Yesterday I gathered a group of friends at the Woodland Park Zoo to take some photos to promote Steamcon V. Amber Clark of Stopped Motion Photography graciously offered to donate her time and energy to the project. I am eagerly awaiting the results. I’ll make sure to post some when we get them done.
It was a very fun adventure and I think we will have some fabulous photos. We really have to do that more often. It got me thinking about photography these days. Digital photography has made things so much more fluid. It’s so nice not to feel that you have to control every aspect of what gets into the shot. PhotoShop is my best friend for so many reasons.
I showed my book, Steampunk Archetypes to a young woman the other day and she politely said it was “nice but too over processed” in her opinion.
A little history about the book; I wanted to create a book that addressed some of the main archetypes of steampunk as a way to think about dressing for the genre. It is to encourage people to think beyond the standard uniform looks that we had begun to see. It is not very big or detailed, but it’s kind of a starting point. I’d love to have the chance to write a larger tome some day.
All the photos in the book are of me, for a few different reasons. The first is because I have lots of pictures of myself in various costumes so that was handy. The second is because I really can’t afford to hire models, rent or buy clothes, pay photographers and all the other myriad costs associated with doing a more professional operation. The third is that I am quite frankly proud of my efforts to step beyond the ubiquitous and create new and different looks. These are looks that I engineered and I am proud of them.
As for “over processed”, yes I concede that my photos are reworked in Photoshop to a large degree, but it is entirely intentional. I thought about her comment for a while, but I keep coming to the same conclusion which is that I make up for what I lack by using my artistic skills. The woman in question is a young model and still enjoying notoriety and attention. I am no longer young and thin. I freely admit that I “shop” out blemishes, unflattering bits or double chins once in awhile. I also do not have a makeup artist, stylist or lighting assistant to help make the photos better from the start. I do not even have a professional photographer usually. It’s just my husband shooting quick shots during this or that event that half the time, we are also running. So I make do with whatever photos we happen to get. Often I have to compensate for poor light levels or bad backgrounds.
I did a little modeling when I was younger, but the difference is that now I am creating the entire image. I am choosing the clothes, props, and accessories. I pick out the wigs. I do the makeup. Then I take the photograph and Photoshop out or in a background. I decide on what effects to add. This is my artwork. I am working toward showcasing the look, not the photo itself.
It’s pride perhaps but not vanity. I am not dressed up because I think I am “all that.” I dress up because I created this look to express myself. I am proud of my costuming, and my makeup work. I found a way to express myself and it makes me feel good. I want to encourage others to do so as well. Five years old or fifty or seventy five, I want people to feel free to express themselves. So what if we are not supermodels? Dress up! Have fun.