Friday, June 27, 2014

Monaco. Getting there.

If you eat 4 macarons, a couple of strawberries and are overcome with jetlag, you, too could go to sleep at 9 pm and get yourself immediately on schedule with the time zone where your body may be located, but that doesn't mean the next day is not without a little confusion. While laying in my plush hotel bed in Monaco yesterday evening, I was well aware the time was but early afternoon in Houston where I had been the day before, but my sugar crashed and airplane weary body disregarded this fact. I have found myself in Monaco, the smallest destination never on my travel list but suddenly replacing Belgium and all of their glorious chocolates and beer, in my travel itinerary. My arrival was filled with the real adventure as my current stay will likely be a continuation of relaxation, gently rolling ocean fills my ears, warm sun wraps around my body, and even if going by foot, the general area is sight seen in a mere afternoon. 

I received my updated travel itinerary just a day before departure, which certainly felt quite spontaneous even if my trip to Europe was planned much in advance. By planned, I mean scheduled as I have a recklessness in vacations in regards to advanced preparation which is the opposite of my systematic planning for work schedules. A few hours before my flight I was in a hunger inspired panic to get fed and immediate depart to the airport, which was calmed with reason, and the discovery that Houston does not actually have any good delis or a sand which culture, and my housemate taking me to lunch then proceeding to the airport. 15 minutes away from our destination, my arrival at the airport, the truck beebed at us and the dashboard equipment ceased life, a few miles later, the speed of my pulse replaced the movement of the truck. I had an international flight departing in 2 hours and suddenly had no transportation. Being on time to things is my biggest paranoia - I am more afraid of being late than of being physically molested (unreasonable as this may be). I was in a panic. And during panic mode, Internet on iPhones apparently stops working properly, and logic slows. After tromping across the onramp with my backpack to a nearby hotel to find my address for cab pickup, and making the call, a cab was to arrive in supposedly 15 minutes, if and only if the person dispatched was interested. But before long, a man from a motor assistance program had seen my friend's stopped truck on the side of the freeway, and was bringing me to the airport at the request of my friend. Though not a usual request or purpose of this program, I officially felt my life had been saved as blue-eyed Lance brought me to the terminal. These were the best tax dollars at work I had ever experienced. I made it through the security gate with only 17 minutes to spare before my true departure time, confirming with a wait for a taxi I might have missed my flight. 

My flight was slightly delayed, but uneventful. I watched a movie which was rather slow, with seeing the conclusion my full purpose, and reached the end to find out there was no resolution. Then I saw "12 Years a Slave," as this was on my list after the film did so well in the awards department.

The plan arrived in Paris at 9 am and at 9 am my flight to Nice was boarding. I wanted to avoid being the rude American and waited at the back of the plane with no where to go amidst the suitcases anyway. Turns out a shuttle from the plane to the terminal was needed, and followed shortly after followed by my reminder to do cardiovascular excercise. My mad dash through the airport before and after customs brought me to my next plane, where they reopened the gate for me, so I could run down the gate to halt to a hand outstretched in the "stop" position. A few moments later I could enter and was at my seat.

Apparently I made the plane on time but my luggage had not, but I continued to Monaco in my hired car and would have my pack delivered later that night. 

Yesterday I relaxed and read a book while eating tuna and sipping coffee before heading off to see what there was to see in this little, pristine place. 

And now, I await my shoot while sitting on a balcony in the sun. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

California. Day Off.

One of the benefits of freelance work is the ability to set up my own schedule. Of course, in general I need to work around the schedules of others, as being selective on time and date will leave me without work on days I could work, and there will always be days I wish I had work when there is no work to be had, but on occasion I need to schedule days for myself. Before my big South American trip, I had a difficult time prioritizing days off, but have found that a few days set in advance, where I can do whatever I please, go a long way in keeping me happy. People with normal day jobs get a full weekend off every 5 days, and know they will get those days off in advance, so doing the same is not so abnormal. Sometimes photographers can only shoot on specific dates, and if unable to schedule on those dates, I will have to wait until a later trip, but I have decided that every once in a while I should enjoy the luxury of a specific day set aside.

I am taking the weekend off after a week of working in Portland, and while I know I had to turn down some work to make this happen, I am relishing the chance to use a normal weekend however I see fit. Right now I am catching up with a good friend, watching her cat walk on the mantle of the fire place and beg for attention, and will likely put on some shoes and a sweater and go on a walk. Nothing monumental here, but low key days help me recharge.

I spent a few weeks in California, visiting family and my new niece and nephew, and catching up with some good friends. I had the opportunity to do a handful of great shoots with photographers I have not seen in more than a year, and meet some new contacts. I love my time in the Bay Area, and while I considered myself living there briefly, I have a feeling I will keep returning as a visitor rather than a resident. My friend, Candace, has a new studio space called The Lighthouse and I was able to do a messy workshop there which involved photos with water poured all over me and into a basin, cream poured over me, and a huge amount of wine (which was used in photos, not consumed). I do not recommend bathing in cream on an everyday basis, nor in wine, as the smell left even after a handful of showers and hair washings was reminiscent of a drunk dairy maid who seldom bathed, but the photos did turn out well.

On my California trip, I also was able to shoot in a mannequin shop, where I found myself a blue cuddle buddy to entwine myself in for the duration of a few photos, but our temporary love ended when I knocked off his arm while trying to give him a kiss. I found myself enthralled by the mannequins and if I ever settle down, correction, when I settle down for a bit more time, I might just need to buy one to decorate - some of the mannequins available are truly cool. On a random note, I may photograph tall, but I found I could not live up to the stature of fashion model height men and women, with their plastic and unreal skin, but for once did show I had a glowing tan compared to their pasty color. :)

I generally use the policy of not asking for permission when shooting nude on a location, and hoping to not get caught, but when I went to a park in Berkeley with photographer friend, he went ahead and used his charming Australian accent to ask about shooting on the Merry-Go-Round that was closed for maintenance in the park. We ended up with the place to ourselves and a cheerful man working, who even let us know when other people would be showing up. Being naked on a giraffe was pretty exciting.

As the weather is finally warm across the US, a good handful of my shoots have been outdoors. Within a couple of weeks, I explored a lovely nature reserve with one photographer friend in Sacramento, leaving the area when a full caravan of boys with binoculars showed up, I basked in the sun on the nude beach in San Francisco with a newer photographer, and was part of a photographic series with different combinations of nude friends of the photographer existing in grasses and trees.

I need to get back to writing more as by now I feel so behind in writing about my adventures that I do not even know where to start. (This is my personal reminder to do so.)