I have always considered myself an artist, but it wasn’t until this year that I started to consider myself a photographer. My childhood was spent drawing, coloring with crayons, sewing, painting and crafting in every facet I could try my hand at. My teens and early 20’s focused on painting and watercolors became my favorite, although fickle and difficult, medium.
Then I started modeling. I modeled for many photographers from enthusiastic amateurs to serious, full-time professionals; what spoke to me what the photographer’s skill and passion, not whether he made his living that way or not. I had a lot of fun, a few scary experiences, and met some very cool people… including my fiance, Geoff.
I started getting ideas of shoots I would like to do, which was quite natural since my brain is so visually-wired. I knew my ideas were cool and had merit, but I could rarely convince another photographer of this. Some of my ideas translated themselves into paintings, but most of them built up inside me until the pressure to create was too great to bear. Well, if no one else liked my ideas,I would o them myself as self portraits.
This photo is from the very first self portrait shoot I set up, in January of 2010:
Geoff had to show me how to set up his lights, help me with camera settings and the backdrop I made out of an old white sheet… help he still gives me frequently. But I had done it. I’d brought my vision to life, even creating the antlers I wore out of wire and paper mache. It was so satisfying. I had full, total control over everything. I didn’t have to explain my ideas, I didn’t have to get anyone else on board with them. I could just go out and create the things I saw in my head. It was exhilarating.
It took a little while for me to develop my photographic style. I’d had my drawing and painting style down for years, but this was something new. I tried different things, some of which were more successful than others. But in May of 2010, I took the photo which has since defined my style. I almost didn’t. I remember feeling that taking a photo would be a hassle that day, but my inner creation goddess would not be silenced, so I eventually listened to her.
It was shot in the hallway of my apartment using mostly natural light and props I already had. I had been looking at a book of John William Waterhouse, my favorite painter, and was also inspired by the work of Brooke Shaden and the painterly quality she often brings to her works. Between the inspiration I gathered from them and the painting background already laid down in my head, it was a natural direction to go in. I didn’t have my self-timer remote then, so between each shot I had to reset the self timer function on my camera then scramble back into position, grab the fabric to cover myself with and pose. It took a few times, but I got it right eventually.
The title is Latin for “Come worship at my holy temple,” and the props are all symbolic in supporting that idea. The crown I’m wearing, designating me the priestess. The fabric, reminiscent of holy robes. The burning incense and candles, both at once religious icons and romantic ones. The fabric on the floor guiding the eye up past the roses, through the other offerings up to the central figure. It was all very carefully thought out and planned, which is an important factor in my work. I know many photographer whose work thrives on spontaneity. Geoff is the perfect example. And that works for them. But mine is very methodical, thoughtful and planned. It is shot with intention, as my Reiki master likes to say. That’s what works for me.
And in addition to being nostalgic and remembering where it all started, I am also pleased to announce that a print of the photo above is currently being shown at The Hive gallery in downtown Los Angeles. They have a great show running all through December and I’m excited to be a part of it. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by; it’s a cool place 🙂