Coming Up Oranges

I spent the past 10 days in the Washington DC area, visiting some friends. Of course, news of the inauguration of Donald Trump was everywhere. While I was gallivanting through the city, platforms were being set up. Roads were blocked. Police were everywhere. So many portable toilets.

And, of course, I took the opportunity to make some work. I always try to make a narrative when I travel some place, a little something that isn’t too deep and something I don’t have to explain or think too hard about. So, here, have a little narrative, in dishonor of my country:

Bless my homies Sean and Dana, for posing in really tourist-y style photos and letting me Photoshop oranges over your faces (even though I do love the ridiculous faces hiding under the fruit…)

The last image, of the swear-in, was taken from Google. I added the oranges, of course.

I also took out my Polaroid Sun600 and shot with the orange and black Impossible Project Film, to make some “orangescapes.”

I’m not happy with who we have as “president.” I’m actually terrified. I cried for a long time after the results came in, and not just because who I wanted didn’t win the election. I’m scared for my future, the future of my friends. I’m afraid my rights will be stripped from me, that I will be less than a citizen. I’m appalled that this nation elected a RAPIST to be our leader, and, quite frankly, when I see Donald’s face I feel sick to my stomach. And we have to survive the next four years, some how, some way.

Making art is part of my survival tactic. I’m in a position where I can do that– but do not get me wrong. This is not some romantic “suffering makes art” bullshit. This is my way of surviving. I’m not a martyr, I’m not making myself out to be some victim. I’m just trying to live, and the only way I know how is to create.

I also made tweets, because Donald loves to tweet. It’s like, the best, believe me.

So, there you have it. I hide behind humor to mask my pain.

Happy Shooting and Making and Hell Raising!

Memento Mori

The nice thing about road trips with friends is you can bring ridiculous awesome outfits for them to wear in national parks and ask them to change in the middle of the mountains.

Which is exactly what I did with my friends, Sean and Dana.

I was going for a kind of antiquated look, thinking about how time passes us by and how small we are in the scheme of things, how young we are in the presence of mountains.

I used Impossible Project B&W Film.

When I travel, I like to create a narrative inspired by the place I went. I’m super happy with how this little narrative turned out. Shout out to Sean and Dana who put up with feeling ridiculous when passing hikers were staring at us, for helping me carry the costumes, and for throwing themselves into it despite never posing for me before.

Happy Shooting friends!

This Photo Series Is Out of This World

A kind of common thing I do is orchestrate large photo shoots with sets that take months to prepare. My last big “set” was the shoot I did with the gas masks last November. This time, my friends and I had one last hurrah before I move to Chicago and start my adventure there. We just kinda partied in outer space, or as I call it, the vacant lot near my house where people smoke joints and kids go dirt-biking. Not like that matters or anything.

I spent six months planning and gathering the things I wanted and needed for the shoot. It turned out much different than I was anticipating, but hey, when does that NOT happen? Story of my life, my friends. I was able to play with some of my lighting tricks, something I was not anticipating a few months back. Can you say SUPAH NOVA THROUGH AMBIENT AND STROBE LIGHT MIXING? Because I can.

SUPAH NOVA THROUGH AMBIENT AND STROBE LIGHT MIXING.

There.

So the idea was there were these alien enthusiasts, kind of like conspiracy theorists, who strongly believed in aliens or whatever (my eloquence is overwhelming, I know.) So one night, while hanging out at their campground for weirdos, looking out for aliens, they have a surprise encounter and everything is awesome.

I busted out the Instax Mini and some special film (Shiny Stars, I think? I got it from eBay.) I was taking pictures of the set, things lying around, and a group shot of my homies throwing up a peace sign.

Oh, and I took a picture of the pile of clothing that needed to be laundered after the shoot.

I have the Lomo Instax Mini, which gives you MX capabilities. It is seriously my favorite, and if you are thinking about getting a Mini, I HIGHLY suggest the Lomo one. Do it and be happy and live life with no regrets.

We had a blast with this shoot, it took 4 hours to set up, and we got done past midnight and went for milkshakes. I would have to say it was a great way to close my summer and days in Michigan. Shout out to everyone who was able to make it special.

Good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately for me, I can’t wait six months to do one shoot while in grad school, so, uh, wish me luck friends.

Happy Shooting!

Our Trip to the Zoo Was, Uh…

For months, I have been itching to go to the zoo to take photographs. When I saw Impossible Project’s [Animal] Skins Edition film, I knew I wanted to go to the zoo, probably with animal masks. It all snowballed from there. In like, a catastrophic avalanche of awesome.

It was incredible.

I had seven wonderful people with me on this shoot, and each and every one of them looked absolutely ridiculous. We got plenty of stares. Just simply magical.

I was a bit nervous, thinking about the possibility of us getting in trouble for any reason, (not allowed to wear masks in the zoo? maybe?) because I had been prepared for this for forever and I didn’t want anything to get in the way. Imagine, having this idea in your head for months, gathering the things you need, and then BAM! Just kidding, no photos for you.

SO STORY TIME

Me and my clique were standing in line to get our tickets, and there was a table of Zoo-Worker-People nearby, like some beneficiary group or whatnot. And they were staring us down. We were a little nervous, but when they smiled at us, we calmed down. But, just as we were walking up to get our tickets–

“Wait,” an official sounding voice said.

That was it. It was game over. Goodbye, hopes and dreams.

It was one of the ladies from the table. She walked over to us and said, “I just want to say, we really love your outfits. Your enthusiasm is great.”

I was expecting a “but, you can’t follow your hearts desire and shoot a really fun photo series in our land where the peacocks roam, because the gorillas will judge you and we can’t have that.” My heart sank, waiting for her to ruin my life.

Instead, she continued, “We love it so much, we’re going to give you free tickets to the zoo today, and a free lunch!”

Moral: Dressing up your friends as ridiculous as possible definitely has its merits.

Our lunch was in the event tent thing, I assume for beneficiaries, and we got plenty of dirty looks, but we also had people coming up to talk to us, asking what we were doing, telling us they loved our outfits, and got their picture with us. It was awesome. Some kids also wanted their picture with my posse, but they were so shy and they were standing like 5 feet away from the group. I can’t even with the cuteness.

Every now and then, it’s important to play. Doing a photo shoot just for fun without any deep conceptual meaning was refreshing, and just what I needed before heading off to graduate school in the fall.

Happy Shooting!

 

A Romantic Adventure of a Different Kind

A long time ago, in a land far away, I came across mythical creatures, which captured my interest.

Translation: In December, when visiting my boyfriend’s new house, I found a hella old radio and TV. I was bored, and made up a story about how they were in love. Then it became a photo series about a hella old TV and radio and their odd little romance.

  Aren’t they adorable?

I used my Polaroid Automatic 100 Land Camera, and FP-100C film. My favorite was taking the beach photograph. While slathering sunscreen on Mr. TV, some people at a nearby picnic pavilion were heckling me to take their photograph. Apparently, the couple in the group was celebrating their anniversary, so I walked on over their and took their picture. They asked me what on earth I was doing, so I told them, “I’m an art student and I make serious work. So, in the summer, I goof off.”

I’m super eloquent.

Happy Shooting!

Even More Ideal Instances

Here we are again, with more altered, vintage Polaroids. Have fun.

There will be dozens of more posts about this, so stay tuned. If this is your first time seeing this project, feel free to click here to find out more.

Happy Shooting!

Polaroid Automatic 100 Land Camera

Over winter break (can you believe that was half a year ago?) I acquired a Polaroid Automatic 100 Land Camera from a thrift store. I found out that I could still get film for it, which is FP-100C by Fuji, and since then I’ve been playing with it. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but these photographs are so fun. I get to not only make an instant photo, but I get to peel back the negative, so I’m kind of doing something!

The first photograph I took with my new love was of our Christmas tree. Totally out of focus, but I wanted to see if the thing worked and I love this picture because, well, it was my first one. ❤

I took it around with me, and I snapped this shot on a cold and rainy day, and the film got stuck together. So, light leak on this strange and ominous road? I’ll take five.

So there’s this small restaurant near my old house that has been going through owners through the years, and the last people who owned it painted it these lovely neon colors. Well, I guess it didn’t catch people’s attention (or appetite?) because it’s closed now. But, hey, I had a cool sweater, a composition, and a boyfriend who is good at following directions.

I took a break from the camera for a little while, and I picked it up again a couple weeks ago. I was discovering that the camera has a rather slow shutter, and I was wondering if it was because I was holding the button down. So, I took this picture of my room, holding the button for about 5 seconds, and discovered the answer to my low-light problems.

Then, I was playing with bleach, and was like “omg what would happen if I put bleach on it?” and the glorious green blobs are what happened. Oh, the possibilities this experiment brings.

Then there was this one time I was working on a photo series (that you will soon see,) and something went wonky and the developer got stuck on the image. But hey, it’s cool looking.

I have a lot of plans with this camera. I bought a flash for it in Alabama (at an antique shop on the way to New Orleans– I figured I could use it for something,) and the bulbs for it still exist. I’d also like to do more low light stuff, but even when the camera is on a tripod, my hand shakes too much. So, I have yet to figure that out.

I found mine at a thrift shop, so if you’re interested in taking these kinds of photos, keep an eye out, and even check eBay. I also recommend the bleaching– it was so cool!

Happy Shooting!

Like Cotton Candy: Impossible Project’s Cyan and Magenta Film

In November, I went to NYC, and brought my Polaroid camera with me, loaded with the monochromatic Cyan 600 film by Impossible Project. I’ve also been hoarding the magenta version of this film, for a fair, for some reason. No idea why, just one of those weird artist vision things.

So this weekend, I was going to a fair, and was like YES TIME TO BREAK OUT THE MAGENTA FILM YAY! But, I discovered I still had a shot left of the cyan… So this cute little diptych exists now:

It’s actually totally coincidental that they are cotton candy colored. Or maybe my subconscious planned it along? Who knows anymore. You’re reading a blog by a girl who encourages her friend to push a shopping cart with a hobby horse in it around the neighborhood and puts her boyfriend in a fish tank. My track record either says I’m insane, or I’m awesome. Let’s go with the latter.

MOVING ON.

My friends Allie (who I talk about a lot, as she has always modeled for me,) and Dom are the cutest. The fair we were at was very small and kinda dull, so I was like “pic opportunities where are youu?” Then I realized I had a beautiful couple at my disposal.

“Dom. Don’t move.”

“Allie go stand by him.”

“OKAY STOP WALKING”

I’m very polite.

Since Impossible Project film takes about 45 minutes to develop, Allie, Dom, and Mitchell (my boyfriend I also never shut up about,) were surprised that the film was cyan and magenta. Mitchell was so surprised he took my camera and took a picture of me.

I’m not a fan of being photographed. I tried to hide behind my new stuffed animal, Stumpy (courtesy of Mitchell popping a balloon with a dart,) but he was too tiny. But, my expression is priceless, so here:

Stumpy, you tried.

Irrelevant, but his name is stumpy because his face is squashed in and his legs are two different sizes. Adorbz.

So, yeah. I have a couple more shots of the magenta, so we’ll see what I do with that. Maybe it’ll sit in my camera for 7 months like the cyan film did (whoopsies?)

Happy Shooting!

Ideal Instances

Over the last month or so, I’ve been continuing work on my found Polaroids. When I initially started, I thought the work was about connections, longing, and the notion of family. I wasn’t really grounded in this concept, because it was one of those things that made sense in my head, but in context just didn’t convey what I hoped. But, because I’m stubborn, I kept working on this piece to figure out what it was about. It was bothering me, and I needed to figure it out, so I didn’t stop. I’ve made a break-through recently. Around Polaroid #120, everything clicked.

I was making up narratives in these photographs, and I was playing along in others. I was altering and editing and censoring them. I don’t know these people. Can’t these things be said about how we present ourselves today, on social media?

It’s no secret that we fabricate our lives for the internet. Everything we put on Facebook is carefully tailored to the image of ourselves we want the world to see. Sometimes the lives we create for ourselves are the total opposite of what we really are, or what we’re really going through. Like the UPenn  Student who looked fine on Instagram, but was anything but. Or, the girl who pretended to go on vacation, but was actually at home. We are making up our lives.

Thing is, this phenomenon isn’t anything new. We’ve been doing this since forever, carefully picking and choosing what we wish people to know about us. We put on different masks, hide things, make things up. The Polaroids I’ve been working with have a common thread– they are photos of instances that are happy, the kind of events that warrant a camera. Birthday parties, family reunions, holidays, vacations, all of the things in life that are supposed to be joyful. This is fine, but when you flip through your old family albums, you can’t help but notice some small things. Like blank spaces in the album, or a photograph of two people who look so happy, but they actually got into a huge argument years later and they now hate each other. Or a photograph of a loved one that looks so calm, but really they were dying of cancer. Photographs don’t tell the truth. But we still believe they do.

So many of us go on social media and get depressed that everyone is having more fun than us. Spoiler alert: it’s not true. The people you are envious of aren’t posting their woes on social media, because why would they? Why would they do that when they can show the world the ideal version of themselves? We put filters on our images. We edit them and we alter the content. With my Polaroids, I’m doing the same thing. Sometimes, I’m making fun of the efforts we go through to hide ourselves. Other times, I play along with the narrative in the photo, as we oftentimes do with our friends on Facebook or Instagram. “Oh, Katie looks so happy with her new guy, even though last night she called me crying about how she missed her ex. Oh well, I’ll like this picture anyway.” And, sometimes, I hint at the more melancholy parts of life that we all deal with, but pretend don’t exist. It’s a curious phenomenon.

The other connection I made with this project is how I kept thinking of Instagram and the editing features on that application, and the relationship to the Polaroid. Y’know, the earliest “instant” image? Snap a photo, wait a minute, and see if it’s what you like. Looks bad? Re-take it. Just like with our cellphones today. “Ew! I look terrible in that one– let’s do it again!” We really haven’t changed over the decades.

So, here are the next, uh, 51 Polaroids of my piece. I have 100 more of these, but, y’know, excess and all that.

I plan on having 1000 of these fabrications by the end of the summer.

Wish me luck.

Happy Shooting!

Polaroids of Long Lost Family

I do this thing where I collect old Polaroids of people I don’t know, and I “adopt” them. It’s kinda sad when you think about it, how someone didn’t want their family photos or there wasn’t anyone left in the family to want them. So, I’ve been collecting them. Because every photograph deserves a home.

It’s admittedly a strange action, especially the “adoption” part. There’s some tension there; I know that these people will never truly be my family and I don’t know anything about them, and, also, what gives me the right to take ownership of their precious memories?

Since I’ve gathered quite a few Polaroids, I decided to do something with them for a project. I decided to make an attempt to map out this complicated tension by writing, painting, and collaging onto the pictures, kind of like scrapbooking– and we scrapbook our precious memories, right? I was trying to make these memories my own, but the frustration that this is not possible became clear as I worked on the project.

When I was working on these, I was wondering what the people in them are up to today. I have no idea if these people are dead or alive, and I probably will never know. It’s a melancholy thing.

But as my dancing-friend-who-just-baptised-his-newborn-would-say: YOLO .

And yes that is the same guy.

Also that little boy who is crying in every picture? What a little punk.

For some, I made up my own memory of the person in the photo or the event. For others, I responded to the content and altered the space around it. Some are just commentary from me, because I think I’m hilarious.

I just imagine a gallery space filled with a grid of these ridiculous photographs. And, who doesn’t love looking at awkward family photos? It’s like a train wreck you don’t want to look but you do anyway. Kind of like my life.

Well that’s all for now. If any of you are going to be in New Orleans for the Society for Photographic Education conference next week, shoot me an email or something and maybe we can meet up there and talk about photography! Yay new people!

Happy Shooting!