Edmonton Pride 2013 - A beautiful celebration of love and equality.

It is a hard to believe that in 2013, people all over the world are still fighting to for something as natural and beautiful as being in love. Two consenting adults, of any gender, that experience the joys, fear and everything in between that comes with wanting to spend the rest of their lives together should never feel threatened or judged by anyone for simply responding to reasonable human emotions.

With those struggles still around today, it makes knowing that there are more and more accepting minds around each day worth celebrating. This short post is meant to share the spirit and joy that was felt by many during Edmonton's annual Pride Festival, where thousands of people gathered to support love and equality.

Yes, the amazing crowed of people that attended the festival was heart warming. Families with kids of all ages, business representatives, pet owners and their furry ones, and large groups of friends, etc... All of which came to celebrate the fact that love is not determined by gender, but by the connection created by your heart and soul.


Edmonton Alberta Bound Tattoo and Art Show 2013

(The below poster image is copyright of Alberta Bound and NOT F.ALT Photo)

With the weekend just around the corner I must admit I feel like a snail swimming in molasses by posting this now rather than last Sunday (or even Monday). But as the old saying goes, "better late than never". So today's "fashionably" late post is to share the extremely awesome weekend I had at this years Edmonton Alberta Bound Tattoo & Art's Festival.
My time spent at the festival where truly the ideal way to experience a tattoo show;
-I got multiple tattoo pieces done.
-I partook in a competition.
-I met some idols.
-I made new friends (and reconnected with old ones)
-I became the proud owner of a variety of new art works.

My 2013 new years resolution had nothing to do with losing weight, cutting out junk food, or changing my at home routine. When the year began, I told myself "This is the year I finally decorate my skin, the year I start my journey as a tattoo collector, and the year I stop gawking at the masterpieces of others with envy". For whatever reason, having bare skin makes me feel incomplete, like I hung a blank canvas up and I'm forced to stare at it without allowing myself to put something on the surface. We're always told to do what makes us happy and what feels right, yet I never allowed myself to feel like getting my own tattoo's done counted as "doing what feel's right", rather, I always thought that was just a treat that does not come before other self-care actions. So even though I've dreamed of being covered in works of art for as long as I can remember, that dream was constantly being put aside over and over again since turning 18. As for keeping up that idea that I don't deserve such things, well....screw that. So far I've kept up with my goal and now have 6 tattoos (of many) total, after having 2 incredible new pieces created on my flesh during Alberta Bound. I'm not sure why I felt that sharing my resolution in such detail was necessary, but without further ranting I am happy to present my two new pieces:

This gory gruesome gorgeous masterpiece was done by the amazing Sinister Sam Storey, of Capital Tattoo. Her incredible talent for realism and swift skill set led her to complete this from start to finish in 6 hours. It is located on the front of my left thigh, and I won't deny that the time spent getting it was absolute hell. Here I am 6 days after its creation and my leg still hates me. Was it worth it? Abso-fricken-lutely. My love for zombies and horror is no secret or non-discussed subject in my life, and having a living dead tattoo as detailed as this is truly joyous. I mean, look at those bloody teeth and the pieces of her last victim! -shiver-....I love it. Sam entered this piece into the Tattoo of the Day competition, as well as the Realism competition. The judges from both panels where pretty impressed, but other tattoos happen to take the title home those times. Regardless, Sam is a winner with this piece.
In the long run, I hope to have multiple zombie/monster portraits covering my leg, and this is truly an amazing start to that goal.

The second tattoo that was added to my fleshy canvas is something that many might look at as a very silly decision. Even those who roll their eyes when someone says "you'll regret that tattoo" might ponder the idea of saying those words in response to my other new piece. Now I didn't get something offensive, crude, or unprofessional, but I DID get something meaningful yet personally humorous. Behold, my Peppermint Butler flash piece.

Unless you really go out of your way to avoid hearing about popular media, it is likely you've
heard about Adventure Time. The questionably silly cartoon that uses random and unpredictable humor to tell a story about a boy and his dog and their endless adventures in the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo. Along with the enjoyable shenanigans and endless list of jokes that the show entertains you with, its messages of "being a decent and respectable friend" is told through ways that make you think twice when you didn't even know you where going to think about it at all. If I don't stop myself now, I'll go into a long discussion of every reason why I love Adventure Time, but instead I will just say its a meaningful show and has introduced me to a wonderful community of story lovers: SO I got my favorite character tattooed on my foot. End of that. His royal cuteness was tattooed onto me by Ashley Horncastle of Lotus Land Tattoo. The flash piece itself features a quote from this scene.

(Above image: Sinister Sam Storey working hard on my zombie piece while I try to keep my cool)

I met an awesome group of people at the convention, some I've heard of, idolize, and others I've discovered for the first time (and how talented they are!). This awesome group consists of: Tyson Macadoo, Tony Skeplic, Steve Skeplic, Madeline Horn, Carisa Hendrix, Chris Labrenz, and Julie Bauschardt. All in all it was an awesome weekend and I very much look forward to next years event!


Life is a Circus - Come one Come All

A circus, carnival, burlesque show, or a cabaret; While they each have their own unique history, and method of entertaining their audience, they share a lot of common emotional responses to what is also often a similar fan base. Both today and in their history's, these categories of character packed events inspire people of all ages to feel joy and fascination as they are mesmerized by various talents. With every show comes a group of entertainers, bonded by their desires to tell a tale through a journey of dancing, fire, illusions, laughter, drama, lighting, and much more. With every show you meet what is essentially a family, one that changes over time and destination.

 Because of the many common characteristics among these show categories, there are certain things that often come to mind when one thinks of a circus, carnival, etc... Warm color combinations, flashy lights, marquee signs, frilly costumes, stripe patterns, and much more. They have become a style beyond something you would only see in the shows themselves; They are used to visualize story's in books, time periods or settings movies, characters and themes in photos, and much. They are the originators of various styles with linking parts.

I personally fall under the category of a "common" fan of the shared beauty in each show style. I've been to very few circus acts (mainly because I cannot watch performance animals without getting emotional) and have only been able to appreciate them recently through visual medias or by reading books (a quick note, if you've never read "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern, I highly recommend you do. You won't be disappointing.). I have been to a variety of burlesque performances, and many have included the traditional art of tease as well as many acts with modern themes. I've grown very fond of the shared characteristics of these shows, and have featured them in many photo shoots through-out my days as a photographer. In fact, the idea of a "freak show", what is essentially the alternative scene of the circus world,  is my main theme of F.ALT Photographics (Freak Alternative Photographics). I've used it in my marketing, brand design, and costume style for events. I have also pondered the idea of starting my own group of "freaks" for a Freak Show themed event (its been in the planning stage for so long though, no promises). All of this is driven from the history of these performance categories, and has played a very important role in my life as an alternative artist. As for the other areas of my interest, including decor, design and fashion, the love for common themes of a circus or cabaret is very obvious in those areas of my life as well. I often dress up as a ring leader, whom I've given the name "Keetz, when representing F.ALT in a Freak Show or Carnival event.

            (Poster designed by DJ Pandemonium for Sin City's Carnival of Kink 2012 - Featuring a F.ALT Photo)

There are many categories that I work with often, but to me it appears to be obvious that this particular group is my absolute favorite. It is a theme that I can always twist to fit my own personality in more ways than just building a photo concept around, and the signature details I chose to include or exclude always make it something that screams F.ALT.


Surgeries, surprizes, and swimming lessons.

                                             (Anniversary Time! A Family portrait drawn by my talented sister)

I'm sure I don't need to tell you or anyone how easy it is to let time trick us or take us by surprise; With all of the events and distractions life throws at us each day, not letting time overwhelm you is a golden talent to have. It is also a talent I cannot claim to know anything about, and here I am with the first blog post of the month after letting weeks fly by without a word. A chaotic mix of long planned and sudden events successfully distracted me from writing (or planning) new posts, so with that being said I must admit that this might come off as more of a "filler" entry. That is not to say it won't be interesting, some of you might be curious about the events that have happened between my last blog post and now (or, you know, maybe not).

If you follow me on facebook, and happen to have my posts show up in your news feed, you might recall me saying that I would be less available to attend to F.ALT due to being in "full-time care taker mode". Just when I finally balanced being a stay at home mom with being a whatever artist lady (self employed, dreamer, idea maker, however you wish to put it), the balance was thrown off by a family event. Nothing bad, nor unexpected, and certainly nothing that I was afraid of.
My husband (married for one year as of April 20th, another event that happened during my disappearance) has experienced chronic pain from severe scoliosis since he was a child, and 10 years after having corrective surgery to help with his spine, he had to undergo the procedure once again. This involved the doctors removing two metal rods that where fused to his spine, along with 10 metal screws, and replacing them with something much lighter. He had his surgery on the 25th of April, and is still healing from it; The hardest and most intense part of both his healing and my required full-time care has passed, but is not fully complete. I am happy to say that the surgery did go very well, and there have been no complications with his healing.

                                      (These X-rays show the state of my husband's spine before his recent operation)

Moving on to the second biggest event, and certainly less insane: My husband and I just celebrated our birthday. On May 7th I turned 23 and the Mr turned 25, being that we both have the same birthday I can always look forward to that day being very meaningful to us rather than looking forward to it being the day that I'm a year older. Truth be told, I find little joy in celebrating MY birthday anymore, but being able to celebrate the fact that we share something as special as coming into this world on the same day of the year gives me something big to look forward to. Fun fact: Our younger sister's also share the same birthday, which happens to be today! (Happy Birthday Hannah and Carly).

As I said, I find little joy in celebrating my own birthday; However, I can honestly say the thoughtfulness from my loved ones that I received this year really took me by surprise. I apologize if I come off as braggy, but I HAVE to share some of the gifts I received this year.

I have a slight obsession with home decor in a variety of different styles, which I think comes with my long time love of thrifting and desire to have a crazy photo prop collection;
But whatever the reason is for me to have a love for the most random collection of decor categories it made the presents from my Father and Step-mother so incredible.

From them I received a statue of a ram skull with glorious silver horns that have unique dark details and crazy crystals on the top. I put this beast on my fireplace where it gets stared at every time I walk into my living room. It is PERFECT.

From them, I was also gifted a stash box that is the size of a a small computer screen, and decorated with an old fashion world map. Such a pretty thing cannot be hidden on my book shelf, so it also sits on my fire place with my skull statue where it can be seen as soon as you enter the room. Is that all? No, no its not. They also got me an amazing dress form that is decorated with my favorite style of damask fabric. I've needed a simple dress form for so long now, and the ones that I've thought of purchasing in the past have been so boring and lacked any character. Not that those things are typically important for someone looking to own a dress form, but in my situation I really didn't feel like investing in one unless it stood out (which my new one does and then some). And finally, a new set of prop keys!
Yes, I feel like what I've listed so far is enough to consider myself spoiled for my birthday, and yet I still have more to share. I am truly lucky and thankful to have people in my life with such kind, loving, hearts.

My mother treated me to gourmet chocolate and other fun treats (including a book on the history of tattooed women, and a fun pin-up dress up book). She always finds such neat edibles, as she is a buyer for a small chocolate shop in Northern Canada. My husband surprised me with issues 7 to 17 of The Walking Dead graphic novels. My in-laws went all out with The Walking Dead novels "Welcome to Woodbury" and "Rise of the Governor", Game of Thrones BluRays, and a new zombie figure. My sister's incredible thoughtfulness was clear with her present to me: An octopus locket with images of my daughter and husband, two Adventure Time t-shirts, and a hand-drawn Daryl Dixon that now sits on my desk. I feel so spoiled! But it was an amazing birthday, and even though life has been insane for the last few weeks, I have not let the cluster of craziness overwhelm me or let me forget how lucky I am to have such an amazing family.

Speaking of family, that brings me to the third major and most recent event: MOTHERS DAY. The mothers in my life are like something out of a neat story. I've got my Mama (a huge role model in my life), my Step-mother, my mother-in-law, and my Grandma Shirley, to be very thankful for and to celebrate. I love them all, dearly. This was also my first mothers day as a Mother, and while I enjoy every day with my daughter (who is now 8 months old), I especially enjoyed my first as-a-mama mothers day. I partook in her third swimming lesson, which she is starting to really enjoy (my little mermaid in training) then we spent time with the grandparents outside during an amazing summer day (finally, SUMMER!). It was great, and a fantastic way to enjoy time away from being in the house in caretaker mode.

This summer has been off to an interesting start, but I think its been good. My ability to manage and keep track of time might be out of whack, but I have a positive feeling about the upcoming sunny days and events that they hold.


F.ALT Models - The Pink Pirate

There are many models in the alternative scene who are there to simply express their creative core in the most self-involved way possible. The images that come from a lot of these photo shoots with gorgeous people become go to pictures in the mind of someone who is thinking of well featured alternative portraits. Because of this, some alternative models are considered "iconic" amongst the ever growing masses of pretty tattooed, pierced, or modified individuals; And rightfully so, they have managed to master the art of using their body as an expressive medium that draws the viewer in with each photo set. As I am often an individual who thinks of alternative portraits and photos, many faces pop up into my mind, but one face that appears often is that of Sarah Mundle (aka: The Pink Pirate).

Sarah is an internationally published model who lives in Gold Coast, Australia. While I wish I could say I traveled to Australia and worked with her, I'm only lucky enough to have one of those facts to be true. Sarah and I worked together as a result of the Vancouver 2012 West Coast Tattoo and Culture show, where we both happened to attend and participate in.

Sarah is heavily tattooed and has been featured in many different body mod culture prints (books, magazines, posters, etc..). She began to model 5 years ago as way of self expression, working hard to be more than a pretty canvas of unique ink. With that goal, she has been and continues to be highly successful. Her modeling name as The Pink Pirate fits well with Sarah's portrayed character; it helps tie her colorful and bubbly, yet sexy and edgy, attitude together in a nice visual bundle. Working with her was something I never thought could happen, as I often enjoyed viewing her work but had always thought that our paths would never cross due to the distance between our home towns. When it was discovered that we would be working in Vancouver at the same time, it was a true dream come true. It turned out that we have mutual opinions in regards to our work, and teaming up to create something all our own became important for both of us.

After conversing online for many months, I met Sarah for the first time in person on the morning of our photo shoot. While that was our first meeting face to face, it was as if we had known each other for years, as the feeling of meeting a stranger was no where to be found. She is a beautiful individual both inside and out, and working with her doesn't actually feel like work at all.

We shot three sets in total, two of which featured dresses from my favorite latex designer: Deadly Couture. Another awesome outcome that merged from Sarah's visit to Vancouver and from her participation with the tattoo convention is that she has been asked to re-visit the gorgeous city and partake in future tattoo shows. While I may not be able to work with her again this year, I feel confident in knowing that her continued efforts with The West Coast Tattoo and Culture show will likely lead to us shooting again some day. Until that day, I leave you all with the results from our fantastic day of creative expression, as well as a short interview with The Pink Pirate herself.

 What does the term "alternative" mean to you and what is it about the scene that you love?

"Alternative to me means unique and a way to express yourself. It is a different look on life, in the scene I love the fashion and art."

Who are some of your biggest inspirations and why?
"Some of my biggest inspirations being Sabrina Kelly, Kelly Eden , Mosh and Makani terror"

What more can you say about modeling being your creative outlet?

"Modeling makes me feel good and when I can put together the images I create in my head with makeup style, body movement, and manipulation it is the best feeling. If people out there like the results also then I'm overwhelmed :)"

You can find The Pink Pirate (and follow her) online on the following social media platforms:
-Model Mayhem


Steampunk - More than copper, cogs and clockwork.

If for some silly reason you fancy getting a headache while increasing your knowledge of alternative sub-culture, then be sure to start with leaning about Steampunk. What is Steampunk? Its main definition calls Steampunk a sub-genre of science fiction, alt history and speculative fiction. While that definition makes sense, in my own perspective as an alt artist and culture enthusiast it appears that Steampunk has grown into a lifestyle where the modern characteristics are based on historic roots. It is a style based on Victorian sci-fi, and because of the era it originates from, people (myself included) will often wrongfully consider a wide variety of old century attire and decor to be "Steampunk". Also, because of the popular use of cogs, trains, and steam-powered machinery in proper  Steampunk imagery, it is also common for people to mistake style originating from the Industrial Revolution as Steampunk. While these mistakes are pretty easy to make and not terrible to do so, it does lead to Steampunk being the most misunderstood sub-culture in today's alternative industry. I still confuse myself with it every now and then. (Above Image by Andre M. Huenseler)

                           (Above Images by Alexander Schlesier [left] and Gregd Photography [right] )

To make is all the more complicated; Steampunk is also known as a genre of music and is also commonly mistaken for other types. One could easily confuse Steampunk music for darkwave, industrial, classical, Gothic, Victorian, or even hip-hop (depending on which self-proclaimed Steampunk musician you listen to). Some say Steampunk music is a combination of those genres, while others say it is defined by the story told in the lyrics. Personally, I view the music genre as something that constantly changes or adds on to itself in order to match what those within the sub-cult lifestyle of Steampunk enjoy. What was considered to be Steampunk music 5, 10, 50 years ago is all that and much more in today's scene. Even so, it is still different from its semi-relative genres then and now.

Confused yet? Well I am sorry to say this, but what I've said about Steampunk so far is only a brief version of what others would claim (or include) it to be. It is also said that Steampunk is very much a hybrid genre of style and fiction; It often includes elements of other genres such as horror, fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, cyber punk, cyber goth, medieval goth, gothic industrial and Western style. Having a large variety of genres included in the idea of what makes Steampunk certainly does not make it any easier to understand, but it does make the process of trying to "get it" more interesting. Yes, it is complicated and will likely give you a headache, but the more you keep at it the more likely Steampunk will become something you enjoy putting the time into learning about.

In my past attempts to create Steampunk styled images during photoshoots, I would say that my success in doing so was minimal. I considered the more popular characteristics that you would see and tried to build a concept around them; Cogs, gears, rust, machinery, etc...

I have also attempted to create props and find props to fit the Steampunk style (which has lead to a small collection of clocks, keep an eye out for a future blog post about that), and in doing so I came up with a one of a kind table lamp that now sits in my office. It may not be the true definition of Steampunk style, but I would like to think that it shows a few small characteristics of the genre.  If you're wondering why I'm even bothering to share the lamp if it does not meet the Steampunk definition; I am simply doing so to document my progress of understanding Steampunk entirely. What I thought was Steampunk at the time of creating this lamp might not be correct, but it marks the paths I've started on.

The lamp is made from a self adhesive shade that I decorated with a recycled pillow case, recycled jewelry, and two kinds of ribbon. The base of the lamp is a thrift find (A special thanks to my Mother for finding it), that I painted using yellow and brown tones.

I have certainly enjoyed learning more about Steampunk as time went by, and I have no plans on putting a halt to increasing my knowledge about it. But for now, the F.ALT Photos that I've included in this blog post come from the earlier stages of my attempts to understand what this detailed intense style is all about. I look forward to future Steampunk photo shoots, and hopefully the results of those will be something that is more true to (one of) Steampunk's definitions.