Yesterday’s photo shoot with Karin turned out to be a magical experience. My vision was to capture Karin in her “natural habitat” – and since she is an actress, we borrowed the stage of a local theater.
Karin is like a delicate flower, but I see so much more in her, hiding beneath the surface. I see a need in her, to demand both space to reign and attention for who she is, who she could be and who she wants to be. This really fascinates me. Karin is so sweet and a little shy – but through our collaborations I wish to give her the freedom to explore her other sides as well. Sides that are difficult for any girl to explore without feeling awkward and apologetic. I had brought some wigs with me and decided to try to draw out unexpected sides of her through different characters. It is the same method I used in my photo projects with Domenique. Nothing happened after she put on a blonde wig, but adding red lipstick set her free in exploring the psyche of a different character – or her own hidden personalities. I loved the transformation. I could see it both in her eyes and in her body language. Now she claimed the stage in a whole new way.
After that, we were able to create magic together:
I enjoyed every second of the shoot. She really is a muse. We connect through the camera. I was running back and forth to the mixing table that controlled the light, dragging heavy furniture up onto the stage and crawling around on my knees around Karin to find the best angles. I also found a big ceramic panther backstage that I used in the shoot. It was a perfect complement to illustrate her hidden wildness. After the shoot I felt exhausted but very satisfied. Andy was also there to capture me with his film camera.
However, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty for enjoying the experience with Karin so much, I felt like I was somehow cheating on Domenique. It has been a long time ago since I worked with Domenique but she was the only model I used in my projects for almost 15 years. I have to let go of the guilt and set myself free as a photographer. And there is a big difference between how I approach my two muses. Domenique was a model and knew exactly how to act in front of the camera, I just had to keep up with her poses with my camera. Karin on the other hand is an actress and dependent on my direction and visions to deliver whatever I’m asking for. I love how I am slowly turning into a director with her, it is a new way of thinking but feels absolutely natural to me. Perhaps I’ll be directing movies in the future, who knows.
Things are really starting to come together now, piece by piece. I am proud of myself for having achieved so many good things already this year. I am now only 2 digital pieces away from completing the body of work for my art show “No Place Like Home” – one of the two new collections of artworks. It feels wonderful to be this close to finishing the story about finding a home (in the world, in love, in oneself). I have been working on this collection since 2013. The two digital pieces I have yet to finish are “The Pink House” – which is the beginning of the story, and “The House of Lava” – which is the last chapter in the show.
I will also launch my Swedish writing project on Sunday this week – it’s another blog but more like a scrapbook, which will hopefully turn into a book one day.
“The Two Faces Of Camilla nr I-7”, photography by Mia Makila, 2017
I have had so much fun editing last week’s photo shoot with my friend Camilla. If you don’t count the photo shoot I did with my parents, this is the first real photo session since my projects with Domenique. I feel like I have found a voice in my photography – raw and naked, black and white and grainy. I am very inspired by Annie Leibovitz at the moment.
My idea for the photo project with Camilla was to show the beauty of a woman’s two faces – with and without make up. Why do we feel like we have to hide our natural beauty? I feel uncomfortable with showing my natural face in public. It’s kind of insane. I want to remove the shame of being natural and vulnerable without a warrior mask of make up and attitude. Camilla is a beautiful woman and her face is attractive and charming both with and without make up. As is mine I guess. I love how brave Camilla was for sharing her two faces with me like this. I still have issues with showing my face without make up – although I took a series of selfies without make up in 2014.
As I was shooting Camilla, I told her: “If I would describe you with one word it would be ‘heart’.” She almost got a tear in her eye and felt moved. That is when she just opened up her face to me and welcomed me in. It was a magical moment and you can see it in the pictures of her naked face without any make up. I also added hearts in some of the photos dedicated to Camilla’s big and generous heart.
As I was wrapping up the shoot, I felt closer to Camilla than I have done before, this is why I love to be a photographer. The camera is a love tool, bringing people closer together by sharing the beauty of real life and imagined worlds behind someone else’s eyes.
And the act of putting on make up – such an absurd ritual when you start to think about it.
What this photo project taught me is that beauty lives both in the raw and the delicate and they are precious and there is no need to feel shame or a want to hide it. And make up is a great way to express who we are – but it doesn’t define our beauty.
© 2017 MIA MAKILA
Today is my mom’s birthday and I surprised her with this portrait of her grandmother, Olga, that I made in PhotoShop, based on a cabinet card of her (probably from the first decade of the 20th century). My mom is currently making a genealogy project about Olga, who died when my mom was very young. I thought it would be nice if my mom was able to look Olga in the eyes, something that is absolutely impossible in most of the original photos of her. It was a big challenge to retouch and clean this portrait in order to highlight her kind and sweet features. I also had to remove that chair and create an arm from nothing. It was hard work but so much fun. I gave her a new stool to sit on and 11 pink stars in the background, counting all the siblings in her family, including herself. My mom was very moved and happy about her gift, it meant a lot to hear to have a more clear picture of her grandmother’s face.
My Swedish writing project is soon ready to launched, perhaps in a week or so. I feel really good about it. It is not only a writing project, but also an initiative, a space for like minded people to connect on a deeper level. This project has so much potential and can grow in many different directions. I will link to it once it’s up and running.
I have made a new version of my digital piece Anxiety (which is based on the face in last year’s work Bones of Rape). And I have been planning more digital pieces – I have so many new things I wish to express in my work.
I keep growing out of old and twisted self images and destructive patterns that has kept me in locked positions in various relationships and situations. It is such a liberating experience and it opens up new possibilities to express myself in a more free and direct way. I think this is the turning point where I am finally able to break my fear and replace it with necessary and positive anger so I can stand up for myself when I need to – instead of my old patten where I kept quiet and allowed myself to be abused and humiliated. I have certainly come a long way. I never thought I would be able to break away from all the fear and insecurities. It seemed like they had become part of me – part of my identity. Luckily, I was wrong. Writing in my secret diary ‘the book of wrath’ has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Learning how to be angry is amazing. It used to frighten me so, but it is truly the key to self-preservation and keeping the core safe and intact.
I got so inspired by listening to Per Kolsgård do his magic at Galleri Kameleont today!
There was also an unveiling of a piece by an Ethiopian artist (I didn’t catch his name). After my visit to Kameleont, I continued to another local gallery but I get so disappointed in the way Swedish galleries play it ‘safe’ with abstract art that flirts with the most famous genres of the 20th century. Where are all the new artistic expressions? The underground artists? The alternative styles? I wish to see more of the art styles I belong to – outsider art, lowbrow and even pop-surrealism. These genres hardly exist here, especially not here in my city. Maybe I can change that. But how?