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If Only: Outfit of the Day 15#

I’ve spent the last two days day and a half at Notting Hill Carnival, and on Saturday, it was lovely, sunny, generally warm but for a few gusts of a chilly breeze. As expected, it was cloud, chaotic, the air thick with the smoke of a thousand BBQs as everyone whose homes lined the carnival route made the most of the event, selling everything from jerk chicken to curry to sweet treats to raise a few pounds for themselves. I even saw people advertising their bathroom for public use – for a small fee. Today, however, the heavens opened, and the plastic, neon disposible rain macs that for some reason become acceptable the moment a person either a) travels to a rainy country, entering stereotypical tourist territory, or b) a person attend a festival/carnival. Personally, I hate them, and so I couldn’t help but focus today’s ‘if only’ outfit around the chicest plastic mac that I could find, as my own classic beige trench only served me well for about an hour.

Ah, England, what is it with you and rainy bank holidays?

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1. ASOS Long Line Rain Mac with Spot. £35. Available here.

2. ASOS Premium Full Skirt in Bonded Satin. £70. Available here.

3. Topshop Lace Bralet. £22. Available here.

4. H&M Knitted Cardigan in White. £7.99. Available here.

5. Kurt Geiger Bettie Black Boots. £75. Available here.

6. Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Karlie Textured-Leather Mini Shoulder Bag. £222. Available here.

7. Alexander McQueen Skull Bead Bracelet. £365.65. Available here.

8. Topshop Oval Stone Ring Set. £12.50. Available here.

9. Topshop Plain Black Cord Bracelet. £14.50. Available here.

10. River Island Gold Tone ‘Cute as a Button’ Bracelet Set. £7. Available here.

11. Accessorize Long Bobble Rope Necklace. £15. Available here.

12. Accessorize 2x Bordeaux Sparkley Stretch Set Bracelets. £10. Available here.

13. Vision Star Dome Umbrella in Clear. £19.99. Available here.

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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

Photography Graduation

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A quick announcement… my graduation! Yes, I’m finally out of the education system after… wow, seventeen years! Even longer if we’re counting nursery. The vast majority of my life has been spent as a student, and now finally, I’m free. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

I was so ready to leave last summer, when I was completing my exhibition, As I’ve mentioned before, I broke my foot in the lead up to my final deadline – on a photo shoot. Terrible, terrible timing on my part to break my first (and hopefully only – *touch wood*) bone. It left me feeling frustrated, bringing a grinding halt to my planned photo shoots. I made a few wobbly attempts, balancing on one leg, crutches stuffed under my armpits, camera firmly on a tripod, but it proved a nightmare. Luckily, I am not a last minute person when it comes to deadlines, and so I was organised, I had already shot several shoots for my final project, giving me a lot to choose from. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I broken my foot before having taken a single final-exhibition photograph.

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But, as I have also mentioned before, proudly, everything went well, and I came out of my three years as a student of Commercial Photography with a first. Yes, I am proud of myself for that. For once, that perfectionist streak is calmed. There is nothing more I can do to please her. In this matter, anyway.

Looking back, I do wish, however, that I had not cut down the number of images that I planned to display at the exhibition to just one, for practicality. Maybe I’m wrong to regret it, maybe it would have proven impossible, as I remember the difficulty I had in trying to squeeze my single A1/A0 (I can no longer recall quite how large it was) print into my friend’s tiny Smart Car. Correction. That suggests that it was me doing the squeezing… I remember watching, balanced on my crutches, on the pavement, while my friend tried single-handed to squeeze the huge, framed and well-wrapped image into her tiny car. It just about squeezed in, with some persuasion. I’m not sure that she, or any of my friends, would have agreed to a further two trips back and forth to the framing shop for the other two, had I gone ahead with my original three-image plan.

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None of that matters though. My change in opinion over the last year of my time at university is what matters. I left feeling, like most of us at graduation, I think, a little deflated, wondering whether it was worth the money that I would soon have to start paying back, or whether it’s a waste of time studying photography as a degree. I wondered if I’d chosen the wrong University, and wondered how different my life would be had I studied elsewhere. I’m a terrible ‘what if’ person.

Now, however, I look back and I don’t feel that way anymore. To any fellow photography students/graduates who ever feels that way, I suggest that you do the math, and calculate just how much money you would have spent on hired lighting, studio space, camera equipment for the various shoots and experiments of the past three years. Add to that an estimated cost for a photography workshop with your lecturer, rather than the ‘free’ (until we all reach that dreaded debt threshold) lessons they gave us. Because those are the equivalents to learning the trade sans degree. Personally, I may now be in debt, but I’ve saved a few thousand.

Yes, you could argue that most of my photo shoots would not have taken place were I not at university, surrounded by the exact inspiration and people and the opportunity to use free equipment and free studio space, because spending money can be stifling for the imagination when a poor, starving artist. Then again, how bare would my portfolio look without the free access to studios and equipment?

What if, what if, what if…

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Workaholic

Hannah & Dan

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Recently I was lucky enough to be asked to photograph the wedding of Hannah and Dan in Lichfield. The weather was, as you can see, typically British, and we spent the day sheltering indoors from the rainstorm to end all rainstorm, thus putting an end to our plans to take some beautiful photographs in the small park across the road from the Registry Office. It was a shame, but luckily, we had a backup plan in place, because of course, no wedding photographer should ever step outdoors without a backup plan. You can’t rearrange for next time, after all.

After handing my umbrella over to a little girl who’s Dad’s coat over her head was not doing much to protect her dress from the rain (it’s not like I can hold an umbrella and a camera with particular ease anyway), I spent the first hour drenched, until I finally found my way during a scheduled break to the ladies, to freshen up. Drowned rat is an understatement.

The beautiful bride, Hannah, however, looked incredible.  She was glowing. I just wanted to share a few images from the day. I had such a fun time shooting this wedding, and I was welcomed into the day with open arms by the entire wedding party, feeling like I was a part of their group rather than simply the wedding photographer. There was such a special atmosphere that day. Thank you, Hannah and Dan, for choosing me to document your day.

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Oh, and a special mention has to go out to these two… they were hilarious!

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The 3 L's

University Exhibition

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It’s the end of an era, and we’re all feeling a little sentimental. I simultaneously feel ready to finally leave so many years of studying, ready to spread my wings and throw myself into the world of being an adult… which for me means choosing a rather unconventional, nomadic lifestyle. I’ll become a digital nomad, and I’ll travel, and be happy and free and it’s going to be wonderful. Perhaps one day I’ll come back to ‘the real world’ and commit myself to rent and bills and maybe even a mortgage, but for now, no thank you. It’s possible to earn a living without having a ‘base’ location, and I’ve spoken about this at length over at the other blog.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone does with their lives post-university; who will go ahead and become professional photographers, and who will venture instead into other careers – desk jobs, part time jobs, amazing-but-completely-irrelevant-to-photography jobs. We’ve all placed our bets as to who will marry first, who will have a baby first, who will buy a house first, who will move to which country and who will be the most/least successful of us all. From experience, I find that my bets are always wrong, and the person with the ‘firsts’ is always whoever I least suspect. Let’s see, maybe I’ll get a few right this time.

University, you were great… and even when you weren’t, you had a free studio/lighting store, so thanks for that. It really came in handy!

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