Wednesday, July 19, 2017

fantasy, fairytale, escape

Call it what you will. It's necessary for all of us to indulge in fantasy. Necessary to escape from certain realities and escape to somewhere and allow our imaginations to flourish. We need to feed our souls with it other wise, what kind of soulless people are we?

It is interesting and a bit sad though how people react to this sort of thing in an everyday situation. For my 48th birthday, I bought myself a present - well actually, the money was a gift from a dear friend to do as I wish. So, I wanted to have something fun and bought these elf-eared earphones.


Most people that read my blog know me and know that I am no stranger to wearing costumes in public on some level - generally on my way to and from a photo shoot but most of those times, I was coming from my car. 

However, now in France, I am in public transport - trains, buses, subways, trams and on foot. I have worn these earphones on several occasions and it strikes me as odd as to why I get more negative looks than positive ones. I can understand a moment of shock turned to a laugh or a shake of the head but when I am looked at in a hard way with a grimace on some faces, or get eye rolled at, I think more about what our society has become.

We have become one of the most angry societies than ever before. I see complete black and white statements being made, quicker judgement calls and even quicker tempers. People are getting angry at those of us that have a difference of opinion or our own beliefs. 

Who or what is to blame for this? We can start with our political climate for sure but this goes back a few years now. Social media has made people less patient and tolerant of others and as the more "social" people become online, the less they are in reality.

What is even more confusing is that in an era where what I have done for the last 20 years is now accepted and considered "cosplay" (I suppose I can thank whoever came up with that term to legitimize my dressing up and photographing myself), taken out of the context of a comic-con, walking around wearing elf ears is considered strange and not in a positive way.

Well, this is who I am and I never felt the need to protest it or make a "thing" about it. Let me be strange... but please don't hate me or try to make me feel bad for it. 

And if you want to be angry about it, well, go ahead. This is my life and my fantasy. I only get to live it once.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chasing the butterfly

There she was sitting on a leaf in the bright sun. Slowly, I crept up to her with my camera to quickly snap a shot. No way. She wasn't liking that. Swiftly she flew and began a dance around my head. She landed on another leaf. Again, I slowly moved toward her, lifted the camera to my eye and whoosh she moved again and around and around my head.

"C'mon! Sit still just for one minute!" I cried to her. She then decided to land on my shoulder! I turned to her and moved fast but she hung on. "Ok, you want to stay there? I can try to get that angle with my camera" but whoosh she fled and back to her original leaf.

For 10 minutes, she continued to give chase. She landed on one leaf. I tried to be ever so gentle. No, she went to another leaf. Then a rock. Then a branch. Some moments, she would just flutter around in the air not wanting to land at all. However, when she did, no matter how quiet I made myself, she flew away every time I approached.

With my hands on my hips, frustrated and amused at the same time, I shouted, "you really are a silly girl and want to play hard-to-get, huh?" Finally, on a big leaf, she folded her wings inward slowly. I took a step. She didn't move. I took another step. Her wings remained folded. I furrowed my brows. "Are you tired? Did I wear you out?" Then suddenly, she spread her wings wide. I held up my camera and moved it close. Then closer. I shook as I approached but she didn't move. Snap! I got the shot. It was out of focus. Damn! But she still didn't move. So, I took another step, held my breath and snap!

She sat there another moment. Maybe she was communicating with me. I'd like to think that. I'd like to think that she had a fun time playing chase and interacting with a human that only wanted to interact with her.

After that moment, she flitted up and high in the sky. There, she met her mate and they began their dance of love, swirling around one another in the wind. I watched as they moved so quickly from place to place and then off they flew into the distance.

It was my moment. No. It was our moment. A shared moment that existed for a brief time but one that made me filled with joy. I felt connected to the earth; to nature. I felt where I belonged. Not of the modern world filled with too many artificial diversions but a world in which if you stop, look and listen, is filled with magic and unspoken connections that are stronger than anything could be. I am happy I was able to capture something of that moment so I will always remember my friend.




Thursday, June 29, 2017

What do you say to a man who is dying?

I was going to write this entry only with my art in mind but there is something that keeps coming back to my mind - a topic that always enters my mind: death. I suggest you don't read farther if you are expecting a happy blog entry here.

Since I was 13 years old, the thoughts and fear of dying have become a focus in my life. Maybe it began when I experiences my first death ever - that of my maternal grandmother whom I was close to. The whole experience was a bit surreal. Growing up in an Italian-American family, it's tradition to have a funeral that lasts several days, including an open-coffin for viewing (unless the person died tragically that would leave them disfigured). It was normal to go up to the body and discuss whether the deceased was presented well or not and no one gave it a thought that it was a dead body, or so it seemed. The viewing took place during 2 or 3 days so many people can have that as their last memory of how the deceased looked. It certainly was never the way I wanted to remember them.

So, as some others close to me died over the years, some affected me more than others but overall, there has been an emotional block for me. I think I was conditioned to do that from 13 years old. However, this has not made me impervious to death nor whom that has died. In fact, it has gone deeper inside and I am more and more afraid. Over the years, I developed anxiety and panic attacks linked to it all and I try to shake it out of my mind when the thoughts are there.

My father died in 2009 and my mother last year - 2016 and I am counting what older members of my family are left. Recently, I learned that one of my uncles is not doing very well. He is 92 years old. He has lived a long life with a big family. He is one of two of my father's brothers and has done quite well in his life and has done a lot to help my family. When my father died, I called him and we had a big conversation. I have reached out to him several times for help, though at one important and vulnerable time recently, he denied helping me which made things very difficult. I kept in touch with him, nonetheless.

When I learned that he is not doing well, I wrote him a letter. I began it with niceties and a brief update on things in my life without much detail. And then it came to ending the letter. I had trouble finding the words. If he is indeed doing as poorly as I had heard and the inevitable is about to happen, then what do I say?

I had closure with my father before he died but not in the way one would think. He said some loving words to me that I didn't think he was capable of, considering he was mentally ill. When my mother died, it was sort of sudden but even so, our relationship was very difficult so the last things that were said, were not good. And with the others that died, there was no time before to say anything - something I wished I was able to do with my maternal grandparents, anyway.

So what do I say to someone that I know is dying? I wanted to ask him if he was scared. I wanted to ask him if he would live his life differently if he had the chance. I wanted to ask him if he really believed in Heaven and Hell as the final places to go. But no, of course I wasn't going to ask any of that. I just told him to take things easy and rest and to surround himself with all the love and family he could and if he as able to respond to me, to do so.

He lives in the US so the odds of me being there when he dies are none. And when he passes, I will sit and mark another one off my list of others....the list gets longer.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The summer is here

Work, as in modeling, is winding down now. I have 4 more days unless someone decides to run a summer workshop. Otherwise, it will be October when things begin again. Not good financially, but we are trying to make the best of it.

I plan to take advantage of the time off to study my French a little more and to promote my art. I sold a print of one of my new pieces, "Age Knows No Time" to a collector and great photographer as well. That is always validating and sometimes when another photographer buys your work as opposed to a layman, it's even moreso. I found a great print lab in Paris that does archival pigment prints and beautifully! I was a bit worried as they only printed from compressed JPEG files but when I saw the print and on Hahnëmuhle's William Turner paper (one of my favorite textured papers), I was pretty impressed. Here is the image:




 I also sent a promo packet out to a gallery in Montmarte looking for an exhibition opportunity and I have one more I plan to send to. Here's hoping.

That's really it for an update at the moment. Stay cool!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Selfie Generation and when will it end?

This subject has been on my mind since the first "selfie" was taken, probably when Facebook was founded, maybe earlier, not sure. Taking a silly photo of yourself with your smartphone alone or with your partner, friend, child, etc. is fine and I know it's been done for years even with point and shoot film cameras but it's another for the act of taking selfies to have become such an automatic thing that it has left people complete mindless to why they are doing it at all.

Today I became inspired to post about it, in anger, because of a fellow photographer that shared images on Facebook from his trip in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There is a statue of Jesus draped in his robe with his arms extended in the crucifixion pose. Tourists were taking photos of themselves in silly ways with the statue, including in the crucifixion pose. All ages of people, including children were doing this. My photographer friend pointed out exactly my point - 

"Interesting, how photography and social media have changed perception of reality and human behaviours."

Over the last few years, I have also observed this act and have been truly speechless. Just the other day, I went to the Louvre with my husband to see a special exhibit of Vermeer, Valentin de Boulogne and their contemporaries. (Side note - if you are in Paris before May 22, make it a point to get to this exhibit. It's WONDERFUL! )

After seeing the exhibit, I said to my husband that while we were there, we should go see the Mona Lisa. I knew it was mid-afternoon and would be very crowded, but I never saw it in person (it's a copy, by the way, in case anyone thinks it's the original.) When we arrived in the salle, I stopped short of what I saw. Hundreds of people pushing their way up to the very small painting NOT to admire it, but to turn around with their selfie sticks and be sure to get a photo of themselves WITH the painting behind them. After a few snaps. they would happily move on, never once looking at the painting itself! I wondered why. How did the Mona Lisa become such a pop icon, first of all, and taking a picture in front of it does nothing more but prove they saw it...but they didn't see it. Not really. And did they know who DaVinci was?

This happens in every tourist spot all over the world and then there is something even more serious and worse than the autonomous selfie maneuver. People have died taking selfies. A woman posed sexily on train tracks was killed by a train. Two young girls fell into the ocean and drowned going over a cliff with their selfie sticks. Another was decapitated when he wanted to take a selfie with his head out of a car window. For what??

And lastly, there are curators and photography critics that have begun to organize exhibits and give more attention than deserved based around selfies, placing them on a fine art level. So studying art, composition, and form, not to mention those of us that have spent years conveying their art using the self-portrait have become meaningless while a trend becomes more important. 

While I try to search meaning to why people are trying to connect to each other when, in essence, they are doing the opposite, this further explains that the spirit inside of many is disappearing and what will be left will be digital photos of people doing stupid things in the name of social media.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ode to the Pictoralists

Pictorialism, an approach to photography that emphasizes beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality.

This has basically been my modus operandi since I abandoned "straight" portrait photography back in the late 1990's but one of the things that the Pictoralists had (or didn't have, depending on point of view) was the original methods of photo making. This included early cameras. glass plates generally coated with photo-sensitive chemicals, slow lenses, etc. While a lot of people today might roll their eyes and say that these things were hindrances, it was these tools and techniques that allowed a couple of things. First, the slowness of the process allowed the photographer to sit and study what he/she wanted before the shutter was even cocked and two, it led to a very specific look that was delicate, graceful and strong at the same time.

The resurgence of these photographic processes happened maybe 10-15 years ago but I have to say I didn't want to get caught up in that endeavor as I didn't have a darkroom anymore and had no desire to set one up. A dedicated space for the large camera format was also something I didn't have so for a long time, I created work with the intent of beauty, composition, fantasy in theme and all of the elements that the Pictoralists included in their photographs but without the famous look. Until now. In strangely stumbling upon an Adobe Photoshop tutorial on YouTube and then playing with the tools further, I have finally begun to get the look I wanted.I posted a couple here recently but I have delved a little deeper since. I am pleased.