PhotoRama

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jackie

So, what’s a long-time photographer like me doing starting up something new like an online store featuring my collection of photographs?  The main influence has been my wistful longing for a more completely bohemian lifestyle – but what exactly is that?  According to wikipedia, “In modern usage, the term “Bohemian” is applied to people who live unconventional, usually artistic, lives.”

While most of us modern bohemians may not have a life free of convention, we can certainly embrace the spirit of romanticism, adventurous travel, and delightful ethnic adornments!  So I am bringing some fun & functional items to my little corner of the internet universe for you, dear reader, to peruse and enjoy.

My intention is to tell some of the stories behind the images – and there are quite a few – that will make the items even more special to those who are enjoying them on a phone, a tote bag, or an accent pillow.  So welcome to my new venture; I hope you find something that lifts you up and inspires you to embrace the spirit of adventure & romance that is the cornerstone of a bohemian lifestyle!     Visit PhotoRama.store

Sing Me to Heaven

If you would comfort me,  sing me a lullaby.

If you would win my heart, sing me a love song.

If you would mourn me and bring me to God, sing me a requiem,

Sing me to heaven.    – Daniel E. Gawthrop

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My true friend, companion, partner-in-crime, guardian, comforter – has shed her earthly raiment and moved on to wild & free adventures without me.  I love this pic I snapped of her recently; she was quite camera-shy; which was frustrating since she was such the head-turner on four paws…

Our story is so amazing even now; it was the first anniversary of 9/11  (2002); and everyone was still pretty raw back then.  I had just finished my morning email ritual, having taken the time to forward a message about practicing random acts of kindness …I try not to forward too much but this one was forward-worthy.   Anyway, I hopped on my bicycle & headed out to the large city park that bordered our house with my two dogs – both rescues from said park.

And there, trailing behind a middle-aged woman walker, as if to say, “take me home, please” was this tiny puppy – obviously afflicted with mange as only tufts of white hair were visible on her mostly furless body.  I remember the woman saying she couldn’t possibly take it home with her; and there was no way I was going to let that puppy go homeless another day – it was obvious she had been abandoned.

So I picked her up and put her in my bicycle basket; and she immediately jumped out (which was quite a jump for a little one) – and postured aggressively towards my two dogs who were attempting to say “hello…” Once again I picked her up and this time carried her against my chest with one hand whilst commandeering the bicycle with the other.

As fate would have it, I had an appointment with my vet that very day to take in another park orphan, a tiny coal-black kitten my son had brought home.  So off we went to the animal hospital – Muffy received one shot per week for four weeks for the mange – and her rag-a-muff appearance was transformed  into the beautiful dog she was.  Her name “Muffy” was shorthand for the more formal “Scruff-a-Muff” who then became “Fluff-a-Muff” when her transformation was complete.

babymuf001

Baby Scruf-a-muf after she had grown some fur back – wearing a hand-me-down cat collar with a heart-shaped tag

She had an absolutely magnificent tail that curled over her back when she was happy; I used to call it a “fountain of hair-” everyone commented on it and I assure you, no other dog’s tail could compete.

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Muffy the Vampire sporting her shaved coat & the “fountain of hair” that was her tail

And we went on to have many adventures together for the next 13 & a half years.   She was such a reflection of myself – and not always in a feel-good way.  She had quite the reputation for being a nipper – I couldn’t have her around children at all – and she often misinterpreted people that were close as being a threat to me.  I would try to excuse her behavior by saying that she had “issues…”

muffy

Tongue-in-cheek poster art

Anyway, my favorite nickname was bestowed upon her by my sweet almost-daughter/roomie/college girl Emily, who lived with me for two & a half years and became fast friends with Muffy – calling her “The Beautiful Lie,” because she looked & felt like a cuddly stuffed animal & people wanted to do just that, at their peril.

She was no doubt sent to me by a squadron of angels (whom I had seen in cloud formation one day that same year).  She went with me when I left my husband, family & home; she and I and her pet cat Dorie were a family of three for over twelve years.  This past year was bittersweet; I watched with sadness last summer as she suddenly got old, listless & depressed.  She walked in pain and kept her magnificent tail hanging downwards.   I know she forgives me my “stupid human” moments when I missed what she was trying to convey.   Being a dog, she just loved me & lived for the moments we were together.   I had to make that excruciating decision to help her to transition after heroic efforts to intervene failed.   And that exit went so beautifully; it was sweet evidence of a grand design behind all things.

The night before she died, I had gone to sleep weeping inconsolably over what I knew I had to do the next day.  But I had a dream that she was young again and running towards me with all that boundless joy of a happy healthy dog who knows it is loved by its human.   I like to think she & her angel squadron were letting me know that all is well no matter how bleak & tragic things might seem.  Go well into that good night, sweet sweet puppy.   I am doing my best to sing you on to heaven.

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Muffy & Dorie watching a squirrel; photo by Emily Scholz

Infrared Film Meets Digital Doppelgänger

grace

This is one of my very first digital compilations.  The tower is actually as portrayed; i.e. I did NOT add the word GRACE.  I had stumbled across it on a winding rural texas road on the way to legendary Lukenbach on very hot summer.  I don’t remember why I had infrared film loaded, but it certainly added to the feel that attracted me to it in the first place.  The ghostly figure was from another series in a completely different setting and with normal film; I remember the thrill of digitizing these photos (by scanning the prints) and learning how to isolate the figure and import her to her place under the the tower.  It is I believe the first black & white digital image to which I added color digitally.  It had very personal significance to me – I was listening a lot to Carolyn Myss in those days and she would use the phrase “send your grace” to anyone you might want to pray for…so it was quite the visual metaphor for me.

 

The Purple Bed

More experiments in digital painting

The ever-present Corpus Christi wind adds a romantic feel to this image…also adding to the mood is the backlighting from the windows.  Always look for ways to add diagonals in your imagery; here the foot of the bed frame adds dynamism to the absolute horizontal line of the subject.  A lovely silk sari from India was the prop that creates a poetry of movement, and allowed a modicum of modesty as well…  : )

This one has been painted using Corel’s Paint software…powerful program that is a blast to work with – like magic, I have turned ugly files of broken and reticulated imagery into smoothed and perfected visual poetry.

The Purple Phase

Old Giant Clocks...a Relic from the Past

Old Giant Clocks…a Relic from the Past

This image dug from my archives is a favorite of mine…it’s from the analogue days of silver-based printing and subsequent hand-coloring.  I was a big fan of the color purple, obviously.  This image was the result of a road trip from Corpus Christi north on Hwy 77; a pretty rural highway that winds through many small Texas towns.  I was by myself at the time, and on a mission.  I was returning to the scene to capture this; having been to this very spot on a previous trip and shooting this same image – but the film somehow got scratched in processing and there was a huge line through the entire length of film.  I know some of you remember those days!  So, being enamored of the image, I was determined to go back and capture it again, hoping the darkroom gremlins would behave the second time around.

It’s actually the inside of the clock tower of the Lavaca County Courthouse in Halletsville.  Subscribing to the “don’t ask, apologize afterwards” school of thought when trespassing, I simply removed the velvet rope blocking the stairs and proceeded to climb up the four (or was it five?) floors to the tower, whereupon I ascended an old metal spiral staircase up to the ancient clock.  The horizontal pole you see attached to the center of the clock face ended inside that mysterious  (purple) door; the tower being four-sided had four giant clock faces, each with one of these poles attached to the hands and running to the actual inner workings of the clock, which was housed in that central tiny room.  The clock itself a magnificient amalgam of mechanical gears turning each of the poles which in turn moved the hands of the four clock faces.

Wow – did you get that picture?  I’m willing to bet you could still make it up there unbeknownst to the people working in this still-functioning historic courthouse; just make sure you come back down before quitting time — but that’s a cautionary tale for another post! : )

A Visual Tribute to All Things Domestic…

A visual tribute to all things domestic

“Cake” A visual tribute to all things domestic

This is a self-portrait that I was inspired to create because of, believe it or not, the refrigerator.  At the time, it was already a vintage behemoth that I had found at a yard sale – and with a lot of help and not a little bit of foolhardiness, we managed to lug it up the flight of 28 steps to the kitchen of my downtown studio/loft.  The reason I was so enamored of the silly thing rests solely on its model name, which is too small to read in this image but can be seen to the left of my head…I took great delight in pointing it out to any and all visitors to my kitchen:  behold, the “Masterpiece Foodarama.”  There’s a party going on in there!  And indeed we had many a party up there in that rarified space and I was more than pleased to capture it for posterity on film.  It’s long gone now, having succumbed to the rust that never sleeps.  

I used a tripod and a self-timer in order to pull this off…not to mention a saucy hostess apron and the strategically placed cake saving cover.  This is one of my first experiments with digital enhancement – the film was black & white, and I had the negative scanned and then I played around with adding color and solarizing by manipulating the curves adjustment in Photoshop.  

The funnest part was having it printed out poster-sized on backlit film; it still hangs in the very kitchen where it was created.  Can you find the “arrow” that magically appeared from manipulating the image?  Hint:  Top of the head…. Wicked cool!

A South Texas Tale…

What happens when a photographer sets out to create an image in a wedding dress...

What happens when a photographer sets out to create an image in a wedding dress…

This is a “vintage” image from my archives…waaaay back before the digital age (circa early ’90’s), when I labored (happily) in a bona fide darkroom complete with all kinds of horrifying (to me now) chemicals.  Working in black & white, I would take my photos (those oh so archaic silver-based fiber prints) and hand color them with Marshall oils and colored pencils.  I even gained a modicum of recognition, with a number of images being published in magazines and even featured in a how-to book on hand-coloring photographs.  I was “Miss Thing!”

Several years after I created “Cruel Shoes,”  I wrote a short story about the making of this image…and I finally found it on my hard-drive recently… so here it is – Enjoy!

A South Texas Tale

The wedding gown lay crumpled at the bottom of my closet, a victim of neglect born of its singularity of purpose:  a marriage ceremony that will forever remain a mystery to me.  Several years earlier, I had paid five dollars for it at one of my favorite second-hand haunts – a dank, dark establishment with hidden jewels languishing amongst the junk.  This dress was a fading beauty of the forties, in creamy satin with classic lines that bespoke a simple elegance.  Shaking out the dust and wrinkles, I struggled into it, the thirty-plus button-and-loop closures down the back requiring a contortionist’s talents.  Burning inside my photographer’s brain was an image, visited upon me by the Muses, of a bride, a suitcase and a roadside.

Hence, one slightly bedraggled wedding gown and a warm body to fill it.  Add to the mix an old suitcase and a pair of pointy-toed pumps that made my sensible-shoe-loving feet shudder.  I grabbed my camera and tripod, threw it all in the car and headed for Padre Island—its wide-open, uncluttered vistas promising the perfect backdrop for the roadside.

Once on the island, I found a suitable spot, parked on the side of the road and proceeded to set up the scene.  Fortunately, the month was January, which meant a minimum of traffic to interfere with my mission.  Winter days in South Texas can be downright bi-polar, with frigid gray skies one day and glorious warm sunshine the next.  This particular one was on the upswing, with balmy temperatures and the wind just enough to lift the dress’s long elegant train and waltz with it.  I parked myself on the suitcase at the roadside, my trusty Canon rigged with a long sync cord to trip the time-release shutter at just the decisive moment.  My feet balked at my attempt to shove them into the cruel shoes (my sympathy for Cinderella’s sisters), so they were tossed aside onto the pavement.

Now, as any photographer knows, one must ideally shoot many frames to increase the odds of capturing that frozen moment when all the elements of a compelling composition are present.  Consequently, I was there on the roadside for quite a while, absorbed in my craft, until the spectacle I must’ve presented to the few travelers on that desolate stretch began to complicate matters.  It seems that the sight of a bride alone on the side of the road was too much for their tender hearts.  Never mind that my car and the camera on the tripod were in full view; all these people could compute was a damsel in distress.  Most were retirees, rumbling about in their big ol’ RVs, lurching to a halt alongside me, and inquiring earnestly if I was all right, and did I need a ride, honey?  One exception was a small red sports car that passed by slowly and eventually returned from the opposite direction.  This time it paused, the dark tinted window rolling down to reveal a handsome young man and his companion, a dog in the front seat beside him.

“Are you all right?” he queried.

By this time I was thoroughly embarrassed and could only bluster, “Go away.  I’m working.  I’m an artist.”

“This is the most bizarre sight I have ever seen,” he replied with such conviction that I assumed he led a rather boring life.  I suggested that he might as well play a part in my tableau, so I directed him to pass by once more, the timed shutter release tripping just as he was driving off into the sunset, suggesting he was leaving his would-be bride stranded.

Or did our heroine choose to remain free and determine her own fate?  For me, the success of “Cruel Shoes” lies in the differing way viewers react to it: some find it sad, some inspiring, but always a reaction.  For its creator, it is a testament to the power of intent, and how “all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance” can fall into place serendipitously to manifest in a powerful image.  And it all started with a five-dollar wedding gown, rescued from obscurity and given a chance to work its magic.

Footnote:  the term “cruel shoes” was borrowed from the talented Mr. Steve Martin, from his short story of the same title.  The quote from the last paragraph is from W.H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, 1951.