Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two Bands, a Makeshift Studio, and Murder Weapons Make For a Great Halloween Portfolio

Once again, it's time for our Halloween photo project!

In past years, we've done spooky attic shots and murder in a field. Here's what my husband and photographer, Ryan Smith, had to say about this year's project with my band, The Hello Strangers:

I'm not particularly crazy about horror films and scaring the living daylights out of myself, but there is something so intriguing and inspirational in creating images of a darker nature. I've always said that I like to make beautiful pictures and that is still very true. I strive to make great pictures every time I pick up the camera. Sometimes even the darkest subjects can make beautiful pictures when interpreted in a certain way.

This is the third year in a row that Larissa and I have created "Halloween" photos. The previous two years involved Larissa and I murdering each other in various ways. This year, the opportunity presented itself to photograph The Pale Barn Ghosts and The Hello Strangers(Larissa's band) in preparation for their Halloween show.

We knew that we wanted to shoot tight portraits of each band member against a black background. I had been thinking about this year's Halloween shot for some time and already had the lighting planned in my head . . . dark shadows, high contrast and mysterious light. We set up our studio in our neighbor's barn, which worked perfectly. I set up in the afternoon and had everything ready for the evening of the shoot. We were able to shoot 8 portraits between 6:30pm and 10:30pm. Pretty damn efficient!

The ninth portrait had to be shot the following week because Brechyn from The Hello Strangers was not able to make it to the previous shoot. We decided to try something a little different with this one by utilizing the spooky closet in my attic. I lit the scene almost identically to the other portraits to keep the mood consistent.

I wanted each band member to really bring his or her ideas to each portrait, and everyone came through. The goal was to show a little bit of each band member's personality while emphasizing our darkest human fears.

Here are a few images from this year's Halloween shoot along with a short video I created to help promote the October 31st show. To see the other 5 images from this shoot, go to theHorror portfolio on our website. To see more of the video shorts, add us as a friend onFacebook.

All photos and video © Ryan Smith Photography

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day! For the past several years, my blog has participated in this great event. According to the website,
"Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices."
Topics in years past have included the Environment and Poverty.

This year's topic of Climate Change is as daunting as it is urgent. Unless you are truly living under a rock, we can no longer ignore the fact that our planet's climate is changing at an unprecedented rate. While fingers point to myriad sources of blame and excuses, the effects of climate change are already being felt all over the globe.

Take this recent Photo Essay on desertification in China by photographer Sean Gallagher as an example. For nations all over the world, climate change is now a part of their daily lives.

Complacency, Urgency, and Denial

Three narratives that seem to be prevalent in such a massive threat as climate change couldn't be more opposite in nature. I spend most of my time in the first two of these paradigms, rarely in between.

Most of the time, I find myself distracted by the "urgencies" of everyday life: paying the bills, keeping a small business afloat in a shaky economy, trying to fit in time and motivation to stay healthy by exercising and not eating out of convenience. My husband and I are generally "green" in our lifestyle choices: we compost, recycle, keep the thermostat low, avoid over-consumption, drive a low emission vehicle, purchase green products, use CFL light bulbs, turn off power get the idea. But beyond these nanoscale actions, a whole force beyond our understanding is at work in the atmosphere around us. So, in essence, we are COMPLACENT in that we are hardly able to fathom what "climate change" really means on the grand scale. It's not that we don't care, we just find it hard to focus on something so intangible and colossal when there are more immediate matters to take care of on a daily basis.

Then there are those heart-pounding moments of URGENCY when I hear something on the news about climate change that makes me stand up from my seat, say something like, "We have to do something!" and proceed to stumble through the house like a lunatic, running into walls. This reaction seems to be just as unproductive as being complacent and detached. What am I supposed to do with this information and the emotions it conjures up? How can I have any effect on something so massively beyond my control? How are we supposed to sleep at night knowing that everything we see and know around us could be destroyed in 100 years? Ahhhhhh!

Maybe all we need is for someone to tell us WHAT TO DO - supply some concrete answers or explanations to this incredibly convoluted topic. Easier said than done, obviously.

And then there's DENIAL, and we all know how productive that is. This is an ideology that many in our country have pledged their allegiance to, and have thus set aside any urgency to dwell on the topic of climate change altogether. This is most certainly the worst, most detrimental approach possible. After all, the potential consequences for not acting on the threats of climate change far outweigh the time, effort, and money we should be putting into preventing them in the first place. We can't afford NOT to put our best feet forward, regardless of who is to blame or whether or not you believe the scientists' premonitions.

Besides, it wouldn't hurt us to be a little more responsible with our natural resources, regardless of whether or not we "believe" in climate change.

So, do I have any palpable answers for you today? Unfortunately, no more than I would have a few years ago. I just hope we find more concrete ways to change the fate of our planet - and soon - before I run into a wall and knock myself out.

For more Blog Action Day posts, click here.