No-Snow Day Part 1

More sleet and snow was expected today, so school was canceled, then none came. Our city is going to have to figure out a better way to deal with this weather if it keeps happening like this, or we are all going to become terribly unproductive.

Well, not me – at least not as far as photography is concerned. Last night I came across a book about portrait photography by Natalie Dybisz, who got her start uploading photos to good old Flickr. I bought her first book, and  found it interesting even though her self-portraits and mine don’t have much in common. Hers are much more representative of real self-portraiture with her emphasis on sets, props, and location; as I’ve mentioned here many times, I’m more aligned with fashion photography than the self-portrait kind.

Dybisz actually works with models too, but her work always incorporates interesting environments and unique lighting, as well as some killer Photoshop skills I can still only dream of possessing. Her new book also highlights several other self-portrait photographers, all of whom have radically different styles and processes; I love reading about how other artists work and get inspired, as it generally makes me feel less like a freak for working the way I do. There are as many types of photographic processes as there are photographers, and every once in awhile I need to be reminded of that.

I knew since today was an off day that I wanted to do some more artistic shooting, so reading this book last night generated some good ideas for me to work with. I was determined to start early and not spend the entire day working on photos, but of course I failed at that. I finished up the shoot fairly early as I didn’t take nearly as many shots as I usually do (mostly because the shots I was going for were so specific that there wasn’t a lot more posing to do once I got what I was wanting) but then of course I spent the entire rest of the day editing obsessively. Whatever. I am happy with the results, so I’ll consider it worth it.

I took two very different types of photos today, so I want to share them in two separate posts. Problem is, I like both sets so much I can’t really decide which ones to share here first. I guess I’ll go with the straight-up self-portrait shots, then share the arty ones tomorrow, So here goes:

Taken with my 85mm

OK, so that shot isn’t all that different from what I’ve done before,  but I did take a few snaps of the makeup before hitting the set, just because I always do. To speed things along, I kept the makeup very simple; I modeled this after a picture of January Jones at the Met Ball last year (scroll down), when the theme was punk (I think). It’s just a lot of heavy eyeliner and really not much else, so I went with that because I knew I could do it quickly and get on with the shooting. And no, I didn’t pull off her eyeliner look well at all, but I got the basic idea. The wig is a fabulous asymmetrical one called Tulip – it only cost $13.95 and it is amazing, It also went well with the punk makeup I had going.

Self Portrait with Hammer Pants

So there it is – my first ‘real’ self-portrait. I wasn’t brave enough to go venturing outside or anything (plus it was cold), but I tried to squeeze into my limited space some things that represent me, at least in a humorous way. There’s no deep meaning or anything here, in fact, I centered the entire set around that fab t-shirt I got from ModCloth, then made sure to get my mirror in there as a tongue-in-cheek reference to my own vanity, and dragged a bunch of my fashion props out of the old hat box I use to store them. The clothes thrown on the chair represent, well, the fact that I am a slob who always has clothes thrown over a chair somewhere, and those Uggs are actually my house shoes. The trickiest part was getting my reflection right in the mirror so it showed up in the shot; took about eight tries to get this right, and this was the last shot of the eight.


What I really like about this one is that you can see my laptop in the mirror, where I have another photo of me pulled up in Photoshop (it’s actually the portrait I shared at the beginning of this post; I was working on editing it while taking these shots). My glasses are tossed on the floor here, since I always have them thrown on the floor somewhere during a shoot. The bunny ears are fuzzy and I like them, so there you go. Also decided to hang one of my fuzzy sweaters over the chair, because I love fuzzy things. And yes, white balance was a bitch once again, and each of these shots is a slightly different tone. To hell with it, that’s something I can’t ever get consistently right.


Of course I had to jump in one of the shots. I also had to crop the hell out of these; I barely had enough room in my little studio to get everything into the frame, without having to go beyond the boundaries of the white backdrop. I considered at one time just letting the edges of the backdrop show, as well as the edge of my clothes closet and the bookshelf full of old workout equipment, but in the end, that was too much reality for me even when trying to be so representative, so I cropped it all out.

Finally got the white balance right with this one

All in all, I’m pleased with how these shots turned out. Nothing like what I usually do, and I expected to be completely disappointed with them, but they did what I wanted them to do, and they weren’t hard to set up or edit. So, something different, but kinda fun – tomorrow, on to the arty-ness!

Oh, and I also spent some more time on Polyvore this morning, but the looks I created were more for myself than for sharing – they weren’t all that exciting, but they did serve to compile some of the stuff in my closet into outfits I can remind myself to wear later (mostly for my two fuzzy sweaters, actually – they are fabulous to look at, but they have kind of a frumpy shape, and I’ve been struggling to figure out how to wear them). I did not make a Polyvore set for the gold hammer pants, however. Let me figure out how to wear the fuzzy sweaters before I take those suckers on.

2 thoughts on “No-Snow Day Part 1

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