The 3 L's

Emma-Styles.co.uk

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London

Another London Stroll…

Once again, me and my camera went on one of our London ramblings… oh dear, I’m already running out of post titles for these walks…

There are also one or two thrown in from last week that have since grown on me.

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London

Evening in London

So once again I thought I’d set out to explore London, just me, my camera, pen and paper. I made the most of the late night museum openings, spending hours sat in near-deserted galleries, for once able to really look at the art on display without having to peer through crowds of tourists.

Lately I’ve fallen in love with street photography and I’m having a lot of fun with experimenting with it and with finding my own style. It’s completely out of my ‘comfort zone’, not just for that reasons that I spoke about here, but also because for the past seven or eight years, I have focused primarily on fashion photography, an area in which I don’t have to worry about capturing an candid, spontaneous instant before it’s gone, but instead the model and I can spend as long as necessary perfecting their pose, their expression, explaining the story behind each image to bring character to each shot. With street photography, I get frustrated every time I miss a great shot, and I still tend to duck my head and rush off if ever someone catches me taking their photograph, but I’m missing less shots with each ‘camera walk’ and so far no one has done more than look at me curiously if they see my camera to my eye. I’m a lot more alert, constantly poised with my camera against my chin, my senses seem to have sharpened quickly to what is going on around me, and in the busy, bustling streets of central London, I never quite know where to look, aware that for each great shot that I do see, there could well be – and probably is – another one just over my shoulder. Does anyone remember that kids TV show that was on in the late 90s, about a pocket watch that could stop time? I think it was called Bernard’s Watch. If I had that pocket watch, I’d use to it to make sure that I never miss a shot again. But I guess that would be all too easy… not to mention, exhausting.

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London

Art and Afternoon Walks

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No matter how busy my schedule, I always find the time to take a long walk around London, see an exhibition or two, perhaps visit the theatre, anything that can get me out and about, drinking in as much culture and inspiration as possible, and of course, my camera has to come along with me (but for theatre trips). I’m always trying to make sure that I avoid a creative rut, and before moving to London, I did feel like my whole life was in a rut, a routine, even if, by travelling, it wasn’t a typical one. One of the promises that I made myself when I made my move here, was to get back into the habit of regularly stepping out of my comfort zone.

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For me, street photography is definitely out of my comfort zone. Oh, I can’t and have been known to snap away as I make my way around an unfamiliar place – abroad. It’s a much easier thing to do when there are language barriers, and I’m so clearly not a local. But here, in London, where people can potentially confront me over what I’m doing, knowing that I’d probably not be a good enough actress to pull of pretending to be a tourist.. its a scary thought to an introvert like myself. However, I was determined, and as you can see… I didn’t come away empty handed.

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Kudos have to go to my old college professor (hi Steve), who had a habit of shooting candid street photography discreetly from waist/chest height. At the time, I thought he was crazy he is, of course, completely crazy, but I found it to be such a great way for me to break through that shell of shyness, the paranoid part of me that was too busy fretting about whether people would notice if I take a shot of them, whether they’d confront me, but equally, being too shy to approach people and ask for their photograph (after all, yesterday it took me five minutes to pluck up the courage to ask to the wonderfully dressed woman on Brick Lane, hurried only by noticing that she was about to leave, only to be told, frankly, to bugger off).

So that’s how I began, with a few tentative clicks of the shutter from waist-height, timed to match a noisy rush of traffic. No one noticed. I came to a quiet street, with no noise to cover Canon’s irritably loud shutter. Second photo, and again, no one batted an eye lid. And that was it, boom, fear obliterated. I spent the rest of the afternoon brazenly hopping about, camera pressed to my eye, photographing anyone and anything that caught my eye. It now seems like such a stupid thing to have begun my afternoon worrying about, as after all, I have been carrying around a camera for as long as I can remember, and if ever I leave the country, I have no qualms about photographing whatever takes my fancy, so why does that suddenly change in London?

Well, not anymore.

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Everything I love about London is here for all to see; the madness, the vast, eccentric mix of culture, the mass of public art and entertainment for us all to enjoy, the laughter and how easy it is for everyone to enjoy the city together, but equally the unspoken rules of London: no eye contact, do not speak with strangers, especially on the tube. Big no, no, which as a person who enjoys a good book when travelling by tube, is more than happy with this arrangement. There’s this energy about London and I feel like I’m absorbing it whenever I leave my home; I return each evening smiling, inspired, motivated to knuckle down and work, network, create. Not that I specifically need London for any of that, but to be in a city that amplifies my creative energies tenfold, is such a wonderful, incredible feeling.

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I walked about a dozen miles… from Islington to St Paul’s Cathedral, walking south to Tate Modern (I then stepped inside for a browse, as it’s been far too long since my last visit!), along Southbank, past Big Ben, through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, followed by what must have been 1000 miles walking around the mega Waterstones alone (I can never resist), back along Fleet Street, and back towards Angel, back home.

Yes, I guess you could say that my feet now hurt, as do my legs and shoulders. Of course, I could have been sensible, I could have taken the tube, or the bus, but then I would never have found half of these photographs if I had done that. The aches and pains are worth it… and tomorrow morning when it’s even worse, I’ll read this back and look back through these photographs and remind myself of that fact. No, that won’t be necessary. I’ll still be buzzing from my day.

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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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Workaholic

Meg’s Collection

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It’s that time of year, when students are struggling with repeated all-nighters to meet their big deadlines. No, we weren’t all like that, some of us spent the entire semester pulling all-nighters purely because we wanted our final work to be perfect. Meg, a University of Derby fashion student, is one of those students. Just look at the detail that has gone into these laser-cut designs… beautiful!

I was the lucky photographer who she selected to photograph her collection. It was a beautiful day for a photo shoot, and as we had chosen Wollaton Hall, a stately home in Nottinghamshire that is open to the public (and a spot where I have worked before with a University of Derby fashion student, as well as for one of my own personal shoots), we had quite an audience, members of the public lining the various benches that surrounded the greenhouse, watching us work, complimenting our gorgeous model sisters. The sun was shining, perhaps a little too harshly, but we made do. Thank god for reflectors.

Besides a small incident with a bee somehow getting trapped in our model’s trousers (all was well – none of us have ever laughed so much in our lives!), everything went without a hitch. A shout out has to go not only to my lovely assistant, Gem, but also to Meg’s boyfriend, her chauffeur who stepped in as a second assistant when we were experimenting with spontaneous ideas. It was such a great team to work with.

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Workaholic

Katie Stainer Jewellery

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I really enjoy collaborating with talented individuals; designers, makeup artists, models. I love to see how others look at the world, and to be inspired by them, and hopefully, I inspire them in turn, and if I see evidence of that, it’s just the best feeling.

This particular shoot was focused around the jewellery and accessories of the amazingly talented Katie Stainer, whose portfolio and online shop can be found here. I’ve always adored origami, though my skills in that area are limited to cranes and boxes, and the occasional fox, so you can imagine my envy to see Katie’s beautifully folded, waterproof jewellery, all made from vintage books and decorative paper. After far too long admiring her collection, we turned our attention to the task at hand.

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Katie is a very down-to-earth character, the sort of person who nonchalantly folds a book into a headpiece as a spontaneous photograph idea that one of us threw out there, chatting about her favourite novels and TV shows as she did so. Therefore, she wanted equally down-to-earth images, free of over-edited, perfected models who had been pinched in, smoothed out, polished and slicked to perfection. Therefore, we chose to work with Tasha, a girl who is naturally stunning in her own right.

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Our studio was makeshift, but wonderful, consisting of draped fabric pinned to the wall, alongside a wall of glass that allowed plenty of natural sunlight. While lately I have found that I spend more and more time in a studio space, I always try to find a space with large windows such as this one; I will always prefer the use of natural sunlight over makeshift lighting any day, and even when I do find myself turning to Profoto or Lasolite or Bowens for a helping hand, I try my best to recreate sunlight as closely as possible… unless I’m going for something completely dramatic, of course, such as during this shoot.

To top off the shoot, Katie was kind enough to give both myself and our team a necklace each from her collection, which I took as a sign that she was definitely happy with how our shoot turned out in the end.

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