Three more sleeps, three more sleeps… If there hadn’t been some confusion with flights I would be leaving for the USA tonight. In a way I’m rather glad I have a few more days to prepare myself and pack. The last LARP weekend I went to was great for catching up with people I wouldn’t normally see on a regular basis, and I’ve tried to meet up with friends where possible before heading away. The next few nights I’ll be spending time with family, and Tuesday will see me flying away from the Land of the Long White Cloud. I had my last day at the office yesterday (and my final shift at the veterinary clinic today), and people kept asking me if I’m excited. Am I excited? I know deep down I’m incrediblycrazilysuperduper excited, but I don’t think I’m letting myself feel it yet – not until I step off that plane in Oregon.
I have never enjoyed the logistical side of travel. The running to catch planes, the hoping your luggage turns up when it’s meant to, the waiting, the lack of sleep… Not something I look forward to. This journey to my destination is going to be quite an adventure. If things go to plan I am due to land in Oregon on Tuesday evening (after going back in time from New Zealand), I then have to pick up my rental car and then somehow find my way to my friend’s house which is over two hours away from the airport. I am familiar with the Oregonian roads around the wolf sanctuary I’ll be working at, but I have never driven out to the airport before. One thing I am so looking forward to is coming past the Heceta Head Lighthouse – utterly one of my favourite night-time haunts. It is going to be magical. I can’t wait to tell you all about it :-)
So until I finally land (and probably until I actually successfully reach my friend’s house where I will be staying for the next month) I will most likely be a bit of a frazzled mess – a reason why I’ve been trying to use “Stillness” as a mantra.
“Stillness” is a concept that popped up on my Twitter feed recently, and I didn’t really understand what the person who posted it was talking about. But the word has, for some reason, stayed in the back of my mind of late, and I’ve begun to find that to me it translates to a state of calmly being. A state of calm… quiet… peace… breathing… self-awareness… being still.
Stillness isn’t encouraged where I’m from. We zoom around, rush like busy bees at work, have loud coffee dates with friends, integrate with society as is required, ruthlessly consume; purchase; own. Stillness can be sanity-saving in the midst of all of this. As I said in my last post; I love the quiet of the rural countryside. This is a place where stillness is accepted. An early walk through the paddocks, a picnic in the trees, coming home to a night-time greeting from the horses grazing by the house.
I am lucky enough to, every now and then, get involved in a creative venture of the photography variety. I once wrote about a rather high-end project I took part in that endeavored to raise funds for the Child Cancer Foundation in New Zealand. This had been a large, structured project, where photographers had been briefed on what sorts of images the director had wanted, and stylists and makeup artists had also been instructed to create a certain ‘look’ on models. While I relished the shoots, I probably more enjoy ‘intimate’ settings where there are less photographers and I can also have some creative input.
Not too long ago I was invited to do a shoot with Brett Walters of Creative Photography. I met Brett a while ago at a Graham Meadows Photography Workshop that I was acting as ‘subject’ for. Graham Meadows is one of my biggest mentors, and is the reason this shy, hunched-over girl ever got in front of a camera in the first place. Brett was taking part in the workshop to learn some portrait photography techniques, and we kept in touch afterwards. I hadn’t seen him again until this last shoot, but I always like to keep up-to-date with the creations of various photographers I have worked with.
Thus I recently headed over to Brett’s St Heliers-based studio, where he was chatting with two budding photographers he would be teaching that day. I like the casual atmosphere of shoots like this, where techniques are being explored and experimentation is encouraged. You don’t feel like just an empty body to be posed and shot, but a person with a creative mind recommended to express it. We had a lot of fun playing in the studio, and then went out to make mischief in the forest. The trio even trusted me with a working bow-and-arrow – I’m glad I didn’t accidentally hurt anyone!!! (Believe me, with my lack of grace and control, there was a high potential for it!)
Brett does gorgeous work. Here is one of the shots from the studio:
Sometimes I ask permission to play around with images myself – it depends on who I am working with. I love the opportunity to completely change and distort a picture; add an entirely different mood to it, or create a story. My desktop background is a constant rolling slideshow of fantastical images – as you may know by now I am a big fan of escapism and anything that inspires adventurous thoughts, and at home I’ve got a stack of paintings and posters that achieve this. After looking at some of the fantastical backgrounds on my computer, I wondered to myself if I could create some of my own. Brett gave me the OK to have a play around with some images, and below are a few examples. I was working on these when I was still bouncing back from a bit of a rough patch. “Stillness” also fits when I feel disconnected from other people and/or western reality. So while the below pictures don’t portray physical stillness as such, different elements fuse together to give me that Stillness theory feeling – e.g. being turned away from the camera, the use of a mask, being transformed to a fantasy setting, etc.
Please note that I do not own the false background layers included in some of these images.
I had wanted to post this before I left on the next overseas adventure. After somewhat feeling like I had completely lost myself a few months ago, it has been things like this that have kept me bouncing along; Stillness, exploring creativity, focusing on something positive and fun. Dress-ups, LARPing; exciting hobbies. Wonderful friends and family. Everyone who has contributed to my life positively in whatever capacity. Smiles, warmth, joy. All those good things! It helped me remember my passion when I was close to forgetting.
Next time you hear from me, fingers crossed, I’ll be in Oregon with those great white fluffy creatures!
Special thanks to Brett
from Creative Photography Ltd