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. 

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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!


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.