This piece is entitled “The Guardian.” Being one of the first photos starring someone other than myself. The model is Samantha Fernandes, a friend and someone I worked with extensively in my first years of honing my craft. She offered me many opportunities to become familiar with working with models. Her patience with my newbie tendencies is something I will always be thankful for.
During the time leading up to this photo I was knee deep in exploring a new obsession. I have a very obsessive personality, indulging myself deep into my interests. If I find something that tingles my senses I will hunt down whatever I can on the subject and immerse myself in it. Ask anyone who is close to me, they’ll say the same. The particular subject of my obsession during this time was E.V.P’s ( Electronic Voice Phenomenon).
No I wasn’t inspired by the awful film “White Noise.” This interest was peaked by a more personal experience. The place I was living at the time, a shared house known locally as “Boing”, gave me a first hand experience. I lived on the upper level of the old home. The house was shared by 8 other residents at the time. 3 upstairs, 2 mid-level and 3 in the basement.
I had been told stories about some unexplainable stirrings in the basement before. Which wasn’t surprising if you gazed and spent little time down there. The stories were your average ghost story about curious rumblings and feelings of being watched.
Always having interest in the unexplained I have naturally always been drawn to ghosts and like phenomenon. Yet always approaching it with a high degree of skepticism. Disregarding many stories by the fact that the human mind is a powerful thing. We can convince ourselves of all sorts of invisible enemies.
Being intrigued by the stories of the others whom I lived with I regarded most of them as self trickery. Simply being uncomfortable in a worn basement with little natural light available. I’m not sure if I encouraged whatever happened next or aroused something but, something changed my mind about that house and its haunting.
One summer night I was unable to sleep. Tossing with my sheets over and over. The heat was too much to bare. The house was quiet , Myself and one other roommate were home. Everyone else was out at the club that night. I got out of bed to get a drink of water and took a detour to the bathroom.
While in the bathroom I thought I heard what sounded like multiple people talking, rather loudly. I couldn’t understand them I could just hear the loud vibrations of their voices from the walls. I assumed it was the other residents coming back from a night out and continuing the night at home. I quickly second guessed that.
The voices, one in particular began to get louder and had very angry tones to it. It went on for maybe a minute or so . Sounding like a heated argument had just broke out downstairs. I finished and started walking down the stairs to the mid-level to see what was going on.
As I crept lower and got closer to the stair landing I couldn’t hear anything. No voices, no creaking from the floor boards, no movement at all. I turned the corner to the main area of the house and didn’t find anyone there. So I proceeded to walk down to the basement, nobody. Out in the backyard, nobody. The front porch, nobody.
I figured they must have left to another place and didn’t think much of it. Just to be sure I called my roommate Peter and asked him if they had come home. He didn’t answer but soon called back. He told me he was still at the club as well as the other roommates. It was becoming more and more odd to me.
Not wanting to make something of nothing I just decided to lay down and go back to sleep. Not more than 10 minutes after I layed back down I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, which was right behind my bedroom wall. I assumed it was someone coming home. It wasn’t. That night my roommates didn’t get home till after 1 a.m. from 11.pm. till then I heard multiple trips of feet walking up and down our stairs.
Talking the next day with the rest of the house. Not a single person but one was home, and his room was right next to mine. He never moved from his room. They all claimed they didn’t come back to the house after they left for the club at around 10 p.m.
I don’t know what I experienced but it convinced me of something beyond the natural realm was present.
Within the next few days I began spending hours online reading hundreds of other peoples experiences and listening to hours of E.V.P’s. Becoming more and more intrigued with every minute of audio.
I began to find an interesting common factor in many of the recordings. Many of them projected a message of protection or guardianship. As if the voices were coming from loved ones watching over their places, possessions or those dear to them. Some offered their protection via threats and others concern. My imagination began to run wild with ideas of thousands of past energy hovering around the things they once embraced while still living.
I found this idea a beautiful one and you can look in many religious texts to find this idea present in most. That beyond this life we have loved ones past watching over us. I find this to be a touching way to think and remember those we loved.
Within days I purposed doing a shoot with Samantha to capture this idea. She agreed and also found the idea a beautiful one. Seeing as my home was where this idea first generated from I wanted the shoot to take place there. We shot in the basement of the house soon after discussing it.
I shot this photo with a Nikon D50 with my shutter speed rather high due to the low light offered. I used a single incandescent light to help the cameras ability to focus. The red contacts were used to give Samantha a “other worldly” feel. Thick black make-up was used to draw attention to the essence of the eyes. Dried yellow roses were placed in her hands as to convey a mourning, like you see with flowers being left on graves. There wilted state to give the idea that a great deal of time had passed. .The seemingly plain black dress was used to detract attention and add to the focus of the eyes and flowers. Later in Photoshop I desatureted the skin to a pale, lifeless color.
In conclusion this photo is an image of one of the many lost loved ones remaining by the side of what they cherished. Keeping watch over what they have been detached from in a physical sense. It’s these bundles of energy that whisper words of warning and love when you need it most. Your ears may not pick it up but your heart will.
So I tossed and toiled about where to start within my mass body of work. For the case of ease I rested on the simple solution, the beginning.
This piece is entitled “Heavy Metal Porn”. The first piece I completed that I really felt I had grasped the advantage that layers in Photoshop offers. My pieces before this, I felt, lacked a flow. They were rough to put it kindly.
Inspiration for this photo came from, as it often does, music. At times it’s the concept of an album, the beat and rhythm, or just a line of lyrics. This came to be by the latter. The artist: Jedi Mind Tricks. The song: “Heavy Metal Kings”.
As I recall I was smoking outside with headphones in. Drifting in thought really. I had listened to this JMT album numerous times and clearly enjoyed it. “Heavy Metal Kings” began, I got excited seeing as its one of my favorite tracks of theirs. Then a line caught me off guard and flooded my head with visuals.
” Drink from the goblet of gore, vomiting porn.”
It sounded dark and seedy. Almost forbidden. I loved the combination of “gore”, “vomit”, and “porn” all in the same breath. Each word grabs your attention on their own.
A chaotic rushing of colors and movement played in my head. “chaos” being the key emotion. If you listen to the song in its entirety it sounds as though this is the message. Putting chaos and creation up against each other. A beautiful contrast. Which you’ll soon learn is my favorite ideas to play with, extreme contrasts and their relationships to one another.
We’ve all heard “without chaos nothing evolves.” I find this to be true. Out of destruction comes the opportunity for creation. Without an idea being destroyed, you cannot have room for a revised or new version of that idea. It remains stagnant in its place, Offering no room for improvement. Nothing is perfect and can always be improved.
I tossed this thought pattern around as I finished my cigarette I began to put together a photo to encompass what I was feeling. I was staying with my friend Jesse at the time and proceeded into the bathroom, with my camera. I played the song on repeat as I snapped multiple shots of myself. Violently moving my body with each shot. I didn’t want a crisp image, what I wanted was a blur, just a form. As soon as I achieved my desired photo I quickly uploaded it and began tweaking it.
This was shot using a Canon Powershot Point-and-shoot camera. I’m unsure of the exact settings used, seeing as I was still new with cameras and likely had it rested on Auto. The one incandescent bulb in the bathroom was the only light source.
It took me about an hours time to complete the shot as you see it now. I used warm colors to give it a “bundled” feeling. As if your stuck in the room with these thoughts. The christmas lights were overlaid to give texture as well as the idea of being bound up with the chaos. They also accomplished bringing the viewer’s eye to my desired focus, the hand over mouth gesture.
The gesture was used to signify the obvious vomiting. Though the deeper concept is the hand is being used to keep the retching from escaping. That acidic turning that occurs when your stomach is changing, the chaos. Keeping the chaos in and allowing for the change to run its course. Allowing yourself to endure the chaos to reach the outcome.
I still hold this piece as one of my favorites due to its significance to me as a developing artist. I still find it reminds me of that day, on the porch, when the line caught my attention so well.
I began taking and manipulating photos in 2004 at the age of 19/20. Being an artist of all forms for as long as I remember, I was always looking for new ways to express my ideas and visions. A simple point and shoot (a Canon Powershot, I believe) camera was given to me as a hand me down from my father. Immediately I began to shoot all that was around but quickly rested on people as my main subjects.
A great deal of my early photos were self portraits. It seemed only natural that I become my first subject. Seeing as I had no need to express my ideas to a model but could rather just explore photography on my own. Photo manipulation entered my photos very quickly into my exploration. My original intentions were to always take advantage of the technology available and what it offered to turning a simple photo into a complex array of expression.
I spent countless hours hunched over a computer learning how each change of the slider or click of a button changed my photos. Quickly I became enthralled with the endless amount of options I could entertain on a piece. Like any other form of art, I loved the release this time alone offered me. Soon I began to get that tinge you get after looking back at something you’ve spilled yourself into and that accomplished feeling of an expression made physical.
After a few years of obsessing with my own little creations I began to show them proudly to those close to me. Those initial reactions encouraged me that what I was doing wasnt just something I enjoyed. Others could and were enjoying what was being created. So I began to pump out piece after piece. Bringing ideas and scenes initially sitting in my over active imagination to fruition.
As it always has and will always be, I continued to create for the sake of creating. As my body of work rose in numbers so did feedback by those I came in contact with. With this my confidence rose and created the desire to begin to shoot others. From there I havent stopped or looked back.
To all those who have given me encouragment in my photography I will always be deeply grateful for that. Those intial interests still sit strong in me. Thanks is deserved to any who have taken time to tell me they liked a piece. Without your kindness and admiration I wouldnt be able to practice what I love as I do. Thanks to all who have given me opportunity to create with you.
Lets always create together!