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The Blight – Photography by Neil Girling    » Portraiture

The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2017

Archive for the 'Portraiture' Category

First photos from Burning Man 2009

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The Man, Burning Man 2009The Man at Burning Man 2009

It’s dusty here. I have some photos online; perhaps you wish to see them?
Nifer in her Carhart corset

Nifer in her Carhart work corset

It’s still early in the week and many pieces aren’t finished quite yet, so check back again soon for the next batch of photos.


New studio shoots

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I have two new studio shoots online, both “just because.”

Jenni Pigtails
Jenni Pigtails

Lissie Bang Bang and Amber
Lissie Bang Bang and Bean of the Can Cannibals

Click either for much larger resolution versions.

Calamity Lulu and Evacide

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

This past weekend saw two photoshoots at my studio in Oakland.

Calamity Lulu
Calamity Lulu and the Settee of Contention [click for gallery]

Evacide

Lil Miss Never for an aerial promo shoot for an upcoming fetish event [click for gallery]


Recent photographs – Throbbing Gristle, Vau de Vire, Circus Metropolus

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I’ve made a few recent exceptions to my event-photography hiatus (does this surprise anyone?) and you can take a peek below. You’ll find Throbbing Gristle, Vau de Vire’s “Sideshow” at Cellspace, Circus Metropolus’s “Funhouse” at the Oakland Metro, and a special bonus vignette.

Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle at the SF Regency Ballroom

Throbbing Gristle — the pioneers of noise as music and of shock theater (who are credited with the invention of industrial music, along with Cabaret Voltaire and Einstürzende Neubauten) — who had broken up in 1981 (coincidentally after last playing Kezar Stadium in San Francisco) are back on tour. To quote Jon Longhi of NBC Bay Area (where my photos ran!) “Throbbing Gristle wasn’t just showing all these young techno kids that they could still do it, they were showing them how it’s done.” See the photos here.

Illy of Circus Metropolus at Cellspace

Vau de Vire Society joined forces with the Eric McFadden Trio at Cellspace for some stellar performance and fantastic music. If you weren’t there, you missed out. I have some portraits I shot here, including those of the chanteuse Jill Tracy and Andrea Zerilli (Oryx Incruentus).

Bad Unkl Sista at the Oakland Metro

Circus Metropolus — joined by Bad Unkl Sista (pictured above), Dreamtime Circus and (obviously) Gooferman — took over the Oakland Metro for a production called “Funhouse.” I again took mostly portraits, though I did shoot Bad Unkl Sista’s lovely butoh performance.

My grandfather’s WWII / Korean War MB Jeep

Finally, for something a little out-of-the-ordinary, a very small gallery of my grandfather’s WWII / Korean War MB Jeep. He’s a veteran of the Merchant Marines, WWII (United States Army, German Theater), and the Korean War, where he was an MP and drove a jeep just like this one. I wish to thank him here for all that he’s done (and show some nifty pictures of his toy!).
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A change of course

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Savannah, Raven.

White Witches — Savannah, Raven. Touch to view large (and larger).

For the last few years, several times a week could you catch me at some event or another, camera in hand. (You may have noticed). Though I’ve picked up many a trick over time to get photos sorted, archived, edited and uploaded in as expedient a manner as possible, it’s still a rather… large amount of work. And doing so has prevented me from experimenting with other avenues of photography, which I have wistfully lamented.

It’s time for something different.

By Streetlamp

Lulu de la Calamité by midnight. Touch to view large (and larger).

Vignettes and glimmers will be my focus for a spell, shooting in my (brand-new!) studio or on location, working with (mostly) cooperative subjects, as opposed to performers on stage. And I’ll be in control of the light for once. The above two photographs were shot Friday and Saturday night of this past weekend; I would call the experiment a success (if I may be so bold (and I am)).

This doesn’t mean you won’t see me out-and-about with some degree of regularity, like-as-not with camera in-hand — but if you do, I don’t want to hear an exclamation of incredulity on your part; for what else do I know how to do at an event, anyway? I just don’t want to have the responsibility and requirement to cover every act and aspect of a show and editing hundreds of photos later. Maybe I’ll get two shots instead, and perhaps they’ll be something completely different than before. However they end up, though, they’ll be on my terms, and I find that exciting (and a relief). Unless you want to hire me. In which case, we should talk.

So, do you have an idea that you’d like to turn into a shoot? Send me a note and give me your thoughts. I’m looking for models and locations and projects and what-have-you. (I reserve the right to be picky). I have a studio in Oakland and will work on-location anywhere in the Bay Area for the right project (or travel for the really right project).

In other news, I’ve updated my portfolio (with special higher-res versions).

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Spy on me on Twitter! Written last night while sipping San Francisco’s own Old Potrero Rye.

Under wraps: and if so, why bother?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

There exist in my archives a very large number of images never seen by anyone — a quick estimate puts the number at over 100,000. The vast majority of these are the duplicates, the blurry, the over/under-exposed, the ill-composed; you would be most disappointed to see them, I wager. I have heard it said anyone can be considered a good photographer if they only choose the right photos to post, but I digress: I’m not here to talk about the mountain of bad photos I have sitting here, and I’m not here to tell you the various trite reasons the ones worth posting remain languishing in the dark. No, I’m here to ask: why bother doing it at all?

I have always tried to put my work on display, even when it (frequently) was not worthy of it. My goal was not the criticism and critique of others, for I am and have always been my own harshest critic, and am never satisfied but for a moment with anything I have done. For if I cannot find flaw in a creation, it means either that it is perfect (which is utterly impossible) or that, instead, I’m not yet skilled enough to identify what is wrong. And, if so, I should not rest until I can do so. Nor did I (do I?) present and showcase for the (undeserved) praise that I sometimes received. Instead, all I wanted was acknowledgment. “Look, I did this, and I am proud of it for a moment.” A nod would be more than sufficient.

To not share is to be unfulfilled: it’s akin to laughing at a joke in an empty room. You turn and cast about, hoping to share it with someone — anyone — and thereby expand your own experience and joy, but no one’s there and you sigh and carry on. It’s like filling your mouth with fine wine and not swallowing.

I am not some artist laboring in obscurity to fill some void, some need in my psyche, only to have my work discovered posthumously — I cannot claim that dignified a goal. It is a performer whose traits I share, the desire for an audience. Though instead of even a quiet, polite applause, I instead satisfy myself with pageviews and bandwidth (oh woe is me). Ours is work to appreciate after the fact, for though we and the performers are plying our trade at the same moment, their act is the moment, and my photos will be up tomorrow.

Periodically someone will ask why do I bother? Why do I spend all this money and time and effort and go through the stress and pain and sleepless nights to do this? (For, perhaps you do not know, but I do not do this for a living. In fact, it barely — if at all — pays for itself. It depends on how I do my books). And I will not offer up some asininely banal reason such as “I enjoy it.” I can do better than that, and will explore that topic in a future post.

Ultimately, the answer here is that there is no point whatsoever for me to shoot something if no one ever sees it. There’s your tree-in-the-forest solution; did anyone hear it? Yes? No? Irrelevant.

All this was a very fancy (read: longwinded) way of saying “Oh hi, look, I didn’t post these last year for various reasons, but I am now. You should look (and thus validate their existence and my effort). Kthxbai.” And so, without further ado, I present you with a very small gallery of “studio-esque” — that is, contrived and posed and planned to some degree, and not a live performance — photos of miss Erica Mulkey, aka Unwoman, from a shoot she hired me for mid last year. She has not made use of them yet, but I have her permission to publish them — go here for the full gallery.

Photos from the first-ever Edwardian Ball Los Angeles 2009

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Whitney Moses in Dark Garden

Having not yet recovered from the tiredness built up from last weekend, Friday night I embarked on a whirlwind trip to LA with my good friends Nifer and Slim to do it all over again: the first-ever Edwardian Ball in those hot southron lands at the delightfully decrepit and partially restored Tower Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Being familiar with the otherworld couture of the cocktail costume party that is the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball that takes place yearly in Hollywood, I was curious to see how the LA installment of the Edwardian Ball and the costumes thereof would compare: I was not disappointed.

The weekend itself was a blur of fantastic things: we arrived late in the night and crashed at the Brewery, and then spent Saturday afternoon on a well-planned and better-executed thrift-store shock-and-awe campaign which resulted in bags and bags of magnificent wearable bits of awesome (my favorite score, found and suggested by Slim: a vintage tuxedo jacket with tails so old it’s literally falling apart, a perfect match for the Tower Theater). At the Ball I got to spend some time with Nadya and Meredith of Coilhouse, though we never found Zoetica for the group photo; I met many really great people, and this time — for once — shot no performance on stage (with the notable exception of Jill and Paul), eleccting instead to focus solely on my portraits which I felt much more important for an event like this where it is the attention to detail in each individuals’ costume, not something on stage necessarily, that makes the event what it is. I delight in the attendee-wide participation.

Sunday was simply the long-haul back up the 5, and was proceeding without incident until just before the Grapevine when I got a phone call from Paul Mercer whom, with Jill and Evil Sarah, I had just passed. Their thought was “Mr. Nightshade should have that license plate … oh wait, he does!” We stopped for coffee and gas in some desolate tourist trap (after a long dearth of nothing, there’s always a gas station with INCREDIBLY over-inflated prices for gas in the midst of absolutely nothing, so in desperation, you pay for it; a scant few miles up the road is a veritable oasis with a whole town and trees and restaurants and gas stations charging the state average price for gas. It’s really annoying.), and then off on our separate ways went.

I hope you enjoy the photos. I had a great time making them.

Photos from the 9th Annual Edwardian Ball Sunday Gorey Sunday

Friday, January 30th, 2009

With the final installment of the Sunday Gorey Sunday gallery, pictures from all three days of the 9th annual San Francisco Edwardian Ball are now online. Sunday took place in the wood and red velvet room at the top floor of the Regency Ballroom, and was a decidedly more intimate (and dimly lit) affair. Performances included those by Oryx Incruentus (Andrea Zerilli, guest Paul Mercer) performing to the 1911 silent film “L’Inferno,” The Ghosts Project (Paul Mercer, Minka, Davis, and guests Jill Tracy, Nathaniel, Erica) with Finn from Abney Park dancing,  Shovelman, Lee Presson, Alison Lovejoy, and Agent Ribbons. Non-musical acts included Finn from Abney Park dancing to the Ghosts Project, Evil Sarah (burlesque), Helios Jive (the buffoon clown), Fou Fou Ha!, and several vignettes from the Vau de Vire Society (like the incredibly-difficult-to-photograph swinging-’round-the-room rope act pictured above).

Tonight, via horseless carriage, I do depart for the arid southron lands of the City of Lost Angels for their installment of our grand affair at the historic Tower Theater tomorrow night. Go here for details.

Edwardian Ball photo galleries from Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Eva, aka Miss Never — click for Saturday’s photo gallery

It is one of the “only in San Francisco” sort of affairs in which we love to indulge, with thousands of people decking themselves out to the nines for three days of decadence in the extravagant and recently beautifully renovated Regency Ballroom center (Mike Vau de Vire told me they were pulling the blue painter’s tape off on Friday during setup). Having moved from the Great American Music Hall, where the Ball has been held in prior years, there was some concern as to whether the much larger Regency Ballroom could be filled; after three days of packed halls, that question has been answered.

The Ballroom Saturday night — click for Saturday’s photos

Saturday was the main night of the ball, with the headliner and chanteuse Jill Tracy playing with the Malcontent Orchestra, and later the hosts Rosin Coven, accompanied with performances by Cirque Berzerk and Vau de Vire Society.

These may be my favorite costumes of Friday night — click here for the gallery.

Friday night was steampunk-themed (though not explicitly advertised as such so as to avoid offending us purists), but brass and goggles and steam-powered contraptions were certainly donned by many an attendee, and those self-ascribed purveyors of steampop Abney Park definitely put on a great show. Rounding out the lineup musically were those corseted and quirky Rasputina, of whom I am a fan (what’s not to like? women playing cello, corsets, songs of nonsense and tomfoolery sung with a straight face? Indeed).

Sunday’s gallery is coming as soon as I finish editing the 1,000+ photos I shot for it. Check back Thursday night — they had better be up by then, for the next eve I depart for an additional fix of hats and corsets at the Los Angeles edition of the Edwardian Ball at the Tower Theater. (You should go).

And did you know I added a “prints” section?

Edwardian Ball 2009 teaser

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

It’s off to the third night of the extravagant gala that is the Edwardian Ball, and though I had delusions about getting Saturday’s photos up before I left, and though they’re nearly finished, they shall sadly have to wait until tomorrow. I have but one thing to offer you as a stop-gap measure before you begin hounding me for imagery of this fantastic affair, and so I present you Meredith Yayanos, violin player and thereminist extraordinaire, as well as editor at the love letter to alternative culture that is the dark and beautiful Coilhouse Magazine.

Meredith Yayanos and her Penny Farthing at the Edwardian Ball 2009

Meredith Yayanos with her Penny Farthing at the Edwardian Ball 2009

Come back and look for photos from all three days of the Edwardian Ball online here starting tomorrow evening. And now, it’s off to see the Ghosts Project in the red velvet upstairs of the Regency Ballroom.

*** UPDATE ***

Photos frrom Saturday are now online — see them here.