Photos and No-Gos

As I share some photos, I’m also going to share some reflections and decisions I’ve been mulling over and making this last week that basically have nothing to do with the pictures, but whatever. We were off all week due to the flooding here, and once the rains and floodwaters subsided I was left with some time for photoshoots and wig vids (which I’ll post later), and along with that there was time for ridiculousness and drama of the non-work variety. Seems if it isn’t happening in one area of life, it’s happening in another, but I guess that’s the way goes.

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Using Portrait Pro to change haircolor – it was really brunette in this photo

I counted up the years and realized I’ve been wearing and reviewing wigs for almost 6 years now. At times it feels like just yesterday that I started, and at other times it feels like I’ve been at this for a lifetime. I’ve gone through phases where I didn’t wear or buy them at all, and other times where my wig closet is overfull and I have to start unloading (like now). As some  of you know, it was buying wigs that got me into photography. As I experienced buying them online and having them look so different on my head from the stock photos, I started using my ‘wig fails’ to make silly pictures of myself, just so the money wasn’t going to waste. Between making the videos and sharing my photos, I’ve developed a much more prominent online presence than I ever expected to have.

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I mainly used a Topaz plug-in called ReStyle to change the tones to green in this shot; in the original my shirt was a dark olive green, the background was black, and the wig was brown.

That comes with a downside, of course, but for the most part I’ve learned to navigate that successfully, without too much chaos. I learned this from experience, and some of that experience was  public, which means other people in the online wig community (which can get as vicious and contentious as your most misogynistic gaming community, trust me) know a bit of my history in that regard. So, from time to time, a fellow wig-wearer reaches out to me for help in navigating those choppy wig-waters when they first encounter them. In the past, I’ve tried my best to help people by sharing with them what I know, albeit cautiously, since I know how people who reach out to you online may not actually be the person they claim to be, and that they may in fact be one of the bullies digging for information on me instead of an individual in need of real advice (oh yeah, that happens. A lot).

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This shot was from the same set as the green one above; so brown wig, olive green top, and black background originally.

But. After the latest round of advice-giving and hand-holding, I’ve realized that all I’m doing through these conversations is contributing to the chaos. Certainly, continuing to coach people through the craziness yanks me back into the drama I have otherwise removed from my life, but I’ve always considered that a decent price to  pay if it helps someone else avoid some of the stress, fear, and confusion I went through. But last week I realized that doing this has just changed the target on my back rather than helping to heal or remove it. Because the people who reach out to me for help either really aren’t interested in removing themselves from the drama as much as they want to immerse themselves in it through hearing my story, or, they ask me a ton of questions to help clarify their own situation for themselves, then disappear once they’ve gotten whatever level of assistance they want only to never speak to me again (unless they need something else from me in relation to their problems, in which case they seek me out. Again).  Either way, I end up getting used. So from now on – anyone who asks me even one question about what happened to me on YouTube, or how they should deal with it themselves, etc. is going to be ignored, completely. I’ve more than done my part as far as helping other people out, and I am done dealing with it or discussing it on any level. Let someone else play Dear Abby from now on, because I’m shutting down my advice column and moving on.

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I liked the symmetry in this shot between my eyes, the sunglasses, and the butterfly

To the few of you who were truly there for me when I went through the mess I did and who are still around, of course, I thank you for it. There are a handful of you. But for the newer people who come sniffing around because you need either reassurance or to feed your gossip monster, good luck to you, because from this point forward you’re on your own. I am no longer a resource for any of that, so you will have to get your needs met elsewhere. I am now focusing on my needs instead – and my need in relation to all this drama is to speak of it no longer.

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Another thing I noticed about myself as the little drama I got dragged into evolved last week was that I tend to stay hooked into this stuff through a need to control whether or not people get upset with me. In other words, it’s that ages-old society-perpetuated ladyproblem of trying to make certain everybody likes me. In the past, whenever someone came at me with a pissed-off attitude or accusation, I immediately went into panic mode and tried to soothe their troubled spirits, so none of that anger would come back to me and I would be safe from retribution, mean gossip, or shunning. Once I recognized my knee-jerk fear reaction for the weak and un-empowered BS that it was, I found it much easier to ignore the veiled threats, tell them to piss off, and be done. No wheedling and justifying and explaining to make sure that person didn’t go away from the exchange angry; just move on and let the chips fall where they may. I’m done with the whole bag of chips anyway, so let them do what they will with all the crumbs. Moving on.

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A bright idea

So, photos. As I said, I had an entire week off last week, and even aside from that, April has had a lot of time off from school for me, so I finally got out of my photo slump and started shooting again.

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As time goes by, I find the posing part of the process more and more tedious, but I still have little interest in taking photos of other people. Perhaps it is vanity; I know that the dressing up and playing with makeup part is something I enjoy, so there’s that. But I also don’t like working on a schedule (I like to just shoot when I get the impulse to do so), directing other people (which I’m not good at), or feeling obligated to work to someone else’s timeline or specifications. If I hold a session and then don’t feel like editing those shots for a month (which never happens but still, it could) then I want to be free to do that (or not do it, as the case  might be). And if I like a certain photo from a shoot and want to edit that one, then I don’t want to be forced to edit some other shot because the model likes the way  her hair looks in some other one, or thinks her eyes are too wonky in the shot I like. And I want to process the hell out of my shots without feeling guilty that I’m altering a face more than some other model might want me to do. So for now, it’s still about getting myself out of my posing slump and pushing through the boredom that sometimes comes with this way of doing things.

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The nice thing is that if I start to feel stale in one area, I can make up for that in another. For awhile I got into playing with light. Then I went through a stage where buying vintage costumes was my obsession, and playing around with the clothes and taking full-length movement and motion shots took most of my time. Lately my inspiration has been buying new wigs, as well as using the Portrait Pro software (with which I’m still having a blast), and last week I started checking out and purchasing different backdrops for some variety. I’ve been using my white, black, and grey popup backgrounds a lot since discovering those a year ago, but when I started shooting video again last summer, I found that a solid background was less than ideal due to how much of the grain a solid backdrop reveals. I finally bit the bullet and bought a few mottled popups (they aren’t cheap) and for my videos, that’s really helped, but of course it also led to my wanting more backdrops in different colors. So yesterday, my shoot wase focused mainly on trying some of these new backdrops out.

backdrop_collage
On the left, a mottled backdrop that is in reality pink and grey; on the right is an ‘out of focus’ backdrop that’s supposed to be city-light bokeh

I also bought some new vintage clothes to play around with, and did some shots with those as well, but I haven’t had time to process as many of those. The stairs pic above is one set; I got that pink dress for about $14 off eBay; and the shots below are also using a vintage gown I bought last week. It’s been a long minute since I last took movement and motion shots so I was a bit out of practice, but my pets were there to save the day and help me out (as well as up the cuteness factor by 100).

bench_collage

So. Here’s hoping for a drama-free (and flood-free) week for everyone. Video reviews to follow!

35 thoughts on “Photos and No-Gos

  1. Hi Cynthia,
    I was going to say that you’re fortunate to not be on YouTube as I’ve noticed several wig reviewers that I follow have either taken their videos down or spoken up against some bully. I think it’s so sad that people invite drama, that some seem to thrive on hurting others & stirring the pot. Those of us who wear wigs (for whatever reason) are like anyone else & I don’t think anyone deserves to be preyed upon online or in daily life.
    I think you’ve made a wise choice & it’s important to consider yourself & do what’s best for you! I am similar to you in that I do tend to like to help others but that sometimes means sacrificing oneself & in the end there is no purpose to this martyrdom because, as you said, they go their own way & only come back when they’re in need once more. Nobody likes being taken advantage of! So it’s good to draw those lines in the sand!
    I have Portrait Professional too but haven’t learned how to do nearly the range of things you’ve done with your images. Your photos will serve as inspiration for me to dive in again when I have some free time. 🙂 I can relate to your reasons for wanting to do self portraits. I have the same issues when dealing with group projects etc. When I do my portrait drawings, I prefer to work from photos rather than dealing with drawing a person live as schedules conflict & honestly, it interrupts my creative flow.
    Keep with your creativity & enjoy it. Have fun dressing up, posing, photographing, and editing as there are so many of us who enjoy the final products. But even more importantly, it’s something that brings you joy, something that you love to do. Let the rest fall away and just enjoy 🙂
    Hugs,
    Julie

    • Yes, I left way back in 2012 or something, but because of my former experience i still on occasion allow myself to get drawn back into it. Up until this point I was OK with it because I at least thought I was helping, but it’s reached a point now where I’ve paid my dues in that regard and I am ready to retire my superhero-rescue cape and move on.

      • Yes, move on to other things & leave it in the past. I’m sorry this has happened to you. 😦 I do really appreciate the info you’ve shared here & the help you’ve given me regarding wig choices & companies etc. And that was invaluable to me!
        Also meant to say how cool the image is with you in the stairs and beneath them! Love how your cat (Simon?) is on the stairs looming right at you! It’s such an interesting composition. It’s got a push and pull feel to it. Your creativity & talent is inspiring & a real treat to look at. Very cool work! 🙂

  2. Sorry to hear about all the hard times as well! I’m super new to the wig community so I don’t really know of anything that goes on…but it’s unfortunate people who are so helpful are being hurt. Just wanted you to know how much your reviews on this site have helped me in my search for the right wig. 🙂 And your photos are phenomenal! You are so talented!

  3. I have seen and read about the drama on You Tube. I even considered trying it myself but why bother if you are going to be critisized and judged? Plus I have better things to do. I do so appreciate those that take the time to share their wigs and describe them to us. It really is very helpful! I love watching them and find myself addicted to it…always checking to see if anyone has a new video up! Still I am sorry you have had bad experiences and sad to say, I think this is true in many arenas of life. I see it in the dog show world..wow…talk about drama!!! So I try to stay to myself, be friendly and be neutral…but it is not easy. I love your pics and I think it’s great that you have found a way to express yourself. Wigs should be fun!!! Sad that there are always people who like to spoil it for the rest of us.

    • Well, I found that if you review the wigs on some other platform and just don’t use YouTube, you’re more or less in the clear. It can be done, but most people don’t want to do it because they like the level of interaction and the reach they get on YT. My observation is that from the very beginning there were dysfunctional/unhealthy personalities involved in the YT wig community, and it is just very firmly established at this point and will probably always be there. Some communities just have that as a part of their foundation and it’s almost impossible to change that culture, unfortunately.

  4. I just wanted to say a big thank you for what you do in the wig community! When I first transitioned to wigs full time I had no direction or idea what I was doing. You and Stacey on Real life wigs were the reason I fell in love with the Amore wigs and felt comfortable with myself after losing my hair. Due to health problems and all the side effects like hair loss I didn’t leave my home for almost a year and the wonderful tips and videos you ladies posted were what guided me back to feeling like myself again. I seriously can’t say how much it meant to me! I remember the day that the videos were removed and how devastating it was to feel like this huge resource was gone. It’s a tragedy that the negativity of a few people can create so much devastation to so many people, a lot of whom have many other personal issues like their health to deal with. I was so happy to find your site/blog after literally searching for you since you left and I still enjoy and appreciate what you do. Take care of you first and do it unapologetically because so many people will use you up if you let them. xo Rachel

    • That’s funny – that blog was actually the third or fourth manifestation of my wig activity. First was YouTube, then I had a previous blog I ran myself, then I moved to Vimeo, then I turned my blog over to Stacey and she ran it for a few years, then she stopped running that blog, and I started to add my wig videos here (I’d already had this blog for a long time to house my poems and my photographs). So by the time you found my stuff I’d actually already been through the lion’s share of the drama! 😉 It has definitely been a bumpy ride.

      • Wow, that is a long time to deal with drama! Hopefully you can avoid it from now on and just enjoy your wigs and other hobbies in peace. xo

  5. I not only try to avoid drama like the plague but usually can’t even understand how it occurs. It’s so bizarre. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this. But I love these pix–all of them–but especially the staircase shot (and the animals, of course)!!!

  6. Firstly, WOW you look so stunning in the Blue butterfly and Green shots! And your dog is gorgeous, (I rate my day by how many dogs I pat)…..It’s an Australian; I live in the country thing….Even though I’ve been wearing wigs for about 27 years or so and know how they change my look, your photos are so brilliant I had to look 2 or 3 times to see it was you. ( I’m a very lame photo hobbyist) The last purple shot looks very Kate Bush. Love it.
    I was so saddened to read the review that others are so horrid.
    I love your reviews,
    ( ridiculous but I look forward to each one and find myself chatting away to you as you’re chatting to the camera) so much fun.
    And if anyone isn’t happy with what you do well It’s a reflection on them hey.. .Take care. 🙂

    • I love Kate Bush! 🙂 And I Photoshop my photos to hell and back so I can make myself look VERY different from photo to photo. In fact in some of these, my makeup just went so wrong for some reason…the originals look awful, So they probably look a bit TOO overdone since almost all the makeup is digital. LOL

      • Since you love Kate Bush have a look at the official video of Running up that hill. You will see what I mean (….she’s brilliant, but with all your photoshopping so are you.

  7. It’s amazing how long it’s been and how long we have known each other for, since we met from YouTube. My fellow wig reviewer friend and it’s also amazing we have never hung out before, tho you are I consider a best friend that lives freaking far lol. Anywho I like yourself left because of the drama back then. Sadly in this generation bullies can hide behind their computer screens and cause chaos from the comfort of their own homes. And sadly for some reason YouTube doesn’t remove the bully accounts when there is harassment going on. It’s just report and all of that. I decided to go back to YouTube because when I’m in the mood I’ll throw a video up and I know people like to watch (Wig Porn) as I like to call those videos whether it be from a company or customers. I find with having an online presence of any kind whether it be a public blog or a vlog on YT, Facebook or something there will be people who feel the need to leave nasty comments or spread hate. Either you have thick skin or you don’t or you accept it comes with being online and pay no attention to it. I’ve re joined the world of YT though if I don’t like a nasty comment I’ll remove it and then keep going. Same with my blog here on WordPress though I have learned to screen comments on my blog. I don’t mind if someone disagrees but to be plain rude no thanks!.

    These latest photos I’m just loving. Your super talented that is for sure. I know some things are trial and error but the end result is amazing.

  8. You are incredibly talented. The pictures are stunning! My favorite ones are the one with the stairs and the “green one.” You look like a forest fairy! : )
    I am sorry to hear about the bullies out there. I just want to let you know that I look forward to your posts an reviews. Your humor and creativity are contagious. Thank you!

  9. Hi sweetie,I hope you have a serene and quiet week and al this drama is over for now!, The photos are fabulous and it’s the finest work yet you’ve done,Bravo,I wish I owned and art gallery,because your work would always be on display in its own wing of the building!

  10. Straight up——– Don’t waste any time with the “inconsiderate”. You give so much. Those out here who are grateful , believe me, are without the proper words of appreciation.

  11. Wow! Just wow!! The photo with the red hair “altered” is my fave. Have you ever looked at the Kevin Aucoin books? Face Forward and something else where he puts makeup on celebs and others to look like other famous celebs and takes photo of it. Totally re-creates iconic scenes. The transformations are phenomenal and your work in this post reminds me of it.
    The wig video stuff..all I have to say is “thank you”. I’ve followed you online for years and the reviews are so very helpful. Wig companies are so shiesty and its such an ordeal to get a color ring to check out the colors. Your videos were what helped me finalize a decision to buy a wig or not. I don’t know what drama you’re speaking of but isn’t fascinating how people really have nothing better to do? The absurdity of it all!

  12. I don’t know the drama that has gone on and I don’t want to know. All I know is this. I enjoy YOU. I enjoy your reviews and I enjoy your photos (Oh. I’m secretly jealous of your photography ability!) In fact, I LOVE your photos because they are little pieces of art and creativity. Also, I like the way you think!

    It’s hard and it is daunting but don’t let others drag you down. If you are on the receiving end of you-tube bullies, then remember that those people have no lives and there is something not right in the head with them. You are appreciated! XOXOXOXO!!!

  13. It’s a shame you’ve had to stop something you enjoy, these photos are great the stair shot is fab and I love the three last shots best. I tried your portrait pro link, we got your discount so thanks for the tip, I’ve only used it twice on poor quality selfies I took because of a single overhead light creating bad shadows but it cleared it up great.

  14. Hi ! I found you looking for Stitch Fix inspirations. Wondering why they send out the cutest stuff to others (that anorak!! That printed skirt!!) and AWFUL frumpy stuff to me!! And I now adore your blog! Thank you!

    • LOL trust me, Stitch Fix has sent me some real clunkers, too. It’s hit or miss, but since it’s so easy to return stuff I continue to use the service although not as much as I used to. Thanks for stopping by!

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