This Photo Shoot Took Two Years to Plan… Here’s Why:

I had an idea two years ago, where I built a blanket fort in the woods and dressed people in pretty clothing and made the space all misty/dreamy. But, I didn’t have the means to complete my vision, which included lots of pillows, sheets, string lights, a generator and a fog machine.

Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff for one shoot. Not to mention pricey. I’m not rich, so I had to purchase these items over a long period of time.

So, for the past two years I’ve been hoarding slowly collecting the things I needed for the shoot. I learned how to use studio lights, which gave me a way to photograph the scene in the dark successfully, and I became a better photographer overall. I was ready to finally do this thing.

Since I’m working on my dream series, I figured the beautiful scene I imagined would be a good fit. But, a few weeks before the shoot, I had a cool idea: gas masks.

Surrealism is oftentimes executed like this:

one object + another object that doesn’t make sense with the first object = surrealism.

(It’s a teensy bit more complicated than that, but you get the jist.)

I’ve been waiting two years to execute my idea, and last night I was finally able to bring my vision to life.

This shoot was super fun and the results were unexpected. I had the pleasure of shooting with three lovely young ladies who I had never met before, and I had help from a photojournalism student who shadowed me for this shoot. Plus, my boyfriend was there too, and being helpful is part of his job description.

The finished product wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, as I had a fog machine. But, when plugged into the generator, the lights would shut off. I had to make a choice, so I chose the lights. Plus, by the time we started shooting, the lights were turning off and on and eventually shut off completely. The generator called it quits, then my light kit called it quits, and then we finally called it quits.

I was going for creepy, and I definitely created that feeling with the harsh, straight-on flash (which was also positioned on the ground firing on about a 45 degree angle,) which created the flashlight-under-the-chin look. Y’know, like when you’re eight and telling spooky stories? Am I explaining this right?

Oh, did I mention the whole thing took almost seven hours?

Thank goodness for Caroline and her large car. I warned her I had a lot of stuff, but seeing it all in one place even surprised me. Setting it all up was even more of a task. It was super duper freaking cold a little chilly, and we had to take a break at one point because we couldn’t feel our fingers or toes.

Also, don’t let my sweater fool you: I had eight layers on under it.

Or, you can let it fool you and imagine me to have cold-resistant super powers. Your choice.

After hours of setting up, we did the shoot, and celebrated by sitting in Caroline’s warm house drinking hot cocoa and eating warm pizza. It was a wonderful, yet exhausting, shoot.

It feels good to achieve something you worked on for a long time. Try it sometime, but try not to do it at the end of November in the northern part of the world. It’s a bit rough.

Happy Shooting!

Feeling Blue can be Surprising

One of the most frustrating things about photography is when your vision doesn’t quite match up with reality. These moments are learning experiences, but still, they’re not something you’d do to have fun on a Friday night.

I’ve been playing around with instant film lately because I actually experiment with all sorts of photographic media because I’m obsessed and while I was in NYC, I wanted to do a little shoot with Impossible Project’s Cyan Monochrome film. I even packed a moon for it.

But, I guess I’m not proficient enough in the art of Polariod/Impossible Project photography, because my images were just not coming out right. It was also probably the location of the shots too, because lighting is important my friends. But yeah. I scanned the images in anyway and played around on Photoshop to make them more visible.

In reality, the film isn’t contrasty and not as blue. If you’re interested and you want to see actually successful results, follow this link to the Impossible Project site.  I tried. I didn’t obtain the vision I had, which was a little disappointing, but I did get some cool results. Digital manipulation was involved to make these, so they’re cyanographs with a twist. A hybrid of instant and digital.

Never be afraid to share your mistakes. Some mistakes lead to greater things. And even though your vision may not work out sometimes, it might actually be for the better. Who knows!

Happy Shooting!

Nightmares Curing Nightmares?

I’m done with nightmares. Well, photographing them, anyway.

As I mentioned in previous posts, these images were made using a view camera and shot on 4×5 sheet film. I have mad respect for photographers of the past, because these things are heavy, awkward, and sensitive, and loading the film is a feat in of itself. Try loading your film into a film holder without scratching it. Go ahead, I dare you.

(Actually I don’t dare you because I’m pretty sure it can be done, but man, I tried really hard and still got scratches. MAIS C’EST LA VIE MES AMIS.)

But enough of the romanticizing of photographers of the past. Here are my last four images for my nightmare series:

mynightmares_15If you’ve paid attention, you would notice that animal masks are a common motif. This is not on accident. I had a nightmare about a year ago now, where I was dead and everything was bizarre. When I woke up, I was so nervous and frightened and impressed. So, I wrote the nightmare down immediately, in full detail. Because I did this, I remember that nightmare above all others. There was a lot of content to exploit, and c’mon, animal masks are neat-o.

While creating this series, I noticed some changes. Before throwing myself into the dream theme (that rhymes in an annoying way,) I wasn’t having many dreams, or at least I couldn’t remember them. But as soon as I started on this, I’ve been dreaming almost every night and even during naps. As for the nightmares, it’s a little different. I’m not having any nightmares, despite focusing on them.

Maybe it’s because of the series. These are all my nightmares, and even though I looked up some symbolic meanings behind my dreams, I never really confronted them visually. A few people directed to me to Jung’s interpretation of dreams, and when I looked back on the images, I saw possibilities and connections in the images that I didn’t think about before.

Perhaps I’m not having nightmares because I am able to find meaning, and by finding meaning I can establish a solution to the nightmare, or what the nightmare represents in my waking life. By finding solutions, I will stop having similar nightmares, because my conscious self will have recognized what the unconscious (or subconscious, idk I don’t study oneirism or psychology,) was getting all fussy about.

Getting all fussy. How scientific of me.

Well the fuss (now an official scientific term,) manifests itself as a nightmare, because apparently even though the unconscious wants to help you out, it’s a bit sadistic. If this is all true, the unconscious is pretty stellar besides the sadistic part. Well, according to Jung, anyway.

SEGUE INTO LESS COMPLICATED THINGS

For easier accessibility, and because I know that clicking through my site to find the other images is too time-consuming for most people, and because all that dream talk made people sleepy, and because I’m a sucker and want everyone to see my work, here is the finalized Nightmare series:

The view camera, despite how much effort it is, is a new favorite process for me. Setting it up, moving the bellows to make certain effects, and processing the film are all exciting for me. This may be because I’m new to it, but man, I want to be more than proficient at it. There are so many things you can try with a view camera (like put things in the bellows!) I can’t help my curiosity.

And y’all know that I love to play.

Happy Shooting!

Adventures in NYC: iPhone Edition

This weekend I ventured off to New York City to check out some graduate programs and to see my friend, Patrick, who I haven’t really seen for more than an hour in four years. I packed very lightly (I’m getting good at it,) which meant leaving my hefty cameras behind. So, I used my iPhone a lot to take photos, because this is the 21st century, and to be honest, the iPhone cameras are probably better than my DSLR.

If you saw right through me that paragraph, you’ll know that this post is really about my Snapchat documentary on my trip to the east coast. I had so much fun Snapchatting my trip to Chicago that I figured I’d do it again in NYC. Must be a selfish millennial generation thing, trying to make mundane things seem more exciting:

The thing about iPhones and apps like Snapchat is how narcissistic they are. I purposefully took these photos and made these captions to share with everyone, as if my life was interesting enough for people to care. It’s funny to me, how we create these artificial versions of ourselves to share digitally. These Snaps show that I had a great time, but what they didn’t show was all the not-so-great things in-between. Life is not always fun or glamorous or funny.

But let me knock myself off my high horse: I had no shame sharing my artificially fantastic life with people who probably didn’t care. YOLO.

NYC was really something, though. I spiffed up my not-snaps with some apps like Afterlight and BeFunky, because I’m super hip that way (and the bus ride was 13 hours so I had to do something to kill time.) Also totally threw on an instagram filter for the tree lights one. #photographer

image10 While I’m on the topic of iPhone/Smart Phone photography: people really need to calm down. There are some people who take a selfie, throw a filter on it, post it to instagram and call it photography, and for some reason people get mad about it. “But they’re not real photographers! Instagram doesn’t make you a photographer!” I can see their point, but really, who cares? Let them be creative, even if it means using the Valencia filter to look fly.

Also, there’s a thing called iPhoneography. There are artists out there who use the iPhone as their method of choice. There’s books on it, and if you’re one of the people who get easily offended with popular culture and it’s collision with creative fields, I suggest you read one of these books. It might change your mind.

You’ll also sleep better at night, having minded your own business instead of complaining about irrelevant things that make people happy without hurting anyone in the process.

So, yeah. Here is the photographic evidence of how awesome my life is. I know all of you care oh so deeply.

If you take anything away from this post, take away the knowledge that the red velvet cheesecake at Magnolia Bakery is possibly heaven sent, and everyone needs to eat it until they are in a sugar coma.

Happy Shooting!

Toxic Chemicals and Twenty Hours Later…

I’m channeling my inner Alfred Stieglitz with this one, but, it took me twenty hours to kind of get it right. I’m not sure where to begin with this one, so here have some gum bichromate prints:

Those twenty hours were worth it.

Gum Bichromate printing is a tricky art, and I’m an amateur of amateurs, but my novice-ness created these dreamy, atmospheric prints, and I’m down with that. I did the tulle head photo shoot with gum bichromate printing in mind, and the process did not disappoint, even if it did take me over twenty hours and tons of failed prints.

To make these, you need potassium dichromate (some gum printers use a different chemical, but I don’t know so whatever,) gum arabic, and water color pigment, preferably from a tube. If you’re interested in making these, check out this site for a great tutorial, but be warned, each of these prints took me five hours each to complete.

There are many more of these to come, and I’m looking forward to seeing the one-of-a-kind prints yielded by this temperamental process.

Happy Shooting!

P.S.- here’s the Alfred Stieglitz gum bichromate print I kind of sort of mentioned:

 

October’s Photos

October is the best month ever. It feels like Fall, the weather is perfect, the colors, the smell of fallen leaves, Halloween… Naturally, I was hoping my October roll of film would yield nice results.

And here we are:

My busy month started out in Chicago, which is where I went on a trip with the Art Department. Really, I was just coming to my friends that live there. I was by myself all morning, so I walked down to Lake Michigan and enjoyed the view.

Yes, that is paper hanging from my shower curtain rod. It needed to be shrunk.

I went to my first MSU Football game as a normal person and not as a person in the marching band. It was so surreal, and I felt like a proud parent.

I don’t know what that chair is all about.

And that’s John, the Vulture, Keeper of the White Pumpkin.

That was my month of October! I can’t believe there are only two more months left of 2014… I feel like I started this project yesterday, not ten months ago. Let’s see what November brings.

Happy Shooting!

This Photo Shoot was Amazing

I had the most remarkable photo shoot, and it had nothing to do with the photographs.

The shoot was planned twice. The first time, stuff happened and too many people had to cancel at the last minute, which meant the shoot couldn’t happen. This time, the tremendous effort of others made it possible, and I am honestly overwhelmed.

My friends Ian and Kaiden drove about an hour and a half to come do the shoot. Ian works full time, so he’s tired, and Kaiden had an extremely busy (but fun!) weekend at a convention, and was also exhausted. And, Kaiden’s friend, Alec, didn’t know me, never met me, but was cool with coming along to help.

My friend Sarah works five jobs, is in the honors college, and always does her work on time and to perfection. She had work later in the day, but she took what little free time she had to come pose for me.

My friend Lisa is also in the honors college, takes her studies very seriously, has a job, and is going through the tumultuous process of applying to graduate programs. She has papers and lab reports and god-knows-what else due this week, but she woke up early in the morning to get started on those things, so she would have the time for the shoot in the afternoon.

I met another wonderful person today, Sheena, who knows Ian. She had never met me, but was willing to model for me. That’s a big move, especially considering the odd things I put people through on this shoot. And, she wore high heels in the mud. That’s hard core.

So, I had an amazing shoot, because most of these people didn’t know each other, they just knew me. I had friends from home meeting college friends, college friends meeting one another, and friends of friends meeting each other. Everyone got along so well, the shoot went awesomely, and it was fun. I’m so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.

But enough with the mush. Let’s look at some pics:

Shout out to my mom for painting the boxes black. Shout out to Lisa for finding the location. Shout out to everyone for wearing tulle on their heads.

I honestly love these photos, which means a lot. Yes there are things I could make better next time I go shooting, but for now, these have my heart. I think the people in them have a lot to do with it.

Alec, bless his soul, took some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot. I love behind-the-scenes shots. I’m in my own little world while I’m shooting, so seeing what’s actually going on around me is a treat. So here are some of those:

Forever squaring up my shoulders to take a shot.

This shoot is one of eight of a dream series I am working on. I’m focusing on that theme a lot this semester, but for this particular series I’m doing something interesting in post-process. But, more on that in a later post.

Hug your friends today. They’re important.

Happy Shooting!