There are moments in a father’s life which make changing diapers worthwhile and that was one of them. Not that I didn’t deserve it, working as hard as I did while she was still impressionable by taking her to cemeteries and making sure there were always Tim Burton movies available to watch. But still, it’s a crap shoot at best, so I was proud. I thought about suitable cemeteries to use but eventually decided to create one myself so that I have complete artistic freedom. It won’t be as difficult as you might think. All I need to do is make enough markers to fill a family size graveyard, and it need not be a large family. Last fall when Pick’s Photo was planning Halloween shoots I made several tombstones in the Imaginactory, all of which would work. I bought a sheet of 2″ rigid foam insulation, carved the stones using a razor knife, then brushed, smeared, scraped, and splattered a combination of wood stain, paint, solvents, salt, vinegar, lemon juice, and sandpaper to give them a properly weathered appearance. After all, no one wants shiny stones in their Halloween photo.  Then again, who wants a clean grave anyway, in spite of what Blind Lemon Jefferson said? Give me moss, mildew, lichens and decay, like something from a Poe  story, and maybe a spoonful of (more…)
Several days later I showed the photo to my best friend Ssnuff Tucker, who said it was most definitely a mermaid and although he’d never observed one, even before seeing hard evidence he had never doubted the fact of their existence. According to Ssnuff, there were two possibilities: It was a mermaid, or a girl who had trudged alone through the woods and decided to skinny-dip in the dark in front of a stranger sitting on a rock, an unlikely scenario. So Ssnuff was suddenly overcome with an all-consuming passion for mermaids. He read books on mermaids, and stories on mermaids, watched mermaid movies, looked at mermaid art, and even bought stack of used tattoo magazines from Cass Padden’s shed sale, along with seven soiled doilies and a broken thermos (more…)
Some folks will believe anything. Take Ossie Finch. When I was young he would pump our septic tank about once a month and always told my Dad if the family would cut down on toilet paper consumption we wouldn’t be paying half his annual salary. He said we must’ve had the cleanest behinds in town. My Aunt Ada always answered that toilet paper was not an area to cut expenses and perhaps Ossie should simply lower his prices and not concern himself with the relative cleanliness of Wetzel butts. Anyway, Ossie claimed he was visited by aliens on a fairly regular basis. Now, there are folks who believed him and that’s the truth. What Ossie said was this: He’d watched them lots of times but they never detected him, on account of his being so slick when he was “on the sly.” Claimed he spied a gang of them one night when he had driven out to Nippy Keen’s pasture to watch stars, slithering all over the septic truck like “a clump of snakes.” [His truck was parked on the hillside shown in the photo at left] Ossie said these particular creatures were so advanced they could learn everything about the human species from a clump of feces, which is the word Aunt Ada said I ought to use if I insisted on writing about it. (more…)
When I was newborn and still in the hospital my Dad bought me a book, The Old Man and the Turnip. Though it would be some time before I could read it, fathers do such silly things as buying books and ball gloves and firearms for still-slimy newborns, mostly in anticipation of fun to come. Somehow, the book survived my childhood and is now in my library in the “special book” section along with Duck on a Truck and Mr. Pine’s Purple House. (more…)
Once I had decided on a castle window it was a simple matter to sketch a suitable design and have it made to fit the opening. I wanted a casement window since princesses are endlessly throwing them open and bursting into song for overweight bluebirds perched on the sill, except for Rapunzel, who seems to have been assigned to a particularly bird-less part of the forest.  No true princess would ever pine through a double-hung window anyway, no matter how handy they are for throwing up the sash in a Christmas poem.
I bought some cheap hinges at a hardware store and used the grinder to fancy the shapes somewhat, coated them with copper paint and added a patina. Next, I fastened some ripple-glass, glazed, painted, and then applied lead tape in a diamond pattern to make it look more authentic and while the window would work in a Cornwall cottage, it fits a fairy tale as well. After seeing it completed I decided a roof over the tower would finish things nicely… (more…)
Only celebrities, African-Americans, and old people wear hats anymore and that’s too bad. Ball caps are ubiquitous but it’s awfully hard to look dressy in one.  Even if people do not regularly wear a hat in public they should consider one in photos. A hat can do so much to create interesting lines and compositions, cast wonderful sculpting shadows, and add interest to a picture. Frankly, some people need all the help they can get.
It can also highlight a face worthy of extra attention, such as Hedy Lamarr’s, (see below) though she would’ve looked beautiful with a bowling bag on her head. (more…)
They said they wanted a photo of themselves in a jail.
There was a small window in the Imaginactory which had been boarded over for some time but could be made to resemble a jail. A person could go inside the Imaginactory, look out the window, and Dave could take the photo from outside - instant incarceration without the inconvenience of bread and water and soap on a rope. So I planed some scrap wood to the proper thickness and inserted five vertical dowels. After coating it with iron paint and spraying rust-inducing enzyme at spots likely to show corrosion in a real jail window, I finished it by burnishing and buffing the areas where numerous forlorn prisoners would rub the bars smooth while looking out the window pining for freedom, fresh fruit, and clean underpants. (more…)
[NOTE: If you came to this page because of the word "underwear" you won't be disappointed, but please be patient and read everything.]
I am going to combine features from daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and digital photos, calling it a dagambrodigitype. I’ve coined a new word to boot, something even Shakespeare only did 1,700 times.[ 1 ]
I went into the Imaginactory[ 2 ] and cut several shapes out of clear acrylic. Next, I beat the edges with a hammer to chip things up a bit.[ 3 ] After sanding the edges with steel wool and a sanding sponge and placing random scratches on the surface I rubbed dark gray paint into the cracks and crevices, let it dry and then unrubbed it, finally scanning it into the computer. I will combine this with a stunning black and white shot by Dave and hopefully end up with a wonderful photo.
1.It has already been added it to my spell-check dictionary, which makes it official, as if John Hancock wasn’t dead and signed it.
2.Yes, it is an actual place and I should have a photo available soon.
3.Using an artistic stroke, which is more a frame of mind than a particular hammer striking technique. Additionally, there are several actions one can take to heighten artistic output, depending on how strong an effect is desired. I wear a brown beret on occasion while working (brown being the traditional color of artists) which results in a subtle creative spike. If something more pronounced is desired it is frequently helpful to remove my pants and work in my underwear, which serves to liberate the senses.
Daguerreotypes were the beginning of practical photography, as much as any single thing can be the beginning, and I thought it would be fun to make one. Not a genuine daguerreotype, since inhaling noxious vapors from several poisons seems to be integral to the process, but to replicate the look as closely as we can with modern equipment and thus not introduce heavy metals into our bloodstreams.
Daguerreotypes were positive prints on silver-plated copper sheets which resulted in laterally reversed images (left-right for those of you who watch too much television). The process was used from 1839-1850s, a time period which, if numerous extant examples are any indication, was completely bereft of pretty women. Gazing at homely females during the long exposures the process required could not have been pleasant, so as ours will be an adaptation rather than an exact replica I have someone much more attractive in mind. How I intend to make a daguerreotype is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.
Incidentally, the man with the dead woodpecker in the daguerreotype to the right can only have been an early prototype for “Big Boy.” This is a look I wish to avoid.
She may not be dead. I don’t know. The Cherry Ames Nurse series for teenage girls was first published in 1943, the fictional Cherry having been born circa 1925, so she could be alive. Either way she’s given her last enema. How I happen to own a dozen books from the series is simply too humiliating to mention, so I won’t. No, I haven’t read them but inspiration comes from strange and unexpected places.
I have always enjoyed book-cover art, from the classic Scribner’s illustrations of N. C. Wyeth to the numerous unknown artists who truly deserve their anonymity. Wouldn’t it be fun to find an old book and give it a new dust-wrapper incorporating a photo and graphics custom-tailored to the sitter?
Let’s use an example: Gus Customer’s favorite book is Robinson Crusoe. He reads it yearly by candlelight in a hut with a dirt floor while eating moldy cheese and scratching himself with dirty fingernails, just for atmosphere. Gus enjoys his individuality so he’s open to the book-cover idea. All he needs to do is schedule his shoot, gather up some goatskin clothes (which he probably already has), a rusty gun, a suitable parrot in the proper colors, and a cannibal. Pick’s Photo will take care of the rest, though Gus would probably have to show proof of insurance in case the cannibal ate one of the staff.
The possibilities are simply endless. It could be something retro such as a pulp paperback from the forties, a bestselling novel, a how-to book, child’s series, mystery, horror, anything. If there’s a suitable guinea pig call Pick’s Photo and we’ll talk about it.
Incidentally, anyone want to buy some Cherry Ames books?
It seems that every little girl wants to be a princess, a fantasy that persists until she realizes most little boys have no intention of becoming a prince. Sure, they might consider slaying a dragon or two but as for humbling themselves on one knee to some bejeweled lacy female, it’s just not on the list of favorite fantasies. I was thinking one day of how my own girls would cajole me into “playing princess,” forcing me to participate in royal receptions, tea parties, and rescues from sinister ogres in which the only prize was their hand in marriage, reason enough for a prince to skip the ogre, grab his ale, and hit the hills in search of adventure. Some of the humiliating costumes and ceremonies I was forced to participate in I still shudder to think of. But then it occurred to me that a fairy-tale castle might be a wonderful idea for a set at Pick’s Photo so I scribbled this quick sketch and began to consider how we could implement the idea.