Obscured by the Clouds
Probably my most favorite Pink Floyd album, the title of this blog post that is. It doesn't get much love but it's great to edit to. Most Pink Floyd is great to edit to. Give it a listen if you can. Well so much has happened in the past month. I'm not quite sure what to dedicate this to. Well I know what I should dedicate this to but it's going to be hard to choose. This post should really be about my trip to Boston less than two weeks ago and the shoot that we put together months in advance. I'll try my best to keep it about just that. Maybe I should just blog more? I don't even know who reads this.
This brings me to my first tangent not related to my post. GOD DAMN, I spend a lot of money on my web presence. I just finished my business taxes yesterday for the first time ever and it was awful. The taxes weren't that awful but seeing where some of my money goes within a year is awful. Is it worth having two websites? I'll be honest, I don't know? This one definitely needs some work. It has half of the images I want, nothing is fleshed out. I'm not too sure I'm keen on the layout oh, and there is that whole identity branding thing I haven't decided on yet. Calling Jose Ludyan!!(My cousin, who did my branding for Michael Jacobs Photo) It will get there. It has to get there. I'm paying a lot.
Now, wasn't that a fun tangent? Boston, yes, talk about Boston Mike. Here is some small insight as to how this shoot came along. Boston artist and model, Naida Black, whom I am acquaintances with put out a call for people to delve into the topic of Mental Illness more specifically people who deal with it on a daily basis. Though not diagnosed, I have worked in the mental health field for 15 years. Wow, yes, 15 years. Schizophrenia has always been a terribly large and confusing mental illness. It is consistently misrepresented, over dramatized and just plain poorly explained to the general population. I'm not sure if I should go into what it is? Maybe you should Wikipedia it? Do some reading in your spare time. Buy a DSM. One facet of Schizophrenia is definitely psychosis, more specifically the presence of hallucinations. Now there are many types of hallucinations. Some are more apparent than others. I can feel myself going down the rabbit hole of explaining these things but for time and piece of mind from this blog I focused on auditory hallucinations. Again, one small facet of this very complicated mental illness. I have interviewed hundreds if not a thousand people with schizophrenia. I spent countless hours working in a group home chatting with clients who are shaped by what they hear. Just think, decades upon decades of yourself hearing things, sounds, vibrations, perceptional changes, the voice of god, the voice of friends, the voice of a stranger, mangled, sometimes incoherent(like this sentence) sometimes pleasant, sometimes frightening, sometimes so constant, sometimes infrequent. It shapes who you are. It is you.
So that is what I focused on. I attempted to anthropomorphize auditory hallucinations. Just a very tiny facet of Schizophrenia but one I do not forget. I enlisted the most wonderful people to work with. Samantha, Paige, Kayla and Lindsay have always been there for me when I wanted to do something strange or weird. I knew I didn't have to worry about them. I knew they would just create something amazing. I was so happy I got to work with them again. I tapped Shannon Rouvel for makeup and hair. I've known Shannon for almost 7 years but have never worked with her. Gosh, why am I so silly? Shannon has to be the most professional and focused person I've ever met. If you ever need her services and are in the New England area, please don't hesitate! http://www.shannonrouvel.com
And I've just decided to eat breakfast. Is that another tangent?
I just ate breakfast. It was wonderful. Okay now I have some good belly filled focus. Where was I? Yes the great team! Oh also, Fritz! Fritz is an old college friend that has helped me on so many shoots. That was strange to say "old college" Well it was 11 years ago. Wow. Okay, I need to stop scaring myself. I've been out of Boston for more than a year now so studio space is not my strong point but there seems to be a need so much that there is a website dedicated to finding spaces to create art/shoot and rehearse. It's amazing. http://mass.spacefinder.org/spaces
Just plop your info and price range and a host of wonderful places around Massachusetts pop up. I found a church, yes a church in Dorchester for the shoot. Well, okay, it's the dance studio inside the church but still. This agnostic atheist always has a chuckle when shooting in such sacred spaces. It was perfect, dark floors, wooden plank walls and mirrors! Which you will see later but it was great. Like I said, this shoot has been in the planning stages for months, getting dates, the space, wardrobe all had to come together. I am pretty proud of myself because the "dress" you will see Kayla wearing was mostly made by me. I also did most of the sewing!
I need to back up. So Kayla would be our main protagonist. She's got a wonderful range of expression and an actor's wit. I wanted her to be an individual with a life, loves, wants and needs slowly skewed by schizophrenia. This is why her "dress" was a hospital gown. No I didn't steal it this time(I have worked in a lot of mental hospitals). I bought this one off of amazon but did some heavy editing to it making it more like a dress. I added ribbon, brought it in to cater to Kayla's tiny frame and laced up the back like a corset. She wore hospital socks and heels. I did steal the hospital socks (Fuck you Holly Hill). She ended up looking a bit more patient like than I wanted but it's very subtle. She looks put together, thanks to Shannon, but something is off. Anyway, as I write this I totally am pissed off I didn't take any shots from the back. It was pretty and laced up like a corset.
Yes, well that was Kayla, now the "auditory hallucinations" were Sam, Lindsay and Paige. I kept going back and forth in my head about how to represent what noise could look like, what static could look like as a person or as a human? I wanted these voices to have their own sort of personality but no significant defining features. It was also luck of the pick that the three of them have very different body types. It just added to my overall idea. I ordered these, well how else can I describe them, body socks, cocoons made of sheer nylon. Go to amazon.com and read some reviews of them. Hilarious. They are used for, ahem, many things, sleep, sex, uh, sex. Oh well, that's not the point here. I just wanted shadowy figures as you will see.
Are you ever afraid that the picture in your head can't be recreated? I always fear this. Seldom do I feel my thoughts on how a shoot will look actual recreate themselves in the work I do. It's something I want to get better at. Visualizing light generally is my biggest concern but that is another blog post for another day. Anyway, it was a riot having them try on these body socks. I implore you to purchase one in your spare time and scare the neighbors. I'm going to throw some pictures up here and talk about them as I've been so wordy. Enjoy.
Now I don't want to get too crazy with the sharing of the final images. I'm still going through that process myself with the ladies but I did want to share 3 that I know I will use in some capacity, either for myself or for the gallery. Shit, should totally pickup where I left off at the top. So, artist and model Naida Black will be having a gallery showing of all these images sometime this spring. I'll get to have 2 shots depending on what works well for the setup. It's exciting, so exciting to get my work out there and also shoot a subject that has been very close to my heart and mind for most of my adult life. If you are or know someone who lives with mental illness I implore you to speak out. Educate yourself on it. Sometimes the people around that person are the first line of defense in keeping them from spiraling. Don't be left in the dark and don't leave them in the dark. Also, join NAMI, the national alliance for Mental Illness, run specifically by people living with mental illness. I hope you enjoy this sneak peak.