My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Beauly Priory With Friends

This being my blog, it has a lot of pictures of me on it, and not really many pictures of anybody else unless I was at a gathering. I intend to change that this summer, recruiting friends from within the Goth subculture and friendly  to it, to be models for mini photo-shoots. I am not a professional photographer, this is only a hobby, and I do not profess to be much good.

The two models for this photo-shoot are my friend Ducky, and Catastrophe Plague (artist name, obviously) who is a good friend of Ducky's and whom I have only just recently met. These photographs are not highly styled fashion photographs, they are instead taken to capture images of my friends and fellow members of the Highland Goth and Alternative scene just being themselves. I guess it would be a bit pretentious to call this project social documentation, but I am proud of the local Goth and Alternative community, and wanted to capture some of it as a visual record of who we are and what we are.

Beauly Priory was chosen because Ducky is from Beauly, and knows the place well, and because it is a beautiful building that I had not thoroughly visited before. I had been there briefly a while ago, but there was plenty of restoration work being done at the time, and it was also not the best weather, so I took a few pictures with the camera on my smartphone but did not take any proper photographs. This time I was supposed to bring the nice Canon camera I use when I am taking "proper" photographs, but I couldn't find the charger the day before, or any batteries with full charge (it has been ages since I took it out) so the "point and click" camera had to do. 


Ducky standing in the front door. Photo by HouseCat

Beauly Priory is a wonderful Gothic building, which has long been out of use as an actual priory, is mostly in a state of ruin, and has since been used as a graveyard, with people interred actually within the building (hence the headstone behind Ducky) as well as around the building. The priory is undergoing a process of restoration, so a large portion was surrounded in scaffolding and temporary fencing. We left all of that area well alone, but the positions of the fences made it hard to walk around the priory without walking on grave-slabs. I find actually walking on them both disrespectful to those interred and likely to damage any inscriptions and carvings with repetetive passings.

Ducky ended up wearing my sunglasses. I had them in my raincoat pocket. Yes, Scottish weather is changeable enough that it is entirely possible to need sunglasses and a raincoat is quick succession. I'm often carrying sunglasses and a compact umbrella in my handbag at the same time, especially in "summer". We're prone to 'all four seasons in one day' weather. 


Ducky wearing my sunglasses. They were in my raincoat.

I took several photographs of both Ducky and Catastrophe Plague. They are not a couple, just good friends. I liked using the wall as a backdrop because there is just so much of it, and the textures of the stone, and the varying colours, look interesting. The patches of colour I presume indicate patches of construction as it was built in sections with stones from different places, or different batches of quarrying. The stones look recently repointed, probably part of the recent restoration work.


Both friends infront of the wall. Photo by the HouseCat.

Catastrophe's dress was a tad long, so if worn hanging from the straps, came down very low at the bust, so instead it was pulled up higher and the straps folded down over at the shoulders, which I think looked very witchy. An important thing about Goth fashion is that clothes do not have to be worn in the way intended; wear them however you feel like wearing them! 

Looking sorrowful in the archway. Photograph by HouseCat

This alcove is actually very low down, and Catastrophe was barely sitting in it, more leaning against the ledge. I really like how the composition turned out, and the archway provided a frame for the image. This is one of my favourites from the session. I know this could have still been done better, but considering this is my first time deliberately doing a set of photographs where people are the subject, I am very happy with this particular photograph, and reasonably chuffed with the whole set.

Portrait of Catastrophe Plague

I took some close-ups of Catastrophe, in a portrait style. I think the walls of the Priory are just beautiful, and so used them for the backdrop as much as possible. Catastrophe is lucky to have very nice cheek-bones, so I tried to pick angles that would highlight that. I am really not very experienced at taking portraits at all, so would quite like any advice my readers have on taking better pictures. 

Hair adjusting pose. Photograph by the HouseCat.

Catastrophe was doing some hair adjustment, and I thought it would make for an interesting composition, so Catastrophe ended up hair-tweaking about four times for this. I am frustrated that the raised arm came out a bit too bright compared to the rest of the skin tones, but other than that, am quite happy. The dress makes me think 'Game of Thrones' meets 'Lord of The Rings'. especially with all the vertical seams and the layering - another reason to capitalise on the splendid medieval building! 


Yellow roses signify happiness, if I remember rightly.

Catastrophe has a great fondness of roses, so especially requested this one with the yellow roses by the perimeter wall. I think the perimeter wall is a Victorian or later addition. The stones are far more finely dressed (cut more neatly) and there is fancy Gothic Revival carving on some points. I am not happy with the contrast on the roses, but I am not sure how to fix it in a satisfactory manner, as I think the lightest petals are just too washed out. I altered the contrast on the rest of the image as it needed more contrast, with the flowers masked out, but I do not know how to improve them. 

Photograph of me by Ducky

And one photograph of me! I figured there ought to be some record of my having been there. I think I was the most colourful of the three of us, with my violet and black brocade jacket and turquoise hair.

I took several more photos of both Ducky and Catastrophe, but these ones were the best o the bunch. I took 95 photographs in total, and about a dozen of them were reasonable - I think that is a good ratio of useable photographs to dud ones! I will be taking more photographs of friends willing to model, so I hope my readers like the idea of this project. 

12 comments:

  1. That sound like an amazing idea about capturing photographic records of the goth scene in your area. I love your outfit especially, the contrast of bubble gum blue hair and royal blue jacket and victorian style blouse.

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    1. My jacket is actually violet and black, but it does look pretty blue in the photograph. My hair used to be emerald green - this is just what that fades to over time. I currently have several bottles of hair-dye lined up in my bathroom, as my next project for my hair is going to be a bit more multicoloured than usual.

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  2. That's so cool! Thank for the pics and the inspiration! Keep going on! I actually would love to be part of it, but... I am living in France! Waiting for more posts like this! Hugs from the other side of the channel! Mirjam.

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    1. I am continuing with the Highland Goth project :) I photographed one person yesterday over in Aviemore, and then today I went North to Dingwall to photograph another - and I got some architecture pictures in too!

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  3. I love how engaging all of your blogs are. It is great to feel involved especially as you are now bringing more of the alternative community to take part in your photography. Keep up with the postings, I will certainly be spreading the word about this site to others.

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    1. I've been quiet for a week due to my laptop being away from repairs, but I am back now, and I was out taking more photographs today, so there should be a lot of new posts going up soon.

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  4. i also usually keep other people's pictures off my blog because privacy but i really like the change on yours, showing us some of your beautiful friends <3

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    1. I have asked all my friends for permission to be posted up on my blog before posting them. Not everyone wants to be publicly visible as Goths, hence why some people use 'stage' names, and why some people declined the project. I am hoping to show people a little slice of Alternative life in the Highlands :)

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  5. I enjoyed these photos very much. Your friends, though not a couple, made a lovely pair. You all chose a great setting as well.

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    1. Beauly priory is a fabulous building :) I need to photograph it at some point from an architectural perspective as well.

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  6. Another wonderful post! This is a fantastic idea, and these photos are absolutely beautiful.

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    1. I've posted up a set recently of my friend Samm posing in St. Clements cemetery in her home town of Dingwall, and there are more to come.

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