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Too Many Images... Greensboro, Take 1

My youngest daughter doesn’t like when I do things she deems dangerous or illegal. She is twelve and quite pragmatic. She must get that from her dad as I am not generally associated with the word. I, also, like to explore and rarely go back the way I came - she doesn’t like that either. Maybe someday she will get over it and make her own adventures…

One of the first times I was in Greensboro and “discovered” downtown, I was gleefully impressed with the gentrification going on. I firmly believe it is important to bring back Downtown America and if coffee shops and bistros do it - I am ok with it. We had gone to check out a funky little gallery I was hoping to be involved with and prior to an interview, I wanted to check out the digs. So we did that and continued to mosey around, checked out the Cat Coffee Shop (yes, the cat coffee shop, where you can drink coffee and chill with kitties who need to be adopted) and then happened upon a building that was being gutted - this immediately sent up the photographer alarms and so I, much to my daughter’s protestations, squeezed through the mostly boarded doorway and expressed to my daughter “what’s the worst that could happen?”. It occurs to me upon writing the words, that bad shit really could happen to my naive self and my two young acolytes. My “Hulloooo” was met by a gentleman and his guy working on the demo. Never the schlub, I asked about the possibility of shooting in the building - hesitant at first, he said they only had a couple more days of work left but if I could be there the next day, he would let me in.

I was able to keep my composure to the car. I jumped into action. I couldn’t let the opportunity slip by. I called my oldest daughter, Felipa and awesome model to see what she thought about doing a full shoot the next day. She was game and I ran to put things together. The drive back down to Sanford was a whirl - I nailed down some ideas of what we could do and decided we would do an ultra stylized bridal shoot. Truth is my daughter had gotten this amazing wedding dress at a close out store or end of the season thing but now that you see the images, you know the secret that the dress was only 40 bucks! (Always good when you find a unique item to pick it up with no intention… the intention will present itself, eventually - theoretically..).

Knowing we had no electricity in that building, I gathered up my low light equipment. We would be dependent on the glorious North Carolina summer sun - which… could be our undoing.

I had the ideas I was chewing on and hoped to jam it all into our time window. Each could be a full session in of itself. Paint, rugs, reflectors - did I mention I had the presence of mind to notice the huge skylight and the side wall windows blissfully open as the building was thankfully at the end of the block and one tall story (I think 25 or 30 ft...)? Turns out the building used to be a Lincoln - Mercury dealership back in the day - 80 years ago or so. Aha- the skylight…

I squeezed everything I could think we might need into my trusty MB station wagon - poor thing really - I use and abuse. Golly, the dress itself was a space taker and the rolled up rug runs the length of the vehicle (you can find this rug in a few of my shoots). We get there at the appointed time and… No One There. I hate to be intrusive so we wait. Finally I call, because I am not that patient (such an understatement... there is a reason I deal in fractions of seconds…). On the other side of the line - mmhmm I still think people use wires, he says, “oh yeah, we will be there soon.”

By this time it is warming up significantly. We finally get in and set up. In my case tripod - check, camera check, rug - check… not so simple for Felipa, but you didn’t think she would wear the dress for the drive up?! It is about an hour and she wouldn’t have been able to see out of the windshield. However, she knows how to shimmy into clothes and as the dress is so big, it was not a huge chore. I got her strapped in and started with the first session - Timed exposures. I usually run 100 ISO so those seconds were a few. We made use of it and counted out her movement to create some awesome ghosted images.

Feeling good we moved into straight shots, maximizing the height and breadth of the space, the raw walls and embracing the natural light. Did we even eat that morning?

I can tell the heat is getting to Felipa a bit but we push through to the last concept - PRIDE - acrylic paint across her face. Trying not to get paint on the dress or in her eyes and guiding my blind model over to the spot. Holding her dress and shuffling, awkward at first but she settles in. How and why she puts up with all my ideas I might never know.

I was sweating like a stuck pig and - finally - through the lens, I see Felipa’s breaking point - “ok, we are done”. I could see her nearly crumple when I gave the “All Stop”. I don’t know how hot it was in there but the temperature in the car when we left stated 96*. You can see in the images that the sun was high and blazing through that skylight. I am not even sure how we got that paint off her face, I guess we had some water bottles - I sent her to the car and in the air-conditioning - amazing how adrenaline makes things go into hyperspace. I don’t remember packing everything up - I just wanted Felipa to cool down. I slipped the guy some cash and a hearty "Thank You" for letting us use the space and headed home.

Too many images???? In this case, I could have shot in that space for days. I don’t know how these things happen - serendipity? Right place, right time? All the pieces fell in. Maybe part of it is being able to embrace a situation - the good with the bad. I don’t have any “shoulda-coulda-wouldas” except feeding that girl…

Life can be tough and hot and dirty but if you can embrace that, when you look back at the “pictures” you will see the beauty.

I remember my mom’s last days of cancer, not a pretty site… but I would not trade those days, I was with her - those images don’t fade.

Take care and embrace life.

As Always, Kyra

My Mom and Felipa - Circa 2001 a year before she passed away. Whoops getting a little weepy - There are never too many images. -Ky


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