Love in Black and White

Love in Black and White by RockstarVanity Photographic Art

Today I’d like to share a bit of appreciation for this lovely human. This is David, my husband. We’ve been together for almost fourteen years and married for almost thirteen. Our wedding was on a beautiful winter morning, a week before my 22nd birthday and a year to the day after we first became a couple. After spending months trying and failing to care about flowers, napkin colours and seating plans, we eloped and it was perfect. So perfect, in fact, we ended up moving to the city we eloped to and we’ve lived here ever since.

We were best friends before we were anything else, we’re still best friends and I can’t imagine a more amazing partner in crime and fellow cosmic traveller to share the adventure of life with.

With this post, I’m taking part in my first three link parties (so excited!). If you’re a linky noob like me, this directory has a list of active link-ups/blog-hops you can take part in. Click the graphics below to visit the wonderful hosts and see some more gorgeous black and white photography.

Black and White Wednesdays BW Photo Project CGbutton3

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Why I’m Not On YouTube Yet

Why I'm not on YouTube yet

So, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you might know that I’ve set up a YouTube channel. I did it a while ago but if you’ve visited it, you’ll have noticed that there are no videos there yet. Even though I’ve been talking about it for ages. Even though I’ve been meaning to make videos for ages. Even though I am full of ideas and have a camera and a microphone and screen capture software and video editing software. Yeah. I still haven’t made use of ALL THOSE THINGS and actually made a video. Today, I’d like to talk about why.

This is going to sound weird considering I’m a person who points cameras at other people quite often and who takes and shares self-portraits, but I am absolutely terrified of being photographed by other people and even more terrified of being on video. It’s important to me as a photographer to experience what the people in front of my camera are experiencing, so a few years ago I modelled for a couple of other photographers. It was terrifying and while I could see that the photos we ended up with were lovely, I still feel wildly uncomfortable in front of the camera to the point where if there’s a camera directed towards me, I freak out. Like crying and panic attacks freaking out. That person hiding behind everyone else in the group shots? Yep, that’s me. Or at least the top of my head while I duck behind the tall people.

The only time I’m ever even remotely alright with being photographed is when I’m performing in full costume and face paint and even then I look at the photos afterwards and my soul sinks through the floor. There’s no logic to this and I’m working on overcoming it, but it’s been a long journey so far and I still have a long way to go. Taking and sharing photos of myself, especially when those photos are about a concept or where the aim isn’t to look pretty or nice (yay horror photography!) is an act of empowerment for me. Over the years, it has helped me to become more confident about my appearance. I am SO insecure about the way I look and it isn’t about other people thinking I look good or not. It’s completely 100% about me having difficulty accepting that aspect of my existence and I’m trying so hard every day to work through my fears and insecurities. I’m generally super confident in social situations and am totally fine to stand up and talk in front of hundreds of people. Unless one of them happens to have a camera – or even worse, a video camera – pointed at me.

I don’t talk about this much in my online photography spaces because I worry that it sounds like I’m fishing for compliments and I also try not to indulge the dark little voice in my head that tells me I am not acceptable. I’m aware that there’s no right thing to say to someone who is violently insecure about the way they look. People who have only ever seen me in photos have told me I look good but all I can think is “Yeah, but you’ve only ever seen photos of me with make-up and good lighting, taken by someone who knows how to help people look their best in a photo”. I see me every day, in the worst times when I’m really sick and look like death on toast. When I look rough, it reminds me that I look like this because I’m ill, and I hate being ill! This is a part of my life now and it’s another thing that I’m working on coming to terms with. I’m not asking for advice or input or compliments or anything else here. I’m just explaining.

So that’s the background, or at least some of it. If I was going to get into all the history of my relationship with my face and body, it would take forever and would bore you all to sleep. My aim with my ghost-town of a YouTube channel is mostly to create tutorials and reviews, a lot of which wouldn’t even involve me being on camera so my weirdness about how I look shouldn’t be an issue. I feel kind of uncomfortable with the way I sound in recordings, but I reckon that’s probably quite normal and most people feel a bit strange about how they sound in videos (or even voicemails…cringe!).

I would also REALLY love to make video blogs because some of my favourite things to watch on YouTube are pretty much just people talking about interesting stuff. I don’t judge their appearance or think their voice is weird or whatever. I love learning from other people or even just listening to them chatting about things they enjoy. I know that when (when, not if – I am totally going to do this!) I upload videos, most other people will probably not care about my face or my voice, but actually taking the plunge into something that scares me this much is a huge challenge for me and something that I need to work up to emotionally as well as making time to actually create the videos.

My goal at the moment is to make an introductory video, a “Hi, this is who I am and this is what my channel is going to be about” sort of thing and it is the most terrifying concept right now! I know the best way to overcome fears is to face them, to dive right in to the deep end of the scary thing and realise that it isn’t as bad as I thought it might have been.

That photo at the top of this post is of me. I look like that sometimes. I do not look like that all the time. I’m pretty sure I won’t look like that on video. A lot of the time I look like the Dorian Gray’s painting in the attic of the person in that picture. I’m not scared of not looking or sounding perfect in videos. I’m not even scared of other people watching the videos and thinking “Wow, she looks like crap!” or “Oh my god, she sounds so stupid”. I’m scared of ME watching the video and not being able to handle the way I feel about myself in that moment.

I WILL make those videos though. I will make them and share them and probably end up feeling really silly for being so scared to do it for so long. If you make videos, whether you’re reviewing products or making tutorials or just sitting in front of your camera and talking, I have so much respect for you. You are my inspiration. If you’re working on overcoming insecurities to do something you really want to do but haven’t quite gotten there yet, you are also my inspiration. We’ll get there together!

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Macro Fabric and Jewels

Macro Fabric and Jewels 01

Macro Fabric and Jewels 02

Macro Fabric and Jewels 04

Macro Fabric and Jewels 03

What a busy week! I had a fantastic afternoon running character development workshops with some of the amazing volunteers at Beltane Fire Society on Saturday, focusing on expressing strength and power through voice and shaking the walls with all the incredible noise we made.

Also, my parents have been visiting from Northern Ireland so I got to spend lots of lovely time with them. I probably ate more in the last week that I’ve eaten in the previous month, but that’s the effect parents seem to have!

The photos above are of the interior decor in the holiday apartment my parents were staying in. Every time they visit, I end up obsessing over how pretty the apartment is and filling my head with ideas for my own home. I fell in love with the stunning fabric and jewel details and couldn’t resist grabbing my macro lens to capture some of the beauty.

Prints of top image available at http://www.deviantart.com/print/38679667/

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A Cat Asleep In The Sun

Photograph of a white cat asleep in the sun.

Photograph of a white cat asleep in the sun.

Photograph of a white cat asleep in the sun.

Today I decided to follow my own advice from my 5 Ways to Break Out of a Photography Rut post. I don’t feel stuck in a rut as such but life has been really busy over the last couple of weeks and I haven’t spent as much time with my camera as I’d like, so I figured it was a good time to not take it back to where I first found inspiration and point my camera at the people and things that bring a smile to my face every day. I wandered into the bedroom this afternoon and found my cat, Pablo, dozing in the sun and looking absolutely adorable so I grabbed my camera and took a few photos (then had a little cuddle afterwards).

If you’re wondering about the bars on the window, they’re actually a fire guard doctored to fit across the lower half of the window so we can open it wide without the cats climbing out on to the windowsill. Neither of our cats are particularly interested in the outside world so they’re not likely to make a jump for it, but they are both old and a bit clumsy – yep, we have cats that actually fall off things.

Do you enjoy capturing happy little everyday moments with the humans or animals you share your home with?

Prints of the top photo available at http://www.deviantart.com/print/38634574/

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Hand-Poked Tattoo Macro

I had a wonderful experience last night, getting my first hand-poked tattoo with the lovely Jessica of chANGELing in Edinburgh. I have a number of tattoos already, all done by talented artists using buzzy tattoo machines. I love the sound of a tattoo machine and I love the feeling of getting tattoos but I wanted to experience something different with this one.

The design I created is particularly meaningful for me as it represents the elemental chant, The earth, the air, the fire, the water, return, return, return, return and it’s my first tattoo with colour (all my others are blackwork), so the slower, equally intense but more gentle, traditional process of hand-poking (Jessica trained under a Maori artist), where the needle is pushed into the skin by hand rather than with a machine, felt very appropriate and very special.

I took the photos today, just over 12 hours since the tattoo was finished. It hasn’t healed yet so there’s lots of gorgeous texture that I wanted to capture with my macro lens before everything flattened. If you’ve had tattoos before, you’ll probably notice that there is much less scabbing than often appears following a machined tattoo.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Here’s a picture of the whole tattoo. I’m right-handed and the tattoo is on the top of my right wrist, so it was kind of awkward taking a photo using a dSLR held only in my left hand!

Close-up photograph of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

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