Friday, October 5, 2012

Self-portraits and art

I was never one of the "pretty girls"...To most people, I was always the quiet girl who wore band t-shirts and jeans. I actually hate my picture being taken. How did I end up here?!

My first love was music. Second, was art. I always had that need to create. I remember drawing ever since I was little. I doodled in school like crazy...picked up photography in probably highschool-taught by dad. Dabbled in painting. Picked up more and more instruments. While I got good grades in all subjects, it was obvious what I was passionate about... I needed to do something creative. Here are some early sketches/doodles/drawings from back in the day...
Notebook doodles, highschool

Pastel, highschool
Reverse charcoal, highschool

So I went to college and majored in art. Despite my main interest being  drawing, my emphasis ended up in painting simply because of which classes I could get into first. While it wasn't at all what I thought it would be, I did learn a thing or two. I studied art history, learned about the art elements, worked with metal, worked with wood, worked with things I've never heard of before. I had my definition of art, but  had to learn to open my mind-other people had different definitions of art. I had to learn how to distance myself from my work, which was a difficult thing considering how personal art is. I'd get ripped apart in critiques, sometimes without explanation as to why the professor simply thought my work sucked-that's always fun to try to figure out. I had to be able to create in all forms, all day, every day, for 3 years. I had to go from drawing, to jewelry, to textiles, to photography, to graphics. I had wanted to graduate early, so this was a bit more than the average art major was advised to take at one time. Here are some images of work I did in college...

Still life, from college
Mixed media, from first college art class

Charcoal self portrait from college
Senior year, mixed media painting

I did indeed graduate a year early, and after my experiences, I was tired of art. I just didn't have any desire AT ALL to draw, to paint. My idea of art was torn to shreds, I wasn't sure I knew how to independently create anymore, and some of those critiques were tough to bounce back from. It wasn't just that I was lost with what to do with my art, I think I just really hated it. A sad thing when I've loved it my whole life. I couldn't be completely walk away from it though, as my plan was to pursue a career in graphic design. I also happened to fit in one photography class my senior year. I had an awesome professor who was encouraging and I was inspired by this medium. Anyone who knows me knows I usually take a camera with me where ever I go, so there was already an interest there. Playing with a camera artistically though? I had a little bit of fun with it. ;) 

After graduation, I took a bit of time off, but wanted to keep working on my graphics/photoshop skills and continue playing with the camera. So I started self-portraits. Often times my ideas would pop into my head late at night when I couldn't sleep, I was the only available model. My ideas weren't very elaborate. They eventually grew to be a little bit more involved. But from the beginning, I usually did put a lot of time into things like hair/makeup ideas, and photoshop. I started shooting these with a small point and shoot, on manual mode. I didn't have a job, and I didn't have a nicer camera-besides film. It didn't matter, this was for me to practice. 

I eventually invested into a DSLR. I wanted more control over my settings. And I didn't want to have to photoshop things like depth of field anymore! This allowed me to expand my ideas more and more, and to get better quality images, with more control.

I eventually found that graphic design job, worked there for a few years, and then to make a long story short... it ended. Now what? 

As I mentioned in my very first blog post, I ran across this photography/model group in the area, and the photographer/creator of the group posted that he needed an assistant. Well, I know a little about photography, that sounded like fun! Read more about this experience here:

Since I already had photos of me before I ever started modeling, photographers could immediately see what kind of modeling abilities I had-to an extent. And they could see that I liked the artsy and emotional side of things. I think this is what set the stage for where I've gone with modeling...

But back to self-portraits...The more people you meet, the more images you see, the more life experiences you have, the more you have to draw from creatively. All of that stuff adds up, and pops out in some form, hopefully in YOUR own unique and creative way. My self-portraits continued. Whether I had photographers begging me to shoot or not, I was always getting decent, creative images out there, and that made me perfectly happy. And it is much easier to be patient with other photographers while they work on your images, for weeks, months, or a year if you have other things going on like spending hours upon hours working on your own art. ;) It also set the bar in a way, for what kind of photographers I'd be willing to work with. I am fairly competent with photography, and I have some creativity in me. I enjoy working with people in a similar boat-who are constantly looking to grow, who can push me, who are creative, who treat photography as an art form. I'm not in this for pretty pictures of myself. I'm in it to create, explore, learn.

Here are a few more self-portraits... I kept trying to push myself...




Well, I fear this post is getting much too long... so I will continue this another day, where I may discuss more of the creative side of things behind my work. So keep an eye out for a part two...

In the meantime, feel free to check out more of my self-portraits on my artist page:

Monday, October 1, 2012

A whole new level of photography...AND modeling.

So there was this WI photographer I was told I need to know...We became facebook friends, sent a few messages back and forth, and I became a huge fan of his work instantly--absolutely phenomenal talent! It took a few months, but finally in August 2011, Andrew Kufahl and I met in person for the first time.

We had talked about working together prior to the new haircut, but afterwards, I was on a break... I didn't feel comfortable in front of a camera, and I had no clue how to style this butchered 'do. He told me to just let him know when I was ready. Well what the heck, let's just meet and then that part is over with, we can discuss shooting together after that. We met up for lunch, and talked and talked and talked. Andrew is pretty dang quiet, and I can be too, but man, get us talking about what we're passionate about and we can't stop! By the end of that first meeting, Andrew was going to have me assist/model for one of his 365 shots...It would be his second to last shot of the project. Later, I was asked to be involved with the very last shot as well. Honored, to say the least.

In all honesty, this was the first shoot I was actually excited about since the hair situation...I almost had that passion and confidence a weird way... considering how nervous I was. But this guy shoots sort of like how I would shoot my self-portraits... where it is more about the emotion (or story), rather than the model and he'd invest HOURS into a shoot to ultimately walk away with ONE shot. This was so unlike the usual model shoots I was used to. My face was probably not going to be shown, and I was probably going to have a wig on... Perfect! And I got to work with someone who I have become a huge fan of over the past half a year or so. :)

I met Andrew at a train station about 45 minutes from where I lived... around 10pm at night. I got some styling help from a model friend. It was absolutely fascinating watching how these pieces of art were created. I had done many self portraits, but not anywhere near this level. His attention to detail and focus just blew me away. On top of that, he was also very polite and aware of "the model"...making sure I'm ok, that I'm comfortable, that I don't break an ankle walking through rocks/train tracks, that I'm ok running over and over and over for THE heels. I don't think I got to bed until after 4am that night. I couldn't believe that this guy was doing this every single day, for an entire year! This was the final image from that night...

Day 364 of 365 - She knew just as well as he did, that he was never coming back...

The next day, I drove back down to Andrew's neck of the woods for the very last image from his 365 project. He had a friend along to assist and take some behind the scenes video. Now this is where I stepped into a totally new world of modeling... If you look through Andrew's work, he has a wide range of emotions, subject matter, poses, expressions, techniques, etc. This particular shot had quite a bit of humor to it, not something I've really ever modeled... On top of that, I needed to not be so focused on model "prettiness" and posing, but full fledged emotion... and exaggerated emotion! What a challenge. I had to let go. I had to get out of my comfort zone in so many ways... Here I had just met this guy, and I had to pretend to be his girlfriend consoling him while he got a tattoo on his tush... What a great way to get to know someone, have 'em drop their drawers while real customers of the tattoo shop walk by...and as I'm just inches away from his face, I had to make the goofiest expression I've ever made for a photo, all while trying not to burst into a giggle fit while he made a ridiculous face...NOT easy! And I failed several times. (Seriously, look at these expressions?! How can ya keep a straight face?!)

Day 365 of 365 - The End
While this isn't the prettiest picture of me, it taught me so many things, and I am so very thankful that Andrew included me on these two shots! He changed the way I thought about photography, story telling, self-portraits, and modeling after these two shoots. 

Andrew and I have worked together quite often in the past year. We realized we view photography and art in a very similar way. I remember after our first meeting, I dubbed him my "photography soul mate"...I have "clicked" well with photographers before and have worked with a handful of them numerous times, lovin' every second of it... but this was different. We do a different type of photography and modeling. There are plenty of stories to tell and even more photos to show from my work with Andrew, so stay tuned!

To see more of Andrew's work: (including candids, BTS videos, other projects, etc) or

To see/order Andrew's 365 book: www.blurb/com/bookstore/detail/2505492