So, if you know us then you know that both of us like to joke around. We’re also perfectionists with crazy ideas. Back in 2014 we started taking jokes further by taking funny self-portraits with each other. On our first one Jason suggested that we take a Christmas picture together. Being way too into fun ideas, Jenny suggested that she get a fake Christmas tree and that they build a sand snowman out on the beach by the ocean for the photo. Jason thought it’d be fun if our Ugly Christmas sweaters be Christmas pug sweaters and then Jenny took it a step further saying that she was just going to wear her red & white striped bathing suit bottom instead of any pants since it was so warm out. Jason followed suit and said that he was ALSO going to wear ridiculous red & white striped bottoms (Europe bathing suit style). Jenny then got long socks, Santa hats, and Santa face mittens to wear from the thrift store.
This was the first of our many ridiculous self-portraits together and you can see how our creative process really spirals out of control when we work together. We headed to the beach after work mid-week and lugged a big Christmas tree, a box of ornaments, and our costumes down a huge stretch of beach to where there were very few people. We set everything up and hadn’t taken into account how quickly the sun would set. By the way, making snowmen out of sand is nearly impossible unless you’re a literal professional. A professional sand castle builder actually came by and told us that what we were doing was very difficult and that we did it at the completely wrong time of day with the wrong sand. Oh well. The photo ended up pretty funny. Jenny named it, “Pugly Christmas Sweater (Christmas 2014).” We hope someone noticed or enjoyed the seaweed garland laced around the tree along with all of the other ridiculousness that we styled while a bunch of onlookers were gawking and taking cell phone photos of us!
The next photo we did was a month later in 2015 for our New Year’s self-portrait. Jason had off-handedly mentioned how funny it would be if we did an 80’s style photo with the weird floating heads in the background. Jenny thought that this was hilarious and pushed for a while to get it to happen. One of us (not sure who) thought of getting turtleneck shirts, so after work off we went to go buy $1 black mock turtleneck shirts from Jenny’s secret cheap thrift store. We then went to Jason’s and set up an entire photo studio in his kitchen. His apartment for he and his 2 roommates was very small, so this was the biggest area we could find. We fashioned a black backdrop out of a blanket, used the backdrop stand, set up all the photo lights with their softboxes, and put a stool out for us to sit on. We both put on our glasses, our most serious expressions (actually very hard), and we photographed each other sitting at a “three quarter” angle. We then put the best two individual photos of us together in what is called in the photo world as a “composite” within Photoshop and Jason Photoshopped in our floating faces behind us. It’s very cutting edge. Haha We titled it something like, “2015: The Future is Nigh” or something like that.
Since we were on a roll and having fun, we made another ridiculous self-portrait the following month. For this Jenny was sitting working on her art for her Master’s in Fine Art Photography and randomly thought that it’d be hilarious if they tried to replicate the cover of a stupid, trashy romantic novel. Around that time, a really cool hippy costume thrift store was going out of business with everything about 80% off and we had also just attended an estate sale with really cheap, cool things. Jason got a free real fox scarf at the estate sale and Jenny happened to get a Victorian-era-esque costume dress for 80% off at the costume store. Jenny also happened to have 2 long-haired black wigs from K-Mart for her Halloween costume as the girl from The Ring four months earlier. She also had a metal belt from a college costume party in her costume box. (Yes… years ago when Jenny moved to California with just her car full of things at 26 years old she brought a box of costumes with her in her car…) In order to take the photo we went out on a weekend to Jenny’s yard at her mountain house. That yard was a shared field with 2 other houses: the yurt next door, Jenny’s house, & the landlord’s house. It also happened to be THE retired Santa Barbara Pet Cemetary. The large boulder you see next to us in the photo is filled with metal urns of peoples’ pets’ remains. The urns stick out of that side of the boulder. The field is also littered with hundreds of pet tombstones. It’s all very normal.
Jenny put on her thrift costume and the wig and Jason put on Jenny’s other wig, her belt, and Jenny decided to add the fox scarf to Jason’s outfit. Luckily Jason also got a cool remote where we can set up the camera on the stand and use the remote to see ourselves from where we stand and also change the camera settings if it isn’t right. We took a ton of photos as always and kept checking in with the faulty remote to make sure that our poses were decent. Jason then took our favorite photo into Photoshop and Photoshopped us a bit (adding abs to himself and tanner skin to me). The grass in that area grows and is actually greenest in the winter before the spring/ summer drought takes over, so Jason also made the grass yellow just to add some character to the photo before putting the title on the book cover. We used a name generator online and it came up with the title of “The Basin of the Secluded Mare” for us.
Since Jenny was stressed with finishing her art and 60-page thesis book as well as holding her own opening for her solo art show and doing her 1-hour defense in front of a large crowd, we didn’t take our next photo until about 5 months later. Once her defense and art opening were done, Jenny got annoyed with commercial photography and high fashion. She thought it’d be funny if we made a “high fashion” photo very sarcastically to poke fun at high fashion commercial photography. Jenny luckily has a lot of body paint in her costume box and bought a couple more wigs from the costume store that shut down, so the photo was pretty easy. One of the bedrooms in her house was empty because she and her roommates were moving out for good before we moved to the Midwest, so we set up a photo studio in there. We set up a couple photo lights then painted our own faces according to some “high fashion” commercial photos Jenny found online. Jason also put on one of her wigs, put one of her deer skulls around his shoulders, and… brace yourself… pulled Jenny’s hair off of a brush of hers and wore it as a ridiculous moustache. Again we photographed each other individually and Jason composited them together in Photoshop. Jason was playing with making our eyes bigger in a photo (I guess something that most commercial photographers do?!) and Jenny told him to exaggerate the size of the eyes much more! It was hilarious. #HighFashion
Since we did a Christmas photo in 2014, we had to do another in 2015. Jenny decided to make sure we did it the same way that we did our photo on the beach in California… but this time near a lake in Michigan… in the snow. If you remember, we were pantsless. Do you have any idea how COLD icey snow is on your feet when you’re running through it half naked?! Terrible. We thought we had gotten frost bite. Jenny went to many stores trying to find inflatable palm trees to put in the photo, but apparently no stores including Walmart carry inflatable palm trees in the winter. It sucks. Who knew?! Instead we settled for fake palm plants that were already in the house. Jenny wore her white wig Jason had worn in our last photo. We then wore the same outfits as last year, brought Christmas lights out, and draped them over a brass deer and the fake palm trees. We built a real snowman (the only time we did so this very non-snowy winter) and Jenny used plants to make the buttons. The camera kept messing up when we photographed the first day (while cussing at each other due to frustration on how cold we were and how the camera wasn’t working) and then the sun set. We begrudgingly gave up, took the lights & palms down, then reset up and got dressed all over again the next day! The snow was melting a lot very quickly since it was a warm winter and we had to bring baskets of snow over to the picture from other yards. No joke. The photo turned out pretty well though and was worth all of the literal pain!
For our 6th funny Self-Portrait we spent our New Year’s Eve Jenny’s favorite way: at home… with champagne… and fireworks. It was absolutely a blast. We were dressed in our normal clothes- Jason’s sister-in-law’s mom had given Jenny a black vest for Christmas and Jenny’s parents had given Jason a blue vest for Christmas. We actually didn’t plan on both wearing vests. Jason went out to take a photo with a firework, set up a photo light outside, put his camera on a tripod, and Jenny thought that we were taking a photo together… so we did. It was fun! We lit our sparklers and went through quite a few before we got a good photo. And then we popped our last champagne, had a couple more drinks, and snacked watching tv. We are very exciting young adults, indeed.
Since we haven’t taken a self-portrait together in 4 months, Jenny thought it was high time we take another photo. It has been warming up here in the Midwest with the last snowfall being 2 or 3 weeks ago, so we decided to take a fun summer photo. Jenny owns an inflatable pretzel that she got for her 26th birthday (she had requested this $6 inflatable and ONLY this for her birthday when asked “what do you want for your birthday?”) and recently bought a round pizza towel that she had wanted for months when she was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. She thought it would be fun for both of us to sit outside by the lake and poke fun at how we haven’t worked out in forever or cared about our weight at all. To be honest, we haven’t been working out at all and haven’t cared too much what we’ve eaten. We go from drinking vegetable green drinks to making pizza in one day. It’s ridiculous. We’ve gained some weight, but we honestly don’t really care since we’ve been working so hard on our business. We plan on getting into shape, but we loved taking this photo mocking our carbo-loading diet & “summer bods.” Jason wanted to stay covered in the photo, but Jenny said that she wanted it to be simple in bathing suits, so she had him change shorts. Luckily his outfit was all neon orange and her favorite bathing suit top is neon orange. Things worked out well. Photographing was ridiculous. We brought a HUGE ladder out onto the pier and each of us photographed the other one taking turns. It was pretty unsafe. “Don’t try this at home” is how this episode would start. Jason then composited our 2 photos together in Photoshop, and voila! “Remember, kids: The best way to get that sweet summer bod is to carbo-load the 2 P’s: Pizza & Pretzels”
We hope that you get a laugh out of our self-portraits and we hope that this gives you some insight into how our creative process goes for these fun little things we do. We hope that some of our clients will start to be more open-minded and let us create some of these fun projects for them! We can create a crazy photo when we put our minds to it!