The 3 L's

Idol of the Week: Emma Watson

Surely you’ve seen it? Everyone’s talking about it – the internet is going crazy over it. Twitter is pinging with supportive tweets and snaps. Celebrities are clamouring over each other to try and associate themselves with it. I’m talking about Emma Watson’s amazing UN Speech, which can be viewed here.

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I’m a big believer in having idols. I think having people to admire and even envy (within reason) is healthy – without losing sight of ourselves, of course – as it inspires us all to embark on a path of self improvement, and so when those who we admire involve themselves in greater causes, such as charities, it inspires those who look up to them to become involved, and to step back and think ‘how can I help? Is there something about my lifestyle that contradicts this amazing cause? Is there something that I can do?’

I’ve heard some people say things such as ‘why is this little actress getting involved with this stuff? What difference can she make – she’s an actress’. Please. As a member of the Harry Potter generation, its fairly obvious to me just how influential Emma Watson is. The series may be over (for now… who knows, after all), but the Harry Potter generation is ongoing, and therefore whatever ‘Hermione Granger’ has to say, this age group sits up and listens.

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It’s so great that she is obviously fully aware of this fact and is therefore using her voice wisely.

So yes, she is someone who I admire, in the mush that is the often-ugly world of Hollywood; a world of twerking, ‘accidental’ wardrobe malfunctions, sex tapes and… Jesus.. the Kardashians I think I’d cry if either of my younger sisters turned around and said that they want to be just like one of the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus when they grow up, to be quite frank.

So this is a little shout out post to someone who actually speaks sense.. simply because I like people who speak sense, but they are such a rare find!

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I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.

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All I can do is follow my instincts, because I’ll never please everyone.

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But it’s a journey and the sad thing is you only learn from experience, so as much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.

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I don’t want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about.

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There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it. Sometimes you’ve got to blast through and have faith.

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I have felt for the last 10 years I have had this battle; I’ve been fighting so hard to have an education. It’s been this uphill struggle. I was Warner Bros’ pain in the butt. I was their scheduling conflict. I was the one who made life difficult.

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I don’t have perfect teeth, I’m not stick thin. I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say that she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything.

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The saddest thing for a girl to do is to dumb herself down for a guy.

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I feel that young girls are told that they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess, definitely.

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Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love.

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As much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.

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Workaholic

Sleeping Maidens: A New Project

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Up until now, my photo shoots have always been one-off ideas, rather than ongoing projects, but lately, rather than having 1000 individual ideas bouncing around in my head, I’ve had 1000 intertwined ideas filling my head, and stories to accompany them.

This is where my ‘Sleeping Maidens’ project comes in. Over the next several months, I’ll be creating a series of images with a whimsical, romantic, Sleeping Beauty-esque feel to them, inspired by Ophelia, to the Romanticism movement, to fairy tales and folklore. I’m so excited to put my these ideas into motion, and to see what I create at the end of these next months – perhaps a book?

Of course, every step of the project will be documented on this project, including behind the scenes images – perhaps even a video or two.

If you’re a model, makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist, fashion, jewellery or accessories designer, if you’re a retoucher, a videographer who’s happy to step in and film some BTS footage for us, or a photography assistant, or anyone who feels that that have something to offer and wishes to collaborate with me, please, feel free to get in touch at:

emmastylesphotography@gmail.com

There is a moodboard available on my Pinterest account for anyone who is interested, and I shall be updating it frequently.

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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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Workaholic

Rhea Clements

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Earlier this spring, I was asked by the extremely talented Rhea Clements to photograph her latest collection of knitted jewellery and accessories for her website. I have been fortunate to work Rhea multiple times in the past, and we have collaborated often; sometimes she is willing to provide me with items for a personal project of mine, and sometimes I step in, as I did in this instance, to help to photograph a new collection.

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Somewhere along the line, what began as a simple catalogue shoot developed something of a vintage, Mad Men-esque quality, which I now adore. It just goes to show how easily influenced we all are by the things around us. Though I would not describe Rhea’s work as vintage in style or reminscent of Mad Men, it works, regardless. Slightly muted colours finish the look, and I can only hope that Rhea is pleased with the results. She certainly claims to be, and that’s good enough for me._MG_0434

Our lighting was a simple set up so as not to distract from the items in anyway, providing a literal blank canvas from which Rhea’s bold colour pallets and the bright wardrobe could shine out. Our model was the wonderful Oona Elizabeth, while hair and makeup were both provided by Razwana Kausar.

I can’t wait until the next opportunity for Rhea and I to experiment and be creative with our collaborations.

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MUA/Hair: Razwana Kausar

Styling: Emma Styles

Jewellery/Accessories: Rhea Clements

Studio: Pixel Pals Studio, Derby

The full collection can be viewed and purchased here.

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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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