Using Art to Heal. And saying goodbye. 

When words fail us and the emotions come crashing down, it’s nice to have an outlet like photography. To cope, to heal, to move on.

 

Brotherhead.JPG

I created this photo using the body of my husband. It helped.

DSC_1565.JPG

Goodbye Brother. You stole my heart.

Advertisements

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*)

DSC_5404.JPG

 

DSC_6057

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.

censor

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.

zombiehair

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”

The reasons why. Welcome to my brain.

*Stands up*

“Hi, My name is Jake and I was wrong”

I was that person, stubborn and uninformed, stuck on film photography like I was holding a piece of the past in my fingers. I’d scoff at those “Digitals” walking around like zombies, eyes glued to the screen of their bulky camera’s, missing great shots left and right. Because with a film camera, (in my case, a Nikon Fm3a 35mm beauty) you aren’t stuck scrolling through your shots. It’s a simpler life with film; spot, focus, press shutter, thumb lever, done! I thought, then, that I was holding myself to a higher standard. Dare I say, I thought i was better than them. Ha!
Until one day……
I was introduced to the world of photo editing through a friend. A magical thing. A new toy. A new way to look at pictures. A whole other side to photography I had never even touched! I was enamored with the idea. I could put horns on someones head? Give them purple eyes? I could take ideas from my head and make them real? Shareable even? Sign me up!

Off to the camera store I went and bee-lined for the Nikon section and settled on a D5000. I was amazed at just how many pictures you could take on a digital camera and how fast it was! No more waiting for film to develop!

Want to see the very first picture I ever took with film?

Japanese Lantern Tree.jpg

Not bad huh? When you eliminate all the graininess from the scan it’s actually quite beautiful.

And my first picture ever taken on a digital camera:

DSC_0036 (2).JPG

Beautiful! I was sold.

Besides the quickness and versatility of digital there was the concept of editing. Once I mastered just how to take good quality pictures with the D5000 (which took a whopping day and a half) I was off to learn editing. I downloaded Gimp and spent hours and hours learning the craft (It did not take me a day and a half). And five years later I’m still learning things with every photo I edit. Now I rock a Nikon D7100 and three editing programs! Iv’e come a long way but I still have so much to learn. I will never set limits by calling myself a master.

Editing pictures for me is a safe way to express myself. I am a mother of three daughters. I live a safe, stable and dare I say, boring life. I don’t have the time or inclination to do drugs or engage in illegal activities. I like the safe life. But with it comes the proverbial Inner-teenage-rebel. We all have one. Don’t lie. When you see a girl (or boy) with the same outfit as you, don’t you just want to go buy one that stands out more? When your boss (or other superior) barks out an order it’s your inner-teenage-rebel that forces thoughts of mutiny into your head.

I live with this ITR a lot, simply because I am always following rules and doing things the safe way. For my family. Creating beautiful works of art that speak, provoke anger, make people think, is my way of expressing the rebel that lives inside me. I create these photo transformations for myself (Mostly because no one will pay me for photoshop madness. They only pay me for boring pictures *gag*) and because nothing feels better than looking at a side-by-side before and after of a photo creation.

Here is one of my very first edits. It’s crude and full of mistakes. Kinda like myself!

Leftheart.JPG

Oh how far Iv’e come! Thank you for joining me on this journey as I learn more techniques into photo editing and making new art. I hope you enjoy the view from inside my head (I heard it’s very squishy in there and painted with pastels)