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Trend of the Day: Turbans

Today as I walked down Brick Lane, ungracefully stuffing a freshly made, still-warm cream cheese bagel in my face, I found myself, as usual, admiring the wardrobes of the people around me, looking at what they were wearing, and how they were wearing it. After all, there are certain streets of London that are used as a public runway, and Brick Lane is definitely one of them – everyone consciously dresses for these public domain runways, myself included. There was one woman whose outfit struck me more than most.

She was wearing a turban.

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Behind the scenes. Prada SS 2007.

Remember when that trend first took off (in regards to 21st century trends, I mean), back in 2007, and then again in 2010? They first appeared on our runways, introduced to the trend pool with Prada’s spring show, followed quickly by Hermès (because of course, if there is a brand that are going to use turbans in their collection, it would be Hermès), and Jean Paul Gautier. Topshop swiftly brought Prada-esque turbans to their high street stores, while celebrity fashion icons such as Naomi Campbell and Mary-Kate Olsen were papped wearing them. Their reappearance in 2010 was a big part down to the Sex and the City sequel, and ever since, they have been a fairly frequent item to see on both catwalks and our local high street, reappearing every season since, paraded by everyone from Luisa Beccaria to Issa to Armani and Jason Wu. And it looks like they’ll be here to stay for a while.

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However, while I did give the look a try once, they’re a tricky thing to pull off… the amount of confidence that I think a person must have to wear a turban.. it’s a bold look, wrapping a scarf around your head, that’s for sure. My style of turban was a knotted scarf (a clumsy version of the Carrie), with my at-the-time Rapunzel hair pinned up, with lots of carefully plucked strands falling around the back of my neck and framing my face. While I remember walking around self-consciously, in my defense, this was while I was living in Derby – a city that will garner stares if you were anything more daring than a floral tea dress. I think I will have to wait for my hair to grow before I try that same knotted style again, here in fashion-friendly London. Visible hair with a turban is pretty much a must, after all.

The woman on Brick Lane, however, looked incredible. Sadly, she denied my asking to take a street style photograph, so I can’t share just how incredible she looked with you. It wasn’t simply a scarf wrapped around her head and dubbed a turban, nor was it the sleek, neatly knotted, optionally pre-tied turbans that line the high streets; the most common style of wearing it, a la Carrie Bradshaw. It was a big, messy, clumsily wrapped mass of cocoa coloured fabric, teamed with a coffee woolen wrap cardigan that skimmed her ankles, black boots, black jeans, black tank.. honestly, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t been polite enough to ask for her photograph, and instead gone for the old snap-and-run.

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Milly SS12. Issa SS11.

A few of my favourite turban looks of the moment:

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Priscila Diniz.

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Maja P.

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Samii Ryan.

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As for this lady, I hope I look as cool as her when I’m her age.

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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

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

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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Wanderer

The Pains of Restless Soul Syndrome

yup      and currently my spirit has been home too long for the liking…

Hello, my name is Emma and I have R.S.S. As in, Restless Soul Syndrome – yes, with capitals, because I think it should be recognised as an official condition. It drives me crazy. What’s that saying about… you can have it all, but not at the same time? Or something like that. That is my life. There’s two sides of me; the crazy, spontaneous-trip taking, digitally nomadic, wandering hobo creative travel nut, and the somewhat sensible, but equally ambitious, city-loving Fashion photographer. Part of me wants to spend the rest of my days (or the next several years, at least) seeing every inch, documenting every moment, building up this blog and making a freelance, online living, on the road. The other side of me wants a cute little apartment in London, or Paris, or somewhere in Italy, and to build up an amazing wardrobe and focus on getting my portfolio into the big fashion magazines.

When I’m travelling, I feel guilty for not devoting 100% of my time to work, even though I still am working (you know, about 50% of the time), so then I come home, as I did at Christmas, to focus primarily on work, sneaking away only for a few days here and there, and yet I find myself still feeling guilty. Guilty for confining myself to one place, to one office, one home, when there is so much of the world that I have not yet seen and so many things that I have not yet done! R.S.S is a contrary bastard.

I think it’s obvious that my ‘cure’ will be found in balancing out my needs out better. I’m still trying to become truly ‘digitally nomadic’ in my business. Too much of my work is still UK-based, and while popping to London frequently is great, and I adore it, I need to spread things further afield. I’ll live in London one day. That much is obvious to me. And Paris, and at least one Italian city. I’m just constantly torn between my impatience to move there now and my impatience to see every single country in the world. Yes, I’m only twenty-two. There’s plenty of time to do everything I want to do, but damn it, I wish it were possible to choose one thing that I want and temporarily switch every other desire off until I’ve finished with the first one.

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The 3 L's

2014

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It is definitely a good time for a re-brand, I would say. Time for a new website, new photography blog, new logo… a completely fresh, new look.

Recently, I’ve learnt the importance of not allowing my portfolio, my business and generally, my creativity to become stale. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a loop, like a broken record, repeating the same ideas over and over, producing the same photographs, working with the same people. I was guilty of this in 2013; for example, I worked with one particular model no less than half a dozen times in two months. We worked great together, and, as people often do when they work together as often as we did between 2012 and 2013, we became good friends, which for a while only fed our creativity further; she was, I suppose you could say, my muse. However, after a while, our model-photographer friendship became less of a muse, and more of a habit. Our shoots became less ‘spontaneous’ and more ‘half-heartedly planned’. Actually, no, half-hearted is not accurate… just… rushed.

It was therapeutic, really. In many ways, 2013 was a bad year for me, personally. A lot happened, and these somewhat repetitive photo shoots were a release, with the familiar team, making me laugh, inspiring me. I don’t regret falling into a replay loop for those two months, but it’s definitely not something that I wish to continue either.

I plan to break that mould this year, and to experiment with new creative teams, new locations, new creative mediums. I have been working hard to learn web design, experimenting with graphic design, throwing myself into the creative writing that I have always privately enjoyed so much. I have for some time been considering whether I am purely a photographer, or whether or not I will some time in the near future also call myself a graphic designer, or a writer, or even a web designer? The four creative professions overlap easily, they can each focus on the same fashion-led specialty, while opening my eyes to ways of creating art that this time last year, I would never have considered.

I have so many plans for 2014, and I am so excited to begin! I will be stepping out of my comfort zone with some new projects. I will be experiment and discover new areas of photography, further my new-found graphic and web design skills (hopefully, talents), exploring new styles and techniques and meeting new people. I have a moleskine of ideas that are still little more than a scribbled note or a hastily drawn sketch, and this needs rectifying. What’s more, I will be deciding on my future ‘base’. It’s no secret that I tend to be a bit of a nomad. I blog about it here. I love border-hopping across Europe; the vast array of cultures, languages and opinions are such a wonderful source of inspiration for me. However, recently I have been wondering whether it is time to lay down some roots, and to find a base for myself, and to become a girl who occasionally travels, rather than a girl who occasionally flies back home.

It’s a tough decision for me, and right now I have no idea which I will choose… not just in terms of nomad or… sedentary? And after that decision, then there is the matter of which country do I choose? Which city? London? Paris? Milan? Or do I throw myself out into the unknown entirely and fly to the States, to NYC – a complete unknown to me. It would have to be a fashion capital, I can say that much at present. That much is clear, no? No doubt, I shall blog about my decision, once it is made, and so keep a close eye.

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