The 3 L's

Blogging Advice from Queen of the Blogosphere

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Funny story. I recently just so happened to bump into a well known fashion and lifestyle blogger here in London (because let’s face it, none of us can ever so much as step outside to buy a pint of milk and a newspaper without crossing several celebrities, bloggers, youtubers, and that one hit wonder guy from the 80’s along the way), and she was kind enough to allow me to pick her brain on how to become a ‘successful blogger’.

She was quite a character, and I can see why London loves her; eccentricity is the best acceptable social quirk of the city.

A few words of advice from an anonymous (for once) blogging queen…

1. ‘Darling, you must model and photograph you outfit every day – and never be seen in the same outfit twice.’

2. ‘If you’re serious about fashion, or photography, or writing, or all three, then darling, remain serious and professional at all times.’

3. ‘Remember, if you want your blog to be read worldwide, darling, keep the sarcasm to a minimum. It doesn’t translate well.’

4. Don’t complain, darling. Don’t bitch or rant or whine or talk about the negatives of the industry – any industry.

5. Set up a vlog. Everyone has a vlog, now days, darling.’

And this one quite literally sent my jaw dropping to the pavement…

6: ‘Darling, until you get noticed and people start sending you things, you absolutely have to be willing to spend at least five hundred pounds a month on new clothing.’

I feel like I ought to be running merrily into the hills, as if I have been granted the secret to eternal life… actually no, I think anyone who wants to live forever is a fool, so let’s say, as if I have been granted the secret to eternal youth. But… I’m not. Instead, I left feeling downright disappointed. I had sat with them hoping for inspiration and instead I came away with… rebellion. Rebellious inspiration, but rebellion all the same.

I really admire this person, and I read their blog pretty much daily, but this simply isn’t the direction that I want to move in, and I don’t want to be another person who thinks, ‘ok, this is what has to be done to succeed in this industry, these are the key criteria to be met.’ I don’t have £500 a month to spend on clothes that are only going to be worn once each, and I refuse to believe that most fashion bloggers do either. As for no ranting and whining… but I’m so much more eloquent when I have something to complain about! As I mentioned in The Hub, my positive expressions are generally limited to ‘wonderful, ‘beautiful’ and ‘lovely/love’… used repeatedly in a single sentence for added effect.

Maybe this decision has set me on the course of committing blogging suicide, and this will therefore never be read by the legions of followers that everyone who sets up a fashion/photography/any blog at all hopes to have, and I ought to listen to the oh-so-wise (not sarcasm for once – she actually was a very knowledgable cookie), blogger and keep my blog polished, serious, and expensive to maintain due to the conveyor belt wardrobe. But then again, I can’t help but think that that would just be so… dull. I’d prefer not to cut out my snarky comments, my sarcasm and my make-believe wardrobe because I can’t afford to frequently re-stock the real one. I don’t want to play make believe just so that people will like me, and my blog. After all, though life is all about daring to be different, there are well-read blogs out there that break at least a few of these ‘rules’… look at The Man Repeller as just one example.

Therefore, the sarcasm, bitching, whining and virtual pouting will remain, darling, (that’s not mockery, that is actually my pet name of choice), alongside the cheerier stuff.

P.S… I have not overruled the possibility that said blogger went out of her way to give me the worst advice ever for her own amusement (or perhaps I’m marking it as an option purely because that would be my response of choice..) Ooo, the conspiracy theories are suddenly running riot in my mind…

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The 3 L's

Blog Re-Brand…

When I first started blogging, oh, what? Six years ago now? (Though no trace of those first blogs can be found anywhere in the vast mass of the inter-void anymore) It was just a casual thing, a chance to share a few images from my earliest portfolio-building photo shoots, or the personal travel snaps or evening-walk-in-the-woods snaps that filled my life. Lately, however, I’ve really fallen for the whole ‘blogging’ thing. It’s no longer just a half-hearted hobby that I would tend to forget about whenever I actually had something interesting – usually a photo shoot – worth blogging about.

Frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t embraced the writer in me sooner – publically, I mean. I’ve always written. Fiction, mostly, since I was about… oh, tiny. Primary school age. It’s always been a big part of who I am, and yet I’ve always kept it a secret, scared that if I were to tell my friends, then offence would be taken if I then refused to share my ‘masterpiece collection’ (I swear, I’ve never referred to my writings in that way before in my life, nor will I again)

I’m in the middle of a complete blog overhaul. It’s long overdue. You’ll be seeing some changes around here, as well as over at my other blog – the travel blog – here. That means, unfortunately, that things will be a bit higgledy-piggledy… random blog posts will be popping up here and there to ‘fill in the gaps’, because let’s face it, this blog was extremely gappy. I did, for a while, consider merging the two in a Park and Cube-esque mega-blog, but somehow I think that’s a bad move, right?

Screw it, let’s do it.

All merge.

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I plan to create my own personal blog theme, to bring my own identity to my site, fully, rather than simply plastering my words on another person’s web design. Besides, it’d be a great addition to my own fresh new web design portfolio (coming soon to what will also be my brand new, also designed by me website!) As for the rest of my plans for my snippet of blogosphere… you’ll see.

It’s all very exciting, no?

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The 3 L's

Motivation from my Idols

I’ve always been a bit of a ‘collector’ of inspirational quotes and idols, people to admire and look up to, and, in any way possible, learn from. Too many people choose the wrong sort of idols now days, celebrities who have too much of a tendency to get caught with drugs, stumbling around drunk, crashing their expensive cars and generally setting a bad example.

Most of my idols are, and have always been, entrepreneurs, and yet while so many people have heard of their companies, so few can name a single founder’s name, besides a few of the ‘A list’ entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I’ve always been someone who wants to be a ‘business polymath’, rather than purely focusing on photography, or design, or writing. There are so many things I wish to do, notebooks full of business ideas. I’m a big dreamer, but I know my strengths and my weaknesses – I’m creative. My creativity completely engulfs the rest of my personality, in fact. However, I’m having to work heard to learn about the business side of things. I’m not sure that I believe that some people are born with the instinctive knowledge required for building a business empire, but if such a person exists, I most certainly am not one of them. That said, I’m intelligent, I’m hard working, and I make the most of my library card, my kindle, I’m always contacting the right people with the right knowledge, picking their brains, and slowly, I’m improving.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from a few of my entrepreneurial idols. Hopefully someone will be blogging about my business(es) one day.

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To be free is not to have the power to do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward an open future.

-Simone de Beauvoir. Writer, philosopher, political activist.

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Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up.

-Sophia Amoruso. Founder of Nasty Gal.

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I think you can be a jack-of-all-trades and a mistress-of-all-trades. If you study it, and you put reasonable intelligence and reasonable energy, reasonable electricity to it, you can do that.

-Maya Angelou. Author, dancer, actress, singer.

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It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
-JK Rowling. Author.

Anita-Roddick

Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling.

-Anita Roddick. Founder of The Body Shop, human rights and environmental activist.

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The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.
-Gisele Bundchen. Model, actress, producer, entrepreneur.

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The thing about us, is we think big. Huge.

-Mary Kate Olsen. Fashion designer, entrepreneur.

I will never stop working. I want to have something to do. When you work, you’re taking part in life.

-Ashley Olsen. Fashion designer, entrepreneur.

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The lesson that I have learned in life is that we should try and try and try again – but never give up.

-Richard Branson. Founder of the Virgin brand, entrepreneur.

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Don’t worry about being successful but work towards being significant and the success will naturally follow.

-Oprah. TV host, producer, entrepreneur.

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How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.

-Coco Chanel. Fashion designer, Founder of the Chanel brand.

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Life-fulfilling work is never about the money – when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.

-Eileen Fisher. Fashion designer.

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Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.

-Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, author, historian, artist.

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The 3 L's

Why ‘Meet-Ups’ Will Never Be My Thing

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This evening, with a rare moment of time of my hands, I decided to spend it well, strolling through Green Park, here in lovely London, reading Richard Branson’s Like a Virgin (which I highly recommend to anyone with a business.. or a future business.. or any job at all for that matter.. or no job at all.. so anyone, really!) I was happily minding my own business, absorbed in my book, and then quite possibly the only thing that could have dragged me out of my meditative read-and-walk state in that moment was the click of a shutter – or rather – the continuous click-click-click of about two hundred shutters.

I had stumbled across a Brooke Shaden ‘meet up’ group, here in London. For those of you who are unaware, Brooke Shaden is something of a Flickr celebrity, whose portfolio can be seen here. While her editing skills and her constant steam of ideas are both equally impressive, I must admit, I find her work too gloomy and ominous for my taste. I’m personally more of a lens-flare/light-and-airy style girl. Nevertheless, I can see why she has such a large fan following, and the figures certainly show just how popular she is: 382K likes on her Facebook page, 12.3K Twitter followers, each photo of her Flickr account is littered with hundreds of likes, favourites and comments. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that she can so easily convince a couple of hundred Londoners to gather in Green Park one cloudy evening for a ‘totally free’ meet up with ‘lots of hugs, models to photograph and the love of the craft’, with a single Facebook post as an invitation.

I lingered for a while, curious. I had my camera with me after all. Who doesn’t enjoy a spontaneous photo shoot, after all? What I saw, however, did not strike me as the polished, well organised workshops that I imagine when I see behind the scenes images from the various Facebook fan pages of the photographers I admire, complete with agency signed models, rails full of beautiful garments, and an amazing set that no one but the workshop-running photographer would ever otherwise be able to afford.

Instead, I can only describe the scene as being reminiscent of vultures picking at the same rotting corpse for hours on end. That is the big problem with meet ups and workshops – there is no privacy. In the short time that I lingered, watching from a park bench, I saw the same scene on loop: one photographer would tentatively approach one of the volunteer models, distinctive only from their wearing one of Brooke’s trademark vintage dresses. They would briefly discuss an idea, wander off to find a patch of grass to call a studio, and approximately five clicks of the shutter later, the vultures would flock.

Next thing you know, that one photographer’s idea has been photographed a thousand times by fifty other people from every possible angle. Those images will undoubtedly pop up on Flickr in a day or two – if some of them have not already – each edited with varying degrees of skill, yet all undoubtedly almost identical. Originality… obliterated.

That is why ‘creative meet ups’ will never be for me, she whose idea-sharing skills are fairly limited to my introvert evenings alone with my thoughts, or bouncing ideas around a room with a creative team of stylists, makeup artists, designers, etc etc etc. She who will tackle anyone who dares to photograph my idea over my shoulder. At meet ups, there is not idea bouncing, no collaboration. Instead it’s a silent, mutual agreement of, ‘whatever happens here, is ours for the taking’. One person will shout out instructions to the model, and everyone will begin to capture the same shot in a strange, almost zombie-like trance.

They’re not entirely negative experiences though; I can see the value of these meet ups to others; they can be a great place to network, make new friends, gain inspiration. Everyone looked to be having a wonderful time. But personally, I think it’s surely better to network over ‘portfolio sharing’ events rather than ‘photograph mimicking’ events’.

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The 3 L's

Relocating to London

While I had for a few months been contemplating the possibility that perhaps the constant nomadic wandering was not quite as healthy as I’d originally believed, something I spoke about briefly here, the actual decision to move to London was a spontaneous one; a few hours of packing a single suitcase, and off I went!

_MG_0537-edit  In fact, even once I was here, it took a further two days before I finally, 100% decided that yes, this was not just a whim, and I was not to continue along the railway tracks as far as Paris or beyond. I wanted to stay in London. It was obvious to me from the instant I stepped off the train, but it took a few days before I accepted that I’m not quite the nomad that I thought. London is my home, it’s where I feel I have to be right now, and while the passport is still going to be used regularly, to silence that niggling feeling of wanderlust that has a tendency to well up inside me, for a few months, at least, I’ll leave it to one side to gather dust, and savor every inch of London.

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It’s as if I have been looking for somewhere where I fit in, and I’ve been searching all over Europe. (Update* I’ve spoken about my feelings on the matter here.) I felt inspired, but lost, happy, but as if it was just a quick remedy. Here in London, everything has clicked into place, and I feel as if it’s been calling me across the continent. So many friends have spent the past years while I was travelling Europe telling me that I would end up in London. Some even predicted that I would move here ‘in the summer of 2014’… perhaps they subconsciously planted the decision in my mind one year ago when they first made their predictions last year, during my university exhibition, but either way, it’s nice to know just how well they all know me.

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I’m a North London girl through-and-through, and I have been making the most of my first week here with long walks across Hampstead Heath, people watching in cafes and networking with as many fresh-faced models, stylists with amazing wardrobes and talented hair/makeup stylists as I can track down. I have so many shoots planned for the upcoming weeks, and I am so excited to get a chance to share those with you, as well as tales of my London adventures.

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The 3 L's

HIMYM finale…. not a happy bunny.

I’m not a big fan of TV shows. There are very few that I make the time to watch – I’ve always preferred movies and books to TV, but HIMYM is one of the few exceptions, and I admit, these past few weeks I got sucked into the finale frenzy, and I sat up until 2am waiting for a decent quality copy of the big finale to appear online, despite my early start this morning.

It’s pretty clear from a quick glance at Twitter that the HIMYM, like all sitcom and drama finales, has divided opinions. You can’t just have ‘liked’ the HIMYM finale – it’s a marmite situation. I myself came away bitterly disappointed, but not at all surprised. I was, I guess, ‘team Swarkles’ (actually, I was team ‘why does Robin have to end up with someone?’), and Ted pissed me off from day one. Ted pissed me off so much, that while I first saw HIMYM back in about 2007-2008, it wasn’t until last year that I finally got into it and caught up in time for the final season. I hate his whiny, self-absorbed, snooty personality clogging up an otherwise great show. I also can’t stand Lily. She’s a bitch.

Then again, I can’t deny that it’s a great show. Blatantly inspired by Friends, it has all the same base characters; the couple (Monica/Chandler, Lily/Marshall), the will-they-won’t-they couple (Ross/Rachel, Ted/Robin), the slightly adorable comedy gem (Joey – and Chandler too! And in HIMYM, Barney). And I always found Phoebe ridiculous and unnecessary – and a complete bitch. So I’m glad that she, as a character, has not been re-imagined.

Don’t read any further if you haven’t yet seen the finale. Spoilers!

Last night’s finale answered a lot of necessary questions including the big ones: the mother’s name, how they meet and of course, who gets a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Barney and Robin get a divorce within the first half of the finale. As much as I prefer her with Barney than Ted, I saw this coming as soon as it was revealed that Robin becomes a successful news anchor who travels around the world, I just though… Barney doesn’t seem like someone who would want to travel the world. And yes – her travelling drives them apart after just three years.

Reverting back to his womanizing ways, it’s revealed that the only girl he ever truly falls for is his accidentally conceived baby daughter, Ellie. I didn’t anticipate this, but when it happened, it made sense and suddenly seemed obvious that this is what they had been building to all along.

Nothing surprising happens with Marshall and Lily. They have baby number three, Marshall becomes a judge and later, a judge of the Supreme court (lovingly dubbed ‘Judge Fudge’ and later ‘Fudge Supreme’ by the gang). With three kids in tow, they of course have to move out of the apartment – minus the big Friend-esque ‘goodbye house’ scene.

As for Ted, we learn that his wife’s name is Tracy McConnell. They take a surprisingly long time to get married, their fairy tale wedding being indefinitely postponed on finding that she’s pregnant with Penny. They do eventually get married, though. And then… Tracy gets sick. Very sick. Those fan theories were right – the mother is dead.

It had been hinted at, of course, and thinking about it now, it was pretty obvious throughout. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t piss me off, all the same. Purely because of the inevitable Robin and Ted ending that followed – the kids give their blessing for him to ask out ‘Aunt Robin’, and he arrives outside her bedroom window with the blue french horn, just as he did back in season 1.

I’m not a fan of corny, and that is undeniably corny. But more so, why does Robin have to be with someone? Earlier in the series, Ted said that Robin was ‘never alone’, and yet, during the ten years or so between divorcing Barney and finally ending up with Ted, it’s made clear that she’s pretty lonely, despite her successful career and slightly nomadic lifestyle. She distances herself from the group because, as she points out to Lily, the gang consists of a married couple who are about to have their third child, her ex husband who is back to his womanising ways and ‘the guy I probably should have ended up with, with the beautiful mother of his child’. That’s life – people drift apart, life choices drive us away from each other. Why couldn’t Robin have lived happily, independent and successful, travelling the world but still making an effort to be there for ‘the big moments’, as she was in the first half of the finale. Why does she have to be lonely? Lily seems to spend the duration of the show selfishly complaining that she’s never around anymore, as she does.

It seems like they decided to give Ted his perfect happy ending. He always wanted Robin, but it was just impossible – he wanted kids, she didn’t. He wanted to raise his kids in the suburbs, she wanted to live in Japan or Argentina or wherever else took her fancy. So, easy solution, give Ted a wife to have kids with in the suburbs and spend a decade or so together, polishing pennies and admiring NYC’s architecture. Then kill off the wife. Bam. Ted finally gets the girl.

Surely Ted and Robin are impossible at working as Robin and Barney? Even more so, considering that Swarkles divorced because of her travelling for work, which would surely be an issue considering he has two kids in school to think about, as well as his own career and his general dislike for travelling far. Or would that problem be neatly resolved too with an early retirement for Robin at the tender age of fifty?

No, had I been the writer of HIMYM, I’d have done things very differently. The mother – Tracy – would not die. She and Ted would live happily together, as they were perfect for each other. They would live in the suburbs with their kids, and no doubt Marshall and Lily would live nearby with their own trio of kids. Barney would have his daughter to dote on, and Robin would simply be alone but happy, dropping by whenever she was in the neighborhood. There’s Skype, right! Or the 2030 equivalent… I’d cut out all of the ‘lonely Robin needs Ted to be happy’ crap.

And there was me thinking that the inclusion of a strong, independent, feminist character like Robin in the show was a big leap forward compared to the ‘everyone gets married and has children’ endings of so many past shows – including my favourite, Friends.

Ah well… I wonder how Big Bang Theory will end, when its own finale finally comes. I really hope it’s not a Shamy wedding…

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The 3 L's

Old Hollywood Age Gaps….

It seems, for a woman in Hollywood, you have to have buckets of talent and gumption to push through the typical end-of-career age barrier. Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor. Rightly so, I think – age seems to be the only thing that may stop mediocre-but-good-looking actresses like… Kristen Stewart. Lindsay Lohan. Blah, blah, blah.

The same can’t be said for men. Maybe it’s because men tend to age better. Look at Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, James Stewart. They have a ‘best before’ date too, of course – look at Harrison Ford now days, a great actor who has lost his sexy older man appeal and is now days simply… an old man with an earring and a penchant for canal boat holidays. My point is, male actors can go on being the leading man in a movie romance for decades longer than a beautiful leading lady easily can.

Example? Sabrina.

I haven’t seen the 1995 version, but the good old 1954 original; Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.

Not to give much away to those of you who have not seen it, it’s basically about a young girl (Hepburn), who falls in love with her father’s boss’s son (Holden). She goes away to Paris for two years, and returns as this gorgeous and sophisticated European woman, complete with an enviously beautiful Parisian couture wardrobe and trademark Hepburn pixie cut. Pretty quickly a slightly complex, plot-twist riddled love triangle forms between Hepburn, Holden and his brother, Bogart.

Simple enough. I love this movie, though it’s been a few years since I last found the chance to sit down and watch it. But there was one particular line that strikes me each time.

Spoken during a scene between Hepburn and Holden, in which they are discussing their first kiss, Hepburn points out that they have kissed once before – which Holden has long forgotten.

‘I was nine, and you had your arms around me because you were teaching me to skate backwards. Suddenly, you kissed me.’

Note, at the time of release, Hepburn was twenty-five years old, while Holden was thirty five, and as he plays a man thrice-married, how much younger could his character be? He definitely looks like a man in his thirties.

Which means, nine year old Sabrina was kissed by nineteen year old David. And then there’s older brother, Linus (Bogart). Older as in, there’s a twenty year age gap between big brother and little brother. That’s thirty years between Linus and Sabrina. Creepy, creepy.

The same can be said about so many old movies, though

Rear Window. 25 year old Grace Kelly alongside 46 year old James Stewart.

North by Northwest. 55 year old Cary Grant alongside 25 year old Eva Marie Saint.

High Society. 26 year old Grace Kelly alongside 53 year old Bing Crosby, 43 year old Frank Sinatra and 45 year old John Lund. If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t tell you which one she ends up with.

 I just find it bizarre. Yes, women want men – we don’t want boys who are still living with their mothers, rolling around in yesterday’s boxers and the latest notch in their bed post, hungover, perma-tanned and full of steroids – the only way they can realistically achieve those bubble muscles. But surely the other alternative isn’t just wrinkly old men with borderline pedophilic tastes in fresh-from-school young women?

Well, according to old Hollywood, that’s the choice.

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