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Raising a Scarecrow

By MichaelBilottaPhotography    
A strange thing happens when you live in a city which, in the general consensus, is supposed to be more dangerous and crime-ridden than the suburbs. After several years of acclimation, you become accustomed to it, and you best your fears of it, and it just becomes home. The city I talk about here is Boston, not a big city like New York, but a city just the same. Six years ago I moved back to the suburbs, not too far from where I grew up, and I feel more threatened here than I did in the city, I miss the constant activity, the safety in numbers of an apartment building, and the well-lit streets. These streets now, peaceful and very family-oriented in the day time, are more threatening to me than the streets of Boston were, and the shadows make me tense, the possibilities in the shadows, the unseen lurkers who may or may not be there. it did not help matters when our home was the target of an apparent attempted break-in a ew months ago.

I don't yet know how to feel comfortable here, to relax, to trust. I go through my rituals now, since the break-in, of setting alarms, locking doors and windows, of turning on every exterior light. I try to be home as often as possible. In short, the potential threat, the what-ifs, make me a bit of a prisoner in my own home. I would walk streets in Boston at all hours of the night, not worried for my safety, but i would be a wreck walking these comparatively quiet suburban streets after dark.

My thoughts turned today to Boston, and the many years I spent living there, and a song I wrote when I was all of twenty-two, called "Raising a Scarecrow." It was about getting out, of your hometown, of you own way, and making a life elsewhere. It was about leaving the dull suburbia and chasing a dream. Many years later, I am more or less back to where I grew up, and this song, with a scarecrow metaphor running throughout, attached itself to this image as soon as I started working on it. I could have made the model more scarecrow-like, with straw, a framework he is nailed to, but the concept of the scarecrow is what is relevant here, not the literal. In my song, the person I am addressing is raising themselves into a scarecrow, and what is the purpose of it? To scare off invaders, to create the illusion of a presence in an unguarded field. Ironically, with my fear of intruders and crime here, I am turning into just that - a scarecrow. I keep the lights on, I stand guard, my ears scanning for sounds of foul play in the house with too many windows.

In my image, this scarecrow is outnumbered, and his ability to fend off the crows is down to nothing. In the distance, rows and rows of birdhouses, and a phalanx of crows fly overhead. He is at the edge of their stronghold, and he turns worriedly in the other direction, as two crows fly out to investigate. A bit of a personal one, and yet, I enjoyed making it. The soft, airy and brightly lit pastoral landscape was a change from my current, high-contrast style, and despite the foreboding meaning behind it, I enjoyed the tranquility of the color palette. The birdhouse was something I bought a few weeks ago, and I shot and angle of it tonight to match the lighting of the model shot.
a before and after version of this image is viewable on my Facebook page:

Model: Luis Nunez

Tags: Specialist and abstract Digitally manipulated Digital art Portraits and people Flash and lighting

Voters: JackAllTog, jamesmoorephotography, Ayoob and 15 more

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13 Aug 2013 3:21AM
nice image..Roy
abeeror2 8 23 Australia
13 Aug 2013 5:30AM
Beautiful and very moving!
NDODS 10 5.2k 127 United Kingdom
13 Aug 2013 7:34AM
Interesting and so very thought evoking...

Regards Nathan Grin
bluesandtwos 11 521 1 England
13 Aug 2013 4:53PM
A great image, so wrong that you should live having the feelings that you do in what sounds a safer place than before. I don't have an answer for that (other than the all too simplistic, move), but from a selfish point of view at least we get to see the images you create from those feelings.


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