A Song and a Self Portrait

“I wanna be the boy who lived
But never have no trust to give
I must admit through busted lips
I’ve sunken ships and rusted bridges
Cut slow to the quick
And lost myself to split decisions
Multiply by my divisions
Round down for the placement
Who’s he?
Just me
Alone in that basement
Why don’t you tell ’em about the loneliness?”

-Flobots

 

 

 

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I’ve seen fear-mongering in action. And I’ve seen how well it works.

The media uses fear to control the population everyday. (like you didn’t already know that)

And with that idea ruminating around in my brain I thought I’d give fear-mongering a try. Because #suicideisstupid and if these awful, ugly images can stay your hand for even a day, then I will be happy.

Suicide is not beautiful. It’s not poetic. ITS UGLY. It’s coughing, and snot and blood and loss of respect. It’s split flesh. It’s stains on the floor. It’s the cold side of the bed that used to be warm. Its pissing on yourself.

It’s how you will be remembered.

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#suicideisstupid

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I confer a lot with my twelve year old on what’s hip, and what’s not.

Did you know that fresh actually means cool?

And did you know that tide pods actually taste like candy?

I sure didn’t.

So I asked my three daughters if they wanted to jump on the bandwagon of craft store photoshoots and they squealed with ear piercing glee.

Huh, who knew following the latest trends would make me the “Cool Mom”. 

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So off we went to Joann craft store.

I can see the allure of this type of shoot, and why the idea went viral. The lighting inside these giant craft stores are utterly terrible: fluorescent, flickering, dull, rage inducing. So the challenge is high to get shots that are exposed correctly, sharp focused, etc.

It’s also fun to “steal” these floral backdrops for a few minutes and then leave the store without actually buying anything. 

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I paid my twelve year old the sum of $5 to follow me around with my backup Nikon so I could clip together some shaky, yet useable, footage of this shoot.

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Enjoy Peons.

And here are the rest of the edited shots from this shoot:

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This is a birth story.

But this is NOT a story about giving birth.

We’ve all read a million blogs telling first hand accounts of their birth story’s. Contractions. Water breaks. Contractions. Pushing. Pushing. Contractions. Fart. Hemorrhoid. Baby. Tears. 

This is not one of THOSE birth story’s.

I mean, yes, all of that did happen……technically. But this story is a first hand account of birth from the other side (which I found much more enjoyable to be honest).

It all started the day before Katherine went into labor. We squeezed a short maternity shoot into our hectic schedules. We laughed through the whole shoot, and even harder and longer at the “unusables“. We laughed for over an hour.

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I still maintain that Katty laughed herself into labor because she went into active labor the next day.

I met her at her house around three where she was laboring at home for as long as she could. She kept saying  “I don’t think this is really it. You should go home

But I knew. I knew from the way she breathed, the white knuckled grip, the arching back; I wouldn’t be going home.

So I meandered around her house for the next seven hours, we ate beef stew and played dominoes. (I told her in a few hours she would be enjoying the stew again via vomit).

I encouraged Katty to walk around her house, to enjoy the quiet, the tidiness, the peace. Because her house would never again feel so empty.

She disappeared for a while, likely overwhelmed by the rush of emotions. There is always a moment when it feels like your world is crumbling around you. You know your whole life is about to be different. You know it’s too late to go back. It’s scary. And it’s overwhelming. But it’s also necessary. And when she needed a moment alone, to wrap herself in the realization that THIS was actually it, we left her alone.

Let’s fast forward to 10:00pm when Katherine decided it was time to head to the hospital.  I got lost on the way. I do that. When I showed up Katty was dilated to a 5.

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There is such a different atmosphere in birthing rooms, such a stark difference to the aura of sadness and anxiety that envelopes the rest of the hospital. Birthing rooms buzz with excitement and promise. I walked into Katherine’s room and a flood of memories washed through me. This was familiar. I’d done this before (Three times), and this time I didn’t have to be in pain. Can I get a Hallelujah?!

 

Still, as familiar as I was with the whole process, I had never experienced it from the other side before. I wasn’t prepared to be knocked on my ass by humility. I wasn’t prepared to feel frightened and inspired by Katherine’s pain. I wasn’t prepared to discover a whole new definition for “Awe”. But indeed I did.

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It was almost like a car accident. You want to turn away but you don’t want to miss anything.

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It was hard to watch. We all breathed with her during contractions and, in fact, I clenched with her as rode out the waves of pain. I started getting cramps before I realized what I was doing and mentally kicked myself in the shin.

Katherine rode the Pain Train for hour after hour. Andrew alternated between rubbing her back and letting her hang on him for support. Such a lovely team.

Although, we all kept wondering how Andrew could look so damn perfect and be so damn chipper.

He was practically vibrating with excitement.

Katherine….not so much.

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At this point we were all exhausted (except for Andrew who couldn’t sit still). It’s actually extremely hard to watch someone go through so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. Katherine’s mom, my aunt Teresa, had a grimace of pain in every picture. It made me wonder if I would be the same way if I were in her position and it was MY daughter giving birth. Teresa was there when I was born, helping my mother the same way she helped Katherine. I’d never seen my Auntie so quiet, offering the comfort and assistance that she couldn’t verbally. It was beautiful to watch; A night of action, not words.

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Things went from 0-60 real quick after the nurse told us that Katherine was fully dilated. Suddenly our weary bones perked up, the exhaustion left and it was time to rock and roll.

Thinking back to my own births, I didn’t remember being such a bad-ass. I mean, I’m sure I was, but I wasn’t concentrating on anything else but getting the damn parasite out of me. Looking at Katherine, gathering her remaining strength to push over and over and over, made me realize the strength of us women. We are awesome! We were built for this purpose, our bodies know how to take us through to the end.

As Spock would say “Fascinating”.

I wasn’t silent for the whole thing. My mantra for the night was “Katty stop holding your breath”. I may have said that 52 times that night. And then I shut up. Because she didn’t need me anymore, or Andrew or her Mom. I watched Katherine’s instincts take over, watched her body flow through the moves that billions of women had done before her. She had this.

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There were a lot of firsts that night, and I stood there humbled as we all experienced them together, in our own way. My plan was to take a picture of the clock on the wall, the minute Prestyn was born. But as I panned over I caught Andrews first moment seeing his daughter’s face.

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I often told Katty that there is no pain like the pain of pushing out your baby…..

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……and there is no moment quite like the moment you first see your baby. You only get to experience it once. The moment of awe.

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And the “We did it” moment.

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And all of a sudden, our family was a little bigger. 6lbs 11 ounces bigger. And Prestyn was just there, like she’d always been there. She wailed a hearty cry, covered in goo and sporting fiery red hair. And she was perfect.

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In some ways it was kind of terrible being the photographer in this particular scenario. I was the silent observer, trying with all my might to melt into the shadows, to keep my shutter clicks from bothering Katty. I didn’t help her rough through her contractions even though I wanted to. I could’t cry when Prestyn came out because then I wouldn’t be able to see through my lens. I feel like I missed out a little bit on the whole experience.

BUT (and this is a huge but), I got something priceless in return. Not only did I get to watch this beautiful little girl take her first breath, I got to photograph it.

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This little human who was brand new to the world had never EVER had her picture taken before. I was the first. That’s special. I will always have that.

As a photographer there is no greater honor.

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How quickly you forget how tiny they can be, how precious. And just how different your world feels afterward. 

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I went home to my own children with renewed vigor and the memory of what I went through to bring them into this world. I never knew how bad ass I was. I did this three times! and yet I didn’t fully appreciate it until I watched it from the other side.

I learned so much about Katherine and myself and life that night. But out of all the things I learned and forgot about my own births, I remembered THIS moment clearly:

Joy.

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2018 Photography Bucket List

A lot of my blog posts are fueled by anger. I usually sit my indignant ass down and let righteous anger fuel my fingers. Sometimes I even smell smoke.

Those posts are full of emotion. They’re funny. They’re meaningful.

Not this one. 

This one is just a list. 

A BADASS LIST!

But still….just a list.

JAKE SHOOTS PEOPLE 2018 BUCKET LIST:

  • 12 SELF PORTRAITS
  • WIN ONE CONTEST
  • WORK WITH MIKE GUASTELLA
  • PHOTOGRAPH A WILD ANIMAL
  • 3 BLOG POSTS PER MONTH (AT LEAST)
  • PHOTOSHOOT WITH PAINT
  • TAKE PHOTOSHOP CLASS AT VVC
  • GET PAID $100 IN BLOG ADS
  • MINIMUM 8 YOUTUBE VIDEOS
  • START SAVING FOR TAMRON 70-200
  • MINIMUM 8 INTERESTING PEOPLE INTERVIEWS
  • NEW BUSINESS CARDS
  • LEARN 5 NEW PHOTOSHOP TECHNIQUES
  • HAVE A POST GO VIRAL
  • GET PUBLISHED

I’ll keep updating this list as things get crossed off, or if I add to it.

Wish me luck Peons!

Your Overlord,

Jake

 

A Song and a Self Portrait

“What of the pious, the pure of heart, the peaceful?
What of the meek, the mourning, and the merciful?
What of the righteous?
What of the charitable?
What of the truthful, the dutiful, the decent?

Fin

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful
For the word is now death
And the word is now without light”

-APC-

Guess what I did today??

I used my manicured nails to scrape $12 from the bottom of my bank account and bought a few Photoshop Action. PS actions, and PS in general is all new to me. I’m SO not used to having a handy dandy “easy” button set up to do my editing for me. So you can understand my excitement at having a time saver at my finger tips. Worth the $12 in my book! Which is the only book that matters.

DEFINITION OF PHOTOSHOP ACTION: An Action is a recording of a series of Commands in Photoshop to which you apply a name. Later on, you can play that recording back on a different file and have Photoshop do your work for you.

JAKE’S DEFINITION OF PHOTOSHOP ACTION: Woooooooooooo! A time saver! Lawd have mercy, a time saver! 

For those of you who know me understand how precious time is to me. By the time my head hits the pillow at night I am usually negative time. (Ah shit! I was supposed to give the kids a bath! I knew I forgot something…) So I usually get all giddy and swollen and out of breath when I discover something that saves me time. Can you imagine how excited I was when I discovered that crockpots were a thingFugetaboudit!

Remember a post I did a few months ago about Horse Photography? I spoke longingly about merging my two greatest loves in Photography: Horses and Fine art. I’m pretty good at my normal (read: boring) shoots, i.e. Maternity, family etc. But the money is really what gets my ass to sit down and edit.

When I do a Fine Art shoot everything is different. There is excitement, makeup artists, weeks of planning, models, sets, elaborate outfits and so so so much inspiration. And when I do these kinds of shoots I am dying to sit down and edit them. My studio/office calls to me throughout the day until I finally give in (and usually abandon an important project or chore. Meh). 

I went off topic (I’m harebrained. Sue me). My point is that PS actions might be that thing that will help me merge my two photography niches!

I asked my friend Julia to model for me (For more about Julia, scratch and sniff here), and her horse Pluto. She obliged because she is awesome and because old fisherman tell tales about my awesome editing skills in old, stinky bars by the sea. It’s true.

My vision was of a powerful sorcerous and her trusty steed, calm and collected, while she holds a ball of flaming magic.

HOT DAMN! We got the shot almost immediately!

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I wanna throw in a disclaimer real quick: I DID NOT just throw the photoshop action on top of this photo (as gorgeous as it is). I worked on this photo for days using several different editing programs. And then when I was 100% happy with it, I added the action. absolutely don’t want to become reliant on the ease of using actions (I used BOLD and italicize to provide emphasis Peons. Did you feel it?)

Now that that is out of the way, allow me to present you with the final piece.

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Damn I’m good!

My plan now is to recruit a few other horse owners and convince them to let me turn them into scenes from a fantasy story book.

Editing is life Peons! Learn it!

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it funny what life decides to throw at you sometimes?

Recently, Life decided to throw me a new horse (Which may or may not be the reason I’ve neglected my beautiful blog for two months. I am confirming nothing).

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But Life isn’t always a rude bitch (only mostly….), sometimes she decides to reunite you with an old friend. To the tune of horse manure and setting money on fire, Julia and I were reunited after a twelve year hiatus.

It’s been a fun vacation with Julia and my new horse but it’s time to get my ass into gear and continue blowing people’s minds with my awesome editing skills (Ha!).

So it wasn’t too long before I asked Julia to model for me (It was inevitable yes, but I waited till the third date like a gentleman), because hello, her face is like a warm crackling fire, or a cross between Joan Jett and fresh pumpkin pie (Or apple…if that’s your thing).

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(I mean come on!) 

Julia already boasts a successful modeling career so it tickled my behind to give ONE phrase of direction and we got the shot in five clicks of my shutter. That’s magic, people. Sorcery even.

I told Julia “Your’e an android. No emotion on your face, but you’re seeing your hand as if for the first time” And. that. was. it. She donned a black tube top, sat down and BAM! 

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My original idea was to have an android with all kinds of shiny mechanical pieces and moving parts, her hand would be dissolving into code of 0’s and 1’s. Kinda Matrix-esque only without the crappy sequels.

Buutttt as I sat down to edit my ego cowered in the corner and piddled on the floor. Yeah, I had no idea how to execute such an epic idea. My skills with GIMP are all but maxed out and I’ve been reluctant to venture further into using Photoshop.

Photoshop is hard to learn and I have about six and a half minutes of free time each day to learn new editing techniques (Eight minutes if I don’t poop that day).  So learning how to dematerialize a hand took me For-ev-ver!

I started in GIMP as I usually do, to remove any blemishes, and in this case make Julia’s skin flawless, because it’s 2017 and androids don’t have flawed skin or the right to vote yet. I used simple white lines to make her skin seem shiny and fake and settled on a soft green for the color.

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For a tutorial on how to change eye color in GIMP go Here.

Our next stop was Lightroom where I simply made the background black and made her skin more glowey. eyes1

I enrolled at Youtube university to learn how to dematerialize in Photoshop.

It took me about five tries (and some grey hairs and a hemorrhoid), and when all was said and done I still wasn’t happy with the way it came out.

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But I’m still considering this a win for me. I stepped out of my comfort zone, learned a little bit more about Photoshop and made a pretty awesome Android Portrait. Now all she needs is a name and a back story…..

Here’s a side by side because they are fun:

Happy shooting Peons!

 

 

 

 

I’ve often said that I use my art to heal and to cope with the struggles of life.

I’ve also been knows to say that photography has taught me many a life lesson.

Welllllll….for this post I’m combining the two and using my art (and this blog) to teach a lesson and to cope with a life struggle.

Folks, I’m quitting smoking. 

Don’t get too excited. I’m not. I love smoking. I’ve always had this romantic notion about the harsh pull, the smoke hitting the bottom of my lungs and the beauty of the smoke’s floating tendrils.

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I’ll miss it. I’ll miss sitting outside on the porch swing with friends having deep conversations.

I’ll miss getting FIVE FREAKING MINUTES TO MYSELF WHEN MY CHILDREN ARE DRIVING ME UP THE WALLS. 

I’ll miss using it as an excuse to have secret conversations.

I’ll miss all of it.

But my time has come and gone and since I’m thirty now I don’t heal from ailments the way I used to. My back hurts when I sit for too long. My knees ache. I don’t recover from a cold as fast as I used to. I can only imagine what my lungs look like. 

So here are some facts (facts help me see the reality and the danger of smoking):

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  • More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking since 1964, including approximately 2.5 million deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

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  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90% of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking.
  • Smoking causes many other types of cancer, including cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Urea, a chemical compound that is a major component in urine, is used to add “flavor” to cigarettes.

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  • Smokers tend to develop more lines on their face at an earlier age than non-smokers. This often makes smokers look older than they really are.
  • Cigarettes contain arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and 43 known carcinogens.
  • Smoking affects how the immune system functions by causing oxidative stress. This in turn causes DNA mutation, setting the stage for cancer and heart disease. Oxidative stress is also thought to be a contributor to the aging process. Antioxidants are nature’s way of combating the damage oxidative stress causes to the body’s cells. Smokers have less antioxidants in their blood than nonsmokers.

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  • COPD-related deaths are also primarily caused by smoking, with 90% of these deaths traced back to cigarettes.
  • Smoking can cause and is strongly correlated with emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.

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Wish me luck peons. I go about this level headed but still holding to the romantic notion of smoking.

It may take me a while to completely quit, BUT for the first time since I started smoking I actually want to quit. And for me that is a HUGE step. I want to be around for a long time. I have the most amazing life; The most coveted man, the best, most well behaved children, an awesome job, top notch friends, my farm, my blog and my garden. I am too selfish to give it all up.

Good luck to all who are fighting the good fight as well.

Here’s a life hack: dont ever tell me an interesting tidbit about yourself and expect that I won’t want to photograph it.

I have an obsession with photographing interesting.

So that’s what happened when my friend Dave told me he used to pose nude at the college for art students.

Not a lot of men are comfortable in front of the camera, and even less are comfortable nude. Praise Jesus For such an opportunity! 

I needed him for my portfolio (which is 99.9999% women).

Of course he said yes. Who wouldn’t want to work with me? Who wouldn’t want to strip down (with the possibility of being drenched in fake blood), be yelled at and asked to do awkward things? Nobody! Because as hard as my photo shoots are to get through, the end results speak for themselves.

When Dave came over for the shoot he brought his confidence and his friend Jim Beam. Perfect. 

The great thing about my job is that I’m able to see past the fake smiles and what people try to hide. I make it my objective to shoot the expressions in-between the posed shots. Those tiny moments when real emotion seeps out.

                                         Posed is nice, but pensive is better. 

 

It’s taken me years to develop the skills to be able to bring these expressions out of people. The right questions need to be asked, the right tone, the right words. It’s a unique formula that I am still developing. The result…..

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…breathtaking. (Lets all take a moment to pat me on the back. Come on. Don’t be shy)

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Dave has a beautiful soul and I wanted to capture that.

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I have these moments during a shoot where I completely leave the world around me. My brain automatically takes control over the technical jargon that I’ve spent years and years jamming into my head (Don’t forget the rule of thirds, ISO, depth of focus, shutter speeds, apertures, angles, lighting etc etc). I’m glad my brain doesn’t need much focus for that stuff, because it leaves space for the artist in me to come alive. For me to become the character I want to portray.

And while I was shooting Dave, my brain ran absolutely wild with ideas. The mood shifted. And suddenly I had a story I wanted to tell.

“Don’t freak out” I told him. “I have an idea”.

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I am so grateful to him for not ruining my vision with awkwardness, and for not questioning my professionalism. Bless him for following my directions so perfectly (even when I was slightly manic).

Pretend you hate me. Pull my hair. Put your hands on my throat. Pretend you love me. Don’t worry about the pain. Squeeze my arm. Perfecto!

I become quite bossy when I have a vision.

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But Dave didn’t actually need too many instructions. As though being naked hieghtened all vulnerability and he was standing there with such raw emotions only inches under his skin.

Great stuff.

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This shoot could have gone south a bajillion times over (I mean, come on), but Dave’s natural theatrics came through and we were able to tell a beautiful story. These photos leave so many questions unanswered. They leave you feeling split open, melancholy (Hi Ali!), self righteous, angry. All the good feelings. All the bad feelings. All of them. And if I can do that, then I did my job. People say art needs to SPEAK. I say NAY!! ART NEEDS TO SCREAM. ART NEEDS TO SLAP YOU IN THE FACE. ART NEEDS TO LEAVE YOU BLEEDING. Because how else can you confront those emotions? Art, baby, art.

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My Aunt Zoila tried hard to get me into modeling when I was younger. That was until I found my calling behind the camera, and a style that might have looked a tiny bit out of place in a Sears ad. But I suppose I could be called both. I enjoy taking self portraits, I love conveying emotions in my pictures. Lately I’ve been trying to find models other than myself (I’m sure my readers are getting tired of seeing my face over and over again). But its nice to jump into a photoshoot every once in a while knowing I can put into it exactly what I need. Nicer still is to find people who can throw me such raw emotions, especially knowing what I usually put my models through.

Bravo Dave! 

P.s. I need to learn how to hide my shutter release remote better. You can see it in almost every picture! *face palm*

 

 

See these bad boys?

(click the image to purchase them for pocket change. You won’t regret it!)

These tiny things help me see into another world.

WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?! You ask.

Allow me to explain: These lenses screw onto my camera lens and open up a whole new world.

An alien world.

A world so full of the most minute detail that it gives me the heeby jeebies.

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Ewwww!! Who knew the Soul’s Window could look like a butthole!

Macro changes EVERYTHING. It brings out details that our own buttholes can’t see normally.

But macro photography is hard. I’m still learning the technique and what I’ve gleaned is that you MUST autofocus and you MUST NOT use flash. So when I have my subject in frame, even the smallest amount of movement ruins the focus. Usually I just lean forward or backward about 0.67354 of an inch at a time until my focus is tack sharp…and then I try not to move. Or breath. Or pass gass. Or blink. Or anything that would cause me to move and lose focus. 

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This little fellow was smaller than my pinky nail. Bask in his cuteness.

My garden hosts lots of tiny creatures that look like horrific beasts under the macro lenses. Unfortunately, the photos in this post are all I have as far as macro photography goes.

 

I don’t claim to be an expert in all areas of Photography. In fact, I probably know the least about macro photography. It’s a niche I have touched on but it didn’t hold my interest (for now).

For those of you who are interested in actually learning something from this post, head on over to Click it Up a Notch where you can get some real information about Macro Photography. Courtney has such a knack for the technical aspect where, sadly, I lack finesse.

Enjoy Peons. And Happy Shooting!


This Blog Post is Untitled, Okay?

Y’all sounds so stupid.

So Un-American.

I’m embarrassed for you. Like hot-faced, curl in on yourself embarrassed.

Really, most of you have no idea what you’re talking about: Shitting Facebook posts like a white boy after Mexican food.

You sounds really, really uneducated.

Just thought you should know.

I’m waging a war today.

A war against people who want professional pictures taken, but don’t want to pay.

A war against chintzy app filters.

A war against iPhone Bob.

And I stand with professional photographers.

I have no issues with using an iPhone to take pictures. I do it all the time (I can’t very well tote my camera everywhere I go. It’s heavy, people).

My issue is with iPhone Bob stealing work from me. My issue is answering emails from prospective clients, answering a gazillion questions, setting up a date, settling on a price, only to hear those dreaded words:

  • “I’m on a budget” (Hinting at a discount)
  • “I have a friend with a nice/expensive camera who is gonna do it instead”
  • “We’re just gonna use our phone”

Aghrhsgsjejdndkfksodij!!

I’m seeing into the future, and it looks bleak. A future without the need for professional cameras and photographers. iPhone Bob is in this future and he is using Sepia. I shudder.

It’s these types of people who are putting us professionals out of work.

Photography is not an easy job. But it is a loved job. We put years into learning our craft, studying manuals, perfecting techniques, and then there is the brain splitting task of navigating Photoshop and Lightroom (which has left many with grey pubes).

And yet, I’m still losing jobs to people who don’t care about the quality of professional pictures. Here are some side by sides of photos taken with an iPhone 6 and a Nikon D7100.

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I see a future with our profession becoming obsolete.

Sure there are still those who respect the art, who appreciate the time and skill used, but there are others who feel we rob them, are overpriced and that anyone can do our job.

Screw you!!!

Every time I’m doing a photo shoot I’m thinking “I get paid too much for this”.

And then I sit down to edit and I think “I don’t get paid enough for this!”

But hardly anyone appreciates the time and skill. Why? Because iPhone Bob stands behind me at a wedding shooting the exact same picture and with a wink and a smile tells my client “I’ll text it to you later”.

And doesn’t that just make me look like a thief. 

Again, I’m not saying that great pictures can’t be taken with an iPhone. Camera phones are a great way to learn the craft. What I’m saying is that with camera phones being so accessible (in your pocket) it makes paying for a professional a little superfluous.

So I’m waging a war. 

“WE’RE HERE! WE’RE QUEER!” Oh wait…wrong one. 

How about.. “WE’RE HERE! WE’RE TIRED-OF-LOSING-WORK-TO-CHEAP-ASSES-WHO-DON’T-CARE-ABOUT-QUALITY!” Too much? 

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It’s a losing battle, I know. All I can do is keep pumping out beautiful photos for my clients and pray that new ones choose me over iPhone Bob.

I’m keeping the art alive.

I’m bringing back the term “Self portrait” and obliterating “Selfie“.

I’m kicking iPhone Bob in the shin.

The holidays are hard on everybody, but particularly hard, I believe, on parents.
There is just SO. MUCH. PRETENDING.
I could probably audition for Cats The Musical and get the lead role with how much acting I do over the holidays.
It’s hard.
I work a full time job, come home to take care of three little girls, run a farm, work my hands to the bone for my crochet business and after all that SOMEHOW have to find the time to be creative enough to be a photographer.
It’s sucks!! It blow!!! It does all the things in between sucking and blowing that are too x-rated to talk about!!!

The stresses of the holidays brought on this picture to my mind completely organically.

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I was up in my studio, laying flat on the floor, with James Blake blasting on the stereo. (James Blake inspires me) And an idea sparked inside the very grotesque and hilarious walls of my brain.

I haven’t felt like myself in so long. At work it’s fake smiles and gritting teeth while dealing with unruly clients. At home it’s reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 563,023rd time with a smile on my face (while inside I’m taking my fingers and squishing that little fucking caterpillar into a squishy oblivion). And somewhere in between I’m supposed to still be me inside there. Somewhere. 

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I’ve always had the best epiphanies late at night. I’ve always been most creative when the house is quiet and asleep. Yo! It’s so hard to do that when the sandman impromptly sprinkles his sleepy dust on your ass at nine pm! Get the fuck out of my creative time Sandman! I’ll punt your ass into next year!! 

Of course that doesn’t happen. Of course I give in and close my eyes and all creativity leaves me. And of course I’m sitting in front of my computer at noon the next day going “Derrrr!!” without the lubricating juices of creativity to wet my vagina mind. WHY!!!?! 

It’s hard being an artist. It’s hard being creative. It’s hard finding the time to let my real self come out. Life gets in the way.

So this picture represent me. In all of my dried vagina’d brain, in all of my fake smiles, in all of the pure joy I bring to my children for the holidays (when all I want to do is sleep, poop by myself, and take creative pictures).

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This is me clawing at the part of myself that I’m not ready to let go.

This is all of us. Faking it for the sake of others.

Maybe I’m just a bitch. Maybe I just need to shut up and shove another dozen homemade sugar cookies down my throat. But maybe I’m right. 

And maybe I’m having a hard time telling which side of my face is the real me anymore. 

“Native American tradition provides that each person is connected with nine different animals that will accompany him or her through life, acting as guides.”

I wanted to do a self portrait that showed the inner workings of my soul.

I have a lot of pathways in my mind, different sides to me that speak to different animals or beings. To say I have only one Spirit Animal would be limiting myself to one type of being. And that I am not.

Peewee Herman is the Spirit Animal that speaks to my naive, childlike side.

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He is forever living inside a child’s brain, uncaring what the world thinks of him. Even as society continues to change around him, he stays the same. Like Peewee, it takes very little to make me happy, and I get overly excited over dumb things.

The Warrior Klingon, Worf, is the Spirit Animal that speaks to my angry side.

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Worf lives with the constant battle of taming his warrior ways to live among a gentler race. Like myself, he is a strong, brave man who burns underneath with unbridled rage. And he is forever struggling with control. In my life I find it hard to control who I am to live among people who aren’t like me. I understand his frustration.

John Merrick (The Elephant Man) is my Spirit Animal in many, many ways.

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John was a gentle soul. And an educated man. Smart, kind, peaceful and loving. But nobody saw that. All they saw were his deformities. This plight speaks to me. Even in my thirties I am judged for the way I look. I have been named druggie, lowlife, bad mother, freak. But had they taken the time to get to know me/him they would have found a deeper well of emotions and sincerity underneath.

Since I am relatively young (Shut your whore mouth!), I haven’t discovered all nine of my spirit animals. But there is one animal that I have felt connected to all of my life: The Horse.

I love to run. Sprinting makes me feel alive. And horses natural nervousness speaks to me. Safety in number. Flight over fight. That’s me.

Since I happen to have a few of these beautifully flighty animals in my backyard I have photographs abound of their natural grace.

The hard part was taking a picture of myself to match. I don’t look much like a horse (again, shut your whore mouth). But that’s not the point is it?

I’ve been struggling with time and inspiration. I just couldn’t find the time or the oomph to sit down and take a picture embodying my connection with horses. But THEN…..Bing! I remembered that Katherine and I did a horse/Indian photoshoot over a year ago and the amazing shots have been sitting in my computer just waiting to be edited.

Don’t you just love when problems solve themselves?

For this shoot we geared up in all of the amazing outfits and real props that Katty had. My outfit was pretty dang snazzy. Except when I bent over and my Mommy pouch (that flappy pouch of skin you get after having kids), sagged in all it’s glory. So either my Indian character was a mother of three, or I just had to stand straight the whole time.

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No biggie.

After dressing in the totally proper (and not at all offensive) Indian attire, we gallivanted out to the barn and began to shoot.

IT WAS FREEZING! If I had known my nipples would freeze and fall off during this shoot I might not have done it. But all photo shoots come with sacrifices. Hey, I said might! 

The shots were beautiful. But you can see the goosebumps on my skin. Sacrifices people. Sacrifices. (Speaking of sacrifices, Katty and I were barefoot. Think about that. Barefoot in a giant litter box with fresh horse apples squishing between our toes. Don’t ask me why.)

It was all worth it though, with the right amount of grain and carrots we scored some gorgeous pictures.

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Others…..not so much.

 

But in the end we got this shot:

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And I think it shows my love and revere for the equine species, the smell of horse sweat and flying. Maybe in the next thirty years I will discover more of my Spirit Animals as they become needed in my life. For now I am happy to have discovered the few that I have.

Happy shooting and happy editing.

 

 


You know that moment when the clouds open up, light pours out and you can hear the heavenly voice of the angels singing Ahhhhhhh? That scene has been portrayed a hundred different times in a hundred different movies. Why? If you ask me it’s because of the light.

Light. LIGHT! Lighting is used in movies, music videos, photography, etc. to show something important. (It also helps you to find your underwear at five in the morning when you forgot to put the laundry away and instead shoved it into a pile by your bed)

Photographers use lighting to create a mood. A feeling. An emotion. It’s not easy, trust me. As a newbie with studio lighting, I am just scratching the surface of what my studio lights can do for me. I have always been an advocate for natural light. God created the perfect accent, the perfect soft box when he created the sun. And God doesn’t make mistakes!

With that being said, natural light is fleeting. All photographers know about the “Golden hour”; That moment just before sunset when the light turns from harsh and bright to soft and gold, casting long, dramatic shadows. When the Golden Hour is gone you’re reduced to fixing grainy, dark pictures in editing (Which is stupid. So don’t do it. That’s an order)

This is the reason I un-puckered my ass cheeks and doled out Fifty bucks on a cheap lighting set up.

I bought these:

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Which you can buy Here.

They serve me well and give me so much control in my studio. For this set up I put my umbrellas on either side of the subject with the accent light to the right and behind (It get’s moved around to fullfill it’s masters needs).

A simple white reflector was placed in from of the subject to bounce light onto her face, since any one of the lights directly on her face would be too harsh. SIDE NOTE: My fancy “reflector” is a white piece of cardboard from the dollar store. I also have black and one covered in foil. Did I mention I’m cheap?

Speaking of the “Subject” she does have a name. This adorable little hooman is my second born and the destroyer of worlds. She is Benji, conqueror of all toilet seats and sports a face that is likely to send her Daddy to an early grave.

So now that you know Benji, let’s get started. The first setup I am going to show you looks like this:

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My drawings might just rival Da’Vinci, I know, I know. So these shots were created using the two umbrellas and the reflector ONLY. It creates a very soft even light.

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Simple, beautiful.

BUT if we add the accent light behind her (and to the right, remember?) it adds a dramatic glow behind her and places a beautiul shine to her hair.

Setup looks like this:

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By Golly I am amazing!

Pictures look like this:

It’s amazing what a little light can do for a picture.

For the next set up we put one umbrella in time out and had the accent light assassinated. Setup looked like this:example4

Doing this brought a nice one directional light to the picture casting dramatic shadows:

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This setup is nice for moody self portraits. But if you want even MORE drama (Because we are all basic and we all love drama *rolls eyes*) Then we can send BOTH umbrellas on a shopping trip and use ONLY the accent light.

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The outcome? Out of this world, dramatic, moody, dark….all the fun stuff. Mmmm.

It’s fun to play around with the lights and settings and come up with different moods. I switched between a black and white background as well, just to create a different feel.

(No editing was done to these pictures)

Hope this little how-to helps! Happy shooting and happy editing my peons!

I love to laugh. And I like funny things.

I once thought about becoming a phlebotomist just because it’s fun to say.

Phlebotomy. Come on!

But humor, like beauty, is subjective.

I have never thought bum fight videos were funny, or laughed when people fall down and get hurt.

On the same note I find death, destruction and blood to be a beautiful thing. There is something to be said about the quiet death of a rabbit as you cull it for dinner. Not everyone finds beauty in that, and that’s ok. Like I said, subjective. 

The out-of-control, inevitable end we all face can be seen from a different light. And can be met with grace.

Flowers. Beautiful right? I have photographed lots of flowers over the years; Roses, dandelions, hibiscuses. And yet, they all seemed drab after staring at them on a computer screen, (probably because I can’t smell them).

So for this photoshoot I decided to take a different approach and add a beautiful element to flowers. I am calling this series “Copper and Blush”.

DISCLAIMER: I’d like to say that when I have an idea, I don’t usually google it to see others’ work or their version of it. It messes with my vision. So most of the time I don’t even know if my idea has been done a million times and a million times better. I’m not about that, and neither should you!

So after I bought two beautiful bouquet’s I set up the studio and went to work.

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I blasted Uematsu (only the best composer ever) as I got lighting all fixed up (an artist needs her music). I set aperture to 4.5 and shutter speed at 330 and pretty much kept those settings through out the whole shoot. I used my accent light only and just moved it around until I got the feel I wanted.

 

It took me about fifteen minutes of setting changes, repositioning the light and about twenty test shots before I was satisfied. (I was smart and put the kids to be before I even attempted this shoot). Then it was time to add the special ingredient.

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 BLOOD! Thank god for Halloween stores!!! One bottle of awesomeness to add that special something to the flowers.

I love fake blood. It has so many uses in my household.

It was messy (hence the bag), and my carpet may or may not look like an episode of Dexter. But hey! These pictures are a thing of true beauty for the lover of the dark and macabre.

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A little drippy drippy with a spoon and these flowers went from blah to beautiful in no time flat! Huzzah! I am the bringer of all awesomeness!

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THESE FLOWERS ARE SO METAL THEIR EYELINER IS DRIPPING WITH THE TEARS OF THEIR RUINED CHILDHOOD.

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Take a big whiff! Smell that coppery blood? Smell the aromatic scent of the flower? Smell the dance of these two scents swirling around in your nostrils? You can’t? Hmmm….maybe it’s just me then.

The sunflower is my personal favorite and is now the screensaver of my new iMac (This is the part where you ohh and ahh at how cool I am). Go on….I’ll wait. 

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My plan for these shots is to have them printed on canvas and hang them in the stairwell.

And if you might be interested in purchasing these I just happen to have an etsy set up (for all of my adoring fans).

You can find my etsy HERE!

Happy shooting and Happy editing my peons!


Believe it or not, I didn’t start out as a bad ass photo editor. Nope. I worked my way up doing normal, boring photo shoots like Joe Blow. Just like the little people.

I work full time at a dog grooming shop during the day. My nights and weekends are full of maternity shoots, family portraits, weddings, birthdays, newborn, boudoir, etc. And while I enjoy these (mostly the money), these types of shoots don’t tickle my fancy the way that photo editing does. That’s why I try to make sure and throw in a fun and challenging photo shoot that requires lots of editing every once in a while. (I don’t get paid for these yet. But they keep my spirit alive!)

One of my other passions is Equine Photography. I’ve been riding for twenty years and find, like most people, that horses possess a grace and sincerity that longs to be photographed.

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Although, anyone who works with animals know how unpredictable they can be. That’s probably why I love it so much. Photographing horses is enough of a challenge to tickle that fancy I was just talking about (And a good fancy just needs to be tickled. Trust me).

For every beautiful, graceful shot of a horse running through a field, is a photographer, sweaty, laying in a pile of fresh crap.

I took this picture lying underneath a jump, surrounded by horse shit, as a 1200 lb beast jumped over me. It made me pucker, that’s for sure.

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Especially because a few minutes later he did this:

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I have not been to one horse shoot where the animal didn’t have a diva moment at some point.

This shot: loralee14donebw

Preceded this shot:

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And these ones:

Led to this one:

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See what I’m getting at? Equine photography is most certainly NOT boring. And that’s what draws me to it.

Don’t get me wrong, my paid weekend shoots are awesome. People actually hand me money to photograph them (Thief Baggins!). But at the end of every shoot I am left uninspired and a little dead inside. I am an artist! And I need to be challenged! (Too bad the market for horse photography is dead in my area. Cowboys love their iphones apparently).

One day I will meld my love for horse photography with photo editing and create some magic. I just need to find a willing model. In the meantime, these two different facets of photography will remain in different folders on my computer. *sigh*

Sometimes I love my weird brain. Sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes my brain says “Hey! Let’s recreate the four elements using sexy models!”

Cool idea, brain!!

Sometimes my brain says “Hey bitch, you’re gonna find a sexy model, somehow convince her to follow you into a creepy abandoned building in the middle of bum fuck Egypt, and throw cups of baby powder at her face”.

Um…..what?

“Yup! Convince that hoe this needs to happen”

So as you can see, my stupid brain wouldn’t stop nagging me until I made this happen. And I’ve learned to listen to my weird brain, after all, it was the one who told me to start this blog.

Que model Leilani Mallet. She and I have worked together before. Leilani is up for anything! At our last shoot we snuck onto a movie set, snapped some shots, and then got kicked out. Fun times.

We prepared for such shenanigans this time around. We packed water, baby powder, extra outfits, music, baby wipes, coconut oil (which somehow fixes everything) and camera equipment, and headed out.

My vision was for an elegantly dancing woman, surrounded by rubble and destruction, making scary monster faces. I envisioned darkness, black and white, depth, emotion, grace. But rarely do photo shoots turn out the way I plan.

My cousin and auntie volunteered their time and help for this shoot (thank gawd!) and they scouted out several locations for me days prior.

I told Katherine I wanted dark, scary, abandoned and dilapidated. Boy did she deliver!

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Especially on the scary part.

We used three separate locations. Each had its own charm. The first was a gorgeous run down “house” full of debri, rusty nails sticking straight up out of the floor, insulation falling on us from the ceiling and glass everywhere. It was amazing.

Leilani dressed in a black leotard and we got to work. I asked her for “Beautiful body, ugly face”

This is what she gave me:

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Gorgeous! But it was still brighter than I wanted. Time constrictions forced us to shoot during the day. Nothing a little photo shop can’t fix!

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Boom!

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And boom!

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And boom x3!

The next location was only a few miles away and we drove there with excitement. Little did we know we’d arrive at satan’s armpit with all the undue excitment of children going to the dentist for the first time.

The beautiful graffiti on the walls belied the disgustingness of this awful place; dirty underwear littered the floor, accompanied by millions of glass shards, more debri, and an old mattress that I’m sure has seen some awful shit. And wouldn’t you know, we even found a bum’s last meal.

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Mmmmm.

I needed Leilani barefoot for this shoot. And I’m so lucky my assistants brought a broom with them.

As we went spelunking deeper into the abyss (trying not to catch an STD in the process) we happened upon a lovely brick wall. White. A pure white brick wall people. 

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Ok so it was not in my vision to have white. But I somehow loved the look, and I immediately saw the potential.

Leilani changed into a white leotard, we swept the floor and got to work.

My two assistants, Katherine and Teresa stood off to the sides holding cups of baby powder to throw at Leilani. Some shots came out PERFECT.


Others….not so much.

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We are not professional powder throwers.

What was perfect about this shoot was that Leilani gave her all. If I asked her to jump, she jumped (I cringed at the sound of her feet hitting the concrete painfully). If I asked her to contort her body but keep her face serene, she did it.

Sweat was pouring down her face, covered in baby powder, muscles sore, surrounded by societies cast offs and a homeless man’s ball sweat.

But not once did she complain. Bless her heart.

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We were surrounded by destruction, as I had planned, but I hadn’t planned on creating such beauty in the thick of it. We were essentially in the forgotten parts of the world. A house once loved and warm, now abandoned and hopeless.

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I’d like to think we brought some forgotten happiness to those locations as we tried our damndest to make it worth something.

We could see what we had accomplished, even as the powder created balls of dough in our noses.

Let me know what you think of Leilani in the comments!

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Happy shooting! Happy editing!

Living with Anxiety

Alright folks, grab some popcorn. It’s about to get real up in hizzere.

This is my coming out of the closet post.

“Mom, Dad, I have Anxiety”

“Well have you tried choosing not to have anxiety?”

I’ve been hesitant to write this post for some time. Even though it’s been in the works, stewing inside my weird brain for some time.

It will be difficult for me to articulate just how such damaged emotions affect my life. (The main reason I used the awesome powers of photography to convey them instead). I mean, I am a good writer, but how to go about putting Anxiety into words is beyond me.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Once upon a time a happy young mother was talking to her brother on the phone.

Brother- “Why are you breathing so weird?”

Happy young mother- “What are you talking about?”

And that’s how it all started. Seems stupid right? It felt stupid. I went to the doctor anyhow, explaining that I just couldn’t take a deep breath (although I kept trying, which is why I kept assaulting my brother’s ear with my creepy, heavy breathing).

I couldn’t make the air hit the bottom of my lungs. It was like taking half breaths all the time. I’d try, over and over, to make to air fill my lungs but it just wouldn’t. Very frustrating.

So doctor said. “Oh you have Anxiety. Here are some pills”

A doctor’s answer for everything. Fast forward a few months filled with lorazepam and late nights, and I found myself back at the doctor with bags under my eyes.

Doctor- “Have you been crying a lot lately?”

Why yes, yes I had.

“You have depression”

Those words floored me. Why would I have depression? What on earth did I have to be depressed about? I was a new mom, married to my high school sweetheart. I was surrounded by family and friends who adored my little family.

I didn’t know at the time that those little facts meant nothing to the Beast (you like my loving endearment for Anxiety? Good, me too).

For fear of boring you, let’s go ahead and get onto the pictures.

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“The Harvey Dent effect” was created to show that there are two sides to me, always. Since that phone call with my Brother, I was no longer just me. I was split into two people in that moment. The Beast is this skulking, androgynous creature. Always there. Always a part of me. I can pretend it isn’t there sometimes, and I can fight it sometimes too. But like that drunken hook up that you regret, it’s always lurking in the mind.

I didn’t tell anybody about my diagnosis for so many long years. I didn’t want people to look at me differently. To see me as weak. If they knew my childhood, they’d know just how strong I have been. And I didn’t want attention for it. I see all too often how people use the facade of Anxiety to gain sympathy from people.

I was embarrassed. I felt weak and stupid. I was me, but I also wasn’t. (See what I mean about it being hard to explain)

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“Insomnia” One of the side effects that bothers me the least, honestly. But probably the one that made things worse for me. 

The quiet moments of the night seemed to gnaw at my bones. The still air whispered insults into my ear. The Beast was there with me every night; reiterating over and over all of my regrets, insecurities and worst fears. It conjured up my worst nightmares and set them on display before me. Those nights were the worst.

The Beast forced me to get out of bed, over and over, to check on my children. To watch them breathing, sure they would just die in the night. The Beast made me smell smoke in the house, running around in the darkness like a hound dog trying to identify the source. Of course there never was any fire, just the fear of one. The Beast fed on my fear. I never slept well with The Beast sleeping next to me.

“Panic attacks”

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Panic attacks are my worst nightmare.

It starts with a gnawing worry. Like I’d left the stove on and gone grocery shopping. Or I’d lost twenty bucks in the parking lot. But there is never any reason to feel that way. It’s that feeling of stepping off of curb that you didn’t know was there; that jolt that starts your heart, but it’s there all the time.

For me, the sweating is next. Uncontrollable, salty sweat pours down my sides. Sometimes the fear of having a panic attack is overwhelming. You just want to cry “Not now! Please not now!”

My hands and feet go numb next and I have trouble using my fingers. Then my heart rate skyrockets. This is the time I call my husband, Brett. He is my rock, and his voice soothes my heart. The Beast doesn’t like Brett. It cowers away from him. Brett knows all the phrases that calm me, the words that still my mind. I have trouble forming coherent thoughts when I’m panicking. My mind races. Sometimes I call Brett in time to quell the attack. Sometimes I am too late.

At this point every bad thing that has ever happened to me comes flooding through my mind and I cry. I cry hard. And then I hyperventilate. Brett will scream at me to “Breathe! Breathe!” but The Beast sits on my chest and forces horrible images into my head. I can’t breathe with it sitting on me.

My stomach starts to ache with a horrible mixture of dread and the runs. Sometimes I need to vomit.

By the end of a panic attack my blood sugar is dangerously low. I usually crawl to the kitchen to stuff some juice or almonds down my dry throat.

I fear panic attacks like nothing else. They are quite possible the most annoying, most inconvenient thing I have ever experienced, to put it lightly. There is only one thing I fear more…..

“Depression”

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I didn’t know what was happening to me. I would wake from fugue states to find myself crying. Like a zombie, I would complete my daily tasks, with no memory of doing them. Surely I fed my child, but I just didn’t remember it. There are gaps in my memory that scare the crap out of me. My best friend told me some of the things I did in those times and I wanted to curl up and die when she told me.

I had no desire to shower, or eat, or clean. I remember thinking how much better off my family would be without me. I didn’t deserve them. I was so much wasted flesh, burning through air that was better spent on my child.

Those were hard times. And climbing out of that hole was the hardest thing I ever did. And the reason I fight so damn hard every day. I wont ever go back.

“Obsessive compulsive disorder”

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This is embarrassing to talk about. And one of the reasons I stayed hidden for so long. How do you explain to people how irrational your brain is?

I’d like to get out in the open how stupid people sound when they say “I just organized my kitchen OMG I’m like so OCD” or “I went all OCD on my nail polishes. #ocdorganized”

I seriously want to punch your vagina when you say things like that. And I know I shouldn’t get all weird and offended by it. But truthfully, it’s insulting to me and to people who suffer from this disorder. (I say suffer because it is truly what we do).

You can’t understand the complexities of this disorder unless you suffer from it.

The best way I can describe it is the deepest, most powerful urge to perform tiny rituals. If these rituals are not done there is a burning, tingling and anxious feeling that overwhelms me.

I have a list of two pages, front and back, of rituals that I do daily. My weird brain tells me that if I don’t do them, I will suffer consequences. I believe The Beast when it whispers these things. I know its irrational, and yet I still believe it. To my very core.

For example if I set down a paperclip, it MUST point south-east. Because if it is pointed in the direction of where a loved one lives then they will die. I know it’s stupid and yet I believe it. 

Another ritual is touching things with the second knuckle on the back of my hand. If I don’t touch things five times with that part of my finger it will literally burn until I do it.

I live every day doing these tiny rituals, dozens of them, to keep my family safe. To stop terrorist attacks. To keep volcanoes from erupting and the tectonic plates from shifting. I am responsible for keeping everyone safe and alive. It’s a lot of pressure.

On a side note, I plucked out my eyelashes for five years! I had no eyelashes. For five years. Think about that next time you want to make fun of somebody with Obsessive compulsive disorder.

Why anybody would want to pretend they have anxiety is beyond me. If I could rid myself of The Beast I would trade my left tit! In a heartbeat. Take my tit! Take The Beast!

I made these pictures to heal and to cope. To learn that I am still me, and I am still beautiful. I am damaged, yes, but even an apple with bruises is still sweet.

A lot of people ask what it’s like for me, inside my damaged brain. There is so much that I cannot, or will not, say. But if you’re reading this then you have a tiny glimpse at what it’s like for me. And you can understand why, now, I choose to laugh, instead of cry. Why I fight so hard instead of giving in.

If you too are fighting and need somebody to talk to, drop me a line. We can talk about The Beast and maybe I can keep you from plucking out your eyelashes.

How to change eye color in GIMP 2

Changing eye color is one of my favorite things to do when I edit pictures. The eyes are the first thing people look at when they meet you. Eyes draw you in, express emotion, and tell secrets (even if we don’t want them to).

A little tweaking to the eyes in an editing program can dramatically change the feel of it. And with a little work you can make that happen!

 I get asked often how I accomplish such a magical feat. Well fear not! I am here to tell you that you too can create magic. There are several methods, but this one is by far the easiest and the one I use most often. If you follow these instructions you will see how easy is can be.

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STEP 1: (I’m assuming you’ve already found an unknowing eye model and molested their face with your lens) The first thing you’ll need to do it add a new layer. The Layer button is located on the top menu bar between IMAGE and COLOR. Did you find it? Great! You’re a regular Sherlock Holmes.

When you click the layer tab a drop-down menu will appear with several options. Click the first that reads NEW LAYER. An annoying pop-up will magically appear on your screen. It’s not a demon. Just make sure the TRANSPARENCY bobble is pushed and click OK.

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Still with me? Good!

STEP 2:  This step is so fun it makes me pee a little. Time to pick a color! I chose purple (Blame is on a lifelong obsession with Barney the Dinosaur).

Next you’re gonna find the little paintbrush icon that looks like this:

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And you’re gonna go ahead and Bob Ross that son of a bitch. (“Let’s go ahead and add a happy little tree”) Ok Mr. Ross, let’s calm down now. We’re just painting a circular glob today.

Like so:

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Not so pretty right? Well don’t give up on your painting career just yet. It’s supposed to look like shit right now. Trust the professional ne?

STEP 3: Drag your mouse over to the right where you are gonna click on that little arrow next to MODE. This will open yet another drop-down menu of fun options for your little painting.

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Grab a twinkie and play around with these options for a bit. Each mode changes the color blob you lovingly drew. OVERLAY is a favorite of mine for eyes if I want a natural look. GRAIN MERGE I use for portraits. And MULTIPLY is good for a funky, not-so-real, effect.

When you have settled on one, head on over to step 4.

STEP 4: (Hi, nice to see you again) This is optional, but if you feel like the look is maybe too much, head on back over to that MODE button and play around with the OPACITY  (Which is right above it). You can lower the percentage, or leave it if you swing that way, and it will lower the effect of your beautiful paint glob.

STEP 5: Once you are happy with your eyeball (Maybe ready to settle down, start a family, get a dog), you’re gonna have to seal the deal. As in, merge that bitch down! Right click on the layer and yet another drop down menu will appear.

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Click on MERGE DOWN. You may now kiss the bride.

Here is what mine looks like, all said and done:

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Here is a list for those of you with the memory span of a goldfish with ADD.

  • New layer
  • Pick a color and paint the eye
  • Choose a mode
  • Play with opacity
  • Merge down aka seal the deal aka marry that bitch! (Be smart, choose a dog over a cat)

So how did your eye turn out? Feel free to ask any questions, and please send me your finished product! Happy Editing!

 

Finding Photography Inspiration. And Sarah Mclachlan.

You know those little strings connected to your heart? Not veins. Not capillaries either. More like shoelaces. Shoelaces are thick, strong and can be tied and untied several times. They can be stained and frayed at the edges, and yet, you will still try to shove them through the hole every time.

Heartstrings are similar in hardiness to shoelaces. They too can be tied in knots sometimes. They too can become frayed on the edges. My point is that we all have them. Those frayed little bastards that give a little tug on our hearts whenever we see Grandma coughing a little too hard. Or a dead cat on the side of the road . Or those damn Sarah Mclachlan neglected animal commercials. (In the aaaarms of the angellllls………God Damnit NO!!) 

But did you know that you can use heartstrings to pull you in the right direction? Iv’e used this method several times to lead me to uncomfortable places in my weird brain. When that little string gives a tug, I follow it.  And I have been led to some wonderful inspiration for photos.

I believe that beauty can be found in unlikely places, like gutters, death and awkward moments. My heartstrings have led me there. (I can often be found on the side of the road photographing road kill. WHY, you say? Because the animal is as beautiful in death as it was in life. And splattered guts are part of the circle of life! *Holds Simba*)

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I think it’s safe to say that most human’s concept of beauty is universal; a Beach at sunset, a forest covered in dew, a busty blonde woman (Though don’t ask me why, I find brunettes to be much prettier). But what can be said of the things that are not beautiful, yet tug at the very thing that moves us?

So yes, A beach at sunset is pleasing to look at. But so is a homeless man’s unkempt toenails. Why? Because one of these pleases our eyes, while the other rocks our core. The other moves you to a place that you need to be. Inspired.

For what is photography without inspiration? (cough cough *Instagram* cough.) I kid I kid!

I find inspiration hard to come by these days. We as photographers are having a harder time then ever being moved by art and in turn moving others with ours. The world is flooded with Iphone Bob and his black and white filter, and Selfie Sarah who has more followers than she knows what to do with. How about Cleavage Carol and her whole album of “Beach at sunset” Photos (taken at an angle to better show off her massive tatas)

I have my places I go often to find inspiration. Those few songs that still lead me to deep places, and music videos that draw out the part of me left unscathed by society. But it’s my heart shoelaces that lead me to be most inspired. Even when I’m uncomfortable going to those places.

I lived in secret with Anxiety for years before my heart shoelaces tugged at me. They encouraged me to embrace the ugly, hated part of myself, and to photograph it. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable.

But I followed the tugs, handcuffed myself to a fan and created the creature of my nightmares. My damaged brain incarnate. It was not easy for me but the outcome was more beautiful than I could have imagined.

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I make a decent amount of money photographing beautiful things. But finding beauty in the ugly is where my happiness lies.  My work is often kicked off of websites, misunderstood and left with nasty comments from followers. But that’s ok. Those are merely the people who ignore their heartstrings, turn away at the sight of a homeless man’s unkempt toenails and don’t spay or neuter their pets.

Step into my weird brain for a minute (Try not to trip on my insecurities) and let’s imagine a world where everyone can tap into their heart and find beauty in the ugly, the unusual. I bet it would be a lot more interesting in that world.

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Try it sometime. Don’t turn away at the uncomfortable, whether it be inside you or in front of you, and follow the tugs from your own frayed heart shoelaces. Dare to be inspired by something different! And by all means please send it to me so I can clap you on the back and say “Welcome to a more interesting world, my friend. Let’s go photograph some road kill”