Archive for April, 2009
I had to cancel a photo shoot this week and have been feverishly working on resolving a technical difficulty. I had to buy a new laptop on Tuesday, which wasn’t in the plan or in the budget, but the PC that I’ve been using for my photo business — the one that I have affectionately been calling “piece of shit” for the last two years, about which I have repeatedly said will eventually end up in the bottom of a retention pond* — finally became almost unusable, as starting Photoshop, opening too many tabs in a browser, or trying to upload my website would cause it to overheat and turn itself off.
And so this is my new laptop, which is going to take a bit of getting used to, but so far, I like it.
I went out on a limb and decided that, since I was already spending money on something I wasn’t planning, I may as well break the bank and buy Office 2007 and the newest version of Photoshop as well. I have to take the laptop back to the cute Geek Squad boys sometime this weekend because — wouldn’t you know? — my Microsoft compatible laptop won’t recognize the Microsoft Office product license key, even though I bought them both in the same place. But I did get all of my photos transferred to the new machine and so far I like it a lot (although I have to admit that I haven’t even turned on my new version of Photoshop, yet).
It also occurred to me that my new laptop needs a name. I’ve come up with the following ideas so far (my new laptop is a boy, by the way):
- Peter, after Peter Brady, my favorite of the bunch
- Mike, after the first boy I developed a serious crush on, in 4th grade
- Gordon, after the first boy I developed a serious crush on, post puberty
- Kyle, after the first boy that convinced me to . . .**
- Andrew, after an English exchange student who lived with a friend of mine
The two people that I have surveyed so far have told me what I already agree with — clearly, my laptop should be named Gordon. But I’m open to your thoughts.
*For those who don’t quite know my sense of humor, this is a joke. I would never throw a laptop into a retention pond. I am an environmentalist, and am fully aware of how many toxic chemicals are inside our computers.
**I am also trying to be too much of a gentleman to tell you what, exactly, Kyle talked me into doing, or rather, got me to do. But you know me: if you email me and ask, I will tell.
My dentists are a husband and wife team — depending on the day of your appointment you’ll either get “Dr. Matt” or “Dr. Stephanie.” I go here because my friend Annette recommended Erica as a dental hygienist because she is good and because she has a TV set (with cable) that you can see from the dentist’s chair. Erica is, by far, the best dental hygienist I have experienced; she has a pleasant voice and calming nature and she has yet to gag me with a mouth mirror once (this is where I should say that I do not like going to the dentist, and that it’s amazing what an intense gag reflex I can develop the instant I sit in a dentist’s chair).
As for Drs. Matt and Stephanie, they are cute, in some kind of indecipherable way (below is one of their promo photos [I have no idea why it's purple]). They remind me of the kind of couple that goes to Jimmy Buffet concerts and spends their vacations doing things like backpacking the Canadian Rockies or repelling the tree canopy in Costa Rica. Most often, I see Dr. Matt, which I don’t mind because he wears scrubs that usually make his can and his basket look nice (if I have to be at the dentist, I may as well enjoy the view).
Yesterday, Dr. Matt told me that I have a very small cavity developing. He told me that it would be a very easy filling and probably wouldn’t even require novacaine, it’s so small. He asked me if I was going to make an appointment to let him do the filling. I said sure.
“Good,” Dr. Matt said. “Then since you’ll be in the chair anyway, let’s pull that wisdom tooth that I’ve wanted to extract for three years.”
And suddenly I realized that I had been bamboozled by my dentist.
It’s true that various dentists have been talking about removing this same tooth for about 10 years. I haven’t taken it seriously because
- It doesn’t hurt, and
- I am a baby, when it comes to things like this.
But Dr. Matt explained that this wisdom tooth is also crowding the tooth in front of it, which means that it’s becoming difficult to clean both teeth, which means that decay will eventually build up on both teeth. He said that one way or another, sooner or later, this wisdom tooth is coming out; it’s my choice as to whether it comes out now (which would be the easiest wisdom tooth extraction I could hope for) or later (when the extraction would also involve a root canal and a crown on the tooth in front of it).
And so that’s how I decided that I am going to let Dr. Matt rip one of my teeth from my skull. I certainly hope that he gives hugs to his patients who are having panic attacks. And yes, there will be nitrous oxide.
The funny thing is that now, since I made this decision, that particular wisdom tooth has started to ache, just a bit.
My dad was released from the hospital on Tuesday. His house, still the same house that I grew up in, was as it often is these days — a pit. It was full of dust and clutter, and it felt stale, like the windows hadn’t been open since last summer (the last time I opened them). Jay and I spent Saturday cleaning. We vacuumed, we dusted, we mopped the kitchen floor, we cleaned the bathroom, and we swung open every window we could. It was warm but cloudy outside and every once in a while a quiet thunderstorm would roll through. Otherwise, all we could hear were the bullfrogs on the pond that’s across the street. It was a good day; it felt like we were doing more than cleaning, but actually cleansing . . . detoxifying something. It was more like therapy than work. Jay and I needed this.
I did take a few photos.
This is an evergreen that’s making its home along the front porch of my dad’s house.
These tulips are some of the last remaining proof of my mom’s presence here; she had planted them along the front walk before she died.
This might be my favorite tree in the world; it sits in front of my parents’ picture window. When I was a kid I used to climb it and read The Chronicles of Narnia; and I would look out over the top of our house, through myriad backyards that were behind our own, beyond the mom-and-pop motel that sat on the end of our street, and watch the cars go by on the highway. My mom always said that I climbed too high, but I never got hurt.
This is my dad’s kitchen, which hasn’t been remodeled since 1982. It’s a little messy because even though he just got out of the hospital four days ago, he insisted on having a family meal Saturday night for Jay and I, my two brothers, one of my sisters, and all of their spouses.
We had shrimp cocktail, tossed salad, prime rib roast (which I cooked), baked sweet potatoes, yorkshire pudding, green bean casserole, and blueberry pie. It was delicious, albeit not the kind of dinner that someone who’s been contemplating vegetarianism should be eating.
This is my dad, having coffee.
I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on my photography site, paring it down some. I decided that I had a large enough body of work now that it’s not so critical to have examples of most of the photo shoots I’ve done, but just the best photos. And so I’ve deleted a lot of images from the site — mostly from the Portraits and Events galleries, but I’ve also made substantial cuts to the Gods gallery.
I’ve moved some images of Chris and Scott from the Gods gallery to the Lifestyle gallery, having decided that a guy standing there in his underwear is fine for a modeling portfolio but doesn’t necessarily make him a “god.” I’ve also added a few new images of old models to the Gods section, including these three.
My idea of what constitutes a photograph of a “god” is coming together more clearly. The pose is critical; I want these people to look like living statues. But I don’t want them to be caricatures — I’ve had some models say things to me that suggest they think I’m going to stand them there in wrap-up sandals and with a ring of grape leaves on their heads. Not so. It’s also not important that every “god” that I shoot has to be perfectly chiseled and good-looking. (Some gods were not attractive [Pan, Loki, Mars]). Basically, I’m learning that either a man can pose or he can’t, and to that end, there are still a few guys in my gods gallery that may get cut, who don’t look like gods at all, but just guys who are standing there naked. Specifically:
- Brian: http://www.sbarnesphotography.com/men/20070625Brian1.htm
- JC: http://www.sbarnesphotography.com/men/20071120JC1.htm
- Kevin: http://www.sbarnesphotography.com/men/20081228Kevin1.htm
- Jason: http://www.sbarnesphotography.com/men/20090212Jason1.htm
- Paul: http://www.sbarnesphotography.com/men/20081207Paul1.htm
What do you think of any, or all, of them? Are these gods? I am trying to get more confident about making my own decisions when it comes to my artwork, but this time, I’d like to hear your yea’s or nays, and a simple reason why.
I stumbled upon this really good article by a grad student about how different cultures view art. I especially like what the writer says about Americans.
I am also perturbed by the paragraph in which the writer points out that the people who don’t look at fine art — or who don’t read, or who don’t enjoy films where there are no aliens or shit being blown up — are really proud of the fact. They do more than shun the arts, but make themselves out to be superior for doing so. That’s a sad statement and, if you ask me, one of the contributing factors to the dumbing down of America.
I miss reading for pleasure, but I still haven’t been doing it as much as I used to. I use photography as an excuse — and having a full time job plus my photography business/hobby on the side does take a lot of my free time. (If I’m not in the middle of a photo shoot, I am editing photos, or emailing a potential model, or updating my website . . . )
But the truth is this: I probably don’t read as much as I used to because of my eyes. If I have my glasses on and pick up a book, I can’t see a fucking thing; if I take my glasses off, I have to hold the book eight inches from my face, and that just feels stupid. I am too stubborn (or maybe I’m in denial?) to go to the optometrist and get the bifocals that I am sure I need. The last book I finished for pleasure was over a month ago.
But this past Saturday night, Jay and I were trying to get to bed at a decent hour, and I was lying there not quite ready to fall asleep yet, so I reached down and picked up one of the books from my nightstand. It’s probably been there, being ignored, for six months. I started reading. Next thing I know it was 2:30 in the morning.
I LOVE this book.
I am ready to start chapter nine, which is probably close to the 30% point. I am, again, reading every day. I even brought the book to work with me, thinking that if I get 20 minutes alone time on my lunch hour, I could read. I don’t remember the last time I did that. It feels good.
If you are looking for something to read, I recommend this novel. I’d love to hear your thoughts when we both finish.
Here you see a self-portrait of me, sitting in my office, wearing the new t-shirt that arrived in the mail with a DVD the other day.
I discovered two things while taking this photo:
- My camera is entirely too big and heavy to hold with one hand and take one of these kinds of pictures, like all the other cool kids do.
- Despite the fact that I just trimmed them a week ago, taking a photo from this upward angle makes my eyebrows look like I should be a 65-year-old Welsh fisherman.
This is the “official film crew” t-shirt from Ten Inch Hero, which is the movie the shirt came with. I ordered both because Jensen Ackles, my TV husband, is in the film, as is Clea DuVall from But I’m a Cheerleader. Ten inch Hero was a surprisingly cute, well-written, very low-budget, independent film that flew under the radar and took a really long time to get distributed. Obviously, I wanted to support it because it’s a nice movie, and for my TV husband — so he will keep being asked to make movies and TV, so I can keep looking at him. I have my priorities. Just in case you need a reminder about my TV husband, here is a gratuitious photo of him.
And let me take this opportunity to cut off some of the perverts who I know read this site at the pass: The movie takes place in a sandwich shop. My new t-shirt is not code. I am not your ten inch hero.
(And as to whether I am your five, six, seven, or eight inch hero, that’s personal.)
Almost exactly 72 hours after we received the news that Jay’s mom has cancer, my cell phone started ringing and it was my sister-in-law, calling to tell me that my dad is in intensive care. Dad had called my brother at 2am saying that he didn’t feel well. When my brother and his wife got to his house, my dad was sitting on the floor in the hallway between his kitchen and bathroom. He asked for a small glass of water and then immediately started throwing up what my sister-in-law described as a LOT of blood.
They called an ambulance and got him to the hospital, and my dad was diagnosed with a tear in his esophagus that had already healed. After myriad tests ruled out major medical conditions, the doctors did discover that the veins in my dad’s esophagus have been “worn very thin” and there is a good chance that one of them will rupture. This, according to doctors, is not imminent but something that could happen tomorrow, next month, in five years, or maybe never. If and when it does happen, the chances are very small that my dad will survive.
He should be out of intensive care today but will be in the hospital until Monday, most likely. I’ve been instructed that there’s no reason to go up there; we were planning on visiting my family next weekend, anyway, and my dad would rather have us come when he can at least go out to dinner or something instead of when he’s laying in a hospital bed for us to just stand there and look at.
The most coincidental thing about this week is that I ate lunch in the same restaurant twice. I was sitting in Five Guys on Tuesday, and an hour later we got the phone call saying that Jay’s mom has cancer. Then yesterday, a friend and I ended up in Five Guys because the restaurant next door to it was closed, and an hour after that I got the call about my dad. If I believed that a cheeseburger place could be cursed, I would think long and hard before going back to Five Guys.
And superstitious or not, it may be a while before I go back anyway, because there were men having lunch there with terrible haircuts and pleated pants — one guy actually on a tan suede vest with gold buttons. It’s hard for me to swallow my food surrounded by bad taste.
(Oh, and if you’re new to this site, that last paragraph is an example of my sense of humor. [I live for the day when I no longer have to tell people when I'm not being serious, which probably isn't coming any time soon.])
Anyway, after bad news from both sides of the family, Jay and I cleared our schedules for the weekend. I think we both needed some quiet time to rest, and to think, and to be quiet. We’re going shopping later for a piece of furniture and then out to dinner to use a gift card to a Greek restaurant that we got at Christmastime. I cancelled two photo shoots, which is fine. I’ve been really busy in the studio of late and it’s been losing its appeal; I don’t think it would be a bad thing if I didn’t shoot a person for a while; sometimes I need to get to the place where I miss photography before I love it, again.
Tomorrow, we will probably go spend a couple of hours with Jay’s mom.
“Tony” was in my studio last week. I’m going to confess that I was a little bit nervous about this shoot. As far as figure study models go, Tony was shy, much more nervous than most, quick to point out his flaws and clearly unaware of his own physical attractiveness. I was afraid that his disbelief in himself was going to come through in the photos and that this wasn’t going to be a very good shoot.
Instead, I ended up being more pleased with the results of this shoot than I have been in several of them, of late. Maybe Tony’s disbelief that he could be a good fine-art model made me work that much harder or be more creative or just remain more “aware” during the shoot. Or maybe he was just concerned for nothing. Whichever the case, Tony is pleased with his photos and I was pleased to show him some strong figure study poses that proved he’s attractive in ways that he hadn’t realized before.
There are more photos of him on my “real” photo site, if you’d like to see.
Five days ago, we thought that Jay’s mother would be having her gall bladder removed. Then yesterday afternoon, Jay got a phone call to let him know that his mother has what appears to be substantial cancer in both her liver and pancreas. I’ve been avoiding the impulse urge to get online to do any research because I know that usually the Internet presents the most negative information first. But my own mother died of cancer three years ago, and it bore some strangely and disturbingly coincidental similarities to this, and based on that I know enough to know that neither pancreatic nor liver cancer usually has a very optimistic prognosis.
But we’ll see; Jay’s mom goes in for more tests and to meet an oncologist next week. I also know there have been some great advances in the treatment of liver cancer since my mom died.
Jay is doing okay, given the circumstances. He’s surprisingly quiet and stoic sometimes during more intense forms of stress, while I’m the one that falls apart — which is interesting, because I think we’d both agree that I’m the “strong” one. I am doing okay as well, although I feel like it’s only been about the last nine months that I finally let go of the last stages of grief over losing my own mother, and I have to wonder where I am going to summon the strength if we have to go through this again, so soon.
But it will come.