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  • Writer's pictureRachel E. Pollock


All these mindbendingly fabulous photos on my site were taken by the lovely and talented Ryan A. S. Jones, of Rytography.

I first met Ryan when he took an Intro to Costume Production class as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, where i work as a graduate professor. I knew even then, as soon as i saw his photography, that Ryan had a truly great talent at capturing image and mood with his camera. At the time, i was writing my parasol textbook, Sticks in Petticoats, and i asked Ryan whether he'd be interested in taking some photos for the project. He took an armload of parasols and set off, and came back with a collection of photographs that blew me away with their artistry, including the one that wound up on the cover of the book.

So, when i decided to put together this website and needed some portraits done, he was my first choice for photographer. We did two great photo shoots--one in downtown Durham at the literal crack of dawn, and the other in a ruined church on Memorial Day afternoon. I wanted a mix of traditional headshots and also some that would be more evocative of the overarching themes that tend to pop up in my writing--juxtapositions of beauty and decay, nightlife cultures, outlaws and vices, and so forth. So, you know, putting on a velvet dress and a mink stole for some trespassing in a wrecked, deconsecrated church seemed like the obvious choice.

I think it's a particularly cool location in light of the novel i'm looking to publish, The Decadence Papers, which takes place in and around a nightclub, since turning a church into a nightclub is a pretty common occurence (Limelight, anyone?) and many of the architectural details in churches tend to mirror those that pop up in club decor a lot, too (hi, gothic arches). I love how, in this image attached to this post, you can see the discarded booze cups from some folks who apparently preceded us here in church-trespassage, and threw a party or something. I guess it takes all kinds, but man, that place was dilapidated enough that i wouldn't want to be navigating it drunk. I think you can tell in this photo i'm thinking, "Hmm, i hope i don't fall through the floor before he gets these shots." I only wish we'd been able to get over to the completely devastated piano that was in one inaccessible corner!

But, Ryan and i survived and i really love the photos that came out of it. I appreciate how willing he was to climb through the wreckage of a sanctuary wth a disco ball on his shoulder, in order to realize my vision. So, if you need headshots, portraiture, or pictures of yourself in some completely random and somewhat dubious situation, i highly recommend working with Rytography. :D

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