This past weekend I visited my godparents’ retreat in Wolcott. This year marks my eighteenth summer camping there, and it’s long felt like home to me. It is ragged, pristine, spectacular isolation. It’s a place where you can’t help but hear yourself think, and I, for all the noise I pack into my poor obsessive-compulsive mind, always benefit from that.
My godparents, Bill and Betsy (which may go down as the most “olde-Vermont” couple names ever), bought the land twenty-something years ago in hopes of starting a Christmas tree farm. I don’t know the exact turn of events that made them break ground for a cabin instead and let the evergreens grow twenty feet tall, but I am glad they occurred.
For this shoot, I wore an antique-store dress I bought to flip on Etsy but couldn’t resist a few photos in first. It has no tag; the stitching reveals it’s homemade. I’d place it in the 1930s, maaaaybe the ’40s for someone with a lot of rations saved up. It’s so soft (remarkably well preserved) and fits like it was made for me.
You know how I like my queering, though. My original concept was a basic ’30s-housewife shoot in the rustic, candlelit cabin, but it soon evolved into a mishmash of a few different themes. I decided to go for a pop of mod color and sharp angles with my hair and makeup to contrast the wistful ’30s. I like that it made the look more challenging and added another layer to my housewife character. I also really love images with obvious flaws or inconsistencies that are not addressed. It jars the eye, adds a dash of absurdity, and ultimately leaves viewers to fill in the gaps. I like my art a little hard on the brain.
Seeing the photos on my computer screen revealed another layer. The light in the ones I liked best had a distinctly antiquated, almost eerie, tinge to it. Inspired, I ‘shopped the pictures and upped the exposure to suggest a full-on ghost vibe. Nothing particularly unique about that, especially coming from me, but I’m enchanted by the idea that you can’t tell exactly when my ghost is from, what with her Depression dress and fluorescent mod hair. Ambiguity is one of my favorite themes. It’s its own kind of artifice.
There’s something lovely about a ghost in broad daylight, unafraid of the sun.
This one reminds me of an old Dutch painting.
I edited some of the furniture shots just a little overbright, with just a little more oomph to sit up and pay attention to than the rest of the photos. I consider over-sharp light just as spine-tingling an aesthetic as under-sharp. It’s pregnant somehow.
I find mirror shots so spooky.
True story: I’ve had this lifelong fear of my reflection winking at me. If I have to pee past midnight, I book it to the bathroom while trying to avoid a glimpse of myself in any unshaded windows.
Is it Halloween yet?
I found this one so deliciously absurd. Anyone else see it?