Every Leaf

Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower……Albert Camus

Autumn in the Blue Mountains of Australia is one of the most beautiful times of the year.  The trees are ablaze with the most magnificent colours and the streets are carpeted with the falling leaves.  It looks, smells and sounds wonderful.  As you walk through the leaves you can hear them crunching underfoot.  It truly is a feast for the senses.

I love Autumn.  So of course, this time of year brings out the need to do lots of photoshoots.  In a previous post,  I had my beautiful model in a bath full of Autumn Leaves.  Loving those colours so much, I ventured a little further afield to Mount Wilson.

Mount Wilson is a delightful surprise.  The drive out there is a bit scrubbier than most of our local landscape and suddenly it starts to turn into a bit of a rainforest type of environment.  Just when you think that’s what you should be expecting, a quaint little English style village emerges out of nowhere, a little like Brigadoon.  It is always beautiful but in Autumn, it looks like a painting you would find on the lid of a chocolate box.  Don’t expect to be able to buy a lot out there.  There’s a little cafe but I think that’s about it.  Who cares?  You go there to soak in the beauty.

I had an idea which needed lots of autumn leaves, so I ordered some silk ones in from China.  Very cheap but very effective. I thought 400 would be heaps but when I started pinning them to the dress I chose there were nowhere near as many as I thought there’d be but I didn’t want to cover the dress, so it was enough.  I packed my lovely model Kirsty in the car and off we went.

Unfortunately I didn’t check the calendar to see what would be happening out there and it was open garden day on a public holiday, so it was packed and trying to get a clear spot to do a photo was almost impossible.  We didn’t let it stop us, we found a few spots that were almost clear and we did our stuff.

I was working on another image last night and had extended the canvas from 9 photos, recoloured, made adjustments and was just ready to add textures when Photoshop crashed.  Silly me hadn’t saved it as a PSD before I started, so I lost the lot..  Ahh well.  Lesson learned. Back to the drawing board.

These are a few of the (saved) images  we created.

In Dreams of Lilac

O were my love yon lilac fair, wi’ purple blossoms to the spring.  And I a bird to shelter there, when wearied on my little wing……Robert Burns

As most of you regular readers will know, I shop a lot at Op shops (goodwill).  I find some of the best stuff there in the way of props and costumes for photo shoots.  I went a few weeks ago to my favourite one here in Katoomba and found this glorious lilac coloured dress.  Long, with beautiful lace around the waist and sleeves and a magnificent sunray pleated skirt, I fell in love with it immediately.  Imagine my surprise when I asked the price and got told $4.00.  I paid for it and ran away before they changed their mind or realised that I was committing highway robbery.

I came straight home and put my lilac beauty on a mannequin to admire and imagine what I was going to do with  her (yes I had given her a name & personality already).  I had been to an awards dinner with my son a few weeks previously and met a lovely young lady called Alexis,  who I knew would be great for an image, so showed her my work and she jumped at the opportunity to be a model for me.  Suddenly, looking at the dress, I knew that she would look gorgeous in it, and when I imagined my dress on my model, the theme came easily to mind.

All tee’d up for the photoshoot, I asked my trusty Kirsty from KLB Images to be my assistant and of course she said yes.  I knew of an old shed right near my place and it all lined up perfectly.  I had a spare dress on hand in case my lilac beauty didn’t fit but I needn’t have worried about it.  Not only did it fit, but the model and dress were made for each other.  At the location, we took lots of different photos but as per usual, the shoot took on a life of it’s own.  Both Kirsty and Alexis had ideas as well which I loved and the position of the sun added an extra dimension that I hadn’t really considered.

Thankfully, I always tell my models that what I plan and the finished product are not necessarily going to be one and the same because what I had planned just didn’t work for me. I always have a basic concept but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is set in stone.  My work isn’t planned to an inch of it’s life.  It’s not how my brain works.  Instead, I allow it to take shape organically and I just follow along.   One of the photos I took, the flash didn’t fire and it was all dark except for a rim of light around her face when she looked out of the window.  It turns out that was one of the best shots of the day.  Not that the others were bad…. not at all.  But that one had a mystery and screamed to come to life so I let it.  I named it Until Forever Ends. I have another photo from this shoot that is being used for an exhibition next year which I’m completely in love with but I won’t show it until it is on the wall of the exhibition.

Kirsty and I loved working with Alexis so much that we have some more shoots planned now with her.  Some for me and some for Kirsty.  Yes, I love it when a plan doesn’t come together but takes on a spirit and life all of it’s own. Here are some of the photos of the day, as well as the lousy quality iPhone photo of lilac beauty on the mannequin when I first brought her home.  I’m sure you too can see how the dress and model were made for each other.  I hope you love these as much as I do.

The Lunar Effect

Tell me the story of how the sun loved the moon so much, he died every night to let her breathe….. 

Halloween is on it’s way.  Yes, a month away but I decided to start early.  Kirsty from KLB Images who helped me with my photos this week decided she’d like to do something dark so avoiding the common zombie type photos, we decided to go for something more terrifying… Real life madness!

Throughout the years, the full moon has been blamed for madness amongst us.  It’s synonymous with werewolves, vampires and just plain lunacy amongst we mere mortals.  Of course, the word lunacy comes from the word Luna meaning the moon. Whether or not the full moon does affect our moods and our sanity will always be an argument that no one can win.  Personally I believe people are affected by it.

From my own battles with depression and PTSD, I know the feeling of not always being understood by the rest of the world and I wanted to convey how much effort it takes restraining yourself from acting out how you’re really feeling.   How sad and crazy you feel when you’re battling your demons all on your own.

I decided on an old building here in my home town, went shopping for some clothes to rip up and we were ready.  We headed to our location, a chair and a pink umbrella our only props.  It was unbelievably windy which helped make Kirsty’s long hair look even crazier in the photos.   It was difficult to get a shot without her hair completely covering her face  but I was happy with the photos I got.

When we got home, I started to edit one of my favourites of her with a pink umbrella, straight away.  She  was standing behind me when she suddenly said, “zoom in”.  I did and was quite freaked out to find someone standing in the window of the old building.  Now, I’m not saying it isn’t possible that it was a person actually in there, however, I took a photo 4 seconds before I took this one and there was no one in the window in that or any of the 162 photos I took.  Just the one I was working on.  The windows are all covered in plastic and although I know most people will write it off as just someone standing there, I personally believe it was not a living being.  You can make up your own mind.

in-the-window

But beyond being freaked out by that photo, I have quite a few good images that I’ll be working on over the next few weeks from this shoot.  I have chosen 3 that I’m thrilled to share with you today.   I’m really looking forward to doing a few other spooky shoots leading up to Halloween that I’m sure won’t freak me out anywhere near as much as the photo above.

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dsc_5601to-dream

Let’s Make Some Memories

Let’s make some memories.  Laugh and cry and reach for the sky.  And if by chance we don’t touch the stars, we can say we tried.  Let’s make some memories…..Jane Olivor

I had a hair cut a few weeks ago.  Big deal you say?  I didn’t realise how big a deal it would end up being.  Sometimes the smallest thing can become a catalyst for seeing things differently.  I suddenly realised that, at 55, this is the youngest I’m going to be for the rest of my life.

I talk a lot about the glamour of old photography and how important it is to leave a lasting legacy for future generations but I’ve never really taken heed of my own advice.  Yesterday, I made the momentous decision to embrace the now and have some studio photos taken.  I wanted some unashamed glamour.  I wanted to celebrate who I am and where I’ve come from.  So I phoned the lovely Kirsty and told her I needed her help.  We set the lights and background up, I knew what I wanted and she clicked away.

I’ll happily admit to working on the photos in Photoshop.  I’m not into Photoshopping the everyday of myself but I’m a firm believer that everybody, man and woman, should have at least one photograph  that makes them feel good about themselves.  In fact, they should have an album full.  I kept thinking that before I had some really good photos taken, I should lose weight and go on an extensive skin routine, get more dental work done and……..you get the drift. Why wait?

Taking photos from a clever angle with the right lighting and a little bit of help from make up and Photoshop, regardless of what stage of life you’re in, will ensure you look the best you possible.  If you don’t like your smile, don’t smile.  Have a serious photo done.  If you feel self conscious about your body,  have head shots done.  Just stop making excuses.  Like me, you’re never going to be younger than you are right this moment, so celebrate every one of those moments and leave some memories behind.

It wasn’t an easy process for me yesterday, even though I’m on the other side of the camera all the time and knew how to pose to avoid double chins and deep wrinkles from showing up.  But I decided to play with the camera instead of fighting it. I pretended I was a model and pulled faces.  Some worked, some didn’t.   I’ve always disliked my hands and so hate them showing in photos but yesterday, I decided to embrace them, regardless how much they look like chubby sausages wrapped in chicken skin and made them a feature.  I love looking at photos of my mum’s hands. When I see them, I can feel them all over again so why not show mine?

I can promise you, future generations won’t remember your wrinkles or your weight when you’re gone.  They’ll remember the way your eyes shine when you talk about something that excites you.  They’ll remember the way it felt to dance, riding on your feet.  They won’t remember the liver spots or the chicken skin of your hands, but I promise they’ll remember the way those hands felt when you touched their face or cooled a fever.  In short, they’ll remember the way you made them feel.

Leave them with some beautiful images that match your beautiful soul.  It’s never too late to celebrate you.

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There You’ll Be

In my dreams I’ll always see you soar above the sky.  In my heart there’ll always be a place for you for all my life.  I’ll keep a part of you with me and everywhere I am, there you’ll be. …… Faith Hill

there-youll-be

Never Fear What’s Ahead

Your biggest enemy was never the wolf…. It’s always been the fear of moving forward… Livonne

I’ve always been a worrier.  If someone was late home, I imagined they were injured or in trouble and couldn’t contact me to let me know.  If a letter came in, I wouldn’t open it for fear it might be something bad.  If someone asked me to join in something, I would find an excuse for fear I might fail at it.

Well no more!  I have lived through all those things and I’m still standing.  Sometimes those I love were late  because they stopped to buy flowers.  Sometimes, they never came home and my heart broke.   I’ve opened those letters… some were good, some were bad.  I’ve joined in.. Occasionally I’ve been laughed at but usually I’ve just had fun.

Our fear holds us back much more than the events that happen.  I’ve started to change my inner dialogue.  This is something I’ve been working on for years but lately I’ve really started to jump on the taunts I give myself and rephrase everything.  Yes something bad might happen, but what if it DOESN’T?  Do I waste the rest of my life preparing for the worst?  NO! I can’t keep living with fear.

This week, I faced my fear of not being good enough and entered a large art competition with one of my pieces of work.  As I hit that send button, I was completely terrified.  Then once it was done, I realised that nothing happend.  Nothing in my world had changed.  I’d sent an image to an art show.  Nothing more.  My mum always used to say “The worst thing they can do is say no”.  She was right.  The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t win a prize.  Probably 95% of the other entrants won’t win a prize either.  But I can never be in the top 5% if I never put it out there in the first place.

No more fear here… Well at least no more letting the fear win.  My enemy isn’t an external thing.  It’s all internal and it’s time to let it go.  It’s time to start moving forward. It’s the only way to live.

To Grandma's House

To Grandma’s House

 

A World of Pure Imagination

Come with me and you’ll be in a world of Pure Imagination.  What you’ll see will defy explanation.  If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.  Anything you want to, do it.  Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it….Willy Wonka

I woke up this morning to the sad news that the comic genius Gene Wilder had passed away.  He had a huge back catalogue of brilliant acting and comedic roles, yet to a vast majority of the world, he was simply Willy Wonka, the man who piqued the imagination of childhood.

I was 10 when the movie was made, but I didn’t see it until I was an adult.  I didn’t really ever go to the cinema as a child, so it just never crossed my path.  When I had children of my own and wanted them to be inspired by books, the way I was, I discovered the bizarre world of Roald Dahl which led to finally watching the classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with them.

From the moment I walked with the other kids into that room,  filled with chocolate rivers, edible flowers and lickable wallpaper, I fell in love.  Not only with Willy Wonka himself and his lonely soul but with the world of Pure Imagination he introduced us to.  He was good and evil all rolled into one character.  He wasn’t the sweet charming heroes we had been fed all our lives.  He was a delightful blend of light and shadow, of nice and nasty, of sweetness and scariness.

While I watched it, my imagination came back to life.  It had lay dormant for many years at that time, but suddenly, it woke up and demanded attention again.  I don’t know about you, but when he took the winners and their families on that boat ride, I was terrified.  He became completely insane at that moment and I was as scared as the kids. When he yelled at Charlie and told him he wasn’t getting the factory because he’d disobeyed the rules, I was angry at him.  But when he shared his vision of the factory with the visitors, I shared his joy and his passion.

The movie brought imagination to life in such a powerful way that today the world is mourning, not just Gene Wilder but Willy Wonka  himself.  (sorry, Johnny Depp just didn’t cut it).  Listening to the words of Pure Imagination, it’s so appropriate for today.  The world is paradise if we just look for it.  And we can change the world if we want to.  Gene Wilder did just that.  Rest in Peace with your beloved Gilda, Gene..  Vale Willy Wonka.  You will be alive in the hearts and imaginations of not just those already enamoured with your portrayal of Willy Wonka, but many generations yet to be enthralled.