Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 40 — The Morning After

Week 40/52

[Only twelve weeks until this project is over! Oh God, I can't even think about that.]

I have an issue with blurry shots — if you've followed my 365, you'll know that if I have a properly focused shot and a blurry one, I'll probably go with the blurry. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm shortsighted and refuse to wear glasses, so for me the world is a little bit blurry. Or maybe it's because I think it's more dramatic. I don't know. But I tend to choose the blur. And I think this is the first time, or one of the few that I've done it in my 52 Weeks. There are a few outtakes in the comments, and among them are the focused photos. You can check them out there.


The sun is harsh, hot, scalding. It hits you like a million knives to the front of your cranium and the pain reaches your eyes, your nose, your forehead. The car. You're still in the car, your clothes disheveled, your fingers dirty with the remains of the eyeliner and mascara. You must have scratched your eyes while you was asleep.

There's no walk of shame — you're free, you're not in a relationship and you can do what you please.

(Haven't you always? Even when you were with him, even when you were in a serious relationship, haven't you always done whatever the hell you want?)

There's a bitterness in the morning sun, a sudden awakening that you don't welcome. How come everything seems that much more violent, much more judgmental in the light of morning? Isn't the night supposed to be the scary one, the one to avoid? No — the morning is much more unforgiving.

And then you remember, the way his hands touched you, the way he pushed you against the wall of the ballroom, the way you kissed and moaned and ended up in a tangled mess of limbs in the back of your limo. It was cold, plain old sex — the kind that makes you forget you even exist. The kind that makes you forget that encounter, his eyes on yours when he crosses the room, a young woman hanging from his arm. The kind that makes you forget you ever loved him — but not really, because that's just not something you can let go of.

Because he found you alone in the only empty room in the building and his arm snaked around your waist. Because his mouth found your ear as you stared at each other's reflection, and because his words made it all come back.

(We're not over, we'll never be over. Because you're mine and I'm yours and this will never end, we'll always come back)

So you did what you knew how to do and found the closest boy-toy to forget him with.

You just didn't expect the morning to hit you so furiously.


[Of course, my sleazy VW Golf isn't a limo. But we can all pretend, right?]

Week 39 — The Kindness of Strangers

Week 39/52

Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
— Hebrews 13:2

This was a good yet uninspired week for me. Yesterday, I had no idea of what I wanted to do for my photo of the week, so as I was talking to my friends online, my eyes fell on an old ballerina photo. I said 'That's it. That's the easy way out. Ballet. AND PAINT. Black paint. I like that'. So I went about getting everything (buy new and very cheap pointe shoes that I could spoil with acrylic paint), look for all the things I needed, and then I found my angel wings. And the thing took a whole new meaning.

As I processed this shot, I kept wanting to make it lighter, brighter, more about beauty than about brokenness and despair. But the photo asked for darkness, so that's what I gave it. And that quote up there kept coming to my mind, the mistreated angel, the people we pass by on the street every day and do not help, the people we refuse to take care of because they're strangers. They could be Angels in disguise, and by that I do not mean mythical creatures with wings and swords and whatnot (I need to stop inflicting my Catholic imagery onto everyone here), but the kind of people who have the power to change your life, to change you to the very core.

So the bottomline is — be kind. To whom, where, when, it doesn't really matter. Just be kind and be sure that your heart is open — because change often happens without notice, and most of the time, it's for the best.

[One of the textures used in this shot is by Pareeeerica. The others are my own. I keep feeling like I'm using the same processing again and again, but that's what I've been in the mood for. You'll just have to bear with me a little while longer, I guess.]

Week 38 — Lift

Week 38/52

This photo was only possible thanks to the help of my elves *ahem* assistants Lila, Marta and Zé, e to my aunt Maria, who gave me a helium tank as a birthday present. My friends and family are awesome like that.

Yesterday was my 25th birthday. I spent the day having as much fun as I could, but the height was definitely this shoot. We filled the woods with balloons, I got to levitate and have fun and laugh and take hipster pics against the car. I had an incredible time, really.

I know it's silly to say, but I do feel sort of... different. No, it's not since yesterday, but since the past few weeks, it's like the quarter of a century caught up with me. I feel a sudden need to dress like an adult — me! — and to stop acting like a kid all the time. Meanwhile, I don't want to lose myself and my childish essence, so I'm trying to learn how to balance those two. But it's nice, to finally feel like an adult. Even with all of those balloons.

There are two outtakes in the comments: one is this same shot with a different processing (one I actually like better, but that I don't think is fitting for main shot) and a different one. I hope you like them as much as I do, and that your week is as perfect as mine has been.

Have a glorious weekend, everyone!

Week 37 — The Light and the Music

Week 37/52

I just want to state, before anything else, that I do NOT play the accordion. I have no idea how to. I'm even holding it wrong in the picture. Plus, that's a toy accordion. It sounds like a wailing cat. It's good to annoy my family, but not much else.

This is more wishful thinking than anything else. One of my oldest dreams is to learn how to play this instrument — it's considered corny, tacky where I live, but i just love it so, so, so much. I love the sound, I think it's beautiful, and the expertise of those who play absolutely fascinates me.

This photo is also dedicated to a very dear friend of mine, who I just discovered plays the accordion, and who's been the light of my days in the past few weeks. Lina, I'd probably be stuck under a palm tree in Cape Verde, hiding from the world, if it weren't for your unwavering support of me and of everything I do.

So I hope you like this. I sure had fun shooting it.

And I just realized that this is my last 52W photo while I'm 24 years old. I'm taking my next shot on my birthday, next Thursday, so it might be related to that. Or not. No idea.

Week 36 — La Noyee

Week 36/52

Assistant: Miguel Pinto

The title of this shot was taken from the Serge Gainsbourg song of the same name. It's a very clear influence from the Polish Brothers' movie 'For Lovers Only'. The truth is, that was the only song I could hear the entire plane trip here; it was just so soft and so tender and it reminded me so much of the movie that I just had to use it. Plus, I have the ocean right beside me. How could I not use it for some 'drowning' pictures? Oh, that's where the black and white comes from, as well. I just couldn't do it in color. I might post the outtakes later with color in them, but right now, they were begging me for BW.

I've been having a fabulous time here. Africa does wonders for my health, both mental and physical, so I've been feeling wonderful. I hadn't been online yet — and curiously I hadn't missed it one bit. I've just been reading, running around, eating like a pig, spending half my day in the ocean. (There are sharks here. Apparently. I'm still calling urban myth.)

Still, I really wanted to do this shoot. And I had my cousin, who's also a photography lover, with me so I could do it freely, without concern for the safety of the camera or the locations. We did walk for about 20 minutes just to get to this secluded beach.

Anyway, I'm having a lovely time. A fiction counterpart might come to join this, later; right now I want nothing more than to go back to my beloved sun. And ocean.

I hope everyone's doing wonderfully. :)

Week 35 — Kiss the Air

Week 35/52

The words on the photo are from a song written by the incredible Scott Alan, called Kiss the Air. It's heartbreakingly beautiful — like most of his work — and I thought it was fitting for the photo and the occasion.

There's a big possibility that there won't be a 52 W photo next week. I'm going on vacation, next Monday (Northern Africa, FTW!) and God willing, returning on the following week. I'm not sure about the type of internet connection I'll have, or even if I'll have any. So I can't promise anything. Still, I leave you with this one and hope you like it!

This is all about traveling. I love my city, but sometimes it overwhelms me. It's too many people, too many acquaintances, too many 'hellos' on the street. It's too much noise, too much light and then none at all, and it makes me want to get in bed and stay there for weeks. That's why I need this vacation so much, that's why I need to get the heck out of here, to see what I like and to just sleep and swim and get my ass kicked by the waves and dance in the sand and read read read and listen to music and not to think about any of the problems I have here.

*le sigh*

Alright. I'll probably post an outtake before I go, but in case I don't, and I don't talk to you again and my plane crashes or something (yes, I'm still afraid of airplanes) I love you all, and you've made this journey immensely joyful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. :)

Week 34 — A Stray from the Circus

Week 34/52

This week's shot comes in a few hours earlier than usual, since I'm going away for the weekend and probably wouldn't be able to post until Sunday night.

This is the most composed shot I've ever done. In that image are 5 different photographs, and while I did have a blast doing this, I ended up falling a few times and hurting my leg. It was a nice ending for a not-so-lovely day, in which I had a migraine the size of Texas, my car broke down and I couldn't find half the things I needed for the shot. Yes. One of those days.

I had been dying to do something with the wheel they took off my aunt's bike, a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, I have a feeling it's going to be my favorite prop for a while — I had so much fun with it! And this concept was supposed to be something about the wheel of fortune, but I ended up abandoning it — firstly because this idea kind of took over and there wasn't much I could do to stop it, and secondly because I had a better location idea for the other shot.

I don't know if I've talked about a movie called Twin Falls Idaho, here. I'm assuming some of you know it, or at least know of it — it's the first movie made by the Polish Brothers, and I finally got around to see it. When I was setting up this shot, scenes from the movie, from the quirkiness and the small details came to mind. I'm reading their book, and realizing how much love it took to make that movie made me value my art so much more. You won't always be successful, you won't always please everyone, but as long as you stay true to what you are and what you mean to say through your work, you'll be okay.

Week 33 — Apnea

Week 33/52

When you realize you can't breathe. That you're underwater, that the sounds that get to you are muffled, strained, incomplete. That you're not quite absorbing what you should. That you're stagnant, unmoving. When you realize that no matter where you turn, no one inspires you enough for you to want to learn from them. When you realize that no matter what you do, you'll never be enough, you'll always be the kid who doesn't really work, does she? Because photography's not work, it's pleasure, and God forbid I should love what I do. When you feel like you're sinking more and more and suddenly, the only image that comes to your mind is that of Virginia Woolf, in the Hours, standing in the river, waiting for the courage to die. When you know you have a life to fight for, and you do and it's worth it, but not here. Far away from here, where you can be who you really are. No more lies, no more hiding things. No more of this.


This is probably my least favorite shot until now. But oh well. Part of this project is the request for us to post whether we're completely satisfied or not, so here it is. There are two more of these in the comments, plus a 'World Photography Day' pic.

Week 32 — A Darker Reflection

Week 32/52

Only 20 weeks to go! Oh goodness.

The concept for this shot was more... violent than this. Darker, very much so. The thing is, I was processing it and I just didn't feel it. You know? When you're doing something but somehow it doesn't seem right? That's how I felt about that horribly creepy shot, so I went with another one. It's not light and fluffy, no, but at least it's not making me want to jump off a bridge.

I don't think I have anything too eloquent to say. This isn't my favorite shot, but it isn't the one I like the least, either. I hope you can find something in it that you enjoy, and if you o, let me know. :)

Week 31 — Coming of Age

Week 31/52

I've had this concept in my mind for a few weeks now, and while it isn't a spectacular shot, it came out exactly like I wanted it to: soft and contained. Which is exactly what this concept was about.

I suffer from an enormous Peter Pan complex. I don't like growing up. I don't mind the concept of getting physically older, but having to be adult and mature and act properly and everything makes me want to shoot myself in the head. It's like I wasn't made for it; I was made to spend half my time daydreaming and imagining possibilities, stories, photos, places I want to see and people I want to visit. I was made to love things deeply and strongly, to laugh out loud in the street and jump and clap when I like something. I was made to smile giddily.

I wasn't made for the formality of adulthood. For the distance between people, for the lack of touch. And this is the concept I wrapped this shot around; the lack of physical contact.

I'm very touchy-feely. I'm the kind of person who'll hug you out of nowhere, who'll try to hold your hand or play with your hair if you're sad. And I know that's not appropriate at my age, now. I'm supposed to be this proper woman, to comfort people with a nod or a pat on the forearm. I'm supposed to keep a respectable distance between myself and others, which is something we didn't have as kids, as teenagers. And it troubles me, because my first impulse (which was radically augmented by the birth of my sister) is to hug people. So I spend half my time telling myself 'not everyone is a cuddle bug like you are, not everyone likes to be touched' and keeping my hands in my pockets so I can be the "adult" everyone wants me to be.

I don't know. Maybe I'm being childish about this, but it's one of the things that bother me the most about growing up. What sense does it make, to not be able to give and receive physical comfort just when things get hard? Because when you're a kid, you might not notice, but the world is pink and bubbly. The teenage years aren't the worst; they may seem like they are, but they aren't. The worst part is when you have to deal with work and bills and health issues and the life that everyone expects you to live. That's when it gets tough. And that's exactly when you're not supposed to be comforted.

I don't know. This is a very... stream of consciousness kind of thing, so I'll just shut up now.

Week 30 — The Wanderer

Week 30/52


She is not a common woman.

She's left behind a home and a country which she did not recognize as her own; she's left behind the safety of her home in a time when you can smell the war in the air, when you can feel the tension rising in rivulets in the sands of the desert. She left it all behind, all alone, and never looked back. When you ask her, the reason she serves you with is made of only one word: curiosity.

She's driven by curiosity, by that force stronger than life, that need to know more and more and more, until there's nothing more to discover, or maybe until you find a whole new world with new mysteries to delve in, new causes to investigate, new reasons to wonder. She's not satisfied with knowledge — she revels on the curiosity itself, the need to know, the strength it gives her bones.

The certainty of the answers is not what she's looking for; she's in it for the ride, for the silent and lonely nights in the middle of the desert. She's in it for the long, deep conversations under the desert sky, with the men she's grown to consider her brothers, both in this war and in her heart. She's in it for the crews, the teams of explorers in this beginning of century, a time when she's not expected to be there, not supposed to be the sole woman in a men's world. She's in it for the comfort she finds in looking up at the starts and knowing that they move, that they, like herself, run around in circles trying to find their place. She's in it for the clandestine encounters with H., for the broadness of his shoulders and the strength of his hands clutching her hips. She's in it for the moment when they part and their hands are the last to let go, their fingers extending until the tips don't touch anymore.

She is truly content with the life she's chosen. For her, the thrill is in the action, the need for adventure, not the destination. She's a free spirit, never attached, never bound by the petty notions of men and priests, never tied down by the rules of society. She makes her own world out of the maps she folds carefully and hides in the pages of the few books she's always carried along, mixing lands and continents and oceans and rivers; she plays with the compass, skillfully, as if the needle was best friend. She defies the laws of men and God, and yet she's faithful.

Her name is Frances, but the men around her call her Frankie. She is not a common woman.


[I just read this and realized that I somehow named the woman 'Frankie' in this shot, when in my head she's always been Sylvia. So there. The darn name is wrong, I'm not changing it in the main text, but here's the disclaimer.]

The aesthetics of this were inspired by the fabulous Brooke Shaden. The texture is from pareeeerica's collection.

Aaaaaand I just came across tthis shot from my darling Sarah, which is a similar concept, only she did it before me and way better. Great minds think alike. Go see it!

Week 29 — My Own Worst Enemy

Week 29/52

This did not come out the way I wanted it to. I need a bigger studio, I need better lights, I need an assistant. But still, I don't hate this. I actually like it a bit, because it's dark and it's twisty and it's more 'me' than most of the things I've done in a while.

The theme, the title of the shot is very important. First, because it's the name of a wonderful song by one of my idols — Idina Menzel; second, because it basically describes who I am.

I'm incredibly demanding. Towards others, yes, but mostly to myself. There are times when I realize I'm just saying this mantra over and over in my head 'you can't do that, you can't do that', and a time comes when you actually believe you can't. I'm the one building the walls, I'm the one finding problems in small things.

I've been getting better, though. Much better, I think, and I have to send thanks in no small terms to a couple of people — my singing teacher and my meditation teacher, especially. By listening to what they have told me through the years (or months, in the MT example) we've been working together, they've pushed me to be stronger, to be better, to leave my head out of what I can or cannot do, and that's something incredibly special. And this is a bit of a proof of that; that I have distance enough to see how harmful I was, to myself.

(And really, acrylic paint is the way to go if you want to paint your face. Comes out like magic! BUT — and this is a big 'but' — your skin doesn't breathe through it, since it's basically plastic, so don't cover yourself all over and die, k?)

Week 28 — Musicality

Week 28/52

I have no shame to admit that this shot was not thought of, not planned, not thought through. I just started to hang music sheets from the ceiling and this is how it came out, so it's not one of my best, not even close.

My problem, this week, was time. I've been having rehearsals for the showcase on Sunday — every single day. I've been studying the songs I have (five of them!), I'm spending time at the school and that leaves me very little time for anything else. Which is also why my 100DoS is so freaking late.

There's no story, today. No pseudo intellectual musing about things that no one cares about. There's only this shot and its outtakes, and my complete and utmost exhaustion with the showcase — and the extreme and utmost joy I know I will feel once Sunday comes and we're all having fun on that stage. That's all I'm hoping for.

Week 27 — Behind the Curtain

Week 27/52

I had to bite my tongue not to name this photo after another of songs from 'For Lovers Only'. That's right. It's been a week. I'm still obsessed. But I did this whole shoot with that music playing, so it would fit. Still. Lulu. Name your shots yourself, don't steal other people's words.

It's been a while since I've liked one of my shots, but this week, I do. And I like the outtakes. And now I'm jinxing it by saying I like what I did, but whatever.

The textures are pareeeerica's, and my own.


Candaules tells Gyges that the queen has the same practice every night.

"She takes off her clothes and puts them on the chair by the door to her room and from where you stand you will be able to gaze on her at your leisure."

And that evening it's exactly as the King has told him.

She goes to the chair and removes her clothes one by one, until she's standing naked in full view of Gyges, and indeed she was more lovely than he could have imagined. But then the Queen looked up and saw Gyges concealed in the shadows, and although she said nothing, she shuddered.

This is from a scene in The English Patient. I know the original is from Herodotus, but I don't know the original text so I transcripted it from the movie. I had been dying to do something based on that scene for a while, and while I set up the lights and the veil and everything in my room, my mind went back to this piece and I knew I wanted to work with it.

Week 26 — A Veiled Innocence

Week 26/52

Oh, dang, we're halfway through. And yet, somehow, I don't feel like a better photographer than I was before I started it. Oh well. It shall come.


All things truly wicked start with an innocence. — Ernest Hemingway

This quote has been rolling around in my mind this week; maybe it's because I'm feeling wicked — and not in a good way —, or maybe it's just that I've been so frustrated with my photography lately that nothing else seems to make sense. That's the risk you take when you throw yourself into your art; when it doesn't cooperate, nothing else does.

But back to the quote, this is a concept that I found to be truthful. It all starts with a sense of innocence, of an expectation that is never fulfilled, until it breaks. And then it breaks you, makes you want to run and hide, makes you want to be truly wicked.

This quote also makes sense in the context of one of my favorite books — yes, Wicked, by Gregory Maguire — where we see the transformation of a girl who thought she could change the world, who thought that she could do something better than what everyone else was, who had all of this innocence within her — into something dark, something solitary and fearful, something everyone else perceived as a frightful. Elphaba goes from a student who aspires to change the way Oz works to a dark and lonely soul, so lost and closed up that nothing can touch her. That path scares me. I see myself going down that same way over and over again and I look back to try to cling to the light, to the reality that I've always lived in. My happy place. So why is it that the darkest path is always the most alluring one?

Week 25 — The Writing on the Wall

Week 25/52

I'm sorry for the delay in posting this, but yesterday was a local holiday and I had a rehearsal with a couple of friends. I was counting on getting home at 7 to post this, but I ended up arriving here at 2am. Right. Not really in time to post. :p

This shot turned out incredibly dark. It was supposed to be a light, joyful shoot, but the muse switched gears on me and drove me into her dark and twisty ways.

So here it is, the moral prison, the pain of being tied up by the light, by inspiration. The muse comes and the muse goes, and we're all subject to her whims and wishes. It's a dark game, that of the artist, and such an exhausting one, at times. But it's not the kind of path you choose, it's the kind you're blessed with, and I am so very glad to let my mind be a vessel for the muses' wishes.