November 2018

For an explanation of why I’m sharing these newsletters from previous months, see the blog post titled I Might Start Blogging.

So I'm going to try and keep this part short and sweet. I already wrote the body of the newsletter and boy, was it a wordy one! My fingers have been itching to write for awhile now and once I got started, I just couldn't stop. So, this month's letter is more about the random workings in my head and less about the things I did. So, grab a cup of coffee and let's dive in. 

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Truth: I got just as much enjoyment out of taking a photo of this set-up as I did eating the chocolate and drinking the coffee.
The set up: 50mm f/2.8 1/160 ISO 800

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Everybody struggles with feelings of inadequacy in some way or another, I think. When it comes to photography, I've always had a bit of a problem with one area--getting good artsy photos of outings that weren't styled or posed. I FOR SURE want to be really good at everything and so even though I know that I'm a pretty good photographer, there's always that little voice that goes, "Hey. It's me. Ummmmm don't want you to get too confident in your abilities, so I thought I would just remind you that you're not very good at taking this one particular style of photo." And the funny thing is that I will carry my camera with me intending to take the artsy-est outing photo ever imaginable. But then, I get caught up in the moment or feel weird about whipping my clunky loud camera out and end up not taking any photos. Or, I'll snap a couple, get discouraged with the way that they look, and then forget about it.

I have a great little argument in my head that goes like this:  snobby photographer side, "A REAL photographer doesn't carry a camera around taking photos of everything, ESPECIALLY in this kind of light. That looks SO amateur and like you just want people to know that you're a REAL PHOTOGRAPHER but we who are in fact actual photographers know that you are actually terrible and are quite possibly shooting in .jpg and don't 'edit' your photos because you are a 'purist'. Ugh. NO. Just no."

But then, on the other side of the argument, we have the artist who whispers, "If in fact, you were a true artist, a true beauty-seeker, and had the eyes to see beauty in everything, you would have no struggle taking photos when you are out and about. Not only that, but those photos would be aesthetically beautiful and interesting. They would be clear representations of your way of viewing the world, and you would not need styled instances that have been strictly controlled in order to create beauty. Also, who cares what you look like? Perhaps people will view you as the artist you are and would ask about your art and it would be a conversation piece and they would have respect for you. Nobody knows you're a photographer if you just leave your camera in your bag." Welcome to the inner dialog of Melody.

All that was to say that I was super happy with this photo I took on an outing with my sister Katrina. I was like, "Whoa. Look! I CAN take an artsy outing photo that isn't styled or staged."

The set up: 35mm f/2.8 1/200 ISO 400

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Sometimes, I feel weird making things just so that I can photograph them. And when I feel weird, the inner dialog starts again and is like, "Hey. Sooo quick question. Why are we doing this photography thing again? I mean, I know it's cool and all but are we doing this just to post on instagram so that people will have undying love for us? Are we, in fact, truly passionate about photography? OR do we just loooooove it when people give us compliments and since this is currently the easiest way to gain approval by the masses then we're just using photography to get attention? Also, why is approval so important and motivating? Hmm it's probably time to do some self-work poking around in that. Man, you are one messed up kid."

And the the other side is like, "Who freaking cares? It's not costing us very much and we're not half bad at it so what does it matter if our motives are jaded? Also, folks love it. It brings light to their lives."

Then the other side pipes up again, "Okay. Interesting thoughts. Let me just ask you this--why are you good at it? Are you naturally talented? Of course, we don't believe in natural talent--we believe in hard work yielding results since 'natural talent' is too unpredictable. In that case, what if you are good at it because you wanted to be accepted and liked and loved and so you worked on the one thing that you found gained you acceptance and favor? WHAT IF the only reason you're good at this is because of a deep-seated need to be liked and loved? What then?" Welcome to the insane inner dialog of Melody pt. 2.

And then I just take photos anyways and try to think about something else. 

The set up:50mm f/2.8 1/200 ISO 400

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I made this table setting for thanksgiving because I thought it would be pretty and fun to try and put something together. I took a photo of it and then moved the plates to the bar where we always eat. I just couldn't bring myself to sit there. It would just feel too weird. (It's okay, I confuse myself too.)

The Set Up: 35mm f/2.8 1/200 ISO 800

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Sometimes I wonder if people think, "Wow. Melody is just a little self-obsessed. I mean, what's up with all of the self portraits?? It's borderline over the top." I don't think many of you here think that, and that you get why I do self portraits. I think those who would think that wouldn't be the type to read my newsletter. Either way though, I'm going to give you all a little why behind it all. Maybe I'm just super narcissistic? I've been doing self portraits since I was 11. I'm 100% going to try and do some digging to find some of the first ones that I did. Like right now. Excuse me a moment.

ALRIGHTY. I'm back. Got some supper, found some pics that I think you're going to find verrrrry interesting. It is comforting to me that I was playing with photography from the time I was 11--and I was not one of those kids that got gifted an expensive camera and I FOR SURE wasn't any good until like, last month. It's also comforting that I was taking self portraits before Instagram or Facebook were things. Granted, they both certainly helped. Who am I kidding? I wouldn't be half of the person I am today if it weren't for those platforms.

But back to the self-portrait thing...that also connects to the why behind photography thing from earlier. Ready to go deep? I've never been an interesting enough person that anybody wanted to take photos of me. I realize now, as an adult, that being interesting really doesn't have much to do with it...and it's actually because I always feel so freaking awkward in front of someone else's camera that I would either shy away from it or make a weird face--in other words, I've done it to myself. Also, I think that I have told myself that I prefer to be an observer on-the-outside-looking-in to cope with the fact that I nearly always feel out of place when I'm in the action.

Okay so here's a thought: everybody wants to be seen. Like really seen. But at the same time, everybody is afraid of being seen. We want our souls to be peered into, but we are terrified that if someone saw what was truly there, that they would not want to be with us anymore (or maybe that’s just me?). And maybe, just maybe, that's why I like self-portraits. Because it is a way for me to be vulnerable in a controlled way. A way for me to share parts of my heart without revealing too much. The self-portraiture has evolved to be about storytelling as well--especially in sets like this one. But even though that girl in those photos is a character, she's also a tiny bit of me...or at least who I wish I would be. Have I lost you guys yet? I don't even know what I'm saying anymore. Welcome to the inner dialog of Melody pt. 3.

Bonus photo:  Monday, June 18, 2007  One of the first self-portraits that I took that I thought was really cool. I had a little digital point and shoot camera and a rickety tripod. I was 11 in this photo. Oh my goodness, it’s so bad I almost can’t bring myself to post this.

Bonus photo: Monday, June 18, 2007
One of the first self-portraits that I took that I thought was really cool. I had a little digital point and shoot camera and a rickety tripod. I was 11 in this photo. Oh my goodness, it’s so bad I almost can’t bring myself to post this.

Okay then. Hope you guys survived that little tour through the complicated inner life of Melody. I will now be starting a GoFundMe so that you guys can sponsor me for counseling. I'm KIDDING. In other news, you should go buy my 2019 Bouquet Calendar! Info can be found for it on my Instagram highlight titled "Calendar". All proceeds go to a starving artist. (me.) Proceeds will actually go towards buying seeds, tubers, and corms, for next year's flower garden--because as you may well know, it's not a cheap endeavor. Thank you all so much for following along and showing up here. Let me know if you identify with some of the things that I've talked about and we can mutually be confused about ourselves together. Much love, Melody Rose