I bid you welcome witches, wizards and magical photography folk!
Let me introduce myself.
My name is Nicole and people call me the Pixel Witch.
(Insert dramatic music)
The name came about because clients regularly said ‘You are a wizard’ after receiving their images from me and I always explained…’I prefer witch’ and so the Pixel Witch was born.
But who am I…really…?
It is 1975, a young woman enters a haberdashery shop with her little three year old daughter in tow to look for fabrics to make her girl a lovely Sunday dress. She looks at her child and says
“Why don’t YOU have a look and tell me which fabric you like?”
The little girl looks at her mum with huge eyes “Really mum? Can I?”
Her mother nods and lets go of her daughters hand who runs straight for the largest bolt of lush black velvet and exclaims “This one!”
What follows is a helpless young woman trying to explain to her three year old that black velvet might not be quite adequate for a three year old girl and would dark blue cotton not be an option?
Obviously you guessed by now, that little girl was me and what happened then was a huge strop and no black velvet dress.
Unfortunately this wouldn’t be the last time my love for the dark and mysterious would get me into trouble. When I was a teenager I became the ‘weird’ one, the one who always wore black, who always wore too much make up, who was always the scandal at family dinners and the one people made up ridiculous stories about.
I remember someone asking me what I wanted to do with my life and my answer was
“I want to make monsters”.
I took my cue from the fantastic special effects make-up artist Rick Baker there!
Meet the Pixel Witch!
So basically you were a goth Nicole?
Yes, I suppose you could say that, but I grew up in a relatively small town in catholic Germany. Not exactly the only goth in the village, but near enough.
I got shouted at on the streets, made fun of at school, constantly questioned about my lifestyle choices, urged to go to confession (I kid you not!) , even quizzed by our local priest who got worried I had joined a cult of some sort after seeing me being interviewed on TV about the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (A cult MOVIE dude…not a cult!)
On top of this I knew my career would be in the artistic sector from the age of about 10, which I was strongly discouraged to pursue by lots and lots of people.
‘Learn a proper job!’ ‘You’ll starve if you carry on like this!’
The only people firmly on my side were my wonderful mum and my best friend (he's under that skull make-up in the make-up training pictures), but at least I was that lucky!
I can laugh about it all now, but at the time it wasn’t all that much fun!
I even tried to be what was considered to be more conventional at one point. After I had my son in 1999, the pressure I was under to be ‘a bit more sensible’ , ‘more grown up’ and ‘forget about this artsy stuff’ was huge.
What followed was a period of deep depression, suicidal thoughts and a broken marriage.
Then something happened...
Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, I got offered a job in the make-up department of a big fantasy musical production. I met the most amazing people and creative minds there and that helped me to remember who I really was and what life I wanted to live.
There was no turning back.
In the next four years I worked on various productions, but my personal life was anything but wonderful. My lifestyle was just too weird and unpredictable for most people and it caused so much hurt and heartbreak that I knew it had to stop.
In 2004 I drew a line under most of my life and moved to the UK.
It would be lovely to say it was all plain sailing from there on, but no such luck.
When I decided to embrace a career as a photographer in 2006, under the name The Hourglass offering pin-up make-over shoots, I had to overcome a huge dose of imposter syndrome!
For years and years I was under the impression that I wasn't good enough as a photographer, that I didn't have enough technical knowledge to ever be considered 'proper'.
That because I didn't join in the swooning over the latest equipment, the biggest lens and the newest camera I was somehow not allowed into the elite club of....well I don't even know what exactly.
I didn't have a huge studio to offer, equipped with the biggest lights and shiniest technology.
I started out with a £300 camera and a couple of continuous lights I bought off eBay and I considered myself an imposter.
First I noticed that a lot of the people, who were looking down on me, actually did so out of envy...because I got results, shoots and clients, even with my minimal equipment I had back when I started.
Second, my clients became loyal. They came back, again and again! If I was such a crap photographer why would they do that?
Because it wasn’t just about the pictures I could produce!
When I shot pin up the most amazing thing about it was how it made the women feel when they left. Confident and happy with what they had achieved during our shoot together.
As much as I loved it, I didn’t feel at home in the pin up scene after about 10 years, so moving on to composite sci-fi, fantasy and horror was so much more me…but I missed the community and the thrill of helping people find confidence in who they are and what they do.
Around the same time I started being very open about my spiritual beliefs.
I am a witch…I have been aware of this from a very young age, but never thought I should carry it out into the open, until I met the right people!
Since then I feel so much more at ease with what I do, create and how I live my life and I realised that’s where I should be going!
To the lands of weird and wonderful and I should encourage as many people as possible to do the same!
The bottom line here is:
Every time something changed for me was when I met the right people!
What would it be like if you could be with people that don’t judge you, but actively encourage you to be weird, strange and creatively different.
Have you searched high and low for other photographers and image creators that abandon the lens comparing, who can do without endless techno babble and don’t think your creation is too ‘different’?
Do you feel there is more to creating pictures than just having a shed full of fancy equipment?
Your search has come to an end…but your journey might just be beginning!