The mean reds

Work is slow. Idle time can make me worry and think, “crap! am I washed up? Is this it? Am I a hack?”

The photo biz in Chicago is a bit stagnant. It’s all in far away places, or hidden from me. So, I’ve been watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s and feeling a lot like the main character, Holly Golightly.

I’m nothing fancy, but like Holly Golighty, I delight in the treasures life puts before me. It helps take the edge off my rotten anxiety. It’s not just a gem from Tiffany’s that I find attractive. Simple beauty in life moves me. I get excited by things like a feather, a glass marble, a wrinkle in someone’s skin. I love color, shapes, texture. I melt looking at beautiful photography.

Here is an excerpt from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

Finally the phone rang, and it was my BFF, Beyoncé*. She was all up in my face like, “Girl, you’re a survivor and don’t forget it. You know I wrote that song about you. Why don’t you make yourself useful and update your portfolio! Sure, I remember when you used to rock out wearing a side pony-tail, but that was a long time ago, and now you’ve got taste. Put some of that personal style in your book.”

The side pony tail comment made me wonder if there is a scrapbook circulating around the Industry with blackmail photos of me dorked out. Was there an inter-office envelope sent around to bookers who are now keeping me at arm’s-length?

It’s true, not everyone is born with taste. As much as I’d like to think that I bounced into the world with style in my DNA, that’s far from honest. I used to walk around wearing leg warmers and a headband that I made out of Swatch watches. I also used to wear a different color Chuck Taylor high top on each foot. Right was pink, left purple. Fake hair, cardigan sweaters worn backwards, combat boots, layered Izods with the collars up, tie-dye, Jam shorts, ripped cut offs with fish net stockings, stupid hats and tight bike riding shorts were in my style kit. I once went dancing at the Smart Bar wearing a night gown. I also had head gear. No shit. Let’s get real … truth be told, I was born poor and although I wish my first spoken word was something like “Gucci goo,” it was, “hot dog,”

Beyoncé was right. I need to show the world a few things. Eventually it’s time to stop the mean reds from taking over.

Over the course of the past couple of months, I’ve worked on adding fresh material to my portfolio.  I’ve been working on concepts, art directing, and styling. Involved from the bottom up, I put together a great crew for this photo shoot, my “Girl Power!” team: photographer Mandy Gray, hair and make-up by Michelle Balaz, and models Erika Milde and little Ella.

Take a peek at the shoot, which I’ve called “the Tiffany’s project.” I put enough shit on my credit card to move to Australia, but so what? It all went back without a hitch. It was a lot of fun and I felt that same quietness and pride  that Holly felt when she would step inside Tiffany’s. BTW, I’m taking calls, accepting job offers and yes, I clean windows!


* Irish people lie.