Graceful – Weekly Photo Challenge

It is only our belief that we are trapped that keeps us bound where we are….Livonne

As some of you will know I’ve spent the weeks over Christmas and the New Year moving into a new home.  After shifting comes the mammoth task of setting a new home up.  I gave myself all of January off so I could concentrate on getting it just as I wanted it and then come February, I was to hit the ground running with works for exhibition as well as a few new series I have planned. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Take a month off I said.  It’ll be good I said.. Wrong!

Yesterday,  I couldn’t take the lack of creativity another minute.  Yes, I should have been unpacking and setting up things how I want them.  Yes, I should have been doing some gardening.  Yes, I should have been working on other stuff but my brain was screaming at me to create something… anything.

Luckily I have some lovely friends who are happy to pose for me whenever I want to shoot something in particular.  I got in touch with Janet and she happily agreed to be my model.  I had planned to shoot outside, however the beautiful mountains mists came in which, while beautiful and inspiring,  played havoc with my plans.  So instead, I set up an area inside, cut heaps of ivy off my fence and set about quickly planning something different.

I was inspired by the restless, trapped feeling I had when I had this self imposed break from creating.  Even though it was me that set the rules, I felt bound by them.  I could have stuck to my plan of not shooting over January but sometimes we have to listen to that creative voice that says “just do it”.  So I cast off those shackles and lost myself in what I love doing.  Yes my lounge room was a mess but it was so worth it.

I still have some more images to be edited but these three are the first of them.  Oh it felt so good to be creating again.

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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

I can see clearly now

Sometimes you need to step away from your work to be able to see it clearly upon return…. Livonne

Have you ever looked back on something you’ve done and thought, wow, I wish I’d done that differently?  I’m going through that now.  Revisiting my portfolio for an application I’ve just submitted, I finally recognised a genuine personality to my work.  Reasonably new to conceptual and composite photography, I’ve played with lots of different ideas to find what my style actually is.  I put together a slideshow portfolio for this application and suddenly it all seemed to fall into place. The recognition that is, the style has been there for a while.  I was just looking too closely at it to be able to see it…

Trying all different styles is part of growing as an artist.  Having inspiration to create comes easily.  My mind never really stops imagining so I’m always having ideas and concepts popping up.  However, once I’ve done them, I’m not the sort of person who really wants to go back and recreate them.  I know a lot of people do this, but it’s not the way I think.  I imagine it, I shoot it, I edit it, I walk away from it.

After I had that light bulb moment of recognising my unique style, I started to look back over some of the work I’ve already completed.  I’m not interested in recreating the whole thing as to be honest, I was reasonably happy with most of what I’d done.  I guess some people would find it easier just to scrap it and start again, but being a bit of a recycler, I’ve taken on the challenge of reworking the few images I was never quite happy with.  It wasn’t the model or the pose or even the photos themselves.   It really was all in the editing. So, I’m just revisiting the editing process.

Having stepped away from these photos for a while, I’ve seen them again through fresh eyes and was able to see where changes should be made.  Some are major changes, some are quite minor.  It might just be too much texture or not enough.  It could be that the colours looked a little bit muddy and needed a bit of a tweak.  Whatever it was, I’m now feeling happier with my back catalogue.

This is one of the images I’ve reworked.  It’s called Upon a Faerie Tide. Stepping away from your work really does make a huge difference to seeing things clearly.

On a faerie tide

 

 

 

Cry of the Banshee

She desperately covers her eyes, not wanting to see what surrounds her, but she cannot avoid it. Her eyes burn throughher hands. She has no choice.  From deep within, she wails the unearthly cry of grief warning those around that another soul prepares to take flight……Livonne

You must all be thinking that I’m going through a really dark patch right about now.  My photos lately have been a lot different than usual.  While I always try to portray hope in my photos, I am doing a series of photos of some of the folk tales I grew up hearing about.

Having had an Irish grandmother, I listened to her stories through the day and at night would hide my head under the covers, not wanting to hear the cry of the banshee which might signal her passing.  I listened when she told me about the Selkies, Leprechaun and a myriad of other creatures from the motherland. Of course, there were also fairies, angels and lots of sweet creatures to lighten my heart as well and they will all be featuring in this series.

I always felt that the banshee got a bit of a bad rap.  No one wanted to hear her as her cry brought the knowledge that death was nearby.  But she wasn’t the angel of death, merely a wailing woman who could see him as he came to take another soul home and her earth shattering wail was full of angst and grief as she warned of his coming.

I think I might balance her out with some fairies next.  A little fairy dust always helps to lighten the mood.

Cry of the Banshee

Time Out

Even warriors become weary.  Taking time out to recuperate is a great strength, never a weakness. When you feel strong again, brush off those wings and fly higher than ever before….Livonne 

time-out