Monday, January 25, 2010

The Myth of Cattleya - Behind the Scenes

Well, I've finally wrapped up shooting/working for 8 consecutive days and just as I thought I was going to allow myself to rest, I ended up editing for the entire weekend. Of course I did. ::laughs::


This is my first shoot of the year and was inspired by a 48 line poem I wrote about 6 months ago by the same name.

I will be sharing that poem at a later date (as part of a very exciting and atmospheric project).

Essentially the poem tells the story (the myth) of a woman named Cattleya who lives within a world that is no longer alive. This is her choice as it's a place she lost a loved one, and so she stays within this empty, lifeless, ageless, frozen bog to remain close with him. To do this, however, she has to die as well (in a sense). Her bouquet was made from wetland materials and we weaved cobwebs into her hair. I made the wreath from materials that could be found within a bog and that I thought could pull subtle colors into a very muted palette.

While my model was here, the weather (which has been much lower than 0 degrees for much of the winter) let up a bit and just barely allowed us to shoot.

On location work will always be my very favorite, so we hiked out to a semi frozen (and very large) bog. The day we shot these particular pieces it was about 25 degrees, but with the gusting wind, it ended up feeling about 14 degrees.

I hope you enjoy!

More notes below the pics, and one favor I always ask, please feel free to look, but please be mindful of copyright, and don't swipe. ;)

All images within my blog are © Ashley | Bottle Bell ™

My Model, Angela - (just after wrapping where none of us could feel our limbs)

The Myth of Cattleya...

For those who dislike watermarks, these pieces can be viewed (in full screen mode) on my website where you will also be able to see in better detail the spiderwebs in front of her face and the mist that she fades into.

Thank you all for stopping by and for your continued support in my creative endeavors.
More work coming very soon from another shoot taken during those 8 days ;)

Ashley | Bottle Bell

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The deepest & most heartfelt blog I'll probably EVER write (with pictures ;)

"Fairy tales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated..." -Neil Gaiman


This blog is as much for me as it is for you. It's very personal, so I hope you enjoy it. ;)

When I was a little girl, my family and I lived (the 4 of us) on a 42 acre horse farm in rural Minnesota. I'm always amazed at how often I think about those days, and indeed some of my best memories (even still) are as a child playing underneath one particular willow tree....

Yes, this is a shot of that tree, and that is me as a very little girl (smiling & standing) in the pink...

I was probably about 3 years old here.

There was a ladybug patch at the base of it, and I spent many long hours playing underneath it's limbs with the heaps of ladybugs that called it home (that is, in fact what we are doing in this picture). It's very interesting what sticks out to us in life. What was so precious about that that it's such a golden memory to me? Was it the season, the people, the innocence of being a child? Was it the animals, no responsibilities, the 42 giant acres to wander on two little feet? This is, incidentally, my favorite tree in the entire world to this day...

I think that is the power of childhood and it's influence over us; That this remains my favorite tree in the world, though I cannot pinpoint the why.

And so with that being said, I think it's important to note that regardless of the why - our pasts, inevitably so heavily influence our present, our life, our choices, our art, our photographs, our vision, and our message. They are deeply stitched within us. They are the very fabric and stepping stones that brought us here, to this moment.

On that very same property not even 20 feet from this tree, I use to sit and have many long talks with my dad as that little bitty girl you see above. He would read me storybooks and play Frisbee with me in the driveway. He would tell me about following my dreams; About how anything is possible and attainable; That we really can be and do anything we believe in. What a powerful message.

The point is, if I'm that attached to a willow tree from my childhood, imagine how attached I became to my father's words. Those were some of the first bits of advice I got as a human being, and so they became the roots from which I grew.

Now, why do I write this blog? Well, because all little bitty girls ( and boys too ;) grow up. We become adults and endeavor into this world with those pieces of advice we had as children. They are reference points from which we look back to figure out what to do with the present. We carry them far from our first homes, and we keep them as reminders. Through every experience in life, we stray from our first beliefs, or grow further into them. Maybe they change in shape or size. They so often bend to fit us, and sometimes in all that bending even break.

With all that being said, this last year (2009) was one of the most life changing years I've ever experienced, and it was all packed in to just 365 little days (which as we age all go soooo fast!).

It was the most beautiful. I learned about the truest love.
It was the most difficult. I learned about true heartbreak & loss.
It was the most insightful. I created more than I'd ever created before.
It was the most vulnerable. I really had to open up to learn what I needed to learn.
It was the most freeing year as much for the good as for the bad that all happened within it.

It was the most I'd ever deviated from my childhood beliefs, and somehow also the most I'd ever built upon them. They definitely changed in shape. Sometimes they were my only reference points. Life is so funny in that it carries us so far from what we knew. The trick is knowing how to get back (if getting back is what you need to do) in order to move forward again in a better way. Does that make sense?

I made very recently some huge life changes. Had to really assess some aspects of my life. In retrospect, I had deviated too far from what I knew was right for me. Why do we do this? Well, I think sometimes we need to in order to know what's worth fighting for, what we are willing to do, and what we aren't. Further, some experiences I firmly believe exist to remind us of what we already knew (yes, even as children and perhaps especially as children) what is so important, and most importantly who.we.are.

My hope for myself and for others, is that we realize that before it's gone. Before we bend too far from our own happiness'.

My message is simply this. Don't forget your willow tree. Don't forget to water it.
Whatever built you into who you are- Don't let go of it. Not for anyone or anything.
Some people would have you believe that fairytales don't exist, or that your dreams are less than that, or that you cannot be who and what you are. But you can. It took the greatest loss and heartbreak of my life to remind me that in my greatest adversity, I'd grown into myself. It's hard to distinguish what to let go, and what to hold onto, especially when it plays such a part in shaping us.

As my new years resolution this year, I stood tall and reminded myself and those who were not good for me, that I choose to believe in fairytales. I choose the dream and my own happiness. I choose my willow tree from childhood. I choose my Dad's words, even if he's forgotten them over time. I choose to dance and sing and love and create. I choose to validate who I am before and beyond anything external. I now choose to do what I do because it's what I need to do to be happy, and I do it for me. We are not and cannot be happy or good for anyone without first taking care of who we are. And whoever you are, you are great. Nurture yourself and your dreams. They came with you from soooo long ago. Do not forget them.

So today I may stand alone in that, but I do not feel alone. I stand taller and more proud that I found strength enough to put my life back on track, and believe me - it was not easy. It still isn't always easy.

Those who have wronged you are not worth your time.
Those who lessen your dreams are not your friends.
Those who lift you up and allow you to be you, well, hold onto them... ;)

But that's all just my opinion... though I think it's pretty solid advice.

Like I said, all little girls (and boys) grow up, which is just what I did.

Below, there are three shots from my time (and the pinnacle of my decision making) in Hatteras on that 7 week Applachian/Outer Banks trip, where I'm dancing and spinning in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and winds- No longer 3 years old, but 26...

You may see water in these shots of me, and indeed my feet DID get wet ;) But I've got to be honest, all I really saw in the surf was my willow tree.

Thanks for stopping by...
Ash x | Bottle Bell

ps. I've got my first shoot(s) of 2010 starting this Thursday, and cannot wait to get back to creating and sharing new stuff with you guys! Amazing new concepts that I hope you all will love. You can be sure this last years experience will be loudly reflected in the content and message of my new pieces!

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