In a time not our own, in a land foreign and familiar, in a state of mind reserved for sleep walked a waking girl with magic and sorcery. Her travels led her to a palace of nature filled with rumbling storm clouds and bright light all in one, filling her with expectations of magical things. So strange and familiar were her surroundings that she stepped confidently on the hollow mountain ground, yet with every two steps she took forward, she took one back, cautiously. A wild land with beauty is still wild. She wandered forward, lusting over each new view that presented itself, wary of what could be ahead.
The thing about magic and sorcery is that for every use there is a misuse, and for every moment that passes another one is lost.
High up in the mountains where the trees would not grow she settled into her nesting spot, a place of sparse yet rich land that welcomed her softly, if only temporarily. She had reached the top of the peak, and everywhere she looked she saw the same: mountains in the distance and fog below, clouds moving swiftly as rain fell in blurry patches over hills. It moved around her like a living organism, speaking with large and swaying movements to everyone but her, and so she sat in silence. The only place to look was up, and so she did, and so she saw the birds. They circled her with menacing pace but with kindness inside.
Their wings were tattered like her jet black dress but they pressed on, going nowhere and seeing everything. Where do birds fly once they have reached the top of the world? Where does anyone go once they can see all things? To master magic and sorcery is to see beyond what presents itself. She looked up, since there was no where else to look, and met the gaze of the birds flying in circles, lost because they had found what they were searching for. She spoke to them silently with only a look, the same as the clouds and mountains around her, and she became part of the world she existed in, in that moment. A wild girl with wild beauty inside.
My first step to creating this image was to find inspiration. I was on a lovely beach with my friend Carolyn Hampton who showed me a dress she had brought along. Long, black, holes all around it…one glance and I could already see it blowing in the wind. It was different for me. I have wanted to shoot with a black dress for some time but never quite found the right one. I knew this one could work for me. I instantly saw a story, most exactly the one written above. It struck me clearly and I already couldn’t wait to create. We exchanged props, the dress for my carousel horse, and we both got to work creating with new inspiration.
The image for me is, in reality, not so very different from images I have created in the past. A long flowing gown, storm clouds, birds…but these are the things that inspire me. It is where my heart lies and my imagination rests. It is a place of comfort and peace, despite seeming anything but peaceful. It is my happy place, and I share it hoping it can become yours as well.
I did a second piece that day. I told Katie the model that I wanted something with a neutral and dark background, that I wanted her to be headless, arms outstretched, and with as much tension in her body as possible. She gave me many different options of what I could use, but this was the exact pose I had envisioned and was perfection for me. I was so excited, because I knew it would be a quieter image, one that didn’t require the usual fireworks show. When I was editing it, I merely saved it to my desktop as “pain” because I had not thought of a title yet. “Pain” was the first word that I felt when looking at what I was editing. It just felt right.
These two pictures are meant to go together as a pairing. One is freedom while the other is entrapment. One is joyous while the other is painful. They contrast each other, a beautiful juxtaposition that truly sums up what my mind is like and where my imagination meanders. I love the dichotomy of beauty and suffering, for you cannot have one without the other.
Behind the Scenes & Outtakes: