Tag Archives: photographs

Stickers: Backstreet’s Back, Alright!

19 Jun

I came across my old Backstreet Boys “Official Sticker Album” the other day and I was delighted.  It was one of those cheap, quick to market sticker books with pictures and info of the band interspersed with spaces to put specifically numbered, square stickers, which you could buy in packages of 10 or so, at convenience stores.  When I was actively buying stickers for this album I was about 12 or 13, and everyone at my school loved the Backstreet Boys and a lot of other girls had this album.  Because it was an all girls school we were afforded more opportunity  to obsess over teen heart-throbs, because there were no boys to be embarrassed in front of about it, and there were no boys to be…anything…in front…of.

And while we’re on the topic of embarrassment, have you ever seen someone or of photo of someone doing something that is so embarrassing and cringe-inducing that it makes you feel embarrassed yourself, like by witnessing that awful scene you are now covered in what should be that person’s shame?  These stickers have that type of quality to them, they just…these stickers are dignity destroyers.

When I was looking through the book I thought “Has enough time passed that this album is now ironically cool and I can show it to people?  Or has it not yet passed into “good” territory,  as in, “so bad it’s…,” especially considering I had pretty much all the stickers and had taped one of the card wrappers on to the last page as an envelope to put in duplicate stickers to trade with others?”

Well I will let you, my dear readers decide.  I was shocked at just how ugly these guys really were, and you will be too.  All of the pictures are horrifyingly cheesy in their own way, but they do provide more than 50 ideas on what to do with your arms and hands while posing for photos.

The cover of the Backstreet Boys “Official Sticker Album” What does it mean when something is “Official”?  You see that a lot in commercials, especially things to do with the Olympics, I notice. Like at the end of the ad the voice over narration will say something like “Davidson’s Hose Clamps; the official hose clamps of the 2012 winter Olympic games” like that’s supposed to mean something to me.

From the introduction on the inside cover, from “Your Backstreet Boys team”

Apparently, at the time the sticker album came out, (1997) the Backstreet Boys had just come off a “huge tour as DJ Bobo’s supporting act.”  Wow, can you imagine getting to open for the DJ Bobo?!  Never heard of him.

Each member got his own 2 page spread with a “Bio.” For example, on the Brian Littrel page one of the lines reads:  “Hobbies: Sports, reading, music, movies.”  And from the Howie Dorough page:  “Hobbies: Music, movies, television, reading.” Fascinating, no? You couldn’t make that stuff up, even if you had to rush some merchandise of a flash-in-the-pan band to market, as quickly and cheaply as possible.

First up in the 2 page spreads was Brian Littrel, who was my favorite at the time, though now I’m not really sure why exactly, but, the heart wants what it wants, I guess.

My 7th grade dream boy

There was one of these weird balloon heart stickers with a Backstreet Boys (BSB) member’s photo on it for each guy. I think the designers had some trouble with coming up with more than 160 different types of stickers for this book.

The second spread was of Kevin Richardson, the oldest member of the group.  He pretty much had the least personality of all of them and it shows in his photos:

After Kevin came Nick Carter’s profile, the favorite of most of the girls at my school, who is now most well known for dating Paris Hilton, his DUI’s and rehab stints, and for being such a loser that Paris Hilton decided that his younger brother Aaron was a more suitable man to date (his brother was like, 10 years younger than Nick and Paris at the time.)  He wins the prize for the most smouldering picture in the album, but in most of his pictures, he just looks…pretty.

What an awful, awful haircut.

Nick, in his “sexy, smouldering” pose

I guess it’s easy to see why Nick was the most popular with the young girls; he’s the most non-threatening, being so young and so pretty. Someone like Kevin, who was like 45 years old and who’s nickname, according to this album, was “Train,” was just too much man for us to fathom.

More androgenous Nick!

But I must say, Nick must have being doing something right, because I think Kevin took a few cues from him on how to look attractive in that non-sexual teeny-bopper way:

Kevin posing a-la-Nick

Howie Dorough’s 2 page spread came after Nick’s.  Most people liked Brian and Nick, but there were a few girls that liked Howie, and I thought they were masochists.  But looking at this album now, I think we pretty much all were.  Which Backstreet Boy you liked was a big part of your identity at my school at the time, and I always thought that the girls who liked Howie, many of whom were secret Howie lovers who publicly professed love to another Boy, were somehow “off” in some way.  I thought the only way they could possibly like Howie was if they had let their pity of him as being the grossest, ugliest and biggest loser member of the group, overtake them in some way, like a kind of Florence Nightingale syndrome type thing.

Have a look at Howie’s stickers.  It may actually be a close call between him and AJ (the 5th member of BSB, of which you will see many pictures of soon) as to who is the most off-putting.

Ewww, under “Distinctive Traits” it says “He loves to Flirt!” Barf

Howie’s heart balloon sticker. Barf

And then lastly there was AJ, who started off being sort of clownish, as evidenced by the following photos, but who later went on to find his identity within the group as the tattooed bad boy who wears a lot of heavy jewelry.  This guy did the same god-damned “looking over my sunglasses” pose in every picture.  Please also note that he had both his ears pierced, and for some reason her wore matching giant, thick hoop earrings all the time, like some sort of pirate.

AJ’s smouldering “over the glasses” look

AJ’s smiling “over the glasses” look

AJ”s head tilted to the side “over the glasses” look

AJ”s is-this-photo-shoot-done-yet “over the glasses” look

AJ”S my-heart’s-not-really-into-it “over the glasses” look

AJ”s Christmas time “over the glasses” look

AJ”s curl on the forehead “over the glasses” look

AJ’s smirking to the right “over the glasses” look

AJ would sometimes change it up by doing a few “sunglasses on the forehead” poses:

AJ”s pouting, “glasses on forehead” look. According to the makers of this album, this is a “romantic” sticker

AJ”s confused ape “glasses on the forehead” look

Here’s a few of those “dignity destroying” stickers I was talking about earlier.

Unfortunately,  I was missing the sticker for the upper left corner of this “Mega-puzzle.” There’s nothing like dressing up like Santa for a sexy photo-shoot with four other guys to leave your dignity in tatters.  And I must say, whenever an artist does a Christmas album I lose any and all respect I might have had for them. (Usually the type of “artists” who do that are hacks anyways, but I see it as a lame excuse for a cash grab and high billboard numbers when stores and people are looking for holiday music to play.)

Also in the “holiday themed no-dignity photo-ops” repertoire is the hideous matching sweaters option.

Pretty much any matching outfits will do, when you’re looking to diminish the dignity of grown men:

Matching vests for a German album cover

OOOH! Hockey Jerseys, and Kevin has gone wild and worn a hat!

I was also a little bit sickened by some of the photos, which were aimed at a very young fan base, in which the “Boys” were shirtless and all greased up:

A greasy Kevin.

An even greasier Howie. Gross.

But I guess the above photos were nothing compared to the “Quit playing Games With My Heart,”music video, a hit for the BSB that this sticker album miss-identifies as “Quit Playing Games With My Heat.”  In the video, the boys stand around in a park singing, and when it starts to pour rain, they passionately rip their shirts off in lovelorn anger, then writhe around in the rain sensually touching their chests and hair while pouting at the camera and waggling their hips around.

And now, as promised, here are some ideas, courtesy of the Backstreet Boys, on how to avoid looking awkward in photos by finding something natural and comfortable to do with one’s hands:

Idea: Flash gang symbols of gangs you are not affiliated with. They totally don’t mind

Idea: Make one “gun” with each hand, and point them at the camera.

Idea: Make one “gun” with your hand, stretch your arm towards the camera, and point it down

Idea: Cross your arms but squeeze one bicep with the opposite hand

Idea: Reach one hand out towards the camera, low in the frame.

Idea: Reach out with one hand towards the camera, a little higher this time

Those are just a few ideas to get you started, but there were many more.  If you get stuck, contact me and I’ll email you some more Backstreet Boys approved ideas for hand and arm gestures in photos.

I would love to know what you guys think.  Did any of you out there have this sticker book, or one of the many others like it?  I know that they had sticker books of this type for all sorts of things, animals, cars, Barbie.

Were any of you BSB fans who are still willing to admit it?  If so, who was your favorite?  I’d especially like to hear from you Howie or AJ fans out there.  What allowed you to see past their many obvious flaws, to find them a place in your heart?  Is this sticker album finally so bad it’s good or should I lock it away somewhere for another 15 years?

P.S, does anyone out there have doubles of sticker numbers, 77, 93, or 135?  A friend of mine needs them to complete her album.

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Lady Heart’s Portfolio: Coney Island Colour

6 Jun

I recently spent a few days in NYC and while there I went to Coney Island.  I was so charmed by the old fashioned rides, games and amusements which must be completely unchanged since the 50s or 60s at least.  The colours, the food, the old fashioned aesthetic, it was beautiful.  I thought I had read somewhere that Disney has, or intends to buy Coney Island and Disnify it, which, if true would be a national, nay, international tragedy that must be prevented! Check out my photos, they show an amusement park that that has more charm, more authenticity and more artistic value than any Disneyland could ever have.

This is the sign they have at all of the park entrances

The fishing game. I used to have a miniature magnetized version of this.

The decorative top of an old fashioned merry go round

A picture of the giant Ferris wheel, dubbed “Wonder Wheel”

The “Wonder Wheel” and the corner of the sign that runs the top perimeter of the bumper car arena.

I took a number of pictures of the bumper car sign. I am very drawn to colour and I just loved this sign.

The corner of the little snack shop, which had delicious churros and popcorn, among other treats.

The candy apples from the above pictured snack shop. To me they were works of art, like plastic sculptures.

They had classic carnival games, like this one, where you shoot the water pistol at the clown’s mouth to pop the balloon above it. The clown heads were great, their pastel colours dreamily faded by the summer sun. This game was packed with players. At all of the games I watched, the person shooting at clown number 14 won.

It’s almost perverted when you think about it. Or is that just me? Scratch that last thought

These were some of the prizes you could win at the clown game, but everyone I saw who won picked the stupid smurf dolls or the other recognizable commercial characters. I was like “Nooo! You stupid, get the pink dolphin or one of the miscellaneous googly-eyed puffs above it.”

See, now isn’t that preferable?

After seeing these prizes the smurfs were dead to me.

They also had a few of those “strong arm” game machines that test one’s strength. This one was my favorite; it had some stupid frothing meat-head guy (not pictured) flanked by two girls, this blond one being my favorite.

I love her ecstatic expression and wild, tacky make-up. I also love that her pose makes it appear that she has plunged her hand inside her head. I wondered what they were made of. A composite material, I guess.

This was the girl on the other side of meat-head guy on the game. Good, but not as great as the blond because her expression is so mild.

This is the display of another strength testing game where the player squeezes together the horns of a bull head that protrudes below this scale. The hand moves up the categories written on the fan to give the player their rating.

The pink front of a pinball game

An old horse ride of the type you used to see outside grocery stores. I love its expression and ergonomic posture.

There was a second clown game, further into the park, but strangely it was empty where the other one was full. These clowns where much more garish.

This was the giant eye of a cyclops monster head that loomed large at the entrance to a spooky house type ride. The eye looked back and fourth ceaselessly, a red light flashing from within through a broken spot in the centre. I was charmed by the decay of the rides and displays, it made things seem sort of sinister, but also earnest and authentic, and I was glad they hadn’t tried to make everything perfect.

This was from a souvenir stand where you could have your picture taken and have it printed on a button, key-chain, mirror, or these colourful felt posters that had cheesy backgrounds. I had a pink sparkly plastic key-chain made with my photo on one side and this image in the back, accompanied by the words “You and I forever”, but what I really wanted was to buy some of the sample souvenir photos he had, which were so great.

I loved this girl’s photo. She posed with much more flair than I achieved. Your choice of background was either this wicker chair, or an airbrushed scene of a rainbow and waterfall, which I chose.

This girl was also looking good in the wicker chair. I thought she was really cute and I liked that it said “Girl’s just gotta have fun” at the bottom

This girl is pictured in front of the same background as I was, which was charming in it’s crudeness.

This couple’s poster was my favorite. See how years of being exposed to the sun has made their faces look extra colourful and almost iridescent? I should have asked, no, begged him to sell it to me. Just one of the many regrets I have to live with in my life.

My most favorite part of the visit though, was this automaton fortune teller. “What does Grandma say?” It invites you to find out. When you put in a quarter she sort of rocks back and fourth a little bit, and her hand sweeps across the table, over her tarot cards.

This thing must be very old. The detailing is amazing, her hoop earrings, the diamante pin the wears in the centre of her collar, and her wrinkled, weathered face. I was really magical and wonderful.

Look at her jewelry and old fashioned blouse. It was a little hard to get good pictures because it was under a partition that was lit, so there were many reflections on the glass.

This booth was actually right next to that “Zoltan” or whatever-his-face-is, the genie fortune teller booth seen in the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks.  When I saw that this awesome grandma one was right next to it (and was probably even there first) I couldn’t believe that the movie used that stupid Zeutroy or Zantam guy instead of Grandma!  This thing is way more mystical and magical that the stupid genie, and don’t you think that the female, especially the older female mystic seems way more powerful than some guy in a stupid feathered hat?  Look at the pictures of her hands, and you’ll see the mystery and magic that’s there.

Her delicate, wrinkled hands move across the cards…

And the best part was her eyes, which were both broken and rolling back into her head.  It was very spooky and unnerving, like she was haunted.  It was really strange and powerful to look at her and watch her move, it was like seeing a ghost, or a dead person come to life.

Her smile and crazy eyes…she has seen a lot inside that booth. There’s a wavelength of energy you can tune into at this booth, I’m serious. Not very many people seemed interested in her. I was able to stay and photograph and put coins in for a long time.

I hope you have enjoyed these photos of Coney Island, dear reader, I was a magical place, really magical, more so than anything Disney could ever create.  Go to Coney Island and see what Grandma has to say…

Lady Heart Portfolio: Polaroids

4 Apr

There is something about Polaroids that give a picture that extra something.  The way the colours look sort of more reminiscent of an old photograph is one aspect of it, but also the fact that it is truly one of a kind, as you can never make prints of it.  Also, there is no zoom on the camera, and it will only focus sharply at certain distances, and you cannot edit the photo on a computer afterwards.  Therefore it is always a treat to get beautiful Polaroid pictures, and here are a few of my best shots.

The first two I took when I was down at the Toronto waterfront with a friend.  There were some swans in the water, and I was trying to photograph them, but they were too far away.  But soon, a great big one came right up in front of me, and lifted and fluffed it’s wings up, as if purposely posing for me.  It was quite a magnificent bird.

The posing swan

I was really happy with the photo, the way the light diffused across the water, giving it a soft focus, and the perfect composition of the swan off centre in the frame, but as an added bonus, I was also able to capture this beautiful moment:

The posing swan's bum

A lovely day by the water.

The next photo I would like to share with you, dear reader is a Polaroid I took of a butterfly that had landed on the hyssop growing in our front garden.

I was pleasantly surprised when the butterfly was the only thing in sharp focus in the picture, a nice focal point that was a happy accident when working with a camera with no manual focus, or display screen.  I hope you have enjoyed this photos, and check back again  for more self serving promotion soon!

Found Photographs: Confirmation Edition

2 Apr

When wandering around the city I always keep one eye on the ground and one hand in the garbage, as it’s a good way to find all sorts of wonderful things. While looking through some things someone put out on their lawn I found a frame with this photo in it, which I immediately clutched greedily to my chest before taking the most direct route home.  It now has a a good home in my album of found photographs, more of which you can see later.  But for now, feast your eyes on this baby:

Can you believe someone got rid of this thing?!