Space Dress

I decided to play in clothes again today; reading everyone’s comments on my previous post about taking such photos inspired me to do what I want and worry less about how I might be interpreted by others, especially since I’m enjoying shooting outfits from my closet right now – usually I pose in costumes and vintage pieces, but these are all (with a few exceptions – one you’ll see in this post) things I actually wear in my day to day life, which is kinda fun to photograph and share.

I managed to get a few outfits shot outside with my lovely but temperamental 85mm before I lost light (didn’t start shooting until around 4 PM) and had to move it indoors, but that was OK by me as I wanted to experiment with putting different pieces together and that gets frustrating while trying to also shoot outside. I tend to save outfits I already know “work” on me for the outdoors stuff so I can throw the clothes on and get to it; if I want to mess about in my closet and try lots of things on in different combinations, it’s much easier to stay in the same place for the photos once I decide what the look is going to be.

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Brought to you by Pixlr, as usual

By the end of the day I had another 500 shots or so, and that’s on top of last week’s approximately 500 shots of which I’ve barely scratched the surface. I know I say this all the time, but I am really going to have to hold off on shooting more stuff for awhile so I can plow through all of these. They aren’t as time-consuming to process as I keep things simple in the final edit, but I have so damn many I want to work with and share that I’ll need at least another weekend to catch up. It’s just that I haven’t quite gotten off the shopping treadmill I jumped on over the holidays, so I keep adding more things to my closet that I’d like to photograph. For example,  I have a few more things coming in the mail this week from ModCloth, so I know I’m going to want to shoot those next Saturday in spite of the backlog.

Speaking of which, the first dress I’d like to share is from ModCloth, of course, and it’s an absolute stunner. It was on clearance for $16.99, and although there is no way in hell I’d ever wear this thing out of the house, I thought it would do a bang-up job in photographs, and I was not mistaken.

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My favorite shot from the set

Most of the reviews for this dress said that it was clingy but looked fabulous, which isn’t untrue, but this is way too tight for me to feel comfortable wearing it out and about. That said, the material is nice and thick so it does a decent job of containing and concealing the body’s imperfections; my main issue with it is how I look when not standing in perfect lighting while perfectly posed (which isn’t great). That said, I’d like to add that in none of these photos did I edit my body in the slightest, it’s all me although there were certainly plenty of photos that did not present me in the most appealing light. I edited the shots in my usual manner – color edits, clarifying/sharpening detail, smoothing skin, removing undereye wrinkles, etc. – but I didn’t slim down the curve of my thighs or smooth out lumpy bits like I usually need to do when wearing something this clingy in a photo (which isn’t often).

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Oh, and Spanx. All the reviewers mentioned the necessity of Spanx, and I followed their advice.

I get why people would like this dress in spite of it’s clinginess, though; as I mentioned it’s sturdy enough to hold everything in place a bit, and the dark fabric helps to further conceal imperfections.

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It was not, however, a good jumping dress. Doesn’t move at all plus the print gets crumpled. 

As you are about to figure out, I edited a lot more of the shots in this dress than I usually do for one look. It’s not just that it makes my bod look pretty great, it’s that amazing print. That’s what really drew me to the dress in the first place; the colors are lovely and the idea of it is unique but not totally crazy – when you first see it, you think wow, that’s a bizarre print for dress, but then right on the heels of that you think, no wait, it’s the perfect print for one. The length is a little awkward, but other than that it’s terrific. So, I processed a LOT of shots of me wearing it.

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Yep, I’m still wearing it.

It’s not often I can wear something this tight and not look badly proportioned; maybe it’s the long sleeves balancing out my small upper half with my ample lower half. I almost wish I was brave enough to wear this out somewhere, but before you start trying to talk me into it, don’t think I won’t show you a few of the bad shots of me in this thing to change your mind. Because I have plenty.

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This, however, isn’t one of them

On a completely superficial note, it’s still funny to me to hear women say they wish they had my shape, my lower half in particular. I spent decades of my life hating my butt and my thighs, and then somewhere in the 00’s big rear ends became desirable which helped me to accept my shape. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know; I suppose I should  have been able to get past it on my own, but that’s not how it went down for me and it’s too late anyway. I just needed society to validate me, is all. Moving on. Not only that but friends of mine say they’re jealous of the junk in my trunk; that never happened to me when I younger and my junk was less, well, junky. I’m not going to get into my body issues in this post, but I could talk at length about my thighs and how much I was tormented by them when I was a teenager (my mother would poke at them and say “Can’t you DO anything about this?” on a regular basis). Bottom line is (pun intended), I am not tormented by any part of my body anymore. It is what it is.

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And what it is at the moment is wrapped in a seriously fabulous dress. Oh, and Spanx. Lots of Spanx.

And in case you’re wondering how  I manage to pose myself so I don’t need Photoshop to make me look curvy in all the right places, here’s my secret – I always stand with my upper body leaning slightly forward while pushing my hips back to de-emphasize them. You will never see me sticking my hips forward in a photo; I’m always leaning slightly forward with my upper body to emphasize the part of me that’s smaller. Go back and look at all the photos in this post, or any post, and you’ll see the same basic stance every time – upper body forward, lower body shifting back. Too bad I can’t walk around like that as it’s how my body looks best, but I haven’t figured out a way to walk while leaning forward and sticking my butt out. Yet.

Oh and if you’re wondering – I have one arm  behind my back in so many photos because I was holding the remote with that hand. You’re welcome.

Right on Target

Got up about 7 AM Sunday morning, enjoyed a leisurely cup of tea, then got to work on taking photos with the pink Target wig my friend Chadwick sent me from Chicago. Setting up the studio took about 30 minutes, including breaking down the office and converting it into a studio space, then setting up the camera and lighting, then it took an hour so to apply the makeup. All in all, I was ready to shoot by 9:30 and completely done by 11:00 AM, which may be a new record for me. I’m sure the extra hour from ending daylight savings time helped (and am I the only one who does not get up in arms over the whole daylight savings thing? To me, it indicates the start of a new season, so I enjoy it both coming and going), plus I’m not including the reassembly of the office into all of this. I didn’t clean up until late afternoon as I immediately got absorbed in editing the shots, as I always do.

Overall I am pleased with this set. I really went on a marathon today trying to process as many shots as possible, but as usual I couldn’t get them all done. The portrait shots came out better than the jumping and movement ones, because I forgot to change the lighting setup when I switched from close-ups to full-body shots, and as a result the lighting is off on those (too bright and the focus isn’t very crisp). But when I spend as much time on the makeup as I did with this set, and the portraits don’t come out nicely, that’s a real pisser – so I’m happy enough to have gotten some great shots that accentuate the work I put into my face.

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I’m going to share with you a little secret about posing for portraits that I picked up from an online member of a wig message board awhile back: before taking close-up shots with bright lighting like this, I shave my face. I do this because I have a lot of peach fuzz (getting more as I get older, too – thanks nature) and with the amount of bright light that I aim at my face, it all shows in close-ups. It’s always bugged me and I’ve done my best to edit it out, but when she mentioned the face-shaving thing I decided to try it, and I love the results. The woman who shared that she did this lives in Japan, where apparently this is a common practice for all women – peach fuzz apparently is a much bigger deal there than it is here, and is considered very unappealing. I got online and read up on the subject, and it turns out you can go to an aesthetician and pay a hundred bucks or more for a service called dermaplaning, which isn’t much more than a straight-edge razor shave. I use what’s called an eyebrow razor and my husband’s shaving cream, and do it myself (this actually is also great for shaping eyebrows, which is how it’s marketed). It makes the face smoother and the makeup blend and stay put – it looks so much better in photos and is actually the secret of many a supermodel. I don’t believe for a second that it makes the facial hair grow back any darker or more coarse, so no worries about it on my end (I’ve been shaving my little lady-mustache for years anyway; creams burn my skin and to go for waxing constantly is too much maintenance. Never had a problem with it). If you ever want to try it, don’t be afraid of those old wives’ tales about facial growing back darker if you shave it off. It’s baloney. And a good face shave is better than a scratchy old exfoliant anyway – that’s why men always look so fresh-faced after shaving. .

But enough about my face shaving:

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Not totally pleased with this shot, but I edited it anyway because you can really see the eye makeup. My eyebrows have gotten sparse over the years, but they are still dark, so I actually used a long-wearing Lime Crime coral red lipstick called Suedeberry on them, then blended the pink eyeshadow into that. I got those false lashes on sale after Halloween at the grocery store, and as you can see they didn’t stay put too well. One of them is popping off there, but hopefully it’s not too noticeable. I can also see on my chin where either my skin was dry or my face powder wasn’t blended very well – that’s how harsh the lights I use can be. Makeup really does need to be flawless, because every little error will show. Not that anyone else would notice when looking at the photo. But I do.

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A bit of a weird shot, but I couldn’t resist that shadow on my face that frames one eye. You can also see that I played with layers in this set – all of the shots were taken in front of my beige backdrop, but I changed the color of it to work better with the bright colors of the subject. Also, I got those paper butterflies at Party City over the summer, and finally found a use for them. Unfortunately the butterfly at the very top fell out at some point during the shoot, and I didn’t realize it until I caught it in Simon’s mouth after shooting was done. So I have loads of pics with one less butterfly (More about Simon later – this was his first time experiencing photo day and he was quite interested in what was going on).

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Now this shot makes me happy. At some point I applied a bit of talcum powder on my face because it kept appearing shiny and I wanted my skin to look a bit lighter. I think that worked well here, and this is one of the shots I did not end up editing much, as tempted as I was to jack with it like I do most of my shots. I thought it worked as is, and just made a few adjustments. Oh and the butterfly isn’t actually balancing on my nose – kinda gross, but the butterflies were stuck to very thin, long pieces of wire that I was able to stick into the wig to get them to stay – here, well, I have the wire shoved up my nose. Just keeping it classy, people!

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I admit to having run out of good ideas for portrait poses at this point, so I often end up reverting to some old standby stances and faces to get some variety. This is a goofy, half-surprised look I seem to enjoy making (probably in life as much as in photos). Sometimes I move the camera around to shoot my face from different angles, but from the sides in this wig you could see too much of the wig cap and my natural hair. These wigs are cool as hell, but not exactly easy to wear. In fact, most of the problems I had with this shoot were due to that wig – once I managed to get it on my head properly, I could not in any way shape or form put my glasses back on, so I had to focus the camera without seeing what I was doing at all, which is less than ideal. It also kept banging into doorways and lighting umbrellas and was just generally a nuisance for self-portraits. But it looks great. It had also, after about two minutes of wearing it, worn off all the makeup on my forehead.

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Simon, however, had no such issues.

Speaking of Simon, as I mentioned earlier he was fairly curious about what was going on during this shoot. His main fascination was with my little remote, since I toss that to the ground after pressing the button for each shot. To him, that was a clear indication the item was there for his enjoyment, and he kept grabbing it in his little mouth and scampering away with it. He also got into swiping and biting at my skirt a bit, but not nearly as much as he got into pouncing on the remote.

Although clearly he got into pouncing on the skirt a bit too – as evidenced in this next gem, which was not intentional on my part in any way, shape, or form; in fact, I had no idea what Simon was up to until I saw the shot. I’m sure I felt him landing on my skirt and starting a little kitty-war with it, but at the time I had no idea I’d managed to capture his little ambush on camera:

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Eyes on the prize, Simon!

My makeup also didn’t translate well to the full-body shots and I should have slapped on some lipstick for them. So overall, not too pleased with the full-length photos in this set, but that one was too good to pass up. Also, in this shot my right arm actually was in the photo originally, but the angle the camera caught it at was just plain weird, my elbow looked huge and distorted, and overall I found that arm to be a huge distraction. So I just edited it on out of there and figured I’d pretend my arm was behind my back or something. Much better this way.

More later!