Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Walking Dead Family

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Finally, after all this time, the shoot I’ve been planning/hoping for, for over a year, came alive!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Walking Dead… posters. The show is alright, but the early key art for the series have been real works of art. Even before I got hooked on the show after finally revisiting the second season, I’ve been absolutely in love with the early seasons’ key art (because I’m weird and fall in love with things like television posters). The season two poster shown below is probably my favorite poster — if not, it’s easily in my top three. It’s just an excellent image.

And so, following my work on the Captain America kid shoot last spring, I put word out on Facebook for some friends who might be interested in doing a couples Walking Dead shoot. I had a few hits but couldn’t manage to get anything worked out.

Enter the Gliva’s! After going on a Stanley Paranormal Investigation with me a few months back, Andrea hit me up about doing some out of the ordinary family pictures with her husband and two daughters. She wondered if a Walking Dead style shoot would be something I could do or might  be interested in. Boy, was I!

Shown below are a few of the original works and a few of my hasty mockup sketches.No-Text-S2No-Text-S4

Sketch-1Sketch-3Taking inspiration from Frank Ockenfel and Matthew Welch’s work for AMC, I wanted to go with in many ways a mimicry of what had been done, sometimes in content to be direct allusions, but overall in style. The apocalyptic feel of the photos is very stark, with a hint of desaturation and greens, yellows and oranges, lots of lens flares. We’re imagining an post-apocalyptic land with a very wild west undercurrent, hence the sepia-greens and bright sun. The storm clouds double as both a dose of epic and the thematic. Clear skies never last for long on the show (literally, too. Continuity issues must drive the editors crazy).

One of the things I wanted to change though, was the addition of some zombies. Where the cast and episode galleries often had the Walkers featured, the posters did not. From our end though, what’s a good Zombie shoot without any zombies? So we modified a few of the shots to include the zombies, even if it wasn’t perfectly in keeping with the posters.

That said, like the Captain America shoot from last year, I did want to try to emulate the posters as specifically as possible without using any of another photographer’s work (namely, cutting out heads and pasting them on pre-existing posters). That’s just lazy and doesn’t respect the work I’m so engaged in.

So we went about recreating the images. The family found a few zombies, a good friend who is a makeup artist, and a location with open fields, an unfinished road, vast sky views, and a lonely decrepit house. I hopped behind the camera and got to work.

Where in the show, the set photographer is typically already on a dressed set, with actors in full makeup, wardrobe, and zombies rotting and ready to go, here, we had to build most of that on the fly, primarily the zombies. I knew from the past that dirtying up clothes, skin, adding bruises and grime (unintended Rick pun?) would be pretty easy in photoshop (dodging and burning with no limits), but I wanted to be sure to have a base to work from. The zombie makeup then was more of a starting off point for me, giving me something to work with and build upon as we went.

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Hungry extras are the worst.

Gliva-Zombies-HR-4-WMThe shoot itself was really quick. It’s part testament to how smoothly the actual shoot goes when you put in so much time pre-planning each image. But it’s also nice because you don’t have to worry as much about wrangling the kiddos. Where the traditional family photo hopes for a shot of everyone looking at the camera and smiling, here, nearly any expression will do, given the context of the images.

We even had an image where the youngest was crying, and it doesn’t detract from the moment at all.

Each image was shot on my Canon EOS 6D with the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II, typically around 1/60th of a second, f4 or f5, and ISO 100 as a rule. I shot with a single Canon Speedlite 430EXii camera left as a rim light/key light. We had a storm move in late that afternoon (unexpectedly) that had me worried until we got to the location. At that point, the cloudy sky gave a perfect even fill, and allowed the background to have exactly the kind of semi-stormy, epic texture we wanted. Adding a bit of flare in post in many ways only added to the feel of the originals.

By the end of the fourth shot, the rain began to spit a bit harder, and we packed it back to the cars.

Though this past year I’ve been leaning on my studio strobes out in the field, this was a wonderful reminder that sometimes, all you need is a good awareness of the natural light around you and a little kick from the side where you need it to give features some contrast and texture.

As I hopped behind the computer later that night, the pictures began coming alive. After that was a marathon edit, with each picture surpassing the ones before it (I didn’t even get to Game of Thrones until two that morning… which is saying something).

The only drawback? I’m not sure I’ll ever want to do a traditional shoot again 😉

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Karl Pfeiffer is a conceptual and portrait photographer based out of Northern Colorado. He’s also a paranormal investigator and author. He won the first season of Ghost Hunters Academy and appeared briefly on the Ghost Hunters International series afterward. He’s the author of two books: Hallowtide and Into a Sky Below, Forever. You can find more of his work at www.KarlPfeiffer.com and catch all of his snark on Twitter, @KarlPfeiffer.

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Looking Forward, Looking Back, and Deepest Thanks

2014 ended with a kind of headspinning, chaotic, happy-nightmarish sprint into 2015. I hit December in a funk. 2014 had been a good year. Not a great year, but it was one of those foundational kind of years that has to happen before stuff can take off. It’s a reminder that no empire is built overnight, and that instant virality is a product of hard, hard work (unless you’re that kid from Target, thanks for that, 2014). I got a tiny, cold, but full-of-character apartment last January. After living with my parents to pursue creative pursuits at the expense of money or adulthood, landing my own apartment was, last winter, my only real dream. Fuck finding a good girl, fuck getting back into an awesome, well-paying job or investing in new gear, I just wanted a place to call mine. It was a hasty move. I didn’t have the money for it, but some people were buying my photos, (no one was buying my books), and I’d gotten on at the perfect time with a couple high school buddies to run the back end of their media business. Embracing photography as fast and hard as I could, I also started off on a surreal self-portrait photo-a-day project, which lasted a few months before ideas and motivation and time began to die off.

And, you know, it was good. Even in June when I realized I’d somehow gotten bedbugs. Even as winter fell and my landlord didn’t turn on the radiator while outside, Colorado suffered in -6 degree weather.

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And things were going well. But as with stagnation, I hit a wall in October when a bunch of projects fell through. And then in November the lingering funk hit me on and off and I found myself in bed for what felt like days on end, trying to convince myself to get something done. Eventually I started writing a new book (because being in the middle of one novel wasn’t pressure and headache enough) and the writing flowed until December hit. It was supposed to be a quiet month, but then jury duty, illness, hard drive crashes, the holidays, and a few projects hit, and suddenly I was playing catchup between running to shoot after shoot. Which I love. I might be stressed and jittery and drinking coffee all day and substituting meals with cigarettes, but it’s the frantic swings from one thing to the next that keeps me feeling like I’m finally producing. It’s not me and an uphill fight against myself, it’s frantic demands to make deadlines and make cool shit for someone who’s not just me.

And the outlook for 2015 is the craziest year yet. Most of what prompted this was figuring out how to cram it into two or three tweets, but I was clicking around on Facebook and read a post by Amanda Fucking Palmer about how much she and Karl’s idol Neil Gaiman are such peas in a pod and I had this weird and sudden rush. It wasn’t nostalgia, but it was something similar. In that same forgotten way of lost friends from grade school, I was reminded of Karl From Three Years ago. Set to graduate college (which he hated at the time, but is far more lukewarm about the experience now), dreaming of finding virality with some breakout novel, traveling about and writing in cool places and trying new things and making it all awesome. Then none of that happened and I picked up photography and the writing continues to smoke from my giant burnout after publishing Into a Sky Below, in fall of 2013. And now, everything looks different. The memory though came from realizing how much it still looks the same, and how I’d been so damn stressed for the last year that I didn’t really notice it. I’ve been living in it and sprinting toward it for a month and it still hasn’t sunken in yet. But 2015 is shaping up to be the year. It’ll have pitfalls, probably big ones, but holy hell. There will be travel and there will be huge projects, and more and more work and fun and great art, and hopefully some books as well.

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Which segues me to the information I came here to share:

So, I’ve released a special edition hard cover of Hallowtide. It’s pretty niche and relatively pricey (print costs and two shippings have it run up a bit at $40). It takes a week or two to get to me, and another week for me to flip to you. But it’s beautiful and sleek and fat and features a bit of writing yet unseen and I’m more proud of it than anything else I’ve made in my life.

Link to that glorious bastard of a book here: http://www.karlpfeiffer.com/#!hallowtide/ccou

I’m happy to send you one, but orders will be on hold right now until mid-February.

That’s because I’m going to Germany for a month. My brother lives there and wanted to bring me out before he moved back to the states, and next thing I knew, plane tickets were bought, and now I’ll be leaving in a week! There will be traveling and beer and photos taken, but also a lot of projects that are being backlogged here at the turn of the year. While right now I’m writing a blog and trying not to think about missing my deadlines, I’m realizing that’s everything I wanted. Stressed, running around with sixteen projects, hopping internationally, making cool art…

I come back mid-February, where I’ll have two weeks to reset before flying to Florida for the third Ghost Hunter Cruise. We’re heading down to the Caribbean for a week, checking out some amazing haunted places and spending time with excellent people. It’ll be the third cruise featuring myself, GHI’s Barry Fitzgerald, and psychic medium Sarah Lemos, who is incredible and managed to bring about many, many tears last September, if that’s motivating enough for you to join, we would absolutely love to have you:

Info about the Ghost Cruise here: http://www.ghosthuntercruise.com/

I’ll have a couple weeks before I jump to house-sitting for my aunt and uncle in Greeley (if you know Colorado… it’s not our most exotic city). But then April has the annual Ghost Hunters event at my weekend home, the Stanley Hotel, this year from Amy Bruni’s events boutique, Strange Escapes. As usual, there will be mind-bending lectures and ghost hunting with celebrity types. I’ll be speaking again and, depending on how crazy I get, miiiiight be releasing a new book. I’ll also hopefully be working on a very awesome secret project with a very awesome friend that you guys will, if all goes well, be hearing about later in 2015.

Info about the Stanley Event here: http://www.strange-escapes.com/portfolio-item/stanley-hotel-april-10th-13th-2015/

Then I’ll hopefully be moving into a new apartment (if the gods have my favor), and I’ll have a few months of relative quiet, depending on how many weddings and portraits I get asked to do. In between that, I’ll be working on a feature-length documentary project with a very close friend, Connor, who works with me up at the Stanley Hotel. It’s going to be about the world of transplants. It’ll be a very intense project but one I’m excited to do. And, of course, I’ll be resuming my position as assistant director of the night program at the nerd camp I grew up with, which doubles as the best place in the world. If you have children in 5th through 10th grade who are gifted and may struggle with fitting in or finding people like themselves, you should 1000% check it out.

UNC Summer Enrichment Program: http://www.unco.edu/cebs/sep/

September brings with it the next ghost cruise. We’re gunning for Alaska, but may wind up in southern California. There’ll be further announcements in that direction if you follow the cruise’s Facebook page. 

October will be bringing with it an even more awesome but yet-mostly-unannounced Ghost Hunter Cruise event, where I’ll be joining my compatriots once again in a country known for its leprechauns during the time of year I love most. I’m thrilled beyond all reason to go along on that trip, and I’ll be posting more about it if you’re interested in joining, as it’s closer to being more officially announced.

And then I’ll be home and the snow will begin falling again and I’ll be right back where I am now, probably exhausted, probably stressed, and very likely with a whole buttload of new memories and surprising experiences that I had no idea would be coming along the pipeline at the time I’m writing this.

But. Now I have photos to edit and articles to write and bags to pack.

As always, it’s the support from you all year long that helps keep me moving, helps me keep trying to better myself and my work, and makes me feel like it’s not just me, in a locked room, beating my head against the wall — no matter how much it often feels that way. You guys save me from that becoming all-consuming, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

A happiest of New Years to all you out there, from this bearded fool to you all.

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AHS:FreakShow – Cinemagraphs

First time playing around with Cinemagraphs. Lots of great tutorials online. I couldn’t help myself, so I decided to adapt some of the AHS: Freakshow promo clips into some promo gifs. Check ’em out and spread them around!

While I’ve played many hands of making my own fan promos, these of course are all property of FX. But I hope they find them as cool as I do.AHS-Hands

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Ian and Kate Engagement Shoot

Ian-Kate-8BA barista at the coffeeshop I attend all too often asked me the other day if I enjoyed doing engagement photos. She asked it with the kind of wariness much of my generation shares about sentimentality and the hollowness of tradition. Even this couple, who I just did these engagement photos for, were reluctant, after perusing Pinterest for days, to wind up forced into dumb sappy engagement photos. At the coffeeshop, I shrugged and said, “yeah, I guess.” I’m not sure I want to exclude all others, but I like it okay.

But then I’ll sit down for a few hours and I’ll work on my coffee after it’s gone cold and I’ll turn out a batch from a session like this one and I fall in love with the work all over again. No matter how many headaches or stresses, capturing a real moment, whether that’s between two people or just one person and the camera lens, translating an emotion through the lighting and the small ways faces move, that’s what I love. There’s a kind of sublimity in that, and it appeals to the inner Romantic in me, who’s always searching for the transcendent in the details.

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American Horror Story: Freak Show

(Edit: I’ve added in the more recent couple posters to this post, in order to bring them all together for you guys into one epic AHS:Freak Show post. The one starting us off is a recent re-design on the original that I did in black and white. I was hoping to just change it up to include the new hashtag and real release date — had a fifty fifty chance, sorry — and it pains me that I didn’t see the potential originally, because this one is awesome. )

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AHS-Nails-2So I’ve spent a couple looong days working on this project with my buddy CJ from Something Random Media. Of course it’s just a fan project. American Horror Story has a really immersive and rabid fan-base. That — in addition to the ultra-stylized and image-heavy marketing promos FX releases for each season — pushes a lot of fan speculation on both promo videos, as well as their own posters. Because CJ and I are so passionate about photography and video, we thought we’d toss our hats in to up the fan standard (and, if we’re honest, maybe fool a couple people!) We’ll be posting some behind the scenes type info about how we did certain elements, and we’ll be posting more posters and videos in the coming weeks as we execute more ideas. So definitely stay tuned. But do let me know what you think in the comments section down below! And then a couple wallpapers for you too. Because I’m a photoshop addict. American Horror Story Freak Show Title Card

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Speedlites and Sunsets

AJ-For-Web-11Stole my filmmaker buddy AJ again while he was in town last week. He wanted some more headshots to choose from and I was happy to oblige. Of course, it came with the steep price of his being my guinea pig to test out what I’ve been wanting to try for a couple weeks now, which is shooting portraits in front of a sunset.

These last couple months, I’ve been very passionate about portrait photography (pretty straightforward) as well as shooting HDR landscapes (which combines different exposures to get high-contrast images that more or less allow you to control where you’d like the light to fall in the shot without blowing out highlights or losing silhouettes). The joys of buying a speedlite mean that I can more or less combine both in camera. By exposing for the sunset first, you then fill in with the flash until you’ve got a nice blend of both sky and subject. I think I managed it pretty well for a first try.

Obviously, we had a lot of fun playing around before that key twilight moment I was waiting for. The sun didn’t disappoint. All these following shots use the speedlite (some with a touch of reflector) to help lessen the harsher shadows from the sun, balance out the background, and later, the sky.

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If you dig the photos, they’re just a taste of what’ll be coming as 2014 swings into action and I get more photo work. If you want to get ahead of the curve, I just built a Facebook fan page for my photography specifically, and you’re welcome to browse, interact, and like it — if you like. It’s just right here.

And then after we finished shooting AJ, I couldn’t say no to juggling my flash along with my camera to shoot AJ and his boyfriend, Ben.

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Cyber Monday Pfeiffer Store

Welcome to KarlPfeiffer.com’s Cyber Monday hotspot! If you remember from last year, I tend to run Cyber Monday deals for a couple of weeks to give you plenty of time to pick them up for yourself. This year’s special is making autographed copies dirt cheap as well as introducing some new products that won’t be widely available until later in 2014. (Digital copies of my work are always cheap. Just boogie over to Amazon.com and search for me. They’re only a buck right now).

So grab yourself some Egg Nog, kick back, scroll the post here, click the pictures of the items you’d like, and they’ll take you to a nice PayPal page to place your order.

Disclaimers:

1. I want to note first that you pay for shipping on each item individually. It’s five dollars each (except the posters, those are three). The two-book special is considered a single item, and though I may have to ship both individually, you only pay for it as one item. So browse smart. 

2. Also, if you’d like your book made out to someone specifically, please leave that information where prompted, in a special message to me with that information. Otherwise you’ll just get a note and my vandalism. 

3. Be sure to leave your shipping information! I don’t want to have to track you down all over the interwebz.

4. I can’t guarantee any orders arrivals before Christmas, but I can guarantee that I’ll try my damndest. Shipping is often fast, and I’ll be sure to rush the shipments on the back end. But we are only three weeks out, so be sure to place your order as quickly as you can on your end too.

Autographed Books:

An autographed copy of my first novel, Hallowtide: a 500-page psychological thriller with heavy mystical overtones, following one man’s descent into Hell. I’ve knocked off 25%, so this guy is going for 15$ plus shipping. 
Hallowtide-3D-Book-2An autographed copy of my second book, Into A Sky Below, Forever. Blending short work of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, this book explores the boundaries between what’s real and what’s artifice, as well as studying cycles and the way life comes back around as we’re born, grow up, fall in love, fall out of love, have babies, die, and are born again. Same as Hallowtide, this guy is also at 15$ plus shipping.

Into-a-Sky-Below-3D-2The third and final book package is the two book special. You get a copy of both Hallowtide as well as Into a Sky Below, Forever, with even more money knocked off for buying them both. Where normally they run $40.00 before shipping, you can buy both these babies for $25.00 plus shipping.

2-Book-Deal11×17 Posters

These are 11×17 poster prints that I used to promote Hallowtide and Into a Sky Below. The first is the iconic Hell-O’Lantern cover of the first novel. The second is the Pig-Man print of the entity witnessed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, as explored in Into a Sky Below. 

Each poster is five dollars, and come signed. If you do not want vandalism, leave a message with the paypal payment.

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Pig-Man-ColorAnd if you’d like both posters, they’re discounted to only be $8.00 with additional shipping.

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Photography Prints

And finally, last but not least is our bigger ticket item. I’m starting to segue into selling photo prints, and I wanted to get something up early before Christmas for you guys. I’m selling two different prints of the Chapel on the Rock in Allenspark, Colorado, which survived a fire in 2011 and a mudslide in September of 2013. It now sits above a desolated site. The imagery still moves me, religious or otherwise, and these are two of my most favorite photos I’ve ever taken.

I’m selling two different prints of the Blasted Church series, one in black and white and the other in color, taken the day before. Each will be 15×10 and will cost $40.00 plus $5.00 in shipping. Because of print speeds, there will be about a week delay in shipping, so if you’re interested in receiving either of these prints for Christmas, be sure to place the order as soon as possible, and I’ll do everything I can for you on this end.

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As always, I’m not a big business and I don’t sell to so many people that I can’t speak to you one on one. So if you have any questions or concerns about the products or the shipping, do please drop me a line through Facebook, my website, or email — or even in the comments down below if it’s general enough.

Thank you for browsing, I do hope you can support a starving artist by picking something up, but I appreciate your time regardless! Happy Holidays to you and yours,

-K.

www.KarlPfeiffer.com

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Photoblog: These are the Ghoulies

Ghoulies-TeaseSpent my Friday night hanging out with these crazy fools, the Ghoulies. They’re a punk band out of Denver, Colorado, and they have a damn good time on stage. (You might recognize Connor if you’ve done a ghost hunt at the Stanley Hotel with the two of us).

The band booked me for some shots before performing at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, Colorado. Buffalo Rose was a bad ass place. Grungy and dingy but with big booming speakers, a fantastic staff, and a nice front end, it was a sick place to bang out something loud.

They banged out the tunes. I banged out the shots. These are my favorites. After shooting some 1500 photos over the course of the night, both band shots and live shots, I’ve been deleting and editing until my fingers hurt. But these are the fruits and I couldn’t be happier.

It was another experiment in flash photography at twilight, and I’m still in love with it. The lack of softbox or umbrella gives a lot of the photos a harsh look, but that works for these guys. And I’m still wigging about shooting this dark with 100 ISO. You can’t beat the sharpness.

Anyway, have a look, give their stuff a listen. This song is perhaps my favorite. They closed with it, and it was stuck in my head for the rest of the night. It’s called Backdoor Man.

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Ghoulies-For-Web-7And this is the set from their live show. I creeped about during sound check and the show to get the best angles I could. I took about a thousand photos during the live element (trying to keep my shutter fast enough to avoid motion blur, catch the action without silly expressions, and nail the focus in an already-very dim but often backlit room was hard as hell, and it was easy to spray and pray when I caught an angle I liked). I got maybe 25 that I liked, and of them, only the following are the favorites.

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Replaceable Things

Remember that blog that was going around a couple months ago? Something about Things Saved From a Fire? In the posts, people would arrange the things that were most important to them (i.e., what they would save from a fire).

I remember my brother remarking that he was disappointed to see how many replaceable items people had brought together.

I remember thinking that it was because the post had become not about what was irreplaceable, but instead became about what was essential to a person. The fire scenario became less about salvaging what was irreplaceable, and became more about what you would carry into your future after literally losing everything else in your life. And what I loved about that evolution was the buildup of what I love about materialism.

What you love about materialism? you say.

Indeed. I have a wallpaper in my screensaver slideshow that has a sketch of Tyler Durden that reminds you that you are not your wallpaper. The same way that he rallied in the book and movie, Fight Club, that we are not our possessions. We do not define ourselves by Ikea catalogues, the way Tyler defined himself at the beginning of the story.

And yet, I have four hundred photographs in this slideshow, many that are mine, most that aren’t, and I find that I do define myself by those photos. Those are my passions and my interests and the things that I find beauty within. And they are an illustration of me.

Yes, I went through college studying Buddhism, Mysticism, and Eastern Religions. I’m as familiar as most people toward the assertions that there’s a different between the self and the soul/core/center/being, which is selfless and a part of the whole.

But this knowledge (and inspiration) is at odds to my searing independent streak. Since a child I’ve grown up by defining myself in terms of my passions.

In the photograph below, I lay out my laptop computer and external hard-drive, which contain all my photographs from my time growing up, of family and friends, some of whom seem (or are) long gone. They contain my writing projects, old and new, all the articles I’ve ever written, as well as essays written both for school and publication. They also contain my photography, which is my recent passion and the career I’m trying to build. Though the computer itself is replaceable (and has been, many times now), these are the irreplaceable things. The photos, the artwork, the writing.

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I’ve included my Canon T3i with the 50mm 1.8 and the Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6. Not the most amazing of equipment, but there’s a large range to operate within, even with mid-grade equipment, in learning how to manipulate the lighting and the subjects and how to take a perfect photo. These are things that are replaceable and, given the nature of the future investments I hope (and will need) to make, these are still easily replaceable. But they’re symbols of starting somewhere. They’re the symbols of the steady friends I’ll hold fast to in the next year, as I climb.

The books are even easier replaced. No more than forty dollars between the three of them. One is House of Leaves. The other is The Road. And the third is my first novel, Hallowtide. The book itself is replaceable. It’s not a first proof — not even from the first printed set. It’s just a slightly beaten version that I toss in my bag to show people. But these three books are read and worn and define me. And, though there are many more that I’ve yet to read, and many still that I feel define me, these are the friends I’ve made, that, if I had nothing else, I would turn to.

A tattered deck of Tarot cards sits atop them. Because it felt right.

And a watch. A watch I bought on a whim a month ago that I like very much. No special sentiment. Easily replaced. But there was something significant about snagging it. Perhaps because I grab for it before leaving every time I go out. Maybe there’s something symbolic there about reaching for a reminder of time passing every time I leave. Or maybe I just like wearing watches.

Can’t tell you why I decided to write this tonight, arrange a few special items and take a photo. Maybe it’s because I’m working to move into a new apartment this January, one with a high risk of fire damage. Maybe change and loss is on my mind. Maybe I’m still struggling to get over materialism and live on little. Where my essence should be no more than bread and water and other people’s happiness.

Maybe I’m a bit satisfied that my pile isn’t bigger. Could, in fact, be smaller. Maybe that makes me feel older and wiser, especially with as poorly as I’ve been or expect to be living soon. It’s good to operate with less.

But right now, I’m still ruled by my passions and dreams. Maybe I both like and am terrified that I can define myself with three books, a laptop, and a camera. Escapism and creation. Passing time. Maybe I just wanted to reflect on what was important to me.

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Me: Yeah, that’s the bane of photography, the best light has to be hitting you right in the eyes.

Meggin: I’m gonna go blind.

Me: You won’t have any retinas when we’re done shooting, but your boyfriend will have some pretty pictures. So. You know. Priorities.
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