Friday, August 29, 2014

Exquisite Captive


Exquisite Captive, originally uploaded by margotwood.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios is the inspiration for my latest YA fauxto and I have to say that this fauxto has just shot to my top five all time favorite shots.

First, let's talk about this book. Since it doesn't come out until October, here's what you need to know: Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

This book is dark and sultry and oh so wonderful vibrant and colorful. Heather is a master at painting pictures with her words and there are eons of scenes in here I could have attempted to capture, but the one I chose is perhaps the most pivotal moment in the whole book. I won't go into details about it because I don't want to spoil it for you, but here's a non-spoilery part of the moment I tried to capture:

". . . showering her in a golden dust just as her fists crashed against the bottle's walls."

There was something about "golden dust" that sparked my imagination and so off to the craft store I went.


A LESSON IN CHALLENGING YOURSELF

This is the first fauxto I've shot in M mode. M means manual. It means you control everything. It means you have to know your shit. And up until this point in my fauxto career, I've been a little terrified of M mode. A and S modes are cool, but M mode felt like a level of skill just beyond my reach.

I initially wasn't going to do this fauxto because I thought it would be too hard to achieve without a proper lighting set up and I was too scared to try M mode. So I threw in the towel before even trying and instead shot an entirely different concept. I was really close to settling for that shot and posting that. It was okay. But just OKAY. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It was too simple. It was something I would have been fine with when I first started this project two years ago but I came to the realization that I should never settle for just okay. I should never just feel satisfied with a work of art. As an artist, you need to push yourself. You can't just be satisfied. Each new piece should be a challenge to do greater next time.

And so my C grade fauxto was archived and a new determination to succeed took over.





HOW I GOT THE SHOT

To achieve this shot I purchased a gold bracelet that looked similar to the one of the cover of the book, three small bottles of gold glitter (you never know how much glitter you'll need), hairspray and plastic black tarp. I taped the tarp to my wall and let it drape down to cover the floor, essentially creating a right angle.

I hair-sprayed the part of the tarp that was on the wall and sprinkled the glitter all around so it would stick. On the tarp section on the ground I dumped half of the bottle of glitter all around, leaving a strategic pile in the center.

Now for the hard, time consuming and awkward part. THAT IS MY HAND. And NO, I did not use a timer or a remote. I wore the bracelet on my left hand, held the camera at a vertical angle with my right, got all the way down on the floor in the most uncomfortable position I've ever been in and began shooting.

To get that glitter shattering effect I basically just slammed the palm of my left hand into a big pile of glitter and tried to time it exactly with the camera in my right hand. Since I was so low to the ground I couldn't get my eye through the view finder so I basically just had to eyeball it each time.

I shot the whole thing in M mode (!!!!) without a flash in about 100 takes. It took about an hour.


ABOUT THE EDITING

Once I decided I had enough glitter bombing (the glitter is EVERYWHERE, even after I vacuumed twice) I popped the raw stills onto my laptop, silently praying to the fauxto gods that I would get at least ONE decent shot out of this where the glitter would look like a shower of golden dust.

In most of the shots either the glitter would look great but the hand and bracelet were too out of focus, or I didn't time it right and the hand was in focus but no glitter was flying around. There were a few that worked well but the glitter wasn't bombing near the bracelet, instead it was coming out of the hands.

But then, there it was. The Perfect Shot.

I think I actually yelled or made some kind of goat-sounding noise when I saw it because I knew right away it was perfect. And the best part was, my first attempt at M mode was a massive success. The lighting was dark and moody but the gold was shimmery and bright. It was so good that I didn't do any major Photoshopping. All I did was crop, rotate and boost the contrast very slightly. That was it. I didn't fake any of that glittery in Shop or clone stamp any of it. This is a 99.99% natural fauxto.

Honestly, I look at this thing and refuse to take any credit for it's success. It feels like it was all just luck and chance and not really any skill. But looking back on most of my fauxtos, that's kind of how I feel about all of them. I feel like I just get lucky. Maybe that's why I'm still a fauxtographer instead of a photographer. Or maybe that's what real photographers feel too? Either way, I'm very proud of myself for taking a challenge and pushing myself to try M mode. I'm like a shooting star. I've come so far. I can't go back to where I used to be. It's a whole new world.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Brace yourselves, because this is a new adventure for me in the wonderful world of YA inspired fauxtography. SEX. VAMPIRES. SEXY VAMPIRES. OMG WHAT.

This fauxto is inspired by The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - a recent vampire novel that puts most of the young adult vampire novels to shame. The book itself came after the vampire craze but still somehow managed to make the genre feel fresh and new.

I have done sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary and even historical fiction, but I have never taken on the idea of vampirism and I've never taken a fauxto that was so overtly sexual. I've shown skin before, but never in this kind of way and while some may think it's too NSFW for young adults, I disagree. Just look at the source material! Here's the particular passage I am making an homage to:

"She groaned against his skin. Pain raced along her nerves. She felt the pull of his teeth, the rush of everything warm inside of her pouring out. She felt the race of her heart, thudding faster and faster with fear. The taste of his blood was on her tongue, and cold pinpricks raced over her spine. Her lips felt numb. Her body was pressed against his, one of his hands against the sudden euphoria. Pleasure unfolded inside her, sinister and seductive. It was hard to remember to breathe, hard to remember to do more than bite down on his wrist and drown in looping rapture."

Focus on this one sentence from that excerpt: "Pleasure unfolded inside her, sinister and seductive." This is the sentence I wanted to capture.

I needed a fauxto that was sensual but also a little bit unnerving and maybe even creepy. Veins, I thought. That's it! Veins are creepy and gross and icky and we think of veins when we think of vampires, so that works. But how do you make veins realistic? Because with this series, I live for the struggle that is bringing reality to fantasy and this fauxto certainly had me worried about both. I achieved the blue veins by using a bright external flash that would better expose the natural veins under one's skin and then since this woman's veins were naturally blue, I just isolated anything blue in the photo and over saturated it. Then, obviously, I treated the rest of the fauxto to give it a darker, sexier atmosphere, but it's really the veins that stand out for me in this shot. I kept them blue (instead of making them red) because you think of blue when you think of cold things and that's how it felt for the characters when they drank someone's blood. It wasn't hot blood, it was cold, numbing. Blue.


So there you have it! What do you think of my first (and probably only) vampire fauxto? How would you interpret vampirism in a photograph? And finally, what are your favorite YA vampire novels? Tell me in the comments below!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Los Angeles

Los Angeles  
I took this photo while strolling down Broadway in downtown LA. That district is a total shit hole. The whole area feels like it's from an 80s B movie: decrepit buildings that are falling down, everything's been abandoned, random clothing stores and arcades are still around with people just aimlessly milling about. It's easy to see why that part of town is less desirable than say, Beverly Hills. But if you take a moment to look up and look at the architecture, you will discover that downtown LA is ripe with old beauties. Old, 1930s theaters litter the street. Some are in better shape than others, but most look like they desperately need a face lift. My favorite of these is the Los Angeles, a 2,000 seat MOVIE PALACE (that's a real thing) built in 1931. 

This building brings out my inner art history nerd. The French Baroque architecture is so stunningly beautiful and it's just so odd to see something so gorgeous on a street that is so neglected. Here's hoping more people notice it and start doing something to maintain its beauty.
 


ABOUT THE EDITING
The only editing I did for this photo was make it black and white and mess with the contrasts. The light streaks are 100% au naturale.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Faux Cover: Adaptation



Adaptation by Malinda Lo is one of those books that caught me by surprise. I honestly thought I wasn't going to like it. The marketing copy didn't sell me, "a romantic adventure with conspiracies!" Nope, sorry, it wasn't that. It was Wendy Darling of The Midnight Garden who sold me on this one. She promised me it would appeal to my fauxtographic sensibilities and she was absolutely correct.

This book is all the things. It's sci-fi, but also introspective. It's futuristic and still contemporary. It's coming-of-age and speculative. It's sexy and creepy as hell.

The thing I loved most about this book were the numerous images throughout the book of a egg-like womb. The main character dreams about herself being inside this veiny sack so much that she is compelled to paint the damn thing on her bedroom wall. Malinda Lo's descriptions of the sack were so vivid that the second I read that passage I knew I needed to interpret it in real life.

But where does one acquire a yellow egg-y sack with red veins? The answer is WALGREENS! So that orby thing you see in the fauxto above is actually a bottle of Method hand soap. Ha! I bought a bottle of the green soap because I knew it would be easiest to adjust the green to yellow in Photoshop. I took out the pump and put the bottle on my windowsill around 6pm - which is just before dusk when lighting is at it's softest. I used a straw to blow in a few extra bubbles and then took the fauxto.

I popped the shot into Photoshop and then sat there staring at it for about an hour, twirling in my chair, having no idea how I wanted to edit this. So I did what I always do when I'm stuck, I push buttons and try random settings and basically do the Photoshop version of button mashing on a video game controller.

After I landed on a style I liked, I did about 20 minutes worth of dodging and burning to bring out the "veins" -- which are just natural curves from the bottle that I enhanced -- and changed the colors around to my liking and here we are!

But then I got to thinking, "I wonder what this would look like as a book cover!" And so then I added some text and voila, a FAUX COVER! (If you want to see the version without the text, click here.)


So that's it! What do you think? Have you read Adaptation? What did you think of the book?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Film vs. Digital

It's that age old question - out with the old and in with the new? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Here's a fun fact: Before I ever picked up a digital camera, I was first taught in the art of fauxtography on a vintage 35mm Canon. The one course I took in college on the craft was strictly a film photography course and we even had to develop our own film in a dark room. The kind of burning and dodging I learned then was the primitive version of the burning and dodging I now do in Photoshop.

I loved film photography. There's a certain je ne sais quas about film photos that you just don't get with digital. Film is more unpredictable, less precise, less controlled. You have to be more careful and selective when shooting film because you only have so many shots per roll of film and film, my friends, ain't cheap. Digital allows you the freedom to shoot a bazillion times and it only costs you the one time fee of the actual camera and memory cards. Digital gives you clearer, sharper images and if you're really into the shooting, digital allows significantly more control over your shot and its outcome.

So why did I switch to digital if I loved film so much? Cost. That was the #1 reason. One roll of film has around 24 exposures and one roll of film costs about about $5 plus another $10 to develop each roll. So if I go out and shoot three rolls in one day, that's going to cost me roughly $45 for just 72 photos. When you're a fresh out of college, broke-ass young adult, $45 isn't the kind of money you throw around on something like photography. So I switched to digital and have almost exclusively shot that since.

A couple of months ago an artist friend of mine, Robert Brandenburg, sent me a big camera bag stuffed full with vintage 35mm film equipment. A Pentax Spotmatic, three different lenses, a bunch of filters and more. I was a bit overwhelmed by the collection that I just put it in storage and out of my mind. Until recently.

My Dad and I decided to go an epic road trip this spring and last week we went from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, following along Route 66, and I decided that such an adventure required different types of photography. I knew I was going to bring my Nikon D7000 for those intense, colorful, saturated photos of the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest and I decided to bring the Pentax because Route 66 screams 1970s to me and I needed to bring a 1970s camera.

The results of my photographic adventures have left me utterly torn. How could I possibly have forgotten how amazing film photography is? It's not great for those sweeping, epic shots because nothing compares to Nikon's DSLRs for those, but holy crap. For the weird, quirky, bizarre, or "everyday" photos? The Pentax blew my Nikon out of the water.

For your consideration:








The top photo is from the Pentax and the bottom photo is from the Nikon. Exact same subject, different angles, but completely, insanely different moods and outcomes. When I popped the Nikon version into Photoshop I struggled and struggled because I just couldn't get the mood across that I wanted. I finally landed on this one and was satisfied with it. Until today when I got my 35mm prints back and saw that shot (the one on top). The photo you see there is 100% untouched my Photoshop and it captured the EXACT mood and feeling I wanted to achieve with the digital one. 

While I think digital photos are fantastic and I love them and I will still use them for all of my YA-inspired photos because that's what they require, I think the 35mm film is just far and away a better option for your every day, "life according to ____" photos. What you see is what you get when it comes to film photography and that it how I see life. 

When I take digital photos and manipulate them in Photoshop, that's not how I see life. That's me creating a fantasy out of reality. That's what my Young Adults photo series is about. It's about fantasy vs. reality. But it's never, "Oh this is what it's like to see things through Margot's eyes." Does that make sense? 

So what has this format experiment taught me? Well, for one, it's always good to mix your mediums up. For two years now all I've taken photos of are stylized, conceptual shots from my young adults series. I lost inspiration and interest in taking "every day" photos and I think, and I hope, that my swapping my digital for my film camera will reinvigorate my love for just taking pictures and not always "creating art." Know what I mean? I love both and I will continue to do both, so all this hopefully means is that you might be seeing more from me (at least over on my Flickr page) and you might be seeing more and more every day shots. 

I hope you're ready. 



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!