I’ve made a goal in 2023 to do a self-portrait each month to experiment with styles and settings, in addition to learning more about being on the flip side of the camera. For this month, I’d had an idea rattling around my head based on a location I frequently pass on the way to and from the animal shelter that I foster through. There’s a park nearby that expanded its walkways a couple years ago, and where it now ends, there are these tall, reedy stalks. I thought it would be awesome to stand behind some of those and shoot through them, to have my face bisected by reeds, as if I were hiding but not very well. It put me in mind of a childlike innocence, and coupled with my love of fantasy and the ethereal, this turned into a woodland fairy or sprite idea.
The outfit was simple: a ruffled dress that I’d gotten from target, a starry green tulle cloak with a long train, and shiny green leggings to match. I got my hair cut this last weekend and it lent itself to the childlike vibe, especially once I added freckles and bold colors in makeup. Green eyeshadows to match my outfit, bright red lips to contrast. Because I would be walking half a mile to the shoot location and back again, I decided to just wear walking shoes and not do full-body/feet-inclusive shots. I also took minimal gear, just my tripod and a single lens that I wanted to shoot all the photos with.
Ironically, the original idea – of shooting through those reeds – didn’t end up working out. The reeds were too stiff to get behind and kept breaking, and there were thorny vines going up between them that kept ripping at my cloak. I got a few pictures in that area that came out okay, but the light was mostly wrong, and the setting was too close, and there was either too much texture or not enough. I wasn’t particularly happy about how the photos were coming out, so after I finished in that area, I moved to an open field nearby.
The end of the newly-built walkway in that park is a lollipop loop, so that bikers can just circle back around without having to stop and maneuver their bikes manually. Most of the inner part of the loop was grass and wildflowers, so I took a few standing photos before deciding to get on the ground.
Y’all. I hate grass. Absolutely despise grass. Even seeing photos of someone standing barefoot in grass makes me cringe. I don’t want any part of my skin to touch grass or grass-like plants. However, I had this nice, big tulle cloak, and I decided to use that as a blanket of sorts. And that’s how I came to be taking closeup portrait shots on the ground, which frankly turned out far better than almost all the other photos in the shoot! I love the colors, the textures, the lighting. They captured that combination of childlike innocence with mischievous intent that I originally intended.
So that’s March in the books! Not sure yet what I’m doing in April but I do have some new costume pieces coming to me, so maybe I’ll get to have a bit of fun with those. I’m also in the process of creating a full online presence dedicated specifically to portrait photography, including Insta and TikTok accounts (both @gossamer.studios) and a website to come. Hopefully by next month, I can include some links out to that!