The Many Faces of Circe

“Circe, go wear something fancy and I’ll take your photograph, okay?”

circebellyCirce the Belly Dancer

Circe, the seven year old daughter of my friend Fred, decides that “fancy” means belly dancer outfit (complete with socks.)  Before I take her portrait, she checks herself out in the mirror and sucks in her little belly. After a few pictures, she flies upstairs to change into something else.

circeperruquePreparing to emulate Marilyn Monroe

Circe is not in the mood for classic portraiture. She trades in the oriental costume for the Marilyn look. She then reclines on the settee and looks at me from under her eyelashes appearing slightly underwhelmed.  The portrait is vaguely disturbing, even more than I had anticipated, but the rule is to let her do and wear whatever she wants.

Circe has a new idea for a fancy outfit and tells me it will be a surprise. She will call me when she is ready. Five minutes later, she screams my name from the top of her lungs even though I’m just in the room next door.

circelionne1Circe and the lion

In her happy messy room, Circe, dressed like Tarzan’s Jane, is lying on her bed with her favorite lion… and the little stick to beat him into submission.

I ask her to find something a little more simple and she comes back in a white dress.

bcircefenetreCirce a la fenetre

I hear a bit of commotion outside the room, open the door, and find myself facing Catherine C., my neighbor from 35 years ago. I had not seen her since she had moved from our street in the seventies but I recognize her immediately! Weird! I ask Circe not to move while I go downstairs to meet her husband and children. One thing leads to another and before I know it, I’m having a cup of tea and cookies. More exactly tea and a cookie. The confections had all been made by Circe and taking a bite out of them is a mere impossibility. We all sit around chatting and dutifully sucking on our cookie, trying not to break any teeth.

Half an hour goes by and I suddenly remember poor Circe. I grab the camera and run up the stairs. This is what I find when I open the door:

circequiattendCirce who awaits

She has not moved an inch but looks mildly resentful (and freezing.) I have now created some abandonement issues in that sweet abiding little girl and I’m not feeling very proud of myself.  The mood has soured and the session appears over. I am not used to being obeyed. Who in their right mind would obey me anyway?

This session was photographed with a medium format film camera. I went back to film for the first time in many many many years, only to find out that in Dallas, you cannot find a lab with an old-fashioned dark room!

16 responses to “The Many Faces of Circe

  1. Holy crap I love the giant card catalog wall. I want!

    What great shots, especially the first. Timeless.

    Do you use a light meter or meter with the DSLR? I’m forced to do the latter as I use the medium format too rarely to justify the purchase. And I guess I’m lucky to have two actual labs very near my house. One only charges $3 to develop a roll, and I scan in the film.

  2. mtbrooks: the wall is actually an old apothecary’s medicine cabinet. It’s very cool.
    I rarely use a light meter. I find that when I need it the most would be the most inconvenient times to use one, so I just trust myself and… Photoshop.
    All the labs here will develop your film but all the printing has unfortunately become digital.
    Thanks for your compliment. 🙂

  3. This looks so great Nathalie. The purchase of the MF camera seems to pay off despite the lack of real labs in Dallas.

    The third and last photographs are so beautiful.

  4. Those are some awesome pictures!

    A real vintage look to me!

    nice work.

  5. I love the window light and the soft shadows in the 4th and 5th shots..

  6. Very wicked shots!

    I have to agree with Otto Mann: very vintage feel to them.
    The last shot looks like it could be an album cover from the 60’s or early 70’s: Carole King comes to mind.

  7. Where do you people find this amazing furniture, backgrounds, wallpaper and children to photograph? I am embarrassed to ever again take another photo shot with my cell phone.

  8. These are great, nathalie, although you should be ashamed for leaving the poor lass waiting and waiting for her photo session! She looks practically distraught–or annoyed.

    The last one really has a nice vintage feel, something dug out of a shoebox recently found in a closet where it had been forgotten for years and years. Something in it makes me think it’s being viewed by a great-grandmother in her nineties who suddenly feels swept away with nostalgia as she looks at the little girl she once was.

    Film, huh? Interesting…

  9. Your photos are exellent.

  10. Thank y’all so much for your comments!

    Wouter: thanks!!! I’m still working out the kinks. I’m so used to all the digital amenities that going back to film is a bit of a pain in the butt. A good pain though. 🙂

    Otto Man: thanks for stopping by again! I think I’m starting to be vintage myself 🙂

    Razz: thanks. You know I love your compliments!

    planetross: Thanks! Carole king, eh? I was not born yet… 🙂 Double 🙂

    Heather: I took all these shots in Belgium where children are messy and parents prone to scout the flea markets. Let’s not underestimate the power of cell phone cameras: they come in handy for car accident documentation and blackmail situations.

    : I am full of shame. At the same time, I sucked on the same cookie for 30 minutes and that’s a cookie she had baked, so I think that in the greater scheme of things, we are even. 🙂

    ebookguru: Thank you! And thanks for stopping by too.

  11. A lovely series of photos made even more lovely by the story you tell.

    You clearly have a gift for both.

  12. Uh oh…you went and pissed off a 7-year old girl??? Are you nuts? (Well…she LOOKS about 7…). Now you will NEVER love it down. But great pics as usual. Nice to see the other story move down a notch. It was kinda creepy! LOL

  13. I agree wit Alan – you did what?!!
    No wonder people are sending you such “special” greeting cards :))

  14. forkboy: Thanks! That was very sweet, especially with the two bozos who left comments after you wanting to inflict guilt upon my frail shoulders.

    Alan: dude, I know I’m on her red list forever, but I totally forgot! Sorry about the family creeeeeepiness. I thought it would put things in perspective. 🙂

    Grasswire: for the record, I would never make my sister wait like that… just harmless children.

  15. Nath,
    as Forkboy said, pics + story (l’histoire…) + my daughter ;o) made a fabulous stuff. I adore it.

    For Heather and everybody:
    – paper wall chosen and dispatched by my wife Gül- so exciting when she is covered with glue… The couch is also made by Gül from an old one found in the bin
    – furnitures: (to add professionalism and feel like the “Décorateur-en-chef”): 35 shelves-cupboard found in the old and famous Brussels “Droguerie Desmecht” where I usually buy my vervein or lime herb tea to cool me down from Circé & Calypso (yes, there is another… + the boy!) arty dressings and haircuts (Circe just cut her hair according to french tekno-singer Yelle one).
    – The wardrobe with a mirror comes from my mother who got it from her mother … no flea market!

    Love , love, love

    Fred!So exciting when she is covered with glue“?!? There are things that just best remain within the confines of your bedroom. As planetross would say: “I’m blushing.”
    Sorry about the flea market. I did not mean to imply anything by it.
    And mostly, sorry for not having emailed sooner. I am full of shame both in regards to your daughter and now to you as well… 😦

  16. Nathalie. You’re the true talent here. Bar none. Don’t forget that!! Ross is very talented but he’s as lazy as a quadriplegic. From the name ‘Planetross’ to your t-shirt idea, he’s just along for the ride. But, we all know, he’s chalk full of talent so we can’t help but cheer him on. By the way, your photos are absolutely amazing. Don’t ever second doubt yourself. AND DON’T CUT OFF YOUR EAR!

    Kelly! “Lazy as a quadriplegic.”?!?! Are you nuts? That’s soooo politically incorrect! We are however in total agreement about the degree of laziness generally evoked at the mere mention of the name. In French, we say “lazy as a grass snake.” I surmise that between the collective efforts of you, Monsieur Badger, and me, Sir planetross will eventually either retreat even further in the mountains or ante up.
    Thanks for all your warm compliments! Rest reassured: I’m not planning on auto-mutilation anytime soon. 🙂

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