When I was a child, about four or so, I had a vivid nightmare that I still remember, mumbldy-mumble years later: I’m going down the steps into our basement (the massive, multi-armed furnace and my mom’s washer/dryer; my dad’s workshop (it was the early ’60s, remember)–the warm smell of sawdust and the sweetly metallic tang of gun oil–into the darkness that one always braved before finding the light switch at the bottom. And out of the shadows, a painfully thin, pale figure with a massive head like a ball of fur, an impression of eyes and teeth, and it says in a deeply baritone voice, “I’m going to chase you out of house and home!” (I was a dramatic child.) and proceeded to run across the floor and up the stairs toward me. In the dream, I turned to run, and that was that. I recall something about hiding in the oven, but that may be a false memory added on later.
ANYWAY, so the point of this is that I’ve gone a little less steampunk and a little more nightmare-y in my photography lately (sorry for the Long Silence over the past few months, gentle reader–emphasis on the singular–I’m sure I was missed.). It started with the notion in my head to add a porcelain doll head to a pair of goggles, and progressed rapidly to my personal nightmare when I found a half-mask made of pheasant feathers on eBay, which had become the source du jour for my rusty and odd photo props. The half-mask, although feathery, bore a striking resemblance to my dream monster’s head, so it was off to the races. In the ongoing series, shot with several excellent models, I’ve been playing around with the image–adding an Archimedes Drill here, a vintage headless doll body there, and, through the Magic of Photoshop, going del Toro’s Pale Man one better by creating a creature that pulls childrens’ faces into its hands (again, thanks to antique doll heads). It’s not exactly my “chase-you-out-of-house-and-home” fur-head, but it may exorcise a demon or two.
Maybe this one:
As if to psychologically make up for the nightmarish images, I also did some “angel” images…although even those are perhaps more flawed angels than fully angelic ones. And of course I can’t stay away from tarting up an old camera with steampunk paraphernalia and nine additional lenses, because that’s fun–although even those images have their own nightmare-ish quality: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to live in the weird and vaguely alchemical alt-hist I’ve constructed in my head. Sort of like my imaginary friend being mean to me, I guess.
These photos were shot in my new in-home studio (OK, it’s a pretty tiny third bedroom, but it holds my backdrop and tripod and shelving for props, and has a closet for the various neo-Victorian costumery I make people put on, and I couldn’t be more delighted–and thank you to my noble husband for letting me expropriate a chunk of our house for myself). As usual, shots are taken with my Nikon D7000 hooked up to an umbrella light.
So that’s where I am at the moment. Take a look at some of the photos here, and let me know what you think! Larger versions are available on my website, www.ebutterfieldphotography.com.