Upon waking on Tuesday, October 3rd, I was struck with an intense desire to start writing. I skipped my daily five mile morning hike and picked up my pen instead. The day before had been full of heartbreak for many, myself included. With the horrific mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert and Tom Petty’s passing, I felt uncontrollable sadness. I knew I needed to figure out how to channel that sadness into something else that would help me refocus on all of the positives in life. So I wrote, and wrote. My words became a story that I titled, “Good Morning. ” I mention this story, even though I’m not able to share it yet, because it was in large part why I ended up doing this particular series of portraits. The major theme tackled in “Good Morning” is how the artistic process plays a major role in my happiness. After the first (very rough) draft was completed, I heeded the words in my story and began creating with self-portraiture. When it comes to self-portraits, I shoot from a desire to uncover aspects of my character that make me “me.” There are parts of me that have been hiding away in fear, lying dormant. They need to be let out and accepted by me the most. Through self-portraiture, I crack the door open for those sides of me so they can be seen and heard. By accessing my vulnerabilities and sharing them, I gain self-acceptance. The more acceptance, love, and connection I give myself, the more I have of it to give to others. It’s a journey of interconnectedness, and that is fundamental for happiness.
The message of the series started to solidify after I took the first few shots. I knew I wanted to emphasize how I was teetering on my thirty-seventh year of life. And unbelievably, right as I was considering the title for this project, Stevie Nick’s song “Edge of Seventeen” came on from my Spotify playlist …like a message from the white winged dove! So was born the name of this series: “Edge of Thirty-Seven.” As I was writing this blog, about a week after I completed the portraits, I became curious to learn more about what “Edge of Seventeen” was about. Through doing some research on this song, I found out that Stevie wrote the song in response to her uncle’s death and John Lennon’s murder, both of which occurred in the same week. She wrote it to work through her sadness. I can only hope that Ms. Stevie Nicks (one of my heroes) would approve of the role her song played in inspiring this series.
A bit about the images…
The first three images show me sitting in a chair in my garage. In all three of them, I am intentionally facing open doors. The vibes in each one are different, and I”ll leave it up to the viewer to interpret what kind of energy is perceived.
In the next two, I am in the edge of a doorway, again very different energies could be perceived here.
In the next three, I am on the edge of a narrow (and incredibly freaking gorgeous!) beam of light coming in through the hinged side of the back door to the garage.
In the final two images of the series, I am situated on the edges of a light beam graciously showcasing itself on the wall behind my garage. For this blog, I decided to flip one of the images and combine them into one.
I hope you enjoyed this series. I gained so much from the process of creating them, and I am excited to begin considering my next self-portrait series.
Keep on scrolling for the “not included, yet not rejected” photos from this series….
“Not included, yet not rejected” images from this series:
Let’s start with the ones of me in the stationary tub and randomly wearing a helmet with my tongue sticking out… because I think they require explanation, right? This was day 2/2 of shooting self-portraits in my garage for the “Edge of Thirty-Seven.” I went in with several ideas running through my mind. As it sometimes happens though, after a few hours of shooting, my photographs weren’t matching the vision in my mind. Even though I have learned to trust this process, sometimes frustration still gets the better of me. I felt like I was failing, so I knew it was time to step back and shift my energy. The thing about negative thoughts and energy is that they stifle (even outright block) the creative process for me. I knew I had to let go of my previous visions, to allow the birth of new ones that would work. I did something silly/ridiculous to change my vibes and start over. I looked around the garage, brainstorming ways I could make myself laugh, or at least stop taking myself so seriously. These photos explains what happened next. In my opinion, it worked. My favorite images were created right after taking these pictures. I found a spot of light coming in through the crack of the back door to the garage that I had previously not seen-it was definitely not an obvious or convenient spot. I was squished between a ladder, bicycles, and a giant bag of top soil, and of course my tripod, but I still managed to make some images that fulfilled my artistic vision. Thank you stationary tub, I am so glad I did not break you! Thanks for having my back (er…noggin) helmet! Self-portraiture can be very dangerous.
*The story has since been renamed to “Day of the Living.”
About the Artist:
Natalie’s primary goal as an artist is to evoke feeling through her words and photographs. Her artistic journey began long ago but it wasn’t until she entered her 30s that photography and writing became the primary outlets for her artistic expression. She likes to share the way she sees the world with those who are interested in her perspective. She is inspired by light, shadows, contrast, shapes, lines, colors, words, nature, adventure, music, and of course, the people, and animals she loves! She has recently been experimenting with self-portraiture and finding additional outlets for her art. Her work has been published by Lensbaby, Beyond the Wanderlust, and she is an artist at Offset.com.