gear.

I arrived at the cabin, did the naked shots behind the window first, then zipped myself into the little black dress while mulling over what to do next...and as I dug through my camera bag looking for a lipstick or something, I came across the scissors that I carry along on each outing - and only then did I come up with the idea to cut myself out of the $6 thrift store gem. I was admittedly somewhat hesitant to completely destroy my precious, pretty, new frock - but ultimately I reasoned, "Where the hell am I ever gonna wear it for real?"

As I drove away from the two hour shoot, reviewing the new pics. on my camera (being careful not to wreck my car, of course) - something kinda yucky occurred to me. In every single photo there was an overabundance of familiar was like I'd attempted to do nothing brand new felt weird...

I had thought that the shoot had gone pretty well, and that I'd done a fairly good job...but in clicking through the images I was aghast to see the same worn out old poses that I always seem to do anymore...the overplayed tilt of my head that I rely on in order to avoid taking pictures of my face straight bare feet standing on omnipresent tippy toes...the use of windows and doors - as a source of natural light and for framing my body...I've even taken self-portraits while cutting different clothing with those very same scissors before...and all of this in yet another abandoned house...*sigh*

Before I fell into utter despair however, a comforting thought crossed my unintentionally (and I do mean that) falling back on a combination of my most commonly used tricks for this shoot, had I not in essence absentmindedly stuck with the most acceptable, safe alternative? Almost like when you eliminate the hassle of trying to decide on what to wear to an event, by settling on a basic LBD.

I think approaching a shoot this way is ok, every once in awhile - but I'd prefer it if I could begin to limit myself to doing so with roughly the same amount of frequency that I find myself goin' out in a little black dress...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thrill Ride

Exactly one month ago, to the day - I made my 20+ years-long dream of owning a motorcycle, come true. After completing the Motorcycle Rider Safety Class at a local community college in early June, getting my M-class license from DMV soon after that, and then finally scraping together enough money to be able to pay for insurance, and purchase the bike - the tidy, black 1987 Kawasaki KZ305 became the newest member of my family, on July 21st of this year.

Now you may be wondering how that particular nugget of information could possibly be relevant to my self-portraits, the blog, and all that...well, lemme tell you. The motorcycle is small, and fairly quiet - which means that it's much easier than my car is - to hide out of sight, on private properties where I wanna take pics.. In early Spring, I realized that my peddle bike was useful for the same sorta thing - but what makes the moto even better than the bicycle for getting onto properties that are tricky to access by car - is that it'll allow me to travel to destinations that are out of bicycling range.

The shoot I did yesterday, is a perfect example...

This past March, a friend of mine told me about this bone-chillingly creepy, abandoned manse and farm that he'd seen while traversing the backroads of Kabletown, WVa.. Not long after that, I drove there myself, to take pics. with my iPhone, that I later edited and posted on Instagram. Although I'd found a reasonably well-concealed spot to park my car, where it wasn't glaringly visible from the road - I knew that from the right angle a passing motorist might notice it, as there was a patch of missing shrubbery between the front yard and the road, through which I could clearly see each vehicle that drove by - when I stood in the general vicinity of where my car was parked.

I spent an anxious 30 minutes hurriedly (but ravenously) snapping pics. of the deliciously dilapidated estate, that day - and the whole time, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to return so that I could take some selfpics there, some other time. For months and months, I talked myself out of it though - because I just wasn't convinced that no matter how well I might've thought that I'd hidden it, my car would wind up blowing my cover...and ya' know, it's one thing to worry about getting caught trespassing on private property, while taking pictures when you've got your clothes on...but it's another thing altogether, to stress out over getting busted for poaching - when you're not wearing anything at all...

With such a short period of riding time under my belt, I am far from what one would consider an "experienced rider". To be perfectly honest about it, I still feel pretty nervous each time before I go out. However, that hasn't stopped me from taking the bike out every single day except for three - since I brought the little thing home with me a month ago...but despite those ever-present, pre-ride jitters - I do settle down and feel noticeably more comfortable, the instant my tires touch the pavement. 

In the beginning, I took easy roads and only went short distances - like to the post office, or the bank, or to Sheetz. But little by little I've started venturing further away from my immediate, safe surroundings, in order to log in more ride time, while also (hopefully) improving my skills by riding on roadways that are more difficult to navigate, even scary sometimes - if they're surprisingly super twisty and stuff, or if conditions are less favorable, like when it rains. And so this weekend, after an old friend and I took a ride up into West Virginia, I was able to proudly add "crossing state lines" to my short list of minor motorcycling achievements. Additionally, being in that particular part of WVa. jogged my memory of the supremely spooky farm that I wrote about earlier in this post...and those two things combined, had me wondering later, "Am I brave enough to ride my moto that far from home, but without a buddy next time? And if I do make it safely to the creepy, old farm - will I be able to relax enough to do some self-portraits? Or will I psyche myself out, for fear of getting caught..."

Well folks? I know this'll prolly come as a complete shock to you, but this story actually does have a happy ending - and it's twofold! Cuz see, the ride to and from my shoot was the perfect mix of terrifying and euphoric. There were nice, narrow straightaways (an especially scenic one was walled by 8 ft. high cornfields on both sides, felt like a tunnel) where I could open the bike up and get some speed. All the while though, I held my breath, as I prepared myself for the possibility that a procession of deer might cross my path. I also mustered the courage to take tight s-turns more quickly than I normally would've done, and I rode home in the hardest rain that I've ever been through on the bike before...and the best part is (besides the fact that I did survive it all) - I enjoyed every minute of it...immensely. 

The same goes for the hour and a half during which I staged my pics. around the farm. Although I never really worried about anyone spotting my motorcycle, I did worry about someone spotting me. The swing and the statue (seen above) were both in plain view of the road out front, and for a back country road it definitely gets its fair share of steady traffic...which meant that every time I went to pose, my blood pressure shot up like mad - it literally felt like my heart was in my throat...and if you know me by now, you know that I thrive on the thrill that accompanies that sorta thing.

Long story short, it was a phenomenal was almost like the grown-up version of riding rides at an amusement park...and I was just as exhausted as any child would be after such an incredibly exciting day...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

If You Go Into The Woods Today...

A couple of nights ago, my two good friends showed me the secret spot where these pictures were taken. After walking up the lane from my one friend's house, ducking into a wooded, private property, and then following an overgrown trail that eventually led us to the rusty well pump and wash tub - the guys left me alone to take my selfpics in peace. The two of them however, continued on along the old path, to see what else they might find - and when they returned, they told me that they had some good news.

Turned out that at top of the hill where the path finally ended - there was a weathered, but solid cabin - and it was unlocked! It was too late in the evening to stage pics. there that night, as the sun was getting low, its light shining ever more dimly through the trees...but I reminded myself that there was always tomorrow...

(First nine pics. snapped on 8/14/12)

(Last four pics. snapped on 8/13/12)

...and for as much as I'd enjoyed that first night in the forest (and trust me when I tell you, I did!), the next day was even that much more awesome. Coulda been because I wasn't working (as much) under the gun, time wise - which (along with the fact that I was completely alone on my second trip there), allowed me to lose myself in the setting, the story, and the make-believe person that I became...and although neither set of pictures is particularly great, the two shoots were exactly what I wanted, but more importantly - what I needed, at this point in time...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Takin' It To the Grave...Yard

(Snapped on 8/06/12)

Last Monday night, I met up again with fine art nude photographer - Tyler Keeler, for our second photo shoot together - yay! The moon was a coupla days shy of being completely full, but since Tyler had commitments later on in the week, and because he was eager to do some long exposure shots in the bright light of the almost full moon - we felt that we simply had to take advantage of that particularly gorgeous, balmy, clear night by doing some late-night pics. at his friend's well as at a pristine, old cemetery, in a neighboring town.

(Snapped on 7/30/12)

Although I myself, have done, and still do nighttime shoots every now and then - the quality of the resulting pics. is generally somewhat negligible, especially in comparison to the remarkable images that Tyler consistently captured over the course of our moonlit shoot...and because of that, I decided early on - that I wouldn't bother wasting Tyler's time, or my own - by staging self-portraits that night.

(Snapped on 7/30/12)

Part of the reason too, that I was so adamant about not shooting - was cuz the 9V battery powered flashlight that I typically use to illuminate my nighttime pics. (in lieu of the flash on my camera) had burned out...and (space case that I am), I'd forgotten to purchase a new battery for the derned thing...*guh*. Tyler however, was far more prepared than I had been - and he'd brought along this super nifty, LED flashlight with an adjustable head, that stood on a flexible, jointed tripod - its legs very similar to the ones on my Gorillapod...and when he offered to let me use it so that I could snap a few pics. of myself, for myself - I felt like I ought not refuse, and so I didn't.

(Snapped on 8/06/12)

The pictures that I took though, definitely paled in comparison to the ones that Tyler kept getting that night...nevertheless - I didn't totally hate mine, plus I did really love that old cemetery...sooooo...I made a pact with myself. As soon as I bought a new 9V battery for my flashlight, I would be allowed to return to the old which point I could kinda pick up where I'd left off on the night that I'd been there with Tyler.

(Snapped on 7/31/12)

Uhhhhh...yeah. So as I'm sure you can see, the selfies that I shot while illuminated in the dreamy, blue glow of Tyler's uber-bitchin' flashlight (the ones taken on 7/31/12) - turned out way freakin' better than the grainy duds that I snapped last night using my (shitty) flashlight. Thing is though, for as much as I am now itchin' to upgrade to a better light source - for late night type shoots, such as these - I am also inexplicably hardheaded and stubborn about feeling the need to stick with the equipment to which I have always been faithful.