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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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”

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)