HODGE-PODGE & SELFIES….

Hodge-Podge was the name of a character I created for a children’s story back when I was in my twenties. He was an elf-like being who lived in a land filled with castles and crooks and a little dragon buddy. I liked Hodge-Podge because, like his name, he had a personality filled with so many unrelated traits that I could take him anywhere. He traveled between the wings of Finnegan, the aforementioned dragon, and together they made sure that the forest was healthy and all the woodland creatures were safe. That was over forty-tears ago and I realize now that little Hodge was way ahead of his time. I kind of wish I’d finished that project.

I haven’t thought about Hodge-Podge for decades and the only reason he came to mind now was when I titled this blog. It was to be a literal hodge-podge of lighter subjects to break the chain of heavier topics I have found myself pursuing lately.

Instead it’s just going to be a hodge (or a podge if you prefer) on one subject…selfies.

I appreciate that the majority of these photographs are meant to casually capture a moment with friends or a visit to some exotic location and that’s fine…they accomplish what they are meant to accomplish.

I am a big proponent of self-portraiture for many reasons but shots taken in a bathroom mirror do nothing for me and I don’t believe they do anything for the subject either. Before too many shackles are raised I will admit I’ve seen a few of these ‘selfies’ that were interesting photographs…in particular one that was shot in an old mine shaft. The subject was looking into the shaft, away from the camera (or phone) and I found myself trying to see what she was seeing. As simple as this photograph was, it drew me in. It was balanced and beautifully lit with a hidden story line that begged further thought. It’s the old “location, location” theory and in this instance it worked.

Aside from the obvious benefit of always having a model handy, a self-portrait can say so much about the person. After all, the photographer truly understands the subject…or does he?

In a self-portrait you have the flexibility of experimentation. Different locations, clothing, and moods dictate the leaning of the image and all at your own pace. Digital imagery has made this easier. You can shoot as many pictures as you want and choose only those you are comfortable with. In the end you see yourself as other people see you and then the realization sets in that you don’t see you as they see you. Seeing yourself through other eyes is a learning experience if you choose to explore it.

When I signed on to facebook I decided that I wanted my profile pictures to be different than the norm. I wanted them to say something about me and my interests. I have been a photographer forever and I had my own studio and darkroom back in the day but those days are gone. Today the glut of digital art programs is what stirs the creative stew a might. Surprisingly these programs are, for the most part, extremely easy to use and I’ve heard that some of them are even available apps for phone cameras.

The subject of self-portraiture could provide fodder for countless blog postings but I like keeping my comments to fewer than 700 words so I’ll end this one here. Suffice to say it’s easy to take those standard selfies and, with a little practice on the laptop, create images that are more memorable, interesting, and telling. Attempting serious self-portraiture could open up a whole new creative outlet and who knows…you just might get to know yourself better. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

GRAPHIC1

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Cassandra

Somewhere within the madness, buried deep beneath cluttered chaos, lies a spark of logic.

An overshadowed flickering light protects a key for which there appears to be no lock. Somewhere there’s a voice speaking words to impress the impressionable, telling those who would listen how all things are meant to be. And somewhere there sits the untold truth. White satin gently swirling in the breeze.

Dear Cassandra.

Her murder-red hair an uncomfortable contrast to bleached flesh. Her light, a lifetime away, casts no shadow as ragged souls already lost pass her in search of newer playgrounds. They grew too old too fast. Where once they laughed and played there is silence.

She calls but no-one hears. Their minds are filled with whispered promise, their hearts pound with a cold and fluid emptiness. They have long since forsaken the fragility of her magic. Trapped within the spark she smiles while her moon blue eyes weep. This forgotten child of grace bows her head and slowly moves to where she cannot see the darkness of the passing crowd.

There amid the purple blooms of Everspring she sits and quietly sings while waiting for the dreamer who truly still believes.

This Mistress of illusion. Her elusive touch a fleeting moment in an otherwise predictable world.

Whimsical mysteries of innocence lay abandoned about while her thoughts drift to another time. It was easier then. There weren’t as many answers. No-one questioned how or why the stallion flew. It just did. It soared across a perfect sky on wings filled with the warm winds of dreams.

But stallions fly no more. The winds of dreams are nothing more than cold empty spaces banished to some dark place. There are those who think only with their head. For them it is such a small world in which an existence beyond their sight is unimaginable. If they could but touch her they would feel the freedom that her soft skin holds.

But they cannot touch and they cannot feel.

In youth they nurtured upon her. Their minds were hungry for all that she would give. But the frenzied feedings soon grew fewer. Once they came and stayed but now some never come at all. They just pass in the darkness, over the hill…on the other side of Everspring.

There will come a time when a pair of eyes eager for adventure will peek out over the soft green grasses anxious for just a glimpse of what might be. There will come a black night when the white stallion once again spreads his wings and flies into those uncharted depths of magical curiosity. There might even be a time when the pudgy dragon coughs and wheezes his way through some comedic forest in search of whatever it is dragons seek. That time may come soon or it could take forever.

She lifts a memory from her feet and holds it to her chest Somewhere on the breeze the voice of a child whispers her name. She raises her eyes as a young boy climbs to the top of the hill. As he approaches she sees the tears of innocence glistening in his soft blue eyes and when he stops before her she feels the sadness of misplaced wonderment.

The passing crowd failed to notice his absence. It left him behind to drown in their twisting tide of mumbles.

He’s not like them. There is warmth here…and trust. Here nothing would be said. There are no words more powerful than his simply being.

Their thoughts intermingle in subdued exchange and with his head upon her lap he sleeps…and dreams.

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UNICORNS

Within the shadows, without the light, unicorns prance while pan-pipes lay a bed of harmony.  Fragile butterflies flutter between stone turrets resting only briefly amid rich ivy as they flit their way across sunlit castle walls.

Within the light, without the shadows, there is honesty and truth. It is called ‘reality’. Some say it needs no creative process to survive. Simply put…all that is experienced is all that there is.

There are no unicorns.

Between realms there lies a better world. A delicate blend of truth and dreams where fabled creatures, when called upon, may exist. A mixture of warm imagination and cold reality. Sprinkles of hope and guidance spiced with seasoned knowledge and understanding. Gently stirred. Mixing yet somehow keeping separate the shadow and the light. This delicate blend of truth and fantasy…of realists and dreamers…of life and unicorns.

Each needs what is unique to the other. Reality requires the elasticity of imagination to stretch boundaries and expand horizons. Creativity needs reality to temper dreams into possibility. Without the other, each suffer. Where once they sailed the ocean blue today they sail through darkened space. One dares to dream…one dares to try. Together they have reached the stars.

Reality lasts a lifetime.

Unicorns…forever.