Monthly Archives: February 2010

portland seattle

2/2/10 – SEATTLE
ready for everything and nothing, company or quiet. the shoots are done. the wind less biting. drinking syrah leaning on a brick wall in a room held in by a bold red door. chatter of recipes and cases of music equipment being emptied on a small stage encased in thick velvet curtains.

i awoke into exhaustion. my voice hoarse. my shooting hand comically stuck in shooting pose. i pressed it flat beneath the small of my back to straighten it and proceeded to spend most of the day in bed staring at the light of day thru the polar bears on the flannel sheets. yesterday i was shooting from 8am until 10pm… straight… an endless stream of amazing people to capture and be captured by.

my first shoot, a family with a new baby. ariel, the mom, runs offbeatbride.com & offbeatmama.com and i was really excited to meet her. they had a boston terrier/chihuahua mix called ‘sassafrass’. my hairlight was misbehaving & the baby cried most of the time… but otherwise a successful shoot.

the next family, jonquil of fiercelocks.com was a blast. in they came, a rainbow of hair colors and a cage with a rat in it… from puppies to rats, sure! 🙂 they were fun, adorable… i loved their kids. the older one, a teenage rocker with orange hair, shyness with curiosity brimming just below the surface. with some coaxing, he became more animated. the younger one was cute as a button, quite concerned with the strobes affecting his rat’s vision. at the end when everyone headed to the car, jonquil & i reconnected over the cds of images being burned… talking of motherhood, hair & art. i shared with her my recent decision to not have children (my blog about this is at this link above the b&w photo of hands holding water). she burst into tears “but you would have so much to pass on, such a legacy…” i just adore her… and so talented… she brought out an envelope with hot pink and red hair creations. one of which, bangs that fasten in with a headband really rocked my world. “ah, now you’re going to make me dye my hair hot pink again!” yes, she inspires me…

maureen arrived almost two hours early. i felt bad asking her to wait outside but i prefer the one-on-one with whoever is in front of my lens. my energy becomes scattered if others are in the room. when she arrived, fully adorned in gothic belly dance accouterments i was in art:love! i saw instantly the photos we were about to take, like a flip book real fast… and i was ignited… whenever i shoot someone for the first time, there is always doubt, withholding, nervousness. the first shot yes, the second shot usable… a turn of the screen and the laughter was a spicket. joy & creativity took over. she gave over to the process whereas most newbies remain spectators until the very end, if at all. when they doubt or hold breath, i ask them to look down, hoping somehow for them to recollect themselves, access strength, reset their emotions. being sometimes on the other side of the camera, i recognize this fear… standing there with lights in front of someone. it is easy to retreat into this place where we remember being picked last for the kickball team. i get it. it’s harrowing… but what if it were fun…? what if it were an opportunity…? to show various sides of emotions, to further their aspirations…

i instigate, i challenge, i retreat if necessary but mostly i focus on capturing variety by way of lighting and facial expressions. i move fast. i talk fast. i want my models out of their own cerebral headspaces as quickly as possible.. as only then can true emotion emerge. i want them to live in their hips, to get lost in the music, for my direction to ADD to their sense of self, not to replace it.

maureen understood this. her doubt would occasionally rear up but i asked her to visualize it on a piece of paper, crumple it up, throw it on the ground, stomp on it… there, done… and on we went… swords, movement, playing with lights. it was a high… never before have i literally run out of poses. most of the photos were usable. we ended 10 minutes early giggling… out the door and in comes more dancers, models… all wonderful with varying degrees of confidence and ability to share their layers.

the last being a gorgeous pregnant woman, very tall, open, kind, glowing. her arms held flowers and fabric. we laid out pages on the floor with examples of shots she wanted to emulate. a kimono with just the belly showing. strategic leg placement, soft, moody, side lighting. for the last shots i was more free to explore my own vision of this person before me. she lay nude with hair splayed out, adorned in fabric and flowers. the baby’s name will be rosie… i laid a rose by the belly, more by her pathway and bright orange flower in her mother’s hand facing the camera. purity, an offering. i squealed when i captured this, showing her excitedly. she smiled and told me how nice it was that i enjoy my work..”this… doesn’t feel like work…” i told her, “more it feels like a gift…for someone who isn’t here yet…” as we were shooting i realized that the flip-book of the images in my head, that knowingness, was being held in a book by a woman. i envisioned rosie admiring these photos as a teenager, as perhaps a newly pregnant mother herself, even in her old age. i captured these for her… this is her beginning…

that was the last studio shoot of the day… as soon as she left i felt as if i had been hooked up to electricity the whole day, reluctantly unplugged. patrick returned and helped break down the studio. patrick, a gift of a friend. the studio, also a gift. a renovated schoolhouse belonging to an artist community called ‘youngstown’. wide halls and stairwells filled with art projects. buphalo, a friend of a friend allowed me to create art there… and when i leave, as always, i leave no trace, except in this instance, a heart-shaped letter of gratitude, some cash, the keys he leant and a wake of a few flower petals, thought artful, to greet him when he comes home from work…

and onto the ‘high dive’ where i photographed a belly dance show. a neon woman inverted outside this speakeasy joint, my puffy eyes, so tired. i shot from stage-right because the wall held me up… a guilty and hasty exit & to sleep finally, that rare gem…

2/4/10
flying home… in sun withdrawal, depressed for no reason… gratitude above all else but travel is getting harder on me. physically, emotionally… being around creative loving people makes it easier, fun but i question successive travel & its effects on my body & mind… best not to think on it now, just get home to my life, my love, my dog, my bed… the mountain of edits can wait until morning…

thin vast horizon, buoyant, such clouds. the flight attendant hands out drinks, the country on a napkin… indecision on my trip to toronto, tracing dots with finger tips, una mattina in my ears, the journey comes into focus…

reflecting now on my time in portland… my experience there was adventurous & validating. to be around someone so much like me in terms of energy level & love of photography… roger / circle 23 photography… while artfully much more edgy, mirrored my excitement of using light to capture memory. him & his girlfriend carolee were so sweet and fun. they acquired another cat since last i’d visited. a grey one.

right off the plane some friends met us at a bar. looking around the table at photographers, clothing designers and performers, my heart burst. my friends inspire me so! paloma offered her ice queen costume for a shoot in the snow the next day, my yearly attempt at modeling… my head was swimming in excitement…

roger, puck & i drove to mount hood, posed in snow, jack daniels kept us warm. i trusted in roger’s vision, giving over more easily to being a model than previous times… my hair was out of control, just huge…

puck was adorable, my peacock familiar. our friendship has settled into this artistic sisterhood. my love for her runs deeper than ever. there is trust and inspiration… and comfort.

the next day was our portland rampage day. we chased ghosts in a warehouse, overdosed on sugar at voodoo donuts, did cartwheels outside of sock dreams headquarters, visited burnside skate park, had amazing artichoke pizza, snuck around industrial cylinders at a nuclear worksite, saw the submarine at OMSI. it was a full day of exploring.

then i had a full day of shoots. i had my studio set up in a… (eeeep!) in a sex dungeon… upscale, ornate but still scandalous. thankfully i had a full day of performers that fit the surroundings… we had the place to ourselves. each room had different color walls. my favorite being the black room with glitter everywhere. susan, my first client, showed up as the dark faerie complete with antlers and siouxsie sioux make-up… into the glitter room she went.

beth had a gorgeous leather outfit. carolee rocked the sensuality & everyone else just absorbed the intimacy of the space. what a gift! my last shoot was a hooping shoot that ended with fire. patrick had just arrived from seattle & stared wide-eyed at the dungeon. i greeted him thru the smoke. not a stranger to the circus that is my life, he just rolled with it.

the shoots were done and we packed up, headed to roger’s indoor soccer game where the air smelled like humid shinguards. the referee instigated near-riots on both sides. so much shouting and pushing… it was like a hockey game, but smellier. i too love soccer and the experience made me want to look into a team back home. i had joined a team once before, right after my divorce. it was co-ed. i was allowed to kick boys. i quit as soon as i started feeling like i didn’t need to kick boys anymore. but now, i would do it for the exercise and excitement of it.

in the morning, puck, patrick & i drove a few hours south to eugene for the faerieworlds winter celebration. wine and sugar were our first tasks. glitter rainbow sparklies in our hair was next up. wandering around the vending tables & reconnecting with the crew. we met up with layla & jeffe and went back to their place to get ready for the bad faeries ball that night. as puck napped, i brought out my curling iron content to do my usual ringlets. layla, a hair magician, would have none of that.

she sat me in a chair, parted my hair, put braids in like a runway, teased my hair so poofy that it was like a flying saucer or my own cabaret hat. some sculpting glue and poof! i had bangs! layla rocked my follicles! she borrowed a skirt of mine. patrick attached his unicorn headpiece and off we went to the ball.

the beginning of the night was just photo craziness… people i haven’t seen in years, most i didn’t even know… i typically hate my photo to be taken but i wanted layla to be able to use some photos of her creation on her site so i stood still for some time as this went on… too many photos later and i ran away into the crowd entranced by all i saw. such elaborate costumes, such happy people. performances, a ritual… backstage i slipped into zoe jakes dressing room….. hugs and concern over a kink in her back. as we talked she leaned against a doorknob until a proper masseuse showed up. in the wings, i watched her dance. such beauty, such presence. my camera loves her. we have so much unspoken synergy…. she is my favorite dancer.

as the night grew longer, most people’s sobriety left them… and guys with sloshing drinks approached me, forcing me into corners or back into the crowd. my cameras secured under chairs or bunched around or under my skirt. too much of this, matched with people taking my photo over and over after i asked them not to & i grew a wee bit pointy. opting to hide backstage, then eventually to just leave… this is why i don’t go out too much anymore…

puck spooned me to sleep & all melted away.. the next morning i made banana chocolate pancakes for the house. i forgot confetti sprinkles but they were tasty. layla had a secret recipe and a special pancake cooker that i was in awe of. layla in general, i was just in awe of… she has her own garden, her business is growing. she’s so wicked talented and such a genuine & funny person. her and jeffe loved watching cartoons and laughing… great people… after pancakes i had a date with the knots in my hair. i was in the bathroom with this pumpkin elixer and a comb muttering faerie curses as quietly as possible. i could hear all the chatting and everyone getting along so well… “and the pixie circle grows” i heard someone say…. made me smile…

we drove back to portland admiring baby sheep & the complexity of the sky. we dropped puck off, picked up my studio gear from roger & carolee’s place…and hit the road north to seattle… wehre one of patrick’s kitties dive bombed himself in front of us, presenting his orange belly. a trick! as when i went to rub the tummy, he freaked out. mister timmons is his name… patrick calls him ‘monsieur timOH’ he’s a freak… emmy is older, wiser and has a bullseye on her side.

many more adventures that photos remind me of… an evening having the most delicious dinner at Abby’s Table where i tried a parsnip for the first time, new favorite vegetable… mooooove over, broccoli! ‘borrowed’ a light from a security guy at a bar for an impromptu photo shoot… went to an art space opening in portland where artists i knew or had heard about seemed to all be in one place…. mini ice-cream cones and various liquor tastings… heaven! and inspiration… always inspiration…

much love and thanks to roger, carolee, patrick, puck, layla, jeffe, buphalo, the faerieworlds crew & all who made art with me on this trip…

listening…

decadent, a sanctuary, rain’s song like tin, wind & a need to retreat, burrow into undine space. the place where quiet happens and water precedes awareness, cascading above, around, within. i do my best thinking in the bath… sorting through perceptions, drowning myself out, listening… to the rain pummeling the slanted roof, to the bubbles bursting all around. salt lamp, a rose, perfect petals, candle light bouncing off a cluster of quartz, seashells askew…