I was so fortunate to participate in Jane Fulton Alt’s Creative Collaboration!! It was such an amazing process for me and really gave my creative process the nudge it’s been needing. I have always loved ‘making’ images. From the moment I learned how to make high contrast masks of my negatives and use registration pins in the darkroom, I have been making composite photographic images.
Making images from piecing together several images has always been a part of my repertoire. Currently, I am interested in doing this to tell surreal stories. I am fascinated with quirky and offbeat imagery with a beautiful quality to them. It’s this balance of the eccentric and sublime that gets me excited about making images. I see this thread woven through all my favorite photographs.
In this image for the collaboration, I saw the light in the image and the first thing that came to mind was this image I had previously taken of a taxidermy coyote. I had him in the piece for weeks before I could visualize what else I wanted to say. As soon as I started researching Little Red Riding Hood (even though I used a coyote and not a wolf-flaw #1), I had Maliea on board. She actually put the wardrobe together for her part so that was another fun aspect of the collaboration. She walked the path for me happily and with enthusiasm even though she really needed to be sitting on the toilet. She is such a method actress that she put that aside to get her performance done “before the sun set on the last day.”
I couldn’t just do another version of Little Red Riding Hood, however. I wanted it to say something more personal. So when I remembered the bluebird I had photographed out my office window a year or so ago, I realized that the story was starting to unfold. The wolf (in coyote clothing) represents distractions from your chosen path and unhappiness in life. The bluebird represents happiness and joy and hope. It’s my wish that Maliea reaches the path of happiness and hope before the wolf swallows the bluebird and forces her to go down the wrong path.
It was so good for me to just put this work out there without any judgement and hesitation. I committed to it and sent it on it’s way. However, as is my nature, I did have to make a change. I noticed that after hastily composing it and prepping it to send to Jane, that the light source I created was on the wrong side of Maliea. Instead of reversing her because I liked the composition and the placement of the wolf and the bluebird, I decided to switch the light source. This also meant changing the shadows…
Here are some other composite images I’ve created. Most have been done in Photoshop. But this first one was one I did in the darkroom (took me 6 hours to get everything lined up just right and exposed the way I wanted it) in my early 20s. The image cracks me up because it’s so ugly. It’s a self portrait of me praising windows!? Of course I have always loved windows but I would have to say this is not the most elegant way to express this in a photograph! But I did it-I was into the process. Then I actually mounted the photograph onto a stained glass window that I hunted high and low for at salvage yards all over Long Beach for weeks. I even have a version where I carved a brass window and mounted it on the photograph. Egad. It was all part of my creative growth.