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!

Little Princesses. Bringing Disney into my home.

A few years ago I used my awesome editing skills to transform my daughters into Disney Princesses. I have three little girls ten years and younger whose eyes light up, just like mine did, when they see the Disney Princesses on the screen.

It was about four years ago when I began the Little Princesses series and since then my editing has improved dramatically. So I wont show you the early (and horrid) version I did of Ariel, Aurora, Alice, Tiana, Mulan, Belle and Rapunzel. Instead I will be redoing them in better quality.

Before the days when I set up photo shoots with outfits, proper lighting and good old fashioned direction, I basically threw a hat on my oldest daughter, Rowe, and told her to pretend she had a toothpick sword in her hand. (Bless her for not caring about clothes at the time)

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Isn’t she sweet? (Don’t let her fool you, she is actually an evil genius).

So taking that shot, which is not even in proper focus, I was able to make this:

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Little Thumbelina. I have won a few awards for this shot and to this day is stands as one of my favorites.

Using my daughter Benji I was able to pull off a pretty impressive Merida. Benji is a blonde with intense grey eyes. She is silly ALL OF THE TIME, and when she smiles it takes up half her face. Benji never sits still. Benji likes to talk about farts and rub dirt in her hair.  Benji doesn’t do quiet. 

I spent hours and hours curling her hair and picking out the perfect outfit just for her to give me these shots:

 

Bless her precious little dirty face.

Benji is the boy I prayed for but never got. So imagine my surprise when I asked her to be serene (for just one freaking second) and she gave me this face:

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The clouds opened up. The stars aligned. For one precious second my tomboy middle child stopped vibrating with excitement, looked into my lens and spoke with her eyes.

I stared at this photo in disbelief for a full ten seconds, in shock and awe at how PERFECT it was………and then I saw the Hello Kitty tattoo on her neck. DAMMIT!!!! 

It’s ok, it’s fine, it’s workable. I could edit it out. And boy did I spend a butt load of time on this pictures. I labored over the editing process. I’d never turned a blonde haired, grey eyed child into a ginger before. But the results? Breathtaking.

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For me, this old photo, as full of mistakes as it is, is still my pride and joy. From the emerald eyes to the freckles dotting her nose. This is Little Merida.

Want to see Little Pocahontas?

Pocahontas is my favorite Disney princess, so this picture had to be epic. I told Rowe to speak to the tree. She understood. She get’s me. She gets trees too apparently.

Can you just picture Little Pocahontas running through the woods? Me too.

Well that’s all for now folks!

Thank you for taking the time to view a few of my Little Princesses series. There will be more as time allows. Follow my blog if you would like to see more.

Happy editing!!

 

 

 

 

 

Four Elements Series Continued. Water.

Welcome to the last installment of the Four Elements series. Shot, on location, in front of my closet doors (are you surprised?). Brought to you by I’m a cheap ass Productions. Directed by A seamless would be nice. 

As far as photo shoots go, this one was pretty straightforward.

I asked my friend/co-worker to be the  face of water because she is Asian. And I wanted that exotic look for Water. Water has secrets. Water has seen some shit. And I wanted Water’s eyes to tell a story.

Tara came to my farm, makeup bag in hand and we went to work. It went surprisingly quick. Shooting the other elements insured that I knew lighting and settings off the bat.

This shoot only took about 58 pictures to get the right one, which is a miracle because I can easily shoot upwards of 300 in thirty minutes. The hectic mom gods were smiling on me that day and we only got interrupted twice by my three year old. Can I get a hallelujah?!

I settled on this shot:

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Sexy right?! Her skin needed very little editing. A few taps with the heal tool and blurring of the rest of her face completed skin retouching.

I did eyes next and they were a doozy! Took me a few tries to get that “fish” look. *sniffs* I’m quite proud of the outcome. Very fishy.

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Speaking of fish, I’d like to introduce Mars.

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He belongs to my Mom. He is kind of a diva and insisted I only shoot his “good side”. Whatever that means. (You can’t see me, but I’m shrugging my shoulders).

I shopped Mars into Tara’s magical Water hands next. It took me a few tries to successfully create an orb of water. But it’s magicalness is full of magical magic!

This picture was hard for me to pull off for the main reason being that I HATE the beach. It sounds irrelevant but I assure you it’s not! With the Air picture I already had cloud photos to add as beautiful floaty layers. With Fire I had smoke and fire shots and with Earth I boast a whole folder of flower and nature shots. I don’t have any wave, water, droplets, bubbles etc in my plethora of texture and layer shots.

Having your own texture and layer shots is important to any photographer. When you pull “free” images off of google you run the risk of copyright infringement and other such devices. I guess I need to drag my ass to the beach and take some wave pictures….GAG!

So I improvised. Guess what I used for bubbles:

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If you guessed a glass of soda then go play the lottery right now. I used this bubbly goodness as the background. There are no rules with photo editing. That’s why I love it. With any other facet in life I might have balked at the idea of using something other than it’s means. But not here! Here I can make soda bubbles represent Water’s magical aura. Because I’m cool like that.

All in all I love this picture! And I’m happy to finally be done with the series (Because now I can start a new one!).

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You can read about Fire and Earth here: The Four Elements. And seeing my vision.

You can read about Air here: The Four Elements Continued. Air.

So what do you think of the Four Elements Series? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments. Happy Shooting!

 

The Four Elements Continued. Air.

Boobs man. Boobs.

Of all the things to get in the way of a successful shoot I never thought boobs might be one of them.

Katherine and I worked hard on this shot. I had my vision. She had the look (Big blue eyes, long blonde hair and full pouty lips. Often labeled DSL’s). She brought her makeup and after disrobing, she looked the part.

The fan is gonna blow your hair up around your face like Pocahontas. You’ll look beautiful….”

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“…..You’ll look majestic…”

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“….you’ll look….well fuck! Fuck this fan!!” 

Needless to say, fan experts we are not. But I needed her hair flowing around her. Sure I could add the effect later in Photoshop but it wouldn’t be the same. I like to have as many real elements as possible before I begin editing.

Would you like to see our setup?

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WHOA! I can’t even handle how professional we are! *rolls eyes*. Ok, so a dusty old fan leaning on a vase in front of cheap closet doors doesn’t exactly scream professional, BUT we got the shot eventually. Isn’t that all that matters?! No? Well shit.

After a half an hour or so of messing with the fan, the lighting, the angle, exposure, aperture, shutter speed (makeup malfunction), blah blah blah, we finally got it right.

Until I sat down to edit…..HOLY MASSIVE TATAS BATMAN!!

Granted, It’s not Katherine’s fault that she was blessed with such magical breasteses. But they were literally all. I. could. look. at. Not that they were so huge they took up half the photo. More like, their gravitational pull was forcing my eyes down at every picture. And If I was looking, then so would everyone else. And what would become of all my wonderful work? All the sweat and long hours I put into editing would be lost! LOST FOREVER!

The bottom half of every shot was squeeze worthy, and my beautiful, majestic, Air Goddess shoot was looking more and more like soft core porn. Yeesh. (Katherine and I have worked together before, she being a photographer too. So she knows how quickly an artsy photo shoot can turn Maxim).

I took one more look through my menagerie (This time curbing my perverted tendencies) And I came across one that was the PERFECT shot!

Katty’s got those Tyra smize going on, and just the right amount of cleavage:

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Boom. Gorgeous! Intense eyes. Little wisps of hair floating around her angelic face. What is missing? How about a good ol’ Forrest Gump feather? A nice scouring of my chicken coops brought us this beauty:

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And with a little skin editing, tweaking of the light and adding the feather, we have:

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Now we’re getting somewhere!

The magic came next, and it took me almost three days to Tinkerbell it up. This photo has been the toughest, so far, to edit. I’m not sure why, but I worked hard making it look like Air Incarnate. Several layers were added, around 15 or so, to bring in the feel that this being was ethereal, godlike. I went ahead and added clouds around the bottom half (Sorry perverts!) but I didn’t have cleavage in my original vision (Probably because I mostly photograph myself, and I sport a nice set of over-easy fried eggs in my blouse)

If you want a boring photography tip, I’ll share this giblet with you: If you’re going to be adding anything into a photograph, a feather for example, shoot it against black. It helps, trust me.

Are you ready for the finished product? I bet your ass is just puckering in anticipation. Well clench no further!:

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Behold! Air Goddess. Air is sexy yet innocent. She likes long walks on the beach and mixed drinks free of roofies. Earth, Water and Fire are always and forever jealous of her beautiful, fluffy knockers. (Fire wonders how Air runs very fast with those) The world may never know. 

 

 

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”

The Four Elements. And seeing my vision.

I went through a dry spell a few weeks back. I woke every morning uninspired, went about my day void of any creative thoughts, and slept without dreaming. It seemed the daily grind got the better of me.

Then one magical day, on my way to work, a song inspired me (as good Music is usually wont to do) and an idea sparked in my weird brain!

I like to create sets or series’s of photos. It’s more fun and challenges the old noggin. And Lordy did I need a challenge!

The four elements seemed challenging enough. Earth, Fire, Air and Water. My idea was not to photograph these elements but to personify them. To give them a face, a personality, and bring to life the four things we are constantly surrounded by, yet take for granted.

I called one of my go-to models, Patty. She is always up for a fun photo shoot and, as a seamstress, has loads of props and outfits. Sure as shit, she showed up at my door thirty minutes later with various plant life and a box of make up. Love her.

There are few people in my life who can understand my vision. Few people who can see passed the uncut, raw, unedited photo and trust at what it will become when I am done.

Can you be naked from the waist up? Great! Now stand on one leg. Awesome! Hold this beach ball, it represents a ball of energy. Perfect! Now hold still. Make angry eyes. Angry eyes! Angrier!”

I can imagine how difficult I must be to work with. But if you trust in my vision the outcome will be worth it.

On the day that I was inspired I asked Patty to hold a handful of soil and pretend that she was magically growing a flower with her awesome earth powers.

I searched through my repertoire and found this photo of a flower I took years ago:

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And I shopped it onto the soil in her magical hands. It came out like this:

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We often use my closet doors to pose in front of because: 1) They are white. So adding a background is a lot easier. 2) My bedroom has Bomb.com natural lighting (If you don’t know about my hatred of fake lighting please read my post titled “What I’m rockin’. A Photographer’s toolbox”) 3) Because I am a cheap ass and I don’t want to pay for a seamless.

Next I added several texture layers (like almost 20) of plant life, leaves, green, sparkles, blah blah blah, technical jargon, blah blah etc etc. Blah.

The end result left me astounded. I usually have that moment, when all is said and done, when I sit back and think “Wow. I made that. Me! I am awesome!” FISTPUMP!! 

I effectively personified the Element EARTH:

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Beautiful isn’t she? I amuse myself with thoughts of her frolicking around in a barren field, growing brightly colored flowers and singing songs that sound like the rustling of leaves. But I digress.

I used myself for Fire. I am very familiar with editing my own face and at the moment I sport a red mohawk. It just made sense.

I started with this gem (In front of my closet. Shocking I know):

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I used one of my umbrella lights for this shot to bring some light to my face because obviously there is a flame in my palm. DER! (p.s. I have huge eyeballs. That is all)

I used GIMP to remove the myriad of scars on my face (No Fire Goddess is walking around sporting stitch scars from a car accident from when she was four years old. Just sayin’). The piercing holes and tattoos were the next to go, and they were a doozy! I still have trouble effectively removing tattoos. You’ll notice the faint remnants of my head tattoo in the finished product. But I’m ok with that. Who’s to say that this sexy Fire Goddess isn’t a Michael Jackson fan. You don’t know her life!

I spent a huge portion of the day creating my own layers, which included blowing cigarette smoke (don’t judge me!) in front of a black background, and starting a small fire in the fireplace (Wouldn’t you know it was 100 plus degrees that day. What I do for Art!).

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I used some free fire layers that I pulled offline and for the background used pictures of stormy clouds I had taken years ago. They looked like smoke to me so….

After several hours, and a few smoke breaks (You judging again?) I sat back and had my moment. “Me. Awesome”  Fistpump. You get the point.

Fire:

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Fire and Earth totally hang out. They have drinks and gossip about Air and Water.

Speaking of the missing two elements…guess what? They aren’t done yet! They haven’t even been photographed. Water and Air are happily living in my weird brain, growing, shaping and evolving. They are still in the early stages of life. Namely planning, planning and more planning. But fear not! They will have their very own blog post when I am done with them. Until then you can enjoy these two sexy Elements while I go have a smoke. I AM the Fire Goddess after all. (How’s that judging going?)

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry in non-motion. Photography and emotions. 

A long time ago, way back when I was loaded down with pimples and insecurities, I considered myself a poet. I wrote some words with feeling and others that made little to no sense at all.

Time and my weird brain have kept me from writing down my feelings. It seemed I just couldn’t put into words the way my emotions sprouted legs, jumped around and dug deep wells of sadness in my life.

With the loss of expression through writing I experienced also the loss of a tiny part of myself. The part that needs to Stretch. What can I say? I have an artist’s heart.

When I first began to edit pictures I started with what my abilities were capable of. I turned my face into a tiger. Why? Because it was easy and I didn’t know how to do anything else. But what did it mean?! Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was void of all creativity and emotion. It was my face turned into a tiger…my face….tiger. Lame.

But with the growth of knowledge in photo editing I began to see a new outlet for creativity and expression. I asked myself if it was possible for me to evoke emotion, to awaken a feeling when there was only one sense to experience it. No music to hear it, no smell to enhance it, no possible way to reach out and touch it. Only eyes to see it (with all its mistakes and imperfections) Was it possible? Once I was able to grasp the ability, yes, it was possible. My mind went wild with the possibilities.

I began to look at emotion in a new way. If feelings were a tangible thing, what would they look like? My editing took a new turn in that moment. And my pictures started to look a little like this:

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Title: “But he loves me”

I made this to bring to light the horrible truth about domestic violence.
And this:

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Title- “Vanity”

I made this because I have three daughters. And I know first hand how the media makes women feel like they aren’t good enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. I want more than that for my girls.

I had a new goal. To inspire with my work. To make one think deeper. To force feelings to bubble to the surface, whether they be love, anger or inspiration.

I challenge all to take a deeper look into your own weird brain and see what is in there. Poke around for a bit. You might find something hidden in there. Something amazing!

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?

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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:

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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!

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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)