Specks from an Antique Camera

I’ve had my Voigtlander V6 for almost a year now, and I’ve just gotten my fourth roll of film from it developed. I’ve been pleased with every roll I’ve shot on this pretty old thing. When I went to pick up my photos from the lab, I was told “You might want to look at these, they have black specks–”

“Oh, I know!”

“Oh. Okay…”

That’s why I love this camera so much. It’s an antique, and it gives that look to my photos. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

But enough of that. I took it out for Memorial Day weekend, which was filled with all sorts of adventures.

Near Mitchell’s house in the middle of nowhere, there is the decrepit house. It gives him the heebie jeebies, but I think it’s awesome. The others are from my adventures at the country fair, Wayne State University, and my grandfather’s Memorial Day picnic.

That dollhouse photograph is easily one of my most favorite photographs ever. It’s at my grandpa’s house, and when I was little I played with it every time I was over there. For hours. The tiny dolls that went with it went through drama that would make today’s soap operas pale in comparison. I guess you could say I’ve always been creative? Or deranged.

So, there’s that. Do you have an old camera that you love to shoot with?

Happy Shooting!

Personal Photography Throwbacks

I did this thing called “graduating college,” which means I have to move on to the adult world. My goal for the summer is to organize all my crap stuff and get rid of things, so I’ve been exploring boxes I haven’t looked in for years. Like, since high school.

So I came across one of those boxes today, and I found a crap ton of photos. I sorted through them and found some relevant gems to share.

Apparently, I was practicing to be a photographer when I was 11.

My clique.

I must have had one of those Kodak cameras, the throwaway kind, because the flash on these are horrendous.

This was also around the time I was an aspiring teddy-bear fashion designer.

I vaguely remember taking these photos. Especially the ones with the teddy bear fabric in the background. I thought I was being creative– who knew I was actually practicing patterns?

Photograph me like one of your french girls.

I was a cute kid, what can I say? I was even ahead of my time, with my harsh flash combined with out of focus, “atmospheric” pictures. 10 years ahead of the fashion photo trends– take that, vogue.

As seen in an Urban Outfitters catalog.

So, those were entertaining. I also found a stack of photos from when I first got my trusty DSLR. I got in 11th grade for my birthday/Christmas, and I wanted to go downtown to take photographs with it. So, since I was the birthday queen, we did. I remember I was shooting for a homework assignment in my digital photography class, all about reflections. So I did some of that. And, of course, took the usual photos of Hart Plaza that everyone else takes.

Of course, I added my signature rainbow. Because duh.

If I remember correctly, this was the first photo I took with my camera (or at least the first one I liked?)

Thanks for leaving your screwdriver around, dad!

Shortly after, I did my first shoot with my dear friend Allie, who was my first model, and she continues to pose for me today. But, check out these early gems:

We’ve come a long way, Allie my dear.

But I’m not done reminiscing yet. I found some real gems in this box. Like the time I was planning my Cirque du Dement shoot, which was the first project that took extensive planning, people, sets, costumes… It was my first constructed series, so it’s kinda responsible for all of the other intense photo shoots I’ve done.

But, apparently, I was really into the planning process. So much so, I got into character to demonstrate what I wanted, so my best friend could plan the make up for the shoots– at least I think that’s what it was for. Really I’m just justifying my weirdness but whatever– I was the coolest kid on the block.

I’m glad that my creative process has evolved beyond, uh, this.

In my defense, this was the result:

Ah yes, the days of vibrant saturation and high contrast.

That was the breakthrough for me. Constructing images made photography even more exciting for me, but I wasn’t going to pursue it as a career or anything (joke is on 17-year old me!) However, I did submit my senior portfolio to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and I won Best in Show for the entire county. Not gonna lie, that changed things.

“Maybe I’m awesome at this?”

That was the first time I won an award for my photography. Later that school year I would receive other acknowledgements, and it made me feel good. It was something that came natural to me, unlike all my other interests, which I felt I had to put in a lot of effort to be decent at them. But, I was in denial, I was gonna be an aeronautical engineer, then I wanted to be an archaeologist, and then I settled on studying English in college.

And then I added my art degree. And here I am, seven years after my first photography class, getting ready to earn my MFA in Photography in the fall. How neat is that?

I think it’s important to look back every now and then, to see just how far you’ve come. When you get stuck, or you feel like you’re  not any good, take a look at some old work you did– when you’re done cringing, you’ll feel good about your progress, I promise you.

So, go reminisce for a little while. Then go make something new!

Happy Shooting!

The House I Don’t Remember

I moved out of the Home Sweet Home house not too long ago, and things have changed in that house since then. It’s not the way I remember it at all. While I was in the process of moving, the photo album of a lot of my baby pictures was rediscovered. Inside were photos of my family and I in the house– only it looked completely different from anything I recall. I lived in this house before it became the house I knew, but I have no memory of it. At all. Yet, there is photographic evidence of my early life there.

I recently re-visited the house and took photographs with this project in mind. I had the Polaroids with me and I tried to replicate the composition of my house from the early 90s with what remains of it today. The thing about both the old pictures and new is that I don’t live in either of the scenes. Technically I did live in the house of the Polaroids, but since I don’t remember, I might as well never had. It’s a strange feeling, like a nostalgia for a place I’ve never been.

I created this series in anticipation for my senior BFA show (basically my thesis for my studio art degree,) and I can say with confidence that they worked extraordinarily well with everything else in my show– which I will be blogging about very soon, so keep an eye out!

That’s all for now. Happy Shooting!

Found Photos

Moving back home for the summer from college means going through my old stuff. During one of these, uh, adventures (they really are adventures- sometimes I find man-eating spiders that breathe fire and capture kingdoms,) I found some old photos. Glancing through, they all seemed like standard high school shots of my old friends and I doing high school things. Like painting t-shirts with puffy paint and going to Meijer (the supermarket of Michigan,) at 3AM for cooking dough. Now that I think about it… I still do those things.

BUT ANYWAYS

I found some pictures from my freshman year of college, when I was unwittingly on a photography hiatus. They were photos taken on my Holga TIM and my Lomo Oktomat (before it decided to crap out on me and waste two rolls of amazing film) of adventures I had with my boyfriend. They’re nothing too spectacular, but I noticed a couple had their merits. And the light leaks are pretty near. One photo in particular made me smile from ear to ear, and I’ll tell you why.

One spring afternoon, when the semester was ending, my boyfriend and I went on a stroll around campus, because I wanted to take pictures. This picture is special, because it creates a narrative about our first date. It was five months previous to our walk, on a cold November evening. He was taking me to the opera at the campus auditorium, and as we walked across the crosswalk, hands clasped together, he asked, “So, is this a date?” I think I said “Sure.”

We’re an eloquent pair.

But yeah, I thought that was pretty neat. It’s nice how photography can help you relive memories. They say that smell is the strongest sense for bringing about memory, but I think that sight is up there, too. If sight didn’t help us recall memories, there wouldn’t be a need for photography. It’s human nature to not want to forget; when photography was first invented, people would document their deceased loved ones before they were buried, so they wouldn’t forget their faces. And, bonus fact, before the invention of photography, people would shine a light by the deceased person so their shadow would be cast on a nearby wall. The living relative/loved one would then trace their silhouette on the wall. So they wouldn’t forget. It’s pretty morbid, but sweet at the same time.

So enough of the sappy post I’ve got going on here… Hold on to your photos, you’ll never know when you’ll look back on them and think “Hey! That was a great [insert memory here]!”

 

Home Sweet Home

At last, my lighting final is complete.

I envisioned this series last summer, but didn’t get around to it because it was easier said than done. Which is code word for I procrastinated and suddenly I had to go back to school which is where all hopes and dreams shrivel up and die in the folds of texts books.

And, at that time, I only had two images planned. Since I had access to lighting equipment, and since I had a deadline, I chose to do it for my final.

But enough of the back story, here is my artist statement and my images.

 

“Home Sweet Home” is a self-portrait series about the relationship I have with the house I grew up in. My house was and never will be an ordinary house, as it has been cycling through adverse conditions since I was three years old.

At the age of 3, the ceiling started to leak.

Almost a year later, we discovered that our house was slowly caving in.

At the age of 4, we swung in a steel beam with a crane and jacked the house up, like a car getting new tires.

When I was 8, after years of catching rainwater in buckets in our living room, we decided to rebuild the front of the house.

At the age of 9, we dug up the front porch and broke the main sewage line for the neighborhood- but only after we were approved to dig by the city.

A year later, my father fell off the roof and severed his wrist and broke his hip. While he barely escaped with his life, his left hand will never work the same way again.

At the age of 10, I moved out of my room so my family could finish working on the front of the house.

At the age of 15, the front of the house still was not done and I still did not have a room of my own.

When I was 16, I moved into the downstairs bedroom, formerly my dad’s office.

At the age of 17, the declining economy affected my family.

At the age of 21, the house is incomplete. There are still open ceilings. Power outlets don’t work. The roof still leaks, we have table saws in the place of beds, there are wires instead of curtains.

It may not be much, but it is home sweet home.”

Front YardFront Yard
We used to have a garden. While my mother would work on it, I would play in cardboard boxes, pretending they were a house, a rocket ship, anything.

Living RoomLiving Room
The ceiling has been exposed for as long as I can remember. I would try to hang sheets from the rafters and swing like I was Tarzan. I tried to make a hammock a few times.

Bathroom
Bathroom
We’d always use out shower rod to dry our clothes, since the dryer was broken every other week.
 

My Room
My Room
This room was going to be my bedroom, once the house was finished. Ten years after moving out of my room, it’s still a construction site.
 

Mom's RoomMom’s Room
I lived in my mother’s room for about five years, from the ages 11-16. I did a lot of growing up in that room, which was half-storage-half-bedroom.
 

Dining RoomDining Room
The kitchen table is frequently a mess, as my father runs his small business from it. We’ve learned not to move anything, because if we do, it’s guaranteed to go missing.
 

Kitchen
Kitchen
In-between the refrigerator and the wall, we store plastic shopping bags to recycle as garbage bags. We’ve had an overabundance of these for all my life, and I’ve wondered if we would ever run out.
 

Back YardBack Yard
In the summertime, my mother would build me blanket forts on our clothes line. We would sit and read inside these tents until the sun went down.


This series, as you might be able to guess, is very personal to me. This is my house. I didn’t do anything to make it look like it does, I only went to each room and made my sets. Sometimes I was embarrassed of my house, since all my friends had normal homes with walls and carpets, with a dining room table meant for eating, with a bedroom of their own to play in. Now that I’m older and I don’t live at home for most of the year, I’m able to take a step back and examine my past in that house. And it was not bad. In fact, if it weren’t for my house, I doubt I would be the creative person I am today. I wouldn’t be as resilient, as thankful, or as diverse. My mother and I made it work.

ANYWAYS onto lighter stuff.

Those boxes? Yeah, called ABC warehouse and they gave them to me.

That hammock? It was a pain to string up. I got a nice arm workout from all the knot making I was doing. Getting in and out of it was no picnic, either.

AND THAT GARBAGE BAG GOWN? My mother is a saint. A sewing saint. I told her what I wanted to do a few weeks ago, when I initially got my final assignment, and she got to work. We ran out of white garbage bags- I guess I proved to my childhood self that getting rid of those things can happen!

I’m happy with my project and I’m on cloud nine. I hope you enjoyed looking in on my life as much as I enjoyed making these images.