M is for MOLLY!
I spent ages thinking about what I was going to do for this prompt because there was so much potential for the letter M when it comes to taking self portraits; Mirror, Mouth and Muff jumped to mind but whilst all wonderful I just kept thinking how could I capture a picture that was quintessentially me. Should it features socks, or maybe an outdoor nude? Both things that appear in my work a lot. I started playing around with different things and then I realised that I was missing the most obvious thing. The tattoo on my back. M is for Molly inked right into my skin.
It was the first piece of ink I ever got. I had it done in the summer of 2010 in Philadelphia on my third trip to visit Michael. I have wanted a tattoo for ages but had never done it because I couldn’t settle on one thing but when Michael suggested a letter M it just felt so right and so off I went and had it done.
It is actually a kind of nice tattoo story but at the time I felt a bit silly. It turns out the spot I had picked was actually right near my shoulder blade where the bone is fairly close to the surface of the skin. I had braced myself for it to be painful but it was way more than I expected and the man doing it had to stop after about 5 minutes because my body had not reacted well to the pain. The colour had drained from me, I felt light-headed and I was literally dripping in sweat. This place was VERY air conditioned. It was not hot and neither was I. You can say I was in a cold sweat.
Anyway, he was very nice about it. He talked me through it and explained if we waited a few minutes the adrenalin would settle a bit and we would be able to carry on just fine. When I said I felt silly he assured me not to, telling me that it is the people who don’t say anything and then puke in his trash can that he is less keen on.
That was 12 years ago and I still absolutely adore my letter M tattoo. My only regret is where I had it, not because of the pain but because I never ever get to see it, only in pictures or the mirror but then I also like the fact that most of the time I forget it is even there so when I do catch sight of it it always makes me smile.
So back to taking this M is for Molly picture.
I tried all sorts of angles and views. I set up my big camera on the tripod and played around with that too but nothing I got felt right. None of them captured me and the tattoo really well. I was growing exasperated with the process.
Then the other morning when I was getting dressed I tried again with my phone. Again, nothing seemed to work and I ended up sitting on the floor of my bedroom in my knickers thinking I might have to give up on the idea. I lifted up my phone to take a picture of my grumpy face to send to someone when I noticed my tattoo in the mirror behind me and so I snapped away. In the end I took about 4 shots just trying to get the angle right but when I looked back through them it was obvious this was the one. It captures my tattoo really clearly but also you get my face, wrinkles and all, and the camera!
It really is a simple shot. Just me in my knickers sitting on the bedroom floor but I think it captures M is for Molly absolutely perfectly.