Behind the Art – Lost in Me

I’m drawing a blank on super interesting today, so I’m afraid I’m going to cheat a little. My pre-WordPress blog was probably only viewed by about 3 people. Now those are some beautiful and spectacular people, but I’d love to repost a couple of my Behind the Art stories and see if I can maybe share with another 3 more. Today that story will be the one of the image above, Lost in Me.

So… You’ve probably seen this photograph a few places if you follow my work. It’s generally my profile photo on social media, it’s the cover of one of my books, Photographic Memories: Meet Me in the Middle, and it has traveled in many an art show. She was born out of a class assignment at Ivy Tech somewhere around the year 2000. I don’t remember the exact name of the class, but it was learning how to work with computers, in particular Adobe Photoshop. The assignment was to meld multiple photographs together to make one cohesive piece of work.

As per usual I felt I needed to not just hammer out the assignment, but to make a statement. I don’t just use digital in my daily photography routine. Even back then I was way more interested in the life around me than in creating my own jumble to add to it. I believe, however, if you are going to mess with digital the power should be wielded for a greater good. If I had to step into digital I wanted to do it with a barbaric YAWP… and that’s just what I felt I did.

The creation of Lost in Me was one of my three proudest moments in photography school (I’ll tell you about the others on another day). It was made from four different photographs, one of those photos getting used twice. I fused together a photo of fire, a photo of clouds that I flip flopped to use for the “floor and ceiling”, and two different photos of the same model in different outfits. That photo shoot might have been one of the most nerve racking things I have done. It was ALL shot in film and digitized later, so I had to do multiple shots, marking the models spots and hoping to get her back in the exact same spot later after changing outfits. I used my 35mm Minolta for the fire and cloud shots, but for the model I used a medium format Mamiya that I borrowed from the school.

I finally finished the photo shoots and began the digital combination, and that’s when I realized I hadn’t done as well as I had thought lining her back up in the second shoot. Upon a little closer inspection the hand on the model that is resting on the mirror was misaligned which created what looks like a sixth finger. I just kinda went with it, though. Sometimes a photog does what they need to do. The most interesting thing to me is the fact that the model happened to have a niece born with an extra digit about the same week as the shoot, and I didn’t even know! She told me later, and thought I had somehow found out and done it on purpose as part of the statement, but no, it was just a beautiful coincidence that will live in my mind in infamy.

The photo really does speak for itself. I have heard many different variations on the general theme from many different people, and I love every single way it has touched each and every one. For me I guess the photo is a statement about how there are different sides to us all. We all have a good side and bad, a happy side and a sad. I even express those different moods and emotions in the way that I dress. I think a lot of those clothes might even have been mine at the time as I did often feel goth or punk one day and hippie the next. Even days when I didn’t show it on the outside, though, I would struggle with the extreme mix of what I wanted or needed on the inside. I struggled with how others saw me and how I saw myself. Lost in me is made up of all of these different struggles I felt on the inside and out. The thing I eventually managed to teach myself, though is that it’s all beautiful… it’s all good. As long as I’m free to be myself, whichever me I feel like being on any given day, I’m happy. Stifling who we truly are is the only wrong answer, well, unless you’re a serial killer or evil villain then maybe stifle it a little bit. Anyway…

I ended up selling one of the original four 8×10 prints of Lost in me for $500! I do believe it was at my first solo art show at the spectacular Joey G’s in Madison, Indiana, a place that will be inside my heart forever. It was incredible! The show was a fantastic hit, and I sold a few pieces that day. Unfortunately, though, when great things happen one can easily make the mistake of thinking it’s always going to be that way which, of course, is not the case. Just like every other photographer I learned very quickly that there are 50 misses to every hit. Lost in Me was a huge hit. I owe a lot to that photo. It has opened many eyes to the rest of my work, and I know many more in the future. I look forward to the day, though, when I create that perfect thing that tops it. I’ve never really cared about the money, though, and Lost in Me has never been a personal favorite, so I’d say a few of my photos in my eyes already have.

I hope you enjoyed the rest of the story