Friday, April 29, 2011

Week 17 — Like a Butterfly

Week 17/52

This isn't normal: I have 28 possible shots for this week. You know what that makes? A WHOLE lot of outtakes. So you get SEVEN of them with this shot. And you'll be getting outtakes every day or so for the next week. I'm sorry about that.

I wanted to do something joyful this week. I finally got my butterflies in the mail, and I instantly knew I wanted to use them; they're probably my favorite prop. And I wish you guys could see them for real, because they're so delicate and beautifully made. They're gorgeous.


There were butterflies all around us. We had walked into a meadow and a swarm of butterflies had surrounded us, flying all around, landing on our faces, our hair, our hands. I looked at James and saw him close his eyes in delight, letting his head fall back, while David looked at him with adoration in his eyes. I remember smiling at the love my little brother had found in that writer I had introduced him to in one of our nights in town; it was a strange feeling of accomplishment, like I had intervened and changed his fate. I guess that's what we all do to each other, right? We change each other's paths, we form our lives around what people bring to us.

I remember feeling your arms snaking around my waist, and whispering to you "Don't kill any butterflies."

You whispered back "Don't worry, I didn't" and l felt your lips on my neck. It was always like that, the small intimate gestures I avoided in front of everyone else, which you gently forced into me until they didn't bother me anymore.

Ruth was walking silently behind us, as usual, her camera pointed at the beautiful colors around us. At that time, when we were twenty-one or twenty-two, she was obsessed with it, she'd take the old Hasselblad everywhere — even to the bathroom with her, which granted her a few jokes on how she would eventually drop it on the toilet or the sink, and which ended invariably with her hitting Jamie or David or me or you.

This moment, when Ruth took the pictures and you held me against your chest is the only thing that comes to mind now, in this field in Italy, so many thousand miles away from that first afternoon. And while you are the one to turn the camera on me now, I'm not as self-conscious as I was back then.

They're soft, the butterflies; you can barely feel them against your skin. I slowly raise my hand and bring the one that is resting on my index finger closer to my face; she's orange, a Monarch, and it's like she can read me. She jumps and places herself on my nose, and that's when I hear the shutter of your camera.


One more outtake from the stupid lent novel to try to kill you all from the sheer boredom of it.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and that you forgive me for the spam that will happen in the comments and in the next few days. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week 16 — The Sacrifice and the Sin

Week 16/52

Today is Good Friday, which for us Catholics — and Christians in general, I believe — celebrates the death of Christ in the cross, to save us all from sin. It's also the 'ohmygodtwomoredaysuntilIgetchocolate' day. But I digress.

I've been thinking about this photo for a while, been working on the concept and the execution, getting my studio lights to work again, and right now I'm not incredibly happy with the result, but I'm not pissed about it either. I like it. I don't love it, but I might be suffering from sleep deprivation — my insomnia is back in full-force — and from that Virgina Woolf syndrome that said that the book in our head is always better than the book in our hands. Well, in this case, photograph.

But still, I wanted to make an allusion to sacrifice.

Every year, I give up the foods that I like the most during Lent. It's forty-seven days (no, not forty like they want us to believe, because apparently Sundays don't count as Lent, but I counted them anyway) of living without chocolate, McDonald's and Francesinhas. Last year it wasn't so hard; I had a ton of emotional problems to work through, so I kind of forgot about the food, but this year? This year was hell. I've been dreaming about eating chocolate for the past three weeks, and having my family own a bakery above which I live doesn't help. But still, I'm here and I'm alive and I didn't break my lent, which makes me feel good.

I don't do Lent for the purpose most Christians do, which s the purification of the soul and the riddance of sins. I don't believe in sin as the church puts it; I believe the sin is the act you commit while knowing you're causing harm to someone, and you're doing it on purpose, so while I do have some of those, I don't think every side step I take is a sin. So I never feel the need to cleanse myself of those, since I can pretty much do it on my own through prayer or meditation — or better, by apologizing. But at the same time, doing Lent gives me this spiritual rush, as if I was proving to myself how strong I can be when I put my mind into it. I'm flaky most of the time, and I don't have any self-control or discipline when it comes to the trivial things in life, like food or exercise or other small habits. But this was proof that I could do it. And I'm very, very glad I did it.

If I don't talk to you guys before sunday, I hope you have a blessed Easter. I'll be sitting on the corner courting a three-layer-chocolate cake.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 15 — The Girl who Fell

Week 15/52

While I had wanted to take a different photograph for the weekly shot, I ended up using my favourite out of the Sanatorium ones. It happened mostly for two reasons, the first of which is that my grip-with-a-remote-control-included seems to be taking forever to do the 5km between the customs office and my place, so I'm remoteless; the second reason is that I sort of fell in love with this photo as soon as I finished it. There, I said it. For once, I like the weekly shot.


"What if we fall", Clarissa asked with the rise of an eyebrow. It seemed almost as if she didn't mind the fall or the aftermath of it; as if she didn't have anything better to do with her time than to risk to die in a gruesome way.

Matthew shrugged, looking through the well.

"Back in the day, we wouldn't have thought about it twice."

She rolled her eyes but couldn't keep a smile from showing up on her face. "We were young. And stupid. We're neither now."

"I think we're still pretty..."

"If you say 'stupid', I swear to God I'll throw you down the well myself."

"I was going to say 'young'."

She smiled. "Good. Good boy."

They were silent for a minute or two, each contemplating the square windows that covered the dark pit.


Clarissa pulled the cover over it again and turned around.

"Come on, stupid. I'm not going to kill myself when there's a chocolate cake in the oven."

"As simple as that, huh?"


Again, letting you in on the outtakes of my very tiny and very bad Lent novel. OH, there's only a week and two days left! CHOCOLATE! Please come my way! :D

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Week #14 — Underneath the Fall

Week 14/52

I almost didn't post this week. I'm not at all satisfied with how this shot came out, but I made a commitment, right? So here it is. And I just remembered I'll have to sing (alone) in public next Monday. OH GOD. I'm so screwed.

I'm in a very strange place, art-wise. And in the past few days, I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of artistic integrity. It's been on my mind, especially because of this project, because I am so often torn between posting a photo that I truly love or posting another that I know will be popular, that will give me reviews and recognition.

Lately, I've been leaning more and more towards posting the works that I love instead of the ones I know will get more comments or favorites or notes; that usually ends up with me depressed and pissed at myself when I don't get the kind of reception I had expected. And I'm not blaming you, my darling viewers, because I know that if something is strange enough, it will keep you from saying something. It keeps ME from saying something. I am, however, blaming myself for caving, most times, and for posting the one I know will be loved and seen.

And now I'm calling it 'caving'. Really? Just because you post a photo you know will be popular instead of an artistic one, does it mean you lose your integrity? Does it mean you give up on what you believe? It's an incredibly complicated choice to make, and I usually go with the compromise: an artsy shot with a pretty outtake, or the other way around. That's how it's going to work this week. But I'm still not satisfied.

To think that I had to climb onto a waterfall and nearly killed myself, and now I don't even like the shot.


On a different subject, I found this site that allows you to write an email to the future and receive it on a date you set yourself. I wrote my email today, and while I was expecting to write a couple of lines, I ended up with three pages and a smile on my face. I wonder how I'll be in a year and a half. I wonder if New York will work out, I wonder if it'll change me. I wonder if I'll still be alone or if I'll find someone to recreate that 'For Lovers Only' teaser with me. I wonder if I'll still be me.

Note: If anyone knows who this texture belongs to, please let me know through PM? I can't find the source. I had never used it, so I didn't take note at the time I downloaded it and now I don't know who it belongs to. :/

Oh, and please press 'L'?

Week #13 — The Invisible Girl

Week 13/52

Despite the fact that I took another 'photo of the week' yesterday, I couldn't help myself. I had to post my favourite shot out of the Sanatorium series, because I love it so darn much, and I thought it was better than anything else I might have taken this week. So here it is.

This is dark. The whole series is, but this photo and the two others that compose this moment within the series (which can be seen in the comments), are darker than anything else. I think it's because it coincides with the first time that afternoon that I felt like I was shooting completely alone. Luís and Diego were on the other side of the building with my teacher and I was finally on my own, in that terrifying place, and I finally allowed myself to breathe. Before that, I'd been shooting near them, but this time I was on my own. So I just took a moment and saw that light and put myself in the middle of it.

The weather is absolutely marvelous here; it's warm and sunny, so I'm just a couple of minutes away from moving this party to my rooftop, along with my guitar and a cold lemonade, and just enjoy an afternoon of fun and music. The mood right now is very different from that of the picture, so I hope you all have the most lovely weekend, and that your lives are filled with joy!

OH, and in case you want to see the rest of the series, it's here!

Week #12 — Clarissa's Breakdown

Week 12/52

I remember Jamie’s look as he stopped the car and turned it off. He didn’t look straight at me, looking outside his window first, as if he was gathering up the courage to say something. The words died in his mouth, though, when I opened my own door and stepped out.

I walked for a couple of seconds, and then I ran. It was a very large piece of land, so I ran for a minute or two, feeling the two of them not too far behind me. I brought my hand up to my face as I started to feel the moisture, and realized I was actually crying. Finally.

What I remember the most about the time this picture was taken was the mixture of feelings, the sense of grief and relief at the same time. I hadn’t cried yet. Not when Matthew had left, not when I was at the hospital and the doctor had told me the fetus didn’t have a heartbeat. Something inside of me had hardened the night Matthew and I had fought and he had slammed the door on my face, and as I ran down that field, I could feel that same hardness melting away, dissolving into the tears that were streaming down my face. I know I stopped, I let my head fall back and I took a deep breath. That’s when I heard the click. The shot was taken.


Again, I'm flooding you with bits and parts of the novel I'm writing, parts that are being cut or heavily edited, so there's no harm in showing them off. Please bear in mind that these are first drafts. If you care to read the rest of the scene, you can do it in my writing blog.

I'm taking a huge risk here, because I'm well aware that this is not the commercial 'oh everybody likes it' kind of shot. The thing is, I'm sort of in love with it. Batshit, crazy in love with the damn shot and with the fact that I hadn't been able to make something like... this in a while. And the best part is that I don't need to be in that dark place to do it, now. This was supposed to be a light photoshoot. I laughed like a maniac as I rolled around in the grass, alone, as I twirled with my arms spread wide. It was an unbelievably joyful afternoon. But then for a couple of minutes, I got serious. Not sad, not desperate, just serious. And this came out.

Week #11 — The Occasional Sleepover

Week 11/52

This is the perfect example of the shot that looked so much better in my mind, but with the tiny window of time I had to actually shoot, and with the crappy sunlight (this was supposed to be shot at sunset or dawn) and everything going wrong, this ended up being the result. Blah.


"I keep having this dream" Clarissa's words were soft, almost inaudible against the sounds of the morning in the Piazza. He briefly considered getting up and closing the window, but he threw that thought aside as he turned on his side and watched her face. "That I wake up in a rooftop, as if it were my bed."

"Which rooftop?"

"New York. Your old apartment in the Village." she smiles a little, but he still senses the tension, the trouble she has sharing these kinds of things. "And around me there's a bunch of lamps. Old, oily lamps, all hanging from nowhere."

She turns slightly, laying on her side with her face to him. Clarissa tries to hide her embarrassment by hiding part of her face in the pillow, but she knows he can read through her. He always could. "It's almost like an urban fairytale."

Matthew laughs softly, in the same way he'd laugh at a child's idle joke.

"Aren't you quite the urban princess."

"I am."

So, this is a scene I cut from the Lent Novel. It's lousy, but it's what inspired me in the first place, so it deserves to be here.

I have a hard time with dreams, most of the time. I dream every night, I don't know what it's like to sleep dreamlessly, and the dreams are usually either immensely funny or incredibly upsetting. It's not uncommon for me to wake up crying or laughing like a maniac, but I have learned how to deal and push them aside when they're bad, and to find strength in them when they're good. It's just that quirky, silly fact about me. I will always dream, and I will always feel like everything is going wrong when I wake up, but that's a part of who I am and it's not about to change. :)

I hope you all have a truly wonderful weekend, and that all your dreams are as fairytale-like as mine. :)