more beer nuts, please

hide and seek
Ever-familiar with today’s “screenshots or it didn’t happen,” mentality, I present to you photos from yesterday’s shoot with Naomi.

We had a fun time walking around campus and looking for creepy light sources.  The whole concept was a last-minute, pull-‘er-outta-my-ass ordeal, and I think it goes to show that while my ass may not smell like roses, it can produce some interesting stuff!  The S.O. can attest that some of that interesting stuff has done a number on our plumbing… but I digress.

The idea that sparked the theme of this shoot was “running away from home”, a throwback to my younger days, when I, in a seven-year-old’s short-lived fit of rage, would stuff my pack with my favorite worldly possessions (a small packet of Beer Nuts, a sample bottle of Pert Shampoo, my blankie, and a jump rope I’d made out of fabric scraps) and sternly announce to my parents that I was leaving and never coming back.  I would then proceed to stomp around at the edge of the yard, daring myself to go further into the woods than I was allowed, and periodically looking over my shoulder at the house to make sure my parents knew I was totally serious, damnit.

Well, I never made it very far, but maybe this girl did.  And she didn’t bring any Beer Nuts.

It’s funny to think how odd we must have looked, wandering around the campus, occasionally dumping stuff on the ground… me, swearing at my camera and pretending to be all professional-like by directing Naomi, She Who Does Not Need Direction Because Obviously She Can Read Minds.  Seriously, she always knows exactly what I want from a shot two seconds before I do.  “Hey can you maybe… oh!  There!  Just like that.”  And she probably knew I was going to write that.

It was a great deal of fun, and I’m so happy that we got to work together again.  Thank you, Naomi!  Two down, four to go!

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I’m finally selling prints again, with the help of  That place is like crack. has a sample gallery, or you can go straight to the source:

If there’s something you like that you don’t see listed, or if you’d like something in a different size, feel free to send me an e-mail or a Vox private message and I’ll see what I can do!

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photo mumblings

Pardon the quietude!  Life's been, well, quiet.

I have three photos submitted to the next themes at JPG Magazine.  If you want to vote for me, please do!  The themes are: 



Beauty, Redefined

March's photo shoot is coming up on Tuesday, and I'm excited, because I get to work with one of my favorite people!  We haven't worked together since early 2005, so I'm giddy about it.  If nothing else, we'll catch up, and have a great time.

All the women who've modeled for me are favorites in one way or another, because 1) they're awesome people in general and 2) they basically work for free (or time-for-prints, but that's practically free).  Then there's the fact that I often subject them to publicly embarrassing situations ("I've got it!  Let's have you prance around the campus garden in a pink, nearly see-through dress that's almost two sizes too small…") and other, ahem, uncomfortable annoyances (think ample bug bites or freezing cold – the latter was shot in December) but I've yet to hear a complaint.  Thankfully we haven't had the pleasure of being actively chased off location yet, but I'm sure my time is coming…

Despite all these things, they almost always come back for more.  I don't have to beg or plead, and they always show up with a smile, eager to play along with whatever harebrained idea I've come up with.  Either they're gluttons for punishment, or they're just super self-confident, brave, amazing, inspiring people who like art and enjoy having fun.  I'm pretty sure it's the latter, and they deserve so much credit – I wouldn't have the portfolio I do without their cooperation and support.

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one f-stop at a time


On Saturday, I had photo shoot number one of six.  I was anticipating a disaster, considering that I'm a) totally out of practice and b) a lot of important personal issues were riding on the outcome of this shoot.  Namely:  Can I still do this?  More importantly, do I even want to?  Thankfully, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding "Yes!"

But what made me feel even better is, when all was said and done, I was satisfied with the results without feeling that anxious craving for positive feedback, for affirmation that I'd done a good job.  Simply knowing that I'd made something I liked was good enough, for once.  I was even able to put aside the photographs for a few days and enjoy the company of a very good friend whom I haven't seen in many months.  Then this evening, when I came back to the photos, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could look at them somewhat critically and not feel like I had to tear my talent down in the process. 

At one point in my college career I took a photography class in which we were required to build a series of photographs around a written statement.  I shot roll after roll of Kodak Elite Chrome (cross-processed, of course), and every week I'd bring my favorite photographs to class.  There weren't very many favorites.  At the end of the semester, my professor took me aside and said, "Look – I think you have a great vision, but you should be producing more work.  The only reason I'm giving you a B is because I didn't see nearly enough work from you."  What the professor didn't understand was, I'd taken a few hundred photographs over the semester, but in my mind, only 15-20 made the cut for a class critique.  Only six made it into my final portfolio.   I'd never given him or the rest of the class the opportunity to tell me what they thought about the other 190 photographs (minus dupes and brackets), because in my mind, they had already failed in some way or another. 

When I say I'm my own worst critic, I couldn't mean it in a more literal way, especially when it comes to the things I take a lot of personal pride in.  Some photographers have a problem narrowing down a selection of their best works… I have a problem finding two photos out of a hundred that appeal to me.   I suppose it's good to have a finicky eye in some cases, but it also shows how hard I can be on myself (to the point of ridiculousness at times) and that's a part of my personality I'm trying to tame.

I feel good about this shoot.  Not because it's perfect, but because I did it for me.  These may never win awards, or see the inside of a glossy magazine, but that doesn't matter.   They're for me, and I'm glad to be able to say that.

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Vox Hunt: Personal Best

Show us the best picture you took in 2006.
Submitted by Captured Moments.

Seeing as how I didn’t take very many photos in 2006, I don’t have much to choose from, but this is the one I like most.  As for whether it’s the “best,” that’s hard to say.  It’s my personal favorite because it closely resembles the original idea I’d had for this particular shoot, but obviously no one else can know that just by looking at the photograph.

Technically speaking, it’s not my best work, but I have a tendency to forget the technical stuff in the heat of the moment.  It’s probably not even my strongest concept.  This is why I’m not a professional photographer.  *ahem*

In any case, what I perceive as my “best” is not what others perceive as my best, but who gives a crap about the others, anyhow?   So here it is, my best favorite work of 2006.

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visualize whirled peas

I’m not much for resolutions, but I did make one promise this year.  One promise, and I think it’s the key to all the promises.

I promise to be nicer to myself.

I’m going to remember what it feels like to be comfortable in my own skin (not just in body, though that’s a big part, but in mind and spirit, too).  Because there was a time in my life where I was much more appreciative of my strengths, and less debilitated by my weaknesses.

Really, there was!  I swear!

See, I have what I like to call a case of the “shoulds”.  I’m pretty sure most of us have these, actually, to varying degrees.  But I think mine got out of control.

“I should go grocery shopping.”
“I should call my mum more often.”
“I should eat less and exercise more.”
“I should have gotten a better education.”
“I should be working at a better job.”
“I should take more photographs.”
“I should be more outgoing.”
“I should be more adventurous.”

I’ve piled all these expectations on myself – some of which are reasonable (“I should shower every day” – my co-workers probably appreciate this one, and I do, too!) and many of which are not so reasonable (“I should be perfect” – oh, c’mon, perfection can’t be that hard to achieve, right?).  So I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that lately it seems I’m drowning in a lake of guilt – guilt for not calling friends, guilt for not eating well, guilt for parting my hair on the left instead of the right, guilt for not being smarter, thinner, prettier, more academic; you name it, I’ve probably felt guilty about it.

I’m going to point out the obvious here:  Too much guilt hurts.  Eventually you start feeling guilty for feeling guilty!  Which makes you feel even more guilty!  Shit!

Last summer I came to a point where I said to myself, “Self, you have everything your little heart could possibly desire.  You have a beautiful life with a wonderful person and two crazy cats, you live in a beautiful house, and you have a stable job that has excellent benefits.  Slap on a white picket fence and you’re living the American dream!  So why, for the love of god why, can’t you just sit back and enjoy it?”

Guilt.  Because I’m trying to meet impossible standards and I haven’t accepted myself for who I am.  And feeling restless and unbalanced inside means feeling restless and unbalanced about everything else in your life, too, no matter how good it is.

So, I declare this the year of getting back to good.  I’m not even sure how I will keep this promise, but the other morning I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and said, rather quietly, “I like you.  You’re okay.  You’re doing just fine.”  And I’ve repeated it every day since, whispering it to myself as a mantra when I start to feel anxious or overwhelmed.  Reassurance that I don’t have to be perfect, that I can just be me, and that’s enough.

And it’s funny how forcing yourself to let go of some of those expectations really lightens the load.  Enough to, say, start eating healthier, without really having to think about it.  Or wanting to take photographs again.  Or redesigning your Web site for the first time in nearly a year, which is exactly what I did this week.  Not because I felt obligated to, but because I wanted to.

There’s a lot to be said for letting things go, for giving up expectations that may have outlived their usefulness, for letting life wash over you instead of paddling frantically against the current.

I like you, you’re okay, you’re doin’ just fine.

And lo and behold, I am.

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calling all knowledgable bostonians

It seems as though the S.O. and I are headed to Boston for the weekend to catch up with old friends and see the sights.  That’s right, us north-country hermits are Beantown-bound.

The thing is, our friends are new to the area, and I’ve only been there a couple times (as a kid).  So, Voxers, what is there to do?  Preferrably activities that are A) inexpensive and B) don’t take all day, since we’re limited on funds and only in town for the weekend.

Of particular interest:  Museums, good art or bad art, shopping and/or window shopping, good restaurants/cafes…

Surely there is much fun to be had in the big city, it’s just a matter of finding it!

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shameless self promo

his quiet

I’ve submitted a couple photos to two upcoming themes at JPG Magazine – Intimacy and Blur.  My submissions are here and here.  You can vote for me if you think these photos work with their themes (or if you’re just feeling kind :))  Check out the other work, too–there’s some pretty good stuff floating around.

This photo was actually published in JPG’s second issue, Lost.  They’ve since done a major redesign of their Web site and their magazine, and I’m excited to see what the new issues are like.

One of the interesting things I’ve found about submitting work to magazines and galleries is that, after a while, you start to feel less and less sensitive to rejection.  I’d stopped doing much of this stuff (both photography and submitting work to publications/galleries) during the “great falling out” last spring, but perhaps this will get me in the mood to pick up a camera again.  I actually have an idea for a new photo shoot that I hope to finish before it gets cold.  I feel the itch, and the itch is good.  Now let’s see if I can do something with it.

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As someone who’s spent the majority of the last five years thinking and breathing photography, it’s heartbreaking to admit that I’ve been in a creative slump for months now.  And now that I think about it, it’s not really a “creative slump” at all; I still have ideas for projects, but I have absolutely no desire to bring them to life.  The process of creating art doesn’t give me a sense of fulfillment or satisfaction.  Instead, I come away from a shoot feeling tired, cranky, and frustrated with the results.

I’ve spent so much time investing myself in this hobby, making it my life and my passion, only to have it turn into a chore.  I feel like I got dumped by my camera, or maybe I did the dumping.  Either way, the “break-up” rocked me.  I didn’t realize how much my sense of self-worth depended on my art, and so I’ve spent the last six months wandering aimlessly and feeling like a failure, sinking lower and lower.   Photography was the one thing I thought I could really make a significant impact on the world with, but it turns out I’m just a Web geek with a hobby.

Speaking of which, the sudden change in the work situation doesn’t help.  If I thought I lacked energy to create art before, eight hours at a computer doing mind-numbing batch Web sites every… single… day… really drives the point home.  I’m pooped.  All I want at the end of the day are mindless things:  Warcraft, television, fluffy books, exercise, good food, and sleep.

I think I’m finally close to getting over it, though.   It’s hard to accept the idea that I don’t have to be the prolific visionary, the starving artist… but maybe it’s okay to just have a hobby and not a passion.  And maybe, sometimes, it’s okay to do nothing at all.

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