I couple of years ago I went to a photography workshop that changed the way I photograph people almost entirely.
I've always loved photographing people, the ability to capture the depth of a human emotion in a still image is an incredible gift and if you have even a shred of it, it's something to be nurtured constantly. A couple of years after deciding I knew this is what I was meant to do with my life, I hit a creative plateau, I felt a bit lost within my work, my images weren't progressing the way I wanted them to and the way I knew in my heart I was capable of.
I decided to invest in myself and booked onto an advanced photography workshop that focused on our work as artists, not what equipment we used. Part of the workshop homework was to put together a slideshow of our work to show the group. It was my turn and as I was sitting watching all these other talented artists view my work, I was noticing that every time images from a particular shoot came up on the slideshow the photos got the same emotional reaction. At the end of the presentation the leader of the workshop turned to face me with tears in her eyes and said "Who are that couple on the moors?" Slightly perplexed but intrigued I answered her, "That's my parents." A resounding mumble of realisation and understanding went round the room, what she said next was something that stuck with me ever since.
"The way you photograph your parents, it's like you can literally feel your love for them radiating out of you and down through your lens into these images."
Everyone emphatically agreed and much weeping commenced (I won't lie, mostly from me) not just because what a beautiful thing to hear from a room full of people who have no idea who I am or who my parents are, but because I knew right there everything I had been doing wrong, and exactly what I needed to do to become the artist and photographer I always wanted to be, always felt like maybe I could be. The photo's I took of my Mum and Dad that day were completely spontaneous and actually in the middle of a really difficult time for our family, but I adore them as people and apparently it showed, that's all it took. I wasn't thinking technically, caught up in my head, I didn't have to try and dig out emotions using my brain, they were just there.
In the plight of being seen as a proper business woman (hmm) I had always kept my clients at a friendly arms length. I loved chatting to them of course, hearing about their family, cuddling their babies, but emotionally I didn't take all of it in, I wasn't connecting with them on that level and for such a ridiculous reason, to be "professional"? What does that really even mean? I left the workshop with my guard immediately down, from the first shoot I did after that till every shoot I do now, I take my time, I sit and chat but really listen, notice little details, take in the energy of your home, how you hold your children, how you look at each other. It slowly puts me into a place of seeing you not as a client but as one of your loved ones looking on. I feel that connection and that love they have for you and you have for each other, and I shoot from a place of depth, of emotional investment in your life. I don't just want the pretty pictures any more, I want the real ones, the ones you'll look back on when you're old and remember how you felt when you said 'I do', brought home your child into their first home, when you had a buzz of confidence you didn't know was in you.
I now have all the feels. It's a lot more exhausting, but so, so worth it.
In the interest of getting to know each other better, here are some things about me
- Giving people surprises is probably my most favourite thing ever.
- I was born and brought up in Middlesbrough and I'm chuffed to be a Yorkshire girl. Currently, I live in Rutland, which is the smallest county in England.
- If I had to choose just one, my favourite photographer would be Helmut Newton.
- My husband and I have two little black floofers named Manny and Pugsley and they are the greatest doggos in the world. Fact.
- Sushi is my favourite food to eat on date night, Italian at home.
- I love dramatic black and white romance films and cheesy horror. On the sofa you will find me watching mostly The Addams family, Parks n Rec, RuPaul's Drag Race, Black Books or Curb.
- "Ooh has it got rum in it?" - Yes please.
- Music I'm into most? Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors, Pulp, Bon Iver, The War on Drugs & José González.
- The country I would most like to visit next is Norway.
- My favourite book is an extremely weird old children's novel called Nicobobinus. I also love reading as many books written by empowering babes as I can get my hands on. (Patti Smith, Norah Ephron, Amy Poehler, Lindy West, Tina Fey, Caitlin Moran, Roxanne Gay... You get the idea.)
- I plan my calendar year by the moon cycles, give it a bash! You may be surprised.
- I currently shoot with a Canon 5D mark III, various prime lenses, an instax Mini90, instax wide and a Diana F.
- My first "real" camera was a Pentax K10D. I chose it because growing up, my dad always took the most beautiful photos on his Pentax analogue camera.
- For whom it may concern... I am a Mudblood in Gryffindor and my Patronus is a Rottweiler.
- I always wear black.
- I have a constantly growing collection of black & grey tattoos. My sweet Grandma loved Owls and she inspired my most treasured tattoo, a Tawny Owl.