Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sabriel


Sabriel, originally uploaded by margotwood.

In the early 1990s, Garth Nix went to a flea market in Sydney, Australia and looked through a box of old, early 1900s photographs that were being sold for a dollar a piece. As he flipped through the photos he came across a photograph of a young woman in a military style coat wearing a belt made out of bells and holding a sword. He studied the photo, wondering who this mysterious woman was. He purchased the photo, took it home and promptly wrote the draft for his young adult high-fantasy novel, Sabriel.

THIS DID NOT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. But what if it did? And that, my beautiful friends, is the idea behind this fauxto.

I wanted to do something different for my Young Adults fauxto series. I've recently been doing character portraits and knew I wanted to do one for Sabriel, but to give it a twist, I wanted to take a fauxto of a real person that would serve as the inspiration for the fictional character. Does that make any sense?

Basically, in my imagination, Garth Nix based Sabriel off a real person and I wanted to explore what that woman would look like and voila, you have the image before you.


ABOUT THE SHOT
I was really inspired by those old early 1900s portraits of the last Japanese Samurai warriors and wanted to emulate those a bit. I shoot digitally, so I was never going to achieve that old, grainy, blurry effect and I tried faking it in Photoshop and it seemed really forced, so I did some minimal "aging" techniques, but for the most part left the photo as is.

The stoic model in this shot is my good friend, former coworker and YA reading pal Christina Ku (follow her on Tumblr or Twitter.) Chris was featured in another fauxto but it was just her hands and I was eager to feature her pretty face. It was pretty easy to convince her because Sabriel is one of her all-time favorite books.

We were originally going to include a cat in this photo (Mogget!) but I don't have any pets (yet) and the only cat we could track down was this really cool white one that would have been perfect for this fauxto but would have made things complicated in terms of locations, lighting, ect, ect, ect so the cat got left behind. (True story though: we did take a couple of shots of Christina holding a football that would serve as a place holder in case I wanted to go back and Photoshop the cat in.)


ABOUT THE COSTUME
Let's start with the bells, because BELLS. When you think of Sabriel, bells should be the first thing that comes to mind. Luckily for me, I have collector parents who have a very eclectic collection of antique oddities. The bell belt you see here is actually part of an antique bridle (for horsies) that originally belonged to my maternal great-great-grandmother. We have no idea how she got it so it could very well be even older than that. But those are real brass bells increasing in size all the way up her shoulder.



What you don't see, because of the way I edited the photo, is this patterned sash underneath the bells. It's blue and looks as close to the original Sabriel cover illustration as I could possibly find. I ended up editing it out because it was sort of distracting and I didn't want to many things happening in the shot. The sword is real, although not for fighting purposes. It's actually a tai chi sword that belongs to Christina's brother, thanks dude!


So there you have it! My realistic fauxto that definitely did not inspire Garth Nix to write Sabriel, but maybe will inspire you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dorothy Must Die


Dorothy Must Die, originally uploaded by margotwood.

The thing is, I have been a mega-fan of The Wizard of Oz since I was a little girl. I was Dorothy for Halloween every year for about 4 years. I went to see The Wiz when it came to my town. I grew up with posters from musicals, plays and the movie on my walls. I read the book and even the three after that (they got really weird and it freaked me out as a kid so I stopped reading them.) So when I heard that HarperCollins was publishing a retelling of The Wizard of Oz called DOROTHY MUST DIE I kind of lost my shit. . . in a good way.

Dorothy has returned to Oz and over the years has become a corrupt, sadistic, egomaniacal, psychotic ruler of the once happy land and now the magic of Oz is draining because of her. The munchkins are basically squatters, Glinda is an unpredictable sociopath that does Dorothy's bidding, The Tin Man is made of saws, The Scarecrow is an evil scientist. In a word, Oz is fucked-the-hell up. And I love this version.

Danielle Paige has taken the beloved world I grew up with and and turned it into an acid trip. My copy of the book is riddled with highlights and post-its filled with ideas for fauxtos. But which one to do? God, with a book like this, the possibilities are endless. It's such a vivid retelling, I feel like a fat kid at Haagen Daazs.

So what is this fauxto you see here? This isn't actually anything from the actual book, it's a tease. The book doesn't come out for a few more months and it would be cruel of me to photograph a scene from a story no one can read yet, so instead I went with something simple: to literally interpret the title of the book and give everyone a taste of what they can expect.

Full disclosure: My fauxto is way darker than the book. The book is dark, don't get me wrong, but it's not crack-den dark. More like abandoned-tenement dark. (Does that make sense? I have lived in NYC too long.)

By the way, here's me as a young hipster in my Dorothy dress:




ABOUT THE CONCEPT

The idea for the structure of this shot actually came out of a discussion with my friend Adam Silvera. He occasionally sends me inspirational photos and most of the time they just make me seethe with envy because I wish I had more time, more money and better space to take all the fauxtos I want, but instead of being laden with artistic jealousy, I was inspired. The idea for this fauxto happened almost instantaneously. I wanted to show the yellow brick road and the iconic shoes and just enough of Dorothy's gingham dress so that anyone looking at this would know it was her. But the shot needed to be dark, grungy and reflective of the corrupt, downtrodden Oz that we see in the book.

A quick trip to my local fabric store yielded a yard of the pattern I wanted and red food coloring provided my blood. Now all I needed was a willing participant to bare her legs in the dead of winter, in the middle of a semi-sketchy street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn while I squirted fake blood on her. Oh, and she would have to wear glittery heels too.

Enter, my friend Alexa. (You may know her from www.alexalovesbooks.com) She was gracious enough to trek to my neighborhood and participate in my little charade. I owe her a big thanks, and more donuts.


ABOUT THE EDITING

We shot this on an old brick road in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (Fun side fact, Greenpoint used to be a shipping neighborhood as it borders the East River. Ships would pull up and each street was once named for the type of product carried on the ships that docked there. This particular street is called Java Street.) The bricks on this road are wicked old and kind of disgusting –– perfect for the shot I wanted to achieve –– but no, the road is not yellow. That is all photoshop. Also photoshopped are the shoes on Dorothy's feet. We used Alexa's glittery heels that are actually a pale gold / silver color, so naturally some photoshop was required to make them red. Besides that, there was very little photoshop work done. Just a few filters, some tweaking here and there and voila! Of all the YA-inspired fauxtos I've done, this one will fall into the "mildly easy to achieve" category.

The bricks turned out WAY better than I had ever hoped for. To be honest, I'm not really sure what I did. I mean I know what I did, but I didn't do it on purpose. I used this filter but then made it dissolve into the original photo, instead of just overlaying it on top and it magically transformed the bricks into that sickly green, yellow color. I seriously didn't even come up with that color scheme beforehand, it was a purely happy accident during editing and for me, that is what totally makes the shot. During this whole process I felt like the wizard behind the curtain. The curtain this time just happens to be photoshop.


I hope you enjoy this photo as much as I do and when you do get around to reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, let me know what you think!




SHARING RULES: As you can see by the rights that this is an attribution, share alike, non-commercial, no derivatives photo. This means you can share (and please do!!) but you must credit me (Margot Wood or The Real Fauxtographer) as the artist and you may not alter this in any way. Please respect this rule! :-)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Darkling


The Darkling, originally uploaded by margotwood.

A lot of people ask me when it comes to my YA-inspired fauxtos, do I take the pictures first and then find a book to match or read the book first then come up with the photo idea?

The answer, as of today, is YES.

Up until today I have always read the book first and then come up with the photo idea. Today was the first major blizzard NYC has had in three years. I have been waiting, so very patiently for this moment to arrive because I've been wanting to take snow pictures forever. Tonight, I was going to just take some self portraits in the snow doing snowy things but I'm tired of taking fauxto selfies and asked the boyfriend if he wouldn't mind posing for me. He has perfected the villain glare (it's his go-to pose) and so I told him to make like Benedict Cumberbatch and pop that collar and give me his best sexy, evil stare. This is the resulting shot.

I always share my fauxtos on Twitter and tonight when I shared this one, several people pointed out to me that this photo, his glare, his pose, his everything really reminded them of The Darkling - the sexy antagonist of one of my favorite YA fantasy series,  The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo. (Remember when I took this fauxto for the first book, Shadow & Bone?)

I'm not going to lie, I've been wanting to do a Darkling fauxto for years now and could never do it because IT NEVER SNOWED. When I originally took this shot, I was imagining it being a companion photo to this one I shot of my younger sister. So true, I did not imagine my boyfriend as The Darkling at this particular moment when I took this fauxto, but my original idea must have been in the back of my head the whole time because as my fellow YA fans on Twitter have pointed out, he resembles The Darkling quite a bit. (Thank you Gabby!)

So there you have it. I've broken my pattern. I took an unplanned photo and it somehow fit a book almost perfectly (the only thing I would change is the background - not too many brick walls in Shadow and Bone) and ended up being one of my favorite portraits I've ever taken.

So to my fellow photographers and artists –– keep coming up with ideas and keep searching for inspiration because sometimes even those random, unplanned, spontaneous moments can turn out to be some of your best work.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Code Name Verity


Code Name Verity, originally uploaded by margotwood. View it in a larger size here.

My first historical fiction fauxto has been added to my series of works inspired by young adult novels! This one was inspired by CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein - a gut-wrenching, novel a British spy plane that crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

After reading this novel I knew I had to do a fauxto for it. First of all, it would be an massive challenge for me since I've never done a historical photo before and secondly, I have never worked with props of this magnitude before –– but for some reason I was really intent on doing a shot that included a parachute, so I set my mind to it and voila.

I have a lot to say about this photo and not quite sure how to organize my thoughts on it so I think listing them out might be helpful.


THINGS I LEARNED:

1. WWII British military parachutes are really hard to find. WWII military parachutes that still have the lines and harness and aren't a gagillion dollars are even harder to find. I settled for a white, 28ft nylon, French military parachute from the Vietnam War. (Yes, yes. Wrong war, wrong country. I know. I know.) Thanks to the Federal Army and Navy surplus store in Seattle for selling me this and the flight suit my sister is wearing.

3. Laundry rope (the kind you hang clothes on) makes a great substitute for parachute lines. Most parachutes come with cut lines ––so you don't try to use them as real parachutes and end up killing yourself –– so I used laundry rope as a substitute. 

4. Getting a parachute to billow is a pain in the ass unless it's really windy out and you have an extra pair of hands. It was me, my Dad and my sister on "set" for this shot and we couldn't get the chute to open on it's own without all three of us involved, so instead, I put the camera on a tripod, laid the chute down flat on the ground and took the photo of my sister posing first. Then all three of us opened the parachute, my dad used a leaf blower (!!) to get it started, then nature did the rest. Once the chute was wide open, we all ran out of frame and the shot was taken. What you see here is a composite of those two photos - the one of my sister and the one of the open chute. Thank you, Photoshop.

5. Sunny days are killing me. Much like the fauxto I did for The 5th Wave, the sun was cursing me the day we did this shot. It was just too damn bright to really achieve the darker, more subdued style I was going for, but trying to get the family together at the crack of dawn was kind of not an option, so I had no choice. It was now or never.

6. I am not a hair stylist. But I am pretty proud of being able to get a 1940's style flip in my sister's hair like you see in the shot. (You should see the other side of her hair. . . it was awful.)



THOUGHTS ON THE SHOT

1. Why does she have half a flight suit on? Well in my mind, the character my sister is portraying, Queenie, has just parachuted out of her friend's plane because her pilot friend, Maddie, couldn't land. But Queenie, being a British spy, would be wearing civilian clothes, but she wouldn't parachute down in them - she would wear a flight suit, probably over her civilian clothes. So I bought a flight suit and decided that the shot would be half flight suit as if Queenie had just started taking it off. I did this for two reasons: 1) I didn't want to have to put together a full, authentic 1940s outfit because I had already spent money on the chute and didn't have any budget left and 2) I didn't want her in the full flight suit because then she could have been mistaken for the other character in the book, Maddie.

2. Why is she looking away from the camera? When I originally conceived the shot I always pictured Queenie staring dead straight into the camera and I have several shots of my sister doing just that, but I decided to go with this one for a few reasons: 1) Her posture and glare is very confident and determined like the character and 2) in the plot line of the story, this scene would have taken place just before she is captured by the Nazi's. She's just landed in enemy territory, so I when I look at her looking away, I like to imagine she's getting her plan ready in her head. She's preparing herself for the task ahead. She's all business.

3. Why color? There are two versions of this fauxto and I love them both and had an incredibly hard time trying to decide which on I preferred. Last night I liked the black and white one better but this morning I decided the color version was the way to go. My coworker, Aubry, told me her grandfather's photos from WWII all looked like my color version, so that sold me. Color it is.



BEHIND THE SCENES!

I gave my Dad my camera phone to take some pics while my sister and I were working, so here are some behind-the-scenes shots!


A NOTE ON SHARING: Sharing is allowed but please respect the art and the artist and do not make alterations to this work. If you post this on your blogs, please either link to this blog post or my Flickr page and cite me as the artist. Thank you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Shatter Me


It's not very often that I do a literal interpretation of a book's title but there was something about SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi that I just couldn't quite let go.

Truth be told, I actually did a completely different photo shoot for this book months ago. I made the BF shave his beard and kiss me for a close up shot of our lips and I photoshopped electricity lines between our lips. If I had actually been able to execute the shot in a way I wanted I still think it would have been cool, but somedays you just don't quite have "it" - whatever that happens to be.

Somedays you just have to abandon your initial goal and pick it up when you are in a better frameof mind. And that's what I did with this fauxto.

I decided I wanted to do a literal "Shatter Me" fauxto and instantly decided to go with a mirror because of wonderful, beautiful possibilities it could provide. I knew I couldn't just have a cracked mirror and that be it - I needed a human element - much like the main character in the story, Juliette, is immensely powerful but also incredibly human. If her touch could kill a man, certainly it could also shatter a mirror.

I bought a $2 mirror, wrapped it in a pillow case (don't forget the safety goggles and gloves if attempt this kind of shot at home) and one quick, hard slam with the hammer the glass shattered. (Also, I recommend getting a glass that is in a frame so the shards don't go exploding everywhere and it's easier to move around.)

Next, I just awkward moved my body around with my hand on the glass until I found an angle I liked then used the self timer to help take the shot. And voila.

This is probably the fastest I've ever conceived, shot, and edited a fauxto in this young adult series and it has given me the inspiration to pick this series back up.

So the moral of this fauxto story is that it is okay to abandon your ideas –– not every great idea you have is going to be as good as it seems in your head. Don't get discouraged if your art doesn't turn out the way you had originally hoped. Don't stress out about it - just relax, take a break from it. Step away and go do something else and you never know, your creativity might just come rearing back in full force.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Rules For Sharing


Hey there, friend! I love you and think you are 100% amazing for visiting my blog and supporting my work, especially the Young Adults fauxto series! So you want to share one of my fauxtos, that's great! But here are some rules. . .

The YOUNG ADULTS photo series falls under the Creative Commons license of Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

What this means

You can share my photographs wherever you'd like but you must give appropriate credit to me, Margot Wood, as the photographer and link back to my blog or Flickr.

This also means you cannot under any circumstances sell or use my work for commercial purposes and you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT REMIX, TRANSFORM OR BUILD UPON MY WORK.

What about Facebook?

As for Facebook sharing, please don't download the image and repost it to Facebook. Facebook has this thing that says any photo you upload to Facebook they can use in ads and make money off it. Which ain't cool. Instead, I suggest just posting a link.

Isn't imitation the highest form of flattery? 

No. It's not. That statement is a lie and was probably written by someone who was never a creator or artist. I spend my time, my money and my energy for hours, days, weeks, months and even years creating these fauxtos and when I see someone on Tumblr that's taken my work and altered it, it fills me not with a sense of "Awww that's so awesome!" but more of a "I want to punch you in your soul."

I love you all and truly appreciate your support and feedback, but please, please don't steal my work and build upon it. The more times I see my work being changed and re-posted without my consent or credit given, it makes me less inclined to continue with this series. So if you like what you see and want more of it, please encourage others to respect the rules.


What if I see someone not complying with your rules?

If you see someone (usually on Tumblr) who has altered my work or not given credit, please email me a link to it so I can contact that person.


Oh crap, I totally forgot to give you credit. What will happen now?

I suggest you go back and give me credit! Or if you altered my original work, please go back and specify that you built upon my work and link to the original work. . . or, delete it. I'm a nice person (at least I like to think so) and will always give you the opportunity to fix the mistake! I'm not out to get you, and I totally get that sometimes it's hard to find the original post of things you find online. (Here's a fun way to search by images, by the way, to find the original source.) But just know that if I contact you to remedy the situation and you don't, I WILL go all Bruce Willis in Die Hard on you. (That means I'll contact Tumblr (or wherever) and issue a take down notice.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Another Little Piece


Another Little Piece, originally uploaded by margotwood.

This fauxto is not for the faint of heart.

This shot was 95% inspired by the young adult novel Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn and 5% inspired by the new TV show Hannibal.

What is there to say about the book this shot was inspired from? A few adjectives come to mind: gruesome, disgusting, beautiful, haunting, fucked-up, bizarre, gorgeous. It would be hard for me to tell you what this book is about without giving anything away, but let's just say that this is easily the most unusual story I've read in a long, long time.

Here is the quote from the book that inspired this shot:


"Her mouth was opening wide to take a bite, and an instant before her teeth sank in, a drop of juice fell from the apple. Not the juice of overripe fruit, but blood. Blood, still warm from the heart it had been pumping through."


The second I read that line I knew exactly the kind of shot I wanted to do. I wanted to portray that moment just before biting into a human heart.

No, I did not kill a human for the sake of my art. Instead, I hit up my local butcher and ordered a fresh, raw pig's heart. (After consulting with my doctor father, he confirmed that a pig's heart was a good substitute in size and shape for a human heart.)

I picked up my heart from the butcher, who tossed me the vacuumed sealed organ across the shop then yelled, "Stay weird!"

The thing about this photo is that I needed it to be dark, yet beautiful. That's where the show Hannibal comes in. If you've never seen this new show, I recommend at least looking at some screenshots online because it's the most beautifully shot show on TV right now. Simply gorgeous, but horrific. . . much like Another Little Piece. The show is about Hannibal Lecter - you know, the cannibal from Thomas Harris' novels. So drawing inspiration from the show felt like I was still being true to the cannibalistic scenes in Another Little Piece.

I studied the show, taking note of how they lit everything. From that, I was able to come up with a plan as to how to get my shot done. I used no artificial light for this - just filtered light from my apartment window.

I must take a moment to thank my brave friend, Christina, for agreeing to stand in my hot apartment holding a raw pig's heart while dripping with my fake blood concoction.

Originally, my idea for the angle of the shot was top down, looking at the heart from above. When I finished editing my photo (just minor vignetting and highlighting here and there), I was pleased with the result but not thrilled. Then, I got the idea to flip the photo vertically to see what would happen and BOOM - I was in love.

Now, the viewer is no longer a casual observer but the main character. Now YOU are the cannibal, staring down at the feast before you.

Would you like another little piece of my heart?

Monday, April 29, 2013

The 5th Wave


The 5th Wave, originally uploaded by margotwood. (Click here to view this at a larger size.)

The latest fauxto in my Young Adults series was inspired by The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

Brace yourself for a long story, because this shot deserves a long post.

For those of you that haven't read The 5th Wave yet, allow me to brief you on what it's all about. ALIENS TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Okay, you've been briefed.

This photo is not a spoiler, but if I give you the background to it I will certainly spoil some of it for you, so instead, the only thing I'm going to say about this specific scene is that it is a literal interpretation of a scene in chapter 19 of the book. There was one sentence that totally stuck with me (okay, so this is an interpretation of just one sentence) : "We stepped into the bright sunshine, the man in the gas mask and the girl with the teddy bear."




To achieve this fauxto, all I needed was a gas mask (thank you Amazon), a teddy bear (see below) and a dude to pose with me. Enter my father, the hero.

Some of you may know that my Dad has brain cancer. Technically, it's called a glioblastoma and all you need to know about that is that it's a fucking bitch. He had one operation on Christmas Day and two weeks ago we found out that another tumor popped up post-surgery, post-chemo and post-radiation. That, my friends, is not good. Where my Dad's tumor is located is right in the middle of the memory part of the brain, so what we were most worried about with this second surgery was memory loss.

So, the Wood family made plans to come back into town for surgery #2 and I booked my trip a few days ahead of time so I could have some time to take some fauxtos. I knew I wanted to do a fauxto for The 5th Wave as I seriously adored the post-apocalypse novel, and since the book takes place in the Ohio valley I thought a trip home would be the perfect location for the shot (since I am from the Ohio valley).

My Dad has been in front of my camera several times over the years and when I told him about the idea I had for the shot he jumped at the idea of getting to wear a gas mask and hold a gun to my head. (We have a special relationship.) With the help of my Mom who did some location scouting along Route 52 that follows the Ohio river west, we found the perfect location - an abandoned 19th century stone house that sits right on the edge of a cliff that shoots down to the river. Here's an unedited photo of the front of the house, we shot behind it:



So my Dad and I took off for an afternoon adventure driving the hour west to find this stone house my Mom had spotted weeks prior. A few wrong turns and we finally found it and promptly ran inside the building (not a good idea) and got the crap scared out of us because massive vultures had taken up residence inside. Fun times. After clearing the house of vermin, we decided it was too bright (see how bright that photo is above?!) and I was missing an essential prop: a teddy bear. (Photographers take note: It is really, really difficult to shoot in bright, full sun. Never shoot at noon and always try to wait either until the "magic hour" or at least a few hours past noon to avoid the harsh light.)

Back in the car, we drive back east a few miles until we spot a janky old ferry that's taking cars across the Ohio river into Augusta, Kentucky - a tiny, TINY, town built in the late 1700s that pretty much the same still. There, we proceeded to raid the antique shops (we bought an old book on poison cooking) and found a teddy bear at the home / gift shop of some local resident. (PS - I decided to leave the teddy bear inside the house for the next adventurers. He can keep his aviary roommates company.) Next up was lunch at The Beehive Tavern and time killing until the light was better.

2pm and back on the ferry we go, back to Ohio. When we finally get back to the house it's still "shiny" out (my Dad's word) but better than it was before. Showtime! We took about 50 different shots, trying out various styles. Dad had fun pretending to shoot me and I had fun pretending to be annoyed. (Here's a closeup of us in the photo above since most of you are probably looking at this post on tiny phones.)

The 5th Wave - Closeup - by The Real Fauxtographer


As for the fauxto, well, I'm in love. I was worried it was going to be too bright (or shiny) and I wouldn't achieve the look I was going for, but a few tricks in Photoshop turned all the greenery into fall colors and the river on the right paired with the house on the left makes for one of my favorite shots to date. Unfortunately for internet friends, this photo is best viewed as large as possible as Flickr seems to compress the image on smaller screens making it look sharper than I intended. So if you can, try to view the shot on a large monitor - I want you to get the proper effect!

All in all the shot was captured and another adventure was had. This was a day for the memory keeper and will probably go down as one of my favorite times I've ever had with my Dad.

As of this morning my Dad's surgery was complete and he is awake and talking and, amazingly, the surgery did not affect his short-term memory. He remembers our little dragon-slaying adventure. So here's hoping that this next round of chemo works better than the last because I intend on having him star in as many future fauxtos as possible.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Faux Cover: Gone Girl


Faux Cover: Gone Girl, originally uploaded by margotwood.

A lot of people have asked me if I ever hope to have one of my fauxtos on the cover of a book. The answer is an obvious yes, but unfortunately up until now, it's been unlikely any of them would be. I've spent the last year taking very specific photos inspired by books, which has been a blast but since these books already have covers, it's unlikely you'll see any of these shots gracing paperbacks anytime soon.

Therefore, I decided to start taking "stock" photos in addition to the YA inspired ones. (Don't worry, I'm not stopping my original series, just expanding on it.)

These stock photos are still going to have the Real Fauxtographer touch - meaning they will be conceptual and stylized and moody, but aren't specific to any one book. I do plan on taking a variety of photos, however, that are specific to genres.

The intention with this, of course, is not just to make money, BUT FOR THE GLORY AND HONOR [insert battle cry here]. Stock photography is not a lucrative business. Annie Liebowitz is my cautionary tale, so I don't plan on putting all of my eggs into the photography basket. I've never intended on becoming a full time photographer - I'm still and always will be a fauxtographer - but if one of my photos ever made it on the hardcover or paperback of a novel, well then, I can check that off my bucket list.

So, for this new "series" I'm doing, I'm making fake covers. All of the shots you'll see will be available for covers (if you're interested) and I will be adding title treatments to them all so you can get an idea of what it could look like as a cover.

(Important boring info for any designers interested in purchasing: All photos in this series will be shot in RAW. So, yay for you! If you're interested in this shot, email me.)

This shot you see here I thought would be a good fit for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Her expression is slightly startled and a little frightened, which reminded me of Amy and I chose Gone Girl for the title treatment (mostly at random) but also because one of the main characters is named Margo (without the 'T', but I'm willing to overlook imperfections) and I'm partial to any story with my name in it.

The thing I like about this shot and the title treatment is the retro look and feel. Reminds me a lot of the original American Psycho cover. Makes me wish more book covers would take this approach!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this new series! Would you prefer to see the photo without the title treatment?

More boring technical info for people who are interested in that kind of thing: I shot in RAW (my new favorite thing) in really low, natural lighting filtered through my window and increased the exposure quite a bit. That's how I was able to achieve that nice looking skin. (Maybe it's Maybelline, or maybe it's Photoshop.) I then added my own special cross processing treatment in curves and then did a "beauty enhancement" I recommend all Photoshoppers do: whiten eyes, darken iris rims, darken eyebrows. Voila.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mila 2.0


Mila 2.0, originally uploaded by margotwood.

This fauxto was inspired by the new sci-fi young adult book, MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza.

The book is about a teenage girl who lives her life thinking she's a normal girl, only to discover that she is actually an android. This book has been optioned to be a TV series with producer Shonda Rimes! (She also produces Grey's Anatomy and Scandal)

(Spoiler? This isn't really a spoiler, more just me helping put this shot into context since this book just came out and you probably haven't read it yet. )

This shot is a recreation of a specific scene in the book after Mila discovers what she is. She is given a USB card to download the files off of, and to do so, she must insert the card into her android body's hidden USB slot in her wrist.

The thing about doing fauxtos for sci-fi novels is trying not to go overboard. I could have done many "out there" concepts but instead I chose to make this moment, this scene, this fauxto as real as possible. The heart of MILA 2.0 is that Mila feels human. She has no idea she is an android and spends the entire novel grappling with what it means to be human...and machine.

Now, I did make some style decisions that also reflected the sci-fi of it. This shot is really bright. REALLY BRIGHT. I did that on purpose (in Camera Raw, by the way, not with lighting) because to me, something about starkness and high contrasts equals high-tech. I don't know why I think that way. I'll go ahead and blame it on Apple products.

As for taking this shot...holy mother of god was this a pain in the ass. As with any closeup photograph, the important thing is making sure you get your focus right. Doing that while being in front of the camera and having no one to help you out makes you want to pull your hair out. I think I went back and forth about 20 times trying to get this right. If anything, this experience could mean one of the last times I'm in front of the camera. It's incredibly frustrating, time consuming and exhausting. My entire process would be so much faster if I could just learn how to convince people to pose for me.

So that's my next fauxtographic goal. Expand my network of people willing to pose for me. If you're a friend of mine, lookout, because I'm coming for you.

Anyways, if you haven't read the book but are now intrigued to do so, my job here is done. If you have already read it, I would love your feedback on this shot!

Note on sharing: As with all my fauxtos you are free to share, tweet, tumble, pin, whatever my shots as long as you give credit where credit is due. Just a simple link back to this site or my Flickr page is fine. Respect the artist, respect the art. :-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Anna and the French Kiss


Anna and the French Kiss, originally uploaded by margotwood.


This fauxto was inspired by the YA novel ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.

Now, clearly as you can tell by the selection of books I have done fauxtos for, I don't read that many realistic fiction novels. It's not that I'm against them, I just haven't gotten around to it lately. But all that changed this month when I decided to go on a realistic teen binge.

I started with this book and am now not only hooked on the genre, but also hooked on Stephanie Perkins' characters.

For those that have read this book, yes I adore Etienne St. Clair. And yes I would have loved to have traveled to France, found a hot young man to pose for me inside an old movie theater looking British and sexy. But c'mon people, AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.

So I decided that instead of focusing on the romance angle of this book, I wanted to instead capture the girl that Etienne falls in love with: Anna.

Sometimes when you read YA novels, it's always this awkward, silly, mildly attractive girl who somehow snags the hottest, most perfect guy in the world and I'm left wondering, "Hmmm okay, now how the hell did that happen because that shit would NEVER happen in real life."

But for me, there was one scene in particularly where it all clicked for me. I finally understood why St. Clair, this sexy, perfect young man would fall for a girl like Anna. It was this one scene in chapter 16 when Anna and her pals (including St. Clair) go to one of their favorite French cafes:

"'You have Nutella on your chin,' Rashmi says, pointing with her fork.

'Mmmmm,' I reply.


'It's a good look,' Josh says. 'Like a little soul patch.'


I dip my finger in the chocolate and paint on a mustache. 'Better?'


'Maybe if you didn't give yourself a Hitler,' Rashmi says.


To my surprise, St. Clair gives a snort. I'm encouraged. I redip and pain one side up in a swirl.


'You're getting it wrong,' Josh says. 'Come here.' He dabs his finger in the edge of my sauce and adds the other half carefully, with his steady artist's hand, and then touches up my half. I look at my reflection in the restaurant's glass and find myself with a massive, curly mustache. They laugh and clap, and Mer snaps a picture.


The men in elaborately tied scarves sitting at the table beside us look disgusted, so I pretend to twirl the ends of my Nutella mustache. The others are cracking up, and finally, finally St. Clair gives the teeniest of teeny smiles.


It's a wonderful sight."




And that, my friends, is the scene I attempted to capture. I fell in love with Anna in this scene. She is positively adorable and is willing to make fun of herself in hopes of cheering up her friends. (Also, according to the scene, Anna's best friend Meredith takes Anna's photo, so in a sense, I'm playing a character as well! Kinda cool.)

When I was reading that scene I just nodded and smiled and I finally got it. I got why St. Clair falls for her and I wanted to capture just how adorable Anna truly is for my fauxto.


Now, as for this fauxto, I have to give a huge thanks to Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner for being a trooper and being Anna for me. She totally captured Anna's young, cute and carefree spirit. It takes a special lady who is willing to give her self a chocolate 'stache in the name of art, and I think Jamie nailed it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Shadow & Bone


Shadow & Bone, originally uploaded by margotwood. View the larger size here.

This fauxto was inspired by the young adult fantasy novel, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - one of my favorite YA fantasies ever!


I was originally going to tell you guys all about the ridiculously frustrating attempts I made to do this photo and all the crazy original ideas I had for it before settling on the one you see here.

But I learned a very important lesson while shooting this today that I think artists, writers and basically anyone in a creative field needs to know.

JUST DO IT.

Yeah, whatever, I know it's a dumb Nike slogan but it is also incredibly good advice.

Before this, I hadn't taken a YA-inspired fauxto since Thanksgiving. True, I could easily blame some family shit or my busy job as a distraction, but those would just be excuses.

I think artists sometimes get hung up on their own success or creativity. They produce something that is so epic and so awesome that for their next project they feel stunted because they are worried they will never be able to achieve that same level of success.

I am totally guilty of falling into that dumb trap. I have spent the last two months stressing out over trying to come up with the next brilliant fauxto. Instead of doing, I was obsessing. And it is never a good thing to obsess. Obsessing over something like a photo idea can lead you so far down the rabbit hole that it's hard to make your way back out.

For this photo, I was bouncing around 8 million insane, wild ideas. I was going to rent leather wings and do double exposed photos layered with all this crap. Then I was going to go to the mountains upstate just to get to snow. The ideas were great, but they were grand and completely unfeasible given my resources and funds.

Once I realized my original ideas were never going to happen, that's when the artistic depression set in. I started whining and bitching about my project (to no one other than my very unlucky boyfriend), to the point where today he just turned to me while we were eating donuts (a great source of inspiration if you're looking for one) and said "Margot, just do it. Just start taking something, anything - and once you do, your creativity will start flowing again."

I didn't want to take his advice. I was scared. I didn't want to start taking anything without a plan in mind and just be continually disappointed in the results. But like he said, I just did it. My original batch of photos were awful, and I almost stopped right then and there but then, like the boyfriend predicted, the ideas started flowing and finally got a shot I was excited to edit.

So am I happy with this final product? Absolutely. No, it isn't as fantastical as the book and yes I could have included some more details from the story, but I still think this captures a moment from the book as well as the tone.

I think it can be hard to make a photo inspired by a fantasy novel look realistic. I mean, it's fantasy! But that's why I think people gravitate towards my photos in the first place - they look real. They bring the stories we love so much to reality and I think this photo achieves that.

So to sum everything up, if you're a writer or a painter or a photographer and you feel stuck and are afraid to produce something that isn't to your standards - just stop worrying and do something. Go back to the basics and start small and simple. You may be surprised and pleased with the results.

Shadow & Bone by Margot Wood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Basically, this means you can share this photo on your blogs or via social media but if you alter it in any way or don't credit me as the artist I'll hunt you down like a dog.  :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How the Grinch (aka: A Brain Tumor) Stole Christmas


Snowpocalypse, originally uploaded by margotwood.
Happy winter everyone!

As you can tell from my blog, I haven't done a YA-inspired fauxto in some time. There are a few reasons for that and I'd like to share them with you.

I was holding off on new photos since Thanksgiving because I had an epic vacation planned in the Canadian rockies. There, I was planning on doing photos for Shiver, Unearthly and Shadow and Bone. This trip was going to be amazing and the photos were sure to be some of my best work yet, given the landscape and opportunities.

However, that trip never happened.

On December 23rd, while I was in Boston, I got a call from my Mom. She told me that she was in the hospital because my Dad had an accident.

Well, shitballs. (Yes, that was my immediate reaction.) I figured my Dad had done something stupid and gotten mildly hurt. He's been known to do such a thing. I mean, let's be honest. This is the man who willingly dresses up like a storm trooper and jumps in pools for my photos....he's prone to accidents of a silly nature.

But that's not what happened this time. This time, while cycling, he fell off his bike and had a 3 minute  seizure. Luckily for him, he rides with a big group of fellow surgeons and they were with him at the time. They quickly called an ambulance and got him to the hospital.

Turns out, my Dad, the biggest supporter of my photographic adventures, my biggest role model, the guy who is invincible. . . has a brain tumor.

Pardon my language but, WHAT THE FUCK.

Dads aren't supposed to get sick. Dads who dress like Superman are DEFINITELY not supposed to get sick, let alone have a freaking brain tumor.

So, what did I do? The only thing a daughter can do. I got on the next flight home on Monday to Cincinnati to be with my family.

On Tuesday, Christmas day, we celebrated in the hospital room. My Dad did his best to partake in the fun, and we did our best to act happy and jolly. Suffice to say, it's a bit difficult to spread holiday cheer when you're stress eating Christmas tree cookies and pounding the bourbon with your sisters who are equally as sad/stressed/scared as I am.

On Wednesday, he went into surgery and had the tumor biopsied and removed. I'll spare you the medical jargon but to sum things up, it was a malignant tumor that somehow grew in the span of 2 months. (My Dad had his brain scanned at the end of October and it was clear. That little tumor bastard grew in two months. Fuck you, tumor. Fuck you.)

The surgery went well, the doctor was confident he removed all of the infected tissue and amazingly, my Dad was able to come home on Friday - two days after brain surgery! He really is Superman.

While my Dad has a long way to go, chemo, radiation, physical therapy and who the hell knows what else, he did tell me one thing before I left for NYC.

He told me to take as many YA fauxtos as I can and really try to get published this year.

So that's what I'm going to do. To honor him, to honor the books I love so much, to honor all of you who cheer me on and provide amazing support, I promise to take as many photos as I possibly can - starting with this stupidly cheesy photo (the one at the top of this post) I took right after our little conversation. Until my Dad starts having fun again (he is a true believer in the High Church of the Fun Machine), I will do my best to make him smile.

So stay tuned in 2013. May it be tumor free and filled with fauxtos. As Rae Carson (author of the book from which this fauxto was inspired) noted in the comments, it's going to be a fauxtopocalypse.


I wish you all the best in the New Year!


PS- Enjoy this throwback photo of me and Dad.



Friday, November 23, 2012

Beauty Queens


Beauty Queens, originally uploaded by margotwood.

The latest addition in my series of photographs inspired by young adult photos. This one was inspired by the YA novel, BEAUTY QUEENS written by Libba Bray.

This book is about a plane full of teenage beauty pageant contestants who crash onto an island and must use their pageant skills to survive.

Oh dear god, what is there to say about this photo? It's a disaster....in the best possible way.



I owe a huge debt of thanks to several people for making this photo happen:

1. My mom for handmaking those sashes which each represent the state those girls live in. Even though you can't see it: California, Kansas and Georgia.

2. My boyfriend for actually helping me to buy those tacky pageant dresses. He graciously braved a shopping trip and even picked out a few dresses, claiming the ones I selected weren't "pageanty enough".

3. My sisters (the two on the left) and my cousin (on the right) for not only allowing me to put awesomely-bad makeup on their beautiful faces and mussing up their hair, but donning those dresses a few hours before Thanksgiving dinner and braving the cold ocean air in front of MANY families to pose for me.

4. A big thanks to the author of the book, Libba Bray, for writing such a visual, hilarious and entertaining story. The second I started reading this book I knew I wanted to do a fauxto for it. So thank you Libba for sparking my imagination is giving me a memorable project to work on during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Yes, we got a lot of raised eyebrows and a few "what pageant did you just come from?" questions, but mostly what we got was this awesome photo. This, to me, may be the closest a photo has ever come for me to looking exactly how it is in my head. Most photos look different in my head than they do in the final product, but this is the closest so far.

I feel like after this photo I have a duty to add more comedic books to my roster. Because if they are this fun to read and then do photos for, I need to do MANY, MANY more in the future!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns


The Girl of Fire and Thorns, originally uploaded by margotwood.

This photo was inspired by THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, a the first in a young adult, fantasy series by Rae Carson - and one of my favorite series of all time.

I have been dying to do a fauxto for this book every since I finished it a few months ago. I was instantly obsessed with the idea of attempting to recreate the scene where Elisa, our once fearful but now fearless Queen, crosses the desert TWICE to save herself and her kingdom.

I mean, come on. A DESERT SCENE. Now that would be a challenge considering I live in New York City and have no plans to visit the Sahara anytime soon.

Luckily, I had Thanksgiving plans set with family on a small island outside Jacksonville, FL. Perfect! I figured I'd somehow make a beach look desert-y, and thankfully, the beach was littered with crush shells on the day of the shoot, giving the sand a rough, dry texture.

Now it came down to figuring out Elisa's costume. Not going to lie. I stressed out over this way more than I should have. I watched as many desert movies as I could, especially Resident Evil Resurrection (don't judge, I love those movies) and came up with an outfit in my head. Luckily, I had all the pieces of the puzzle with me. Yes, I do own a cape....what? You don't?

I am so happy with the way this photo turned out. My younger sister was just fearless enough for me to don a cape on a beach with many an onlooker and I think she captured Elisa's tough, determined spirit.

Up next for this series: A photo for The Crown of Embers and the final book in the series, The Bitter Kingdom!

If you've read the book I would love to hear your thoughts! Share them with me in the comments!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cinder


Cinder, originally uploaded by margotwood. View in a larger size here.

This is the latest addition to my series of photographs inspired by young adult novels.

This one was inspired by the book CINDER by Marissa Meyer - a retelling of Cinderella, set in the future and Cinderella is a mechanic cyborg.

Oh Cinder. Oh how I struggled for MONTHS to figure out what I was going to do with this photo.

Originally I was going to set up shop in Chinatown, NYC and recreate the market scenes with Prince Kai but then I realized how extremely complicated THAT would be. So I decided to instead of doing a literal interpretation of a scene in the book, this is just more of a look at the character of Cinder and her every day life.

A few quick facts about this photo you may not know or possibly didn't see upon first inspection:

1. Iko - That glowing orb in the bottom right corner? Yes, that is my interpretation of Iko....well half of Iko. You see, that is actually a trash can that was conveniently photobombing this shot so I decided to just go with it and turn it into Iko.

2. Cyborg hand - No, that is not a glove. If you look at it closely you might begin to notice that it actually IS my hand, just with some photoshop trickery.

3. Asian influences - A friend of mine pointed out that the toolboxes in the original photo had some English on them and since this book is set in "New Beijing" it would be a good opportunity to subtly work in some Asian influences. So I did some Googling and put in some Japanese words / phrases. $10 if you can translate it.

If you haven't read Cinder, go pick it up because it is a wonderfully written fantasy / steampunk / sci-fi / dystopian and one of my favorite books of this year.

Did you read Cinder? I would love your feedback on this fauxto! Don't be shy, leave a comment...

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Anna Dressed In Blood


Anna Dressed In Blood, originally uploaded by margotwood.

The latest addition to my "Young Adults" collection is this photo inspired by the creepy book, ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake.

Essentially, I am playing a girl who was murdered 60 years ago and now I spend my days haunting a house in Canada (but in this shot....New Jersey). Oh and I murder people...quite gruesomely.

There's waaay more to the story than that, but I'll just let you read it to learn more for yourself.

So I jumped at the chance to do a photo for this one. I mean, come on. A bloody ghost?! Hell yea I want to do that. However, this is one of those photos where the idea in my head didn't quite come to fruition.

Things started out great. I found the perfect modest, white dress for less than $30 and I procured a jug.....no seriously, a JUG!!.....of blood. Things are looking up at this point. I even found a friend of mine who knew of a creepy house in the middle of the woods in New Jersey. Double score! Then I wake up this morning and it's cloudy out. Triple score! (For non-photog people, if it's cloudy out, grab your cameras because the lighting for any photography is 1000000x better when it's overcast.)

So my friends and I make our way to the Hacklebarney State Park in Long Valley, New Jersey and we start hiking out to the house. That's when things start going a little off course.

1. The bastard sun came out. Now all those deep rich colors I got from the forest are bright greens and yellows. YUCK.

2. The fake blood is basically pink.

3. The "house" in the woods turns out to be a bathroom. Ha! But that's okay, I snuck around back and assumed no one would come by for awhile since we didn't pass anyone on the way out there.

4. We make do with the blood. Everything is all set. We take a bunch of photos before I realize that I had the wrong settings on my camera. HEY, REMEMBER, I'M FAUX. I STILL MAKE TONS OF MISTAKES.

5. By the time I get my camera settings all right, we get about 5 more shots under our belts before SURPRISE! An Asian tour group shows up and stumbled upon my odd scene.

Now, imagine you are out hiking on a nice day with your family. You see a bathroom house, and go around to the ladies entrance and you see a girl in a white dress drenched in blood. You'd probably freak out. And these Asian ladies did too. They furiously began pointing, whispering and jaw dropping until I decided to stop letting them freak out and I showed them my jug 'o blood. Immediately they relaxed, giggled and then proceeded to take pictures. I asked if they wanted a photo of me with them....they declined.

6. So once I was spotted, I knew my time was up. I didn't have a chance to check any of the shots we had before cleaning up and heading out so I just shrugged and figured everything would turn out in the end.

So after MANY layers of work in photoshop, I was able to achieve this final product. I am happy and pleased with what I have here, but I think I couldn't have made a better photo. I think it would have been better for me to be behind the camera on this one, but oh well. It's hard to get people to pose for you when you tell them that fake blood will be dumped on them.

And by the way...I'm two showers in and that blood STILL hasn't worn off. And yes, New Yorkers will look at you funny if you walk around Penn Station looking like you just killed your dinner.

So anyway, voila! Here is it. I hope is as creepy as the book is, which I doubt because the book IS really creepy. But hopefully this captures some of the essence of Anna and her turmoil and the life she is stuck with. A life of sticky fake blood, Asian tourists and stinky bathrooms in the middle of the woods.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tiger Lily


Tiger Lily, originally uploaded by margotwood.
I don't even know where to start with this book. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson is hands down in my top 5 favorites books of the year...okay, maybe even of all time.

Here's how this book begins:

"Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but now like any you've heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn't win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case."

This is a retelling of Peter Pan, but told from Tinkerbell's point of view and it really tells the story of Tiger Lily. The fierce warrior, crow feather-wearing tribe princess who falls for the mischievous and mysterious Peter.

Tiger Lily is no Wendy. She is raw, unhinged. She makes mistakes, she fights, gets dirty. She is a warrior and I loved her. So she became the focus of my photo for this book.

I've been waiting to do this photo for a while. I knew right away I couldn't be the one to play Tiger Lily. I needed someone who looked more wild, someone with a raw, unusual beauty. Luckily, I knew just the person.

This beautiful woman you see here is my younger cousin (and architect student - beauty AND brains!) Rebecca. While on a family vacation in upstate Michigan she agreed to pose for me. My Mom was able to acquire some crow feathers for me (no idea how she managed that, but that's the magic of Mothers...isn't it?) and with a little red paint and a de-stuffed animal, we were ready to go.

This photo doesn't even come close to portraying the beauty of not only Tiger Lily the character but also Tiger Lily the book, but if you haven't read it and this photo intrigues you, then you most certainly need to locate a copy immediately. You will not be disappointed.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Don't Breathe A Word

Don't Breathe A Word
This photo was inspired by the young adult novel Don't Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala. The novel is about a girl, Joy, who decides to runaway from her emotionally and physically abusive home in Seattle for a life on the streets. This book is much, much more than that simple description, so I suggest checking it out if that's a topic you're interested in reading about.

The scene I'm depicting here is Joy's first day on the streets. She's still clean, still has her stuff with her, but there's an immense amount of paranoia and fear plaguing her. Can she survive the streets? Did she make the right choice leaving home?

***

So for this shot, I did an entire day of location scouting. Many of you know I live in NYC and I do all self-portraits. Ver rarely does anyone help me out, so doing an urban/homeless shot in NYC, I needed to find a location that was visually appealing to me but also safe enough and isolated enough that I'd feel comfortable leaving my Nikon D7000 on the tripod without fear of it being stolen. I walked all around my Brooklyn neighborhood, and sadly because it's summer, every single location I went to was just packed with people. Frustrated, I went to my "go-to" location for photos, my roof. I hopped buildings, and shot this on a neighboring building, actually quite close to where I shot the Divergent photo.

The second most difficult aspect of this photo was nailing down the expression. I needed to show fear, uncertainty and a touch of sadness. I was lucky enough to get this shot (1 out of many, many).

The final obstacle for this shot was turning my naturally reddish/brown hair white. HOLY CRAP! I assumed it would be easy as hell. I mean, I've turned red hair into blue and purple, so how hard could white be? Way harder than I thought. I had to spend about 2 hours tweaking about 10 different layers to get my hair to look natural.

This was as close as I could get it. It's not quite white, more like a really bleached blonde but hopefully readers of Don't Breathe A Word won't mind that detail too much! And yes, making my hair white was worth it, because oddly, Joy's hair color does play a bit of a role in the story, so I'm glad I stuck with it and got it as a place where I was satisfied.

Hope you enjoy the photo and definitely check out Don't Breathe A Word - it's a great, short stand-alone novel that deserves to live on more shelves.