Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fantasy Writer

I've remembered the other thing I wanted to tell: I went to the beach with Kim and his kids, Rogan and Meg, last Monday so he could practise his photography by pretending he was doing the shots for the inside of my book jacket. I say pretending because I don't have a book jacket. But I might one day so maybe this was more of a rehearsal. Whatever it was, it was fun. We took a picnic and everything.

This doesn't look like the beach because it's not, it's a viewpoint we stopped off at on the way back to Kim's but is the only shot I got of the three of them that is in focus and not too dark.

I asked if we could go to the beach for the shoot because I felt I needed a theme to feed a look, and I had landed, like an excited bee in a field of comfrey, on exploration. I've always admired those lady explorers. You know the ones who set off on their own across continents when women were supposed to stay home as a male appendages? They always looked so strong, free, and defiant, yet no less elegant and no less female. They proved certain dichotomies to be myths, and I hope that I am carrying on in the tradition they started. When a colleague once asked me to choose another noun for myself (once he'd explained what on earth he was talking about and given me an example – he chose 'witness' for himself ) I said 'explorer': I do feel that's what I do when I write: explore the why and how of us as a species, not to mention the possibilities of literature itself, and what I can do with it. Once the look/theme was decided I needed a setting, and as neither Kim nor I live near a desert or jungle the Galloway coastline seemed the next best thing. In the space of one small cove you will find smooth and sandy here, rocky and jaggy there, grass, pebbles, shells, and rock pools with tiny creatures in them. I could feel like an explorer in such a place. Also, the light is good at the beach which means fewer unpleasant shadows.

I can't pose for photographs, the minute I become aware of the camera pointing my way I kind of freeze, it takes someone with a good dose of empathy to get a decent shot of me. One day, when I'm feeling gung-ho I'll show you one or two of my wedding photographs and you'll see what I mean. By the end of that day I'd been stiffly smiling for so long that my cheeks hurt. I look like a stuffed hamster in every photo.

Kim saw my discomfort and suggested I just run about the beach with the kids saying he'd merely follow. So that's what we did, and very soon I pretty much forgot about the camera and simply had fun. And, although out of the hundred or so shots he took there were only about ten I could bear to look at, there were some I actually liked!

As You can see I didn't dress up but next time, if there is a next time, I'm thinking of wearing a ball gown.

After the exertion we stopped in at Cream o' Galloway for an ice-cream (we chose our beach carefully!) before heading home. As we were driving along Kim pointed out this:

My dream writing room!

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge. The two photographs of me are courtesy of Kim Ayres Photography.


steven said...

hi eryl, so the black and white pic really rocks! the energy coming off that is immense and spangly!!!! what a great way to spend a day! i too love the idea of the brave women explorers who ditched their men and their role and all the expectations they had or were had of them and went deep into the land of wherever, just because. sweet post!!! steven

savannah said...

that last photo is so intriguing and then when you click on it, the enlarged version is mesmerizing...the tree is so massive and gnarled. the moss incredible, i can only imagine what the interior is like! or rather, how i would want it to be!

grand photos from what looks like a BRILLIANT day! xoxoxo

Kanani said...

Those are really great photos, Eryl! Lucky you, you got to go to the beach with Kim and the kids. Looks like a great time.

PI said...

I love all the photos. When I was modelling the photographer would take a reel of photographs to get one he could use.
What a great outing - and then you forgot:)
Meg is a born model.

hope said...

Strolled over from Rachel's. I think so many of us are camera shy. Our family has tons of photos of my grandmother hiding behind cars, packages, frying pans. I prefer behind the camera myself.

They're all good shots but I loved the Black and White! You look like the poster child for carefree fun.

angryparsnip said...

The first photo of you in black and and white is brilliant. Loooove that one on a book jacket.

Dislike when they have a head shot and the writer cupping his/her chin in his/her hand or leaning forward tilted a-bit.

My book jacket photo will be a drawing of me or a parsnip. . . haven't made up my mind yet.

Eryl Shields said...

Steven ~ wouldn't it be great to be brave enough to do something 'just because'? Actually, you might already be (and have done), but not me, not yet.

Savannah ~ I know! I'd love it to be gilded with a bust of Marie Antoinette and Louis IV chairs, but with a huge modernist canvas on one of the walls.

Kanani ~ thank you, I did have much fun!

Pat ~ I have what would have been a great one of Meg just lounging back in a chair, she is a born model, but it's out of focus.

Hope ~ thank you for 'Flashdance', I can't believe I forgot the name: I had the hat and everything!

Poster child I love you. Thanks for strolling over, I must go to bed now, but I'll stroll over to you in the morning.

Parsnip ~ now that would be defiance with a capital D, to have a drawing of a parsnip as your author photo! I could have a picture of a dog/bitch cooking dinner to follow on your wave. I don't know why people tend to have only head shots done for publicity, the older I get the further away from my face I want the attention.

debra said...

You look so relaxed,Eryl----truly joyous. How wonderful! Thanks to Savannah for suggesting enlarging the photo of the tree by clicking on it. It is magical.

Rachel Fox said...

Author photos...often such a no-win story (especially for women). I wrote a post on it back in Feb this year.

These are lovely photos though. So much better for not being posed.


Kim Ayres said...

What a wonderful post :) Just wish you'd mentioned the idea of explorer to me before we took the photos - might have given me some ideas :)

It was a wonderful day and we'll have to do it again sometime soon. And a ballgown on the beach sounds great fun.

In fact, it reminds me of... hang on, I'll just see if I can find it...

OK, take a look here and here.

Although I think Scotland's got the wrong climate for the first one :)

Kim Ayres said...

I can't get those links in the last post to work. Let's try again:



Titus said...

Lady Hester Stanhope! Explorer a superb noun to pick for yourself.

Brilliant photos, and if Ralph Lauren isn't in touch soon for the September Vogue spread I'll be amazed. My compliments to Kim too.

Eryl Shields said...

Debra ~ isn't the tree wonderful!?

Rachel ~ I'll check out that post. The thing I find most irritating is that women, no matter what they do or say or how damn good they are, have to look glamorous or pretty. I'd hate to end up looking like Nigella Lawson does in photographs: all starey eyed and stiff. Not that I suppose I'll ever get the chance!

Kim ~ oh my god those photographs are fantastic! I particularly like the idea of having furnishings on the beach.

In truth I don't think I really knew that I wanted an 'explorer' look until I started to write about it. Even though I make it sound like I had it all worked out before we went. It was more a feeling that I couldn't have articulated, if that makes sense. Now, I'm thinking 'ball gown and solar topee' (sp?) and maybe some skulls for props.

Titus ~ what would your noun be? Sometimes I think of mine as 'gardener' and sometimes as 'cook' too, depending on what I'm trying to do. But 'explorer' sounds more glamorous.

Titus said...

At the moment, "cleaner" is springing to mind, but the more I think about it, the more it actually suits.

Kim Ayres said...

I don't suppose you still have your weeding dress do you Eryl? If so, Google "Trash the Dress" or "Trash the Wedding Dress"

There's an entire sub-genre of photography aimed at shooting married couples in their old wedding outfits, but now with attitude - in the mud, on motorbikes, in the sea or river etc.

Let me know if that appeals :)

Scarlet-Blue said...

Great pics! You look fab! I also freeze if I know there's a camera about.

Eryl Shields said...

Titus ~ yes, I can see that suiting, the editing process, at least, which often seems endless.

Kim ~ I don't but I love the idea so much that I would consider buying one. I'd want to really trash it though, the photos I found on the few sites I looked at were a bit too hesitant for my tastes, I'd want the dress to be shredded by the end.

I've just thought, too, a really good place to do it would be Annan port, it's full of dereliction.

Eryl Shields said...

Missed you there Scarlet, I wonder if it would be different if you were having your portrait painted? X

Kim Ayres said...

Sounds superb. We'll have to do it :)

Anonymous said...

It looks like you guys had lots of fun. I think you took a good picture or it looks good to me. I like all of them, actually.

Eryl Shields said...

Kim ~ cool!

Abraham Lincoln ~ we did. And thank you, coming from you that means a lot.

Rachel Fox said...

I love the weeding dress (see further up). So many spin-offs...

Eryl Shields said...

Rachel ~ yes, me too, I suppose Gertrude Jekyll had one!

Titus said...

There's that huge second-hand weeding dress shop in Dumfries. Just do it!

Anonymous said...

Just returned to say:

Thanks for helping me to make history.
Pick a Peck of Pixels

Eryl Shields said...

Titus ~ is there, where, how have I missed it?

Mr Lincoln ~ you're very welcome.

Titus said...

In the little road opposite the Doonhamer restaurant, I think it's all part of the Save the Children Charity Shop Complex. It used to be all furniture, but they closed down a section and re-opened it as second-hand wedding dresses. It is awash with them. Once Craig's home I'll get the street name.

Titus said...

Queensbury Street. The one with Barnstorm Records and Palings.

Eryl Shields said...

Great, I'll have to go and have a rummage.

Mary Witzl said...

You're a lot more photogenic than I am! Kim did a great photo of me, but even an artist can't always make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

And I LOVE Cream o' Gallkoway. I want to go on that rope swing they have again.

Eryl Shields said...

Mary ~ you are kind but I've seen a photograph that Kim did of you and you look fabulous!