Sixty-Nine Cents

/ Wednesday, August 31, 2011 /
I used to go to a thrift store in Brooklyn. Within their extensive inventory was cheap, worn-out furniture and second-hand clothing. And next to the coats and shirts that just weren't vintage enough to make it into a hipster's closet, there was a big cabinet with drawers full of buttons, keys and beads. I loved going through all the useless little things, wondering where it all came from. Week after week I'd see the same old clothes not even the coolest of Williamsburg wanted to buy.

Naturally what I was most drawn to was a big wooden bin filled to the brim with negatives and photos. I remember the feeling of sheer bliss upon spotting it, and my excitement when I came home with a selected few. My roommates didn't exactly seem to understand what the fuss was all about but I loved going through this big pile of memories. So many thrown away little suggestions of a life someone once had. I would look at the pictures and wonder where they all came from.

I'd imagine someone holding a shoe box filled with photographs, taking it with them on the subway or in the backs of their cars. Maybe they took them out of useless old family albums and never thought twice about who these framed people were. I find it a little sad, these photos with no origin. Given no more worth than sixty-nine cents. But how I loved to rummage through, move aside and lift up piles of photos to find the ones that most fascinated me. Especially the ones that had dates or descriptions written on them, ones that tell me I bought a portrait of Jay Habbart.


Why anyone would want to get rid of a gem like this is beyond me. It looks like it was taken at the back of the house, and Jay here was stuck in his Sunday clothes. I imagine his mother, urging him to stand up straight and smile at the camera. Or maybe it would have been his dad, someone enchanted by photography. Someone who might have understood the power of photography. Someone who chose to write down a date and a name. So as not to forget.

More on Hope

/ Wednesday, August 17, 2011 /
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                                                                                        Untitled ©  Chrissie Smolders

This photo is from the last time I visited Hope. This time I brought a softbox with me and the best photographer around, Jordan Gomez. He helped me set the whole light-thing up and made getting what I wanted possible. I came to photograph Hope in her home, the home she is bound to by her young son, sweet baby Justin.
The apartment is small, and always kept warm and dark. The curtains and blinds are never open, and the last time I tried to get them out of the way everything came crashing down. So I had to try a different approach. This was actually the first time I used artificial light, as I never really trusted it to give me a natural look. But it really didn't disappointed and I am very happy with the outcome.

I am aware though that these pictures may portray something other than what I was going for. Without the story behind it, you may rather quickly think that I was having a session with an escort-girl (to put it nicely). In a room where the bed stands next to the crib. Nice. What I was actually going for was, in short and simple, this: Hope is a young girl, twenty years old, that leads a regular teenage life. Which involves a lot of friends, dressing up and going out. Now that she has her baby though, she is bound to this one place. So I chose to shoot her in the outfits she used to wear from her "former life" in the life she leads now. To create some sort of contrast. Naturally there's more to the story. And even though this might be something else in effect, it most certainly is not a bad thing. It's also not an insult to Hope, so if you're reading this Hope, do not be offended. It's merely an observation that outsiders might have. And it may very well be more interesting than what I was aiming at.


                                                                                          Untitled ©  Chrissie Smolders

Even though I didn't think about it at the time, I find the idea quite interesting. Seeing as how Hope, and many girls with her, put provocative photos of themselves on the internet to share with others, I may not be as far from the truth as I first thought. This is not to say that I want to portray Hope as a prostitute. But I am interested in seeing where the borders lie between consciously portraying girls like this as opposed to them making self-portraits in provocative positions.

PS. As soon as I can work in school-environment again, I will replace these pictures with the ones I can edit on calibrated screens.

At the End of Summer

/ Monday, August 15, 2011 /
As far as photography goes this summer, I have not met my goals. I don't like making excuses for myself, even though I have plenty (valid ones too!). I'm sorry I didn't do what I wanted to. Fact is though, school starts in a week and I am graduating this year. I want photography to take up a bigger space in my life than it does now, and it should. This whole summer has been about personal growth, which is fine. But this blog was meant to be about photography and as much as I like to be personal, I'm going to write more about that instead of digging into myself all the time.

All the photographers I've come to love inspire and intimidate me. I know I've grown so much this year, and I'm very curious to see where I'll be in five years. I wonder where and what I'll be. At this point I'm living the dream I had as a twelve-year old; getting into art school and studying to become a photographer. Now, within ten months, I'll be there.

I've been scared a long time to call myself a photographer, and I still am. When is one a photographer? What are the requirements? Am I one when I have my diploma? I'm not sure. I guess I won't be one until I say so. Which I should do.
So, here goes: I am a photographer!


This self-portrait I made in our bathroom. I just came out of the shower and I liked the way our mirror had fogged up. So I grabbed my Rollei and took a quick shot. After I scanned it, I left the photo mirrored; it's actually as if you are looking at me from out of the mirror. I look vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. But the light coming over my shoulder is promising. It's like the future is out there and it's waiting for me to arrive. And I'm going to enjoy the ride over.

Chuck

/ Friday, August 12, 2011 /
Last Tuesday I finally got around to scanning the negatives that had been lying around for a while. Most of them were photos I made close to my time of leaving Brooklyn and they really took me back. It's been almost eight weeks since coming home, and living here ain't so bad. Sure, the partying went down with 75%. Plus the move to my parents went smoothly (I never slept at my own place again) and, being the cool kid that I am, I spend most of my time at IKEA. Working and serving, in yellow and blue. But at least I'm making money, to pay off the debt with my parents so they'll loan me a new sum to get out of here..

In the meantime I'll entertain myself, and hopefully some others, by reminiscing about the past.

                                                                                                Chuck ©  Chrissie Smolders

This fine man I met on the streets of Bushwick. I was out with a friend and the Rollei, and spotted sailor-boy across the street. Like that time on the bus, I hesitated but knew I had no choice but to go after him. He just looked so peculiar with his hat, and the little wooden toy train. Dressed in all white with nothing but black accents. Incredibly smart. He was taller than me too, which really is quite tall, and he was walking away from me with big steps. I shouted something to my friend, ran across the street and tapped him on the shoulder while trying to look decent after about 10 seconds of heavy exercise.

He didn't mind me taking a couple of photos, but was giggly and nervous the whole time I had my camera aimed at him. So much even he made me feel a little uncomfortable. But at least it made him laugh and I was happy.
However insecure I can be about asking someone for a portrait, it always makes me feel invincible. It's like a rush to the head, a drug that lasts for the shortest time.
I love how something so simple can make you feel so amazing.

P.S. Check back soon for exciting images and news on Hope, among other things!


EDIT: As a friend pointed out, he is wearing a 1950's milkman suit. Amazing indeed. It also explains what he's holding in his hand, which appears to be something to put the glass bottles in. Nice!

Boys, boys,boys!

/ Tuesday, August 2, 2011 /
                                                                                                       ©  Me!

What's not to love?

The Future

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                                                                                                    ©  Chrissie Smolders

I was taking a stroll through Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one afternoon. It was probably the first   time I was outside that day; often that happened to be around three or four pm. I always thought that to be quite scandalous, getting out of the house that late. But on this particular day, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have met this old lady.

Though I didn't actually meet her, of course. I happened to see her walking down
the road, and I ran to a spot where I thought I could take a good picture. While sneaking in two shots, hoping she wouldn't see me, I felt slightly guilty. It was almost as if I was using her, and the way she looked. In fact, and everybody is aware of this, I did use her. We all do. I'm a photographer, and I saw an interesting scene which could possibly make a nice photo. Even so, maybe because I have a soft spot for old people, I wish now I would've talked to this elderly lady.

I think that makes a nice resolve, talking to strangers. Who doesn't like meeting new people? Besides, the elderly always have stories to tell. Stay tuned for more.    
 
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