Friday, June 22, 2012

{in the picture} our june interview!

Oh, my friends, it has been weeks since I've posted and I am sorry I haven't been around visiting all of your lovely blogs. I thought the summertime was supposed to be slow, and quiet? Not happening here. This is the longest I have gone without posting since I've had my blog! But you know I couldn't let down my {In The Picture} participants. I promised you an interview and here it is! And seriously, you will be inspired to try a facedown selfie for our theme this month after you read more about the lovely Cynthia...here we go...

1. Was there ever a time when you couldn't imagine taking self-portraits or have you always been comfortable in front of the camera? Do you remember when the self-portrait "bug" bit you?

For most of my life, I was uncomfortable in front of the camera. I was overweight up until ten years ago and I think that really kept me from being in front of the camera a lot. And I really regret that. There are so many images that my children will not have of me and of me with them during those years growing up.

I used to follow this blog called “mama says om” and they used to post photo challenges. Almost five years ago, one of the challenges they posted was to do a self-portrait. What they said that made me do it was that we’ll never look the way we do today again. While we wait to lose weight, tone up, get a new hair cut, we’ll be that many days older. Or something else will change in our looks. We will only look the way we do today – today. So I was inspired to try taking my first selfie. I just found it way back on my Flickr stream, you can see it here. It was taken with a point and shoot using some manual settings that were available on the camera.

What really got me into taking selfies and posting them on Flickr was that a friend of mine recommended that I do a 365 self-portrait project. She is a professional photographer and she said that she learned so much about photographing women from doing a 365 herself a couple of years before. I took the leap and completed my first 365 project in 2010. In 2011 I did a 52-week self-portrait project and this year I am doing another 365+1 project, but this time it is all on my iPhone.

Lost in space...229/365 {Explored}

2. I am seriously obsessed with your "facedown" self-portrait series. How did you get into this craze? Do you plan your shots, or just randomly notice an interesting setting--then grab your camera and drop?

During my first 365 project, through some theme groups on Flickr I met some friends there who did Facedown Tuesday shots and I became very intrigued and wanted to do one. Honestly, I don't know how long I carried the desire around until I finally got up the nerve and did one. Once I did that first one, though, I was hooked. There's a bit of a rush to it I find, as do most anyone I know who has done them. It's the thrill in the boldness of just doing it, of leaving people wondering. A lot of times, I feel like Clark Kent afterwards. I'll have done my facedown shot and then later I'm shopping or with friends and family who have no idea of the silliness that has just occurred. It's kind of like having a secret identity sometimes.

One of the things I love about Facedown Tuesdays, with regard to doing a 365 project, is that it's a relatively easy shot for the day. I don't have to worry about what I look like - I'm not facing the camera - and it's normally a really quick shot. Once I find my location, I get setup, take a test shot, set the timer (or use a remote), get in facedown position, click, and I'm done. Sometimes I need a retake, but often it's a one-and-done shot.

If I am working on combining a theme for the day with a facedown shot, I may have a plan in mind ahead of time. I may know exactly where I want to shoot or I may just have a general idea. A lot of times, I just do it on the fly and look for a good backdrop to place myself into, or some place that might make a funny (or shocking) facedown shot.

Below is an example of a time when I already had a place in mind. I had driven by this location on a non-Tuesday and thought it would make a good backdrop sometime. I am really drawn to symmetry, shapes and color. I also knew that since this garage is facing east, it would be best if I did my facedown in the morning.

FDT: blocking the doorway edition

Here is an example of one I did on the fly. I saw the falling ice sign and set up the little tripod that I usually carry with me. I took a test shot and then set the 10-second timer. I lucked out and that guy was walking through my shot.

FDT: Falling Ice Edition

I’ve also been asked before whether or not I plan what I’m wearing. The answer to that is that sometimes I do make sure I’m wearing a certain thing or certain colors before I leave the house for work, and sometimes it just works out and looks as if I did.

Below is an example where it weirdly looks as if I planned my outfit, but I did not.

Facedown Tuesday...187/365

And yesterday when I did my facedown, I drove all the way home just to put on a red t-shirt because it made the shot.

FDT: à la manière de Xavier

3. Do you have a favorite self-portrait or series of self-portraits?

This year, I’ve done a several silhouette shots and I really like doing those. I like planning the angle to shoot from to get the result I want as well as planning and testing the pose and adding in props occasionally. I also like doing silhouette shots because I don’t have to think about what I look like after a long day at work.

A couple of my favorite self-portraits are ones that I had thought about and planned and that came out as well as I had imagined in my head. This one was even more of a challenge for me because I needed to be ready and out for sunrise. It was the light that I envisioned for the shot and nothing else would do.

he'll always be there, singing songs in my head...{28/52}

This one below is another favorite because it was a technical challenge for myself. I had been inspired by another photographer’s work and had an idea for a shot that I thought would work for me. There were a lot of pictures shot and a lot of time in post work and I was very happy with the result.

parts of me - scattered about...{30/52}

4. Do you have any goals this year for your self-portraiture? You know, something that's been on your "idea list" for a while that you've been wanting to try? Maybe something a bit outside of your comfort zone?

I have had one shot in mind to go with the Train song, “Marry Me”. I’ve yet to be in the right location at the right time. I am really working on increasing my opportunities to get the shot that I have imagined sometime this summer. My other goal for this year for self-portraiture is to complete my 366 project. I think the only thing that would be a bit out of my comfort zone would be an outdoor partial nude (or implied nudity) shot. I’ve done a few indoors, but an outdoor one would be a challenge for me. I also want to start thinking about projects for next year. Often, groundwork and ideas need to be laid well before January 1.

5. I'd imagine you have a good story or two as a result of your "facedown" adventures. Anything interesting ever happen during a shoot that you'd like to share?

Oh, lots of stories….and that’s part of the fun (for me, anyway) of doing these facedown shots! One time I was out at lunchtime looking for a spot for a facedown. I saw a police car parked and also realized that I was wearing black and white. Perfect! So I setup and did my facedown shot alongside a black and white police car. While I walked back to my car, I was stopped and told that I needed to go into the station and speak with the sergeant. I did and had to wait several minutes to see him while all sorts of thoughts went through my head. When he finally came out, I asked if I shouldn’t have been taking pictures. He said that taking pictures was fine, but that someone had said that I was lying under the car and that they were worried that I was placing something under the car. So then I went into my explanation of my Facedown Tuesday project  - not the easiest thing to explain!

FTD: Brush with the law edition

Another time, I had an idea for a shot through a mattress store window that was around the corner from where my son took tutoring classes. After I picked him up, I parked my car outside the store and got setup. He stayed by my camera while I went inside with my remote trigger. There was a salesman inside and he started to get up when I walked in. I said to him that he didn’t need to get up and I took off my coat and threw it onto the floor out of view. I stood by the mattress in the window, triggered the 10-second timer on my camera with the remote and went facedown, waiting a little more than the 10 seconds that I counted in my head to be sure that I had gotten the shot while I was down. I grabbed my coat and left him with a stunned look on his face.

FDT: mattress store edition

I had a spur-of-the-moment inspiration while I was at Starbucks for a shot that would fit the day’s theme. After considering the idea for a few minutes, I went out to my car to get my tripod and camera. I determined the angle I wanted to shoot from, set up my tripod and took a quick shot. Meanwhile I noticed one of the baristas watching me, then talking to another barista. I figured that I needed to move quickly. I set my timer and did my facedown. The barista walked up to me as I started to fold up my tripod and said that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside. I simply smiled at her and said, “okay” knowing that I had already gotten my shot.

FDT: have a coffee and run edition

6. Not coincidentally, our theme this month at {In The Picture} is "facedown". What advice do you have for our first-time participants that might inspire them or give them courage to try a facedown selfie?

My advice would be – you only live once, just one life, no chance for a re-do – just do it! Really, though, if you plan your shot then set up and take a quick test shot or two, your actual time on the ground is very minimal. It’s over and done with in under 10 seconds. Find a great location with no (or minimal) people around for your first one. After that, you’ll be hooked!!

* * * * * *
Cynthia is a single mom of four children, two of whom still live at home. She lives in a suburb southwest of Chicago and visits the city as often as she can. Photography has been a hobby since she was the yearbook photographer in high school. She has other photographic interests besides self-portraiture. She is passionate about street photography and she is also working on a 100 Strangers Project. You can find her on Flickr where you can see all of her projects. And you can also follow her on Instagram with the user name inpursuitofcontentment. If you’re ever in the Chicago-area, send her a Flickrmail and you can join her in a facedown shot!


Cynthia thanks so much for joining us here today at {In The Picture}! I loved reading the stories about your facedown escapades. You have inspired me to get out there and take more facedown selfies!


Earth laughs in flowers...

Hey all ~ don't forget to stop back here next Friday, June 29 for our next self-portrait linky party! I can't wait to see you {In The Picture}--maybe facedown? :)


First time reading about {In The Picture}? Click here if you want to catch up!

15 comments:

momphotographer said...

I just couldn't do the face down shot this month. There is one week left so... maybe :)

I love the shot in front of the police car.
... and i feel exactly the same about silhouettes !!!

great interview!

Robin aka Gotham Girl said...

This is great!

Anika said...

Enjoyed the interview...that shot in the mattress store is hilarious! I really loved the Hockney-esqu collage too.

It's good to take blogging breaks. I have not posted the same since my last break...life kind of evolved and it took me awhile to feel okay with that...and feeling like that was strange made me even look at things differently again...does that make any sense? We will all be around when you post and understand that life is more important than blogging when you are not ;)

xo

Susan said...

Hey Christy...glad to hear someone else is in blogging pause besides me. I really do love to blog, but lately I've either been crazy busy or just not motivated to take pics. I'm not worrying about that-maybe I just need a little head space. Great to see you "back" on line.
I've yet to take but a couple selfies this month (say it isn't so!) so I need to get going. Still haven't tried the face down thing, but this is inspiring and helpful on how to "get 'er done". I hope you have a great weekend. Thanks for the great interveiw.

Kimberly June said...

So brave. I do love the one in the mattress store though! Awesome. I too haven't had much time this summer for blogging.

deb did it said...

Oh Cynthia,
This is so fantastic!
I adore all your stories here!
Happy to meet another passionate Planker! Deb

Cheryl said...

Wondrous. Colourful. Inspiring.

Jo Murray said...

Great interview. That's some serious planking.

Leanne said...

Love the mattress shot, how fun! All these face down shots are great!

tinajo said...

Great creativity, I really enjoy these interviews! :-)

justine said...

what fun!

Saun said...

Very fun you're really brave. Love them all!

Kat Sloma said...

Great interview! My favorite facedown shot is through the window of the mattress store. Awesome!

Lisa Gordon said...

Great interview Christy.
Thank you!
Love the mattress shot. So good.
I wish you a wonderful beginning to your week!
xo.

michelle gd said...

i cannot stop grinning... :)