It’s been a busy year and I’ve had lots of super successful moments. My work has been chosen and published in more places than ever before. I was offered a bursary to complete the part-time art degree which I’ve been doing with The Open College of Arts, and I received a 90% grade for the last module I completed. (I hope to complete the degree this year if I can.) I also took part in several exhibitions and met lots of new people. And I finally got around to publishing a new website.
Here are a handful of images that will sum-up 2019 for me. I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings. To celebrate the New Year, I’m currently offering 5% off all shoots completed by the end of January 2020 (T&Cs apply). Get in touch on 07581 694934 or drop me a line at email@example.com to find out more.
A few weeks ago I went with a family to a local park for a shoot. I tend to recommend families take their time when choosing which images they would like to enlarge and frame. Sometimes we need a little bit of a gap to see what’s going on in photographs, perhaps even more so when young children who are growing and changing all the time are concerned.
I aim to capture photographs which are full of life and was very pleased when a photographer friend described one of my images precisely in that way. Perhaps working nowadays on digital means we have greater opportunity to take risks, which we might not have been inclined to do back in the day when photographers worked with film. Some photographers see this as a problem – I see it as a brilliant plus. I don’t mean you should simply press the shutter down for ages and rapidly shoot as many frames as possible under all circumstances – apart from being an unhelpful strategy, there would be way too many frames to look back over when editing (in a world where we bombarded by images as it is!) Rather, you can try things out and experiment because the cost of a digital frame is not prohibitive. And so it’s not a problem to allow the kids to get involved in the creativity. Of course, you also need to pay attention to their energy levels and patience – but ultimately I want to take pictures that are teeming with life rather than stilted and posed, and that is my aim when working with families.
Here are a handful of images from a morning with a lovely family and two beautiful, very sweet children. This shoot was given as a Christmas present last year. Check out the link for more details, and find a discount available too for anyone who books before the 1st December.
I don’t really get the thing where people manage to start buying Christmas presents six months in advance. Thankfully I only have a few people to buy for as I’ve yet to do my Christmas shopping, and looking at my diary I’m not entirely sure when that is going to happen. Let’s hope I can avoid a frenzied assault in a state of angry panic in the local toyshop sometime after lunch on the 24th. I have friends who have dozens of cousins and nieces and nephews, all of whom need something. Surely a Secret Santa is preferable in that case! If you’re like me and have left it until the very last minute, and have no idea what to get, how about a voucher for a family shoot? You can choose between a relaxed session where we aim to capture some images of everyone in a favourite place or at home, or something more planned where a family and I will work together to create an image over a period of time that is deliberately made to say something about you and your loved ones. Visit my site for more information or get in touch via email or phone.
Here are a few images from a recent shoot I did where we took a few photographs in the family home and then headed to Merton Hall in Wimbledon.
Happy shopping or whatever else you do at this time of the year.
A couple of weeks ago I dropped the kids off at school and sauntered down the road to Wandsworth Registry Office to photograph one of the loveliest weddings. Maybe most weddings are lovely but I particularly liked being witness to the genuine and extremely evident feelings of joy I hope I was able to capture in this one. And what a cute baby to make my day too. I’m so pleased Hannah & Andy got in touch with me so I could photograph their day. All in all, everything about my morning at work that day made me think, this job’s pretty good indeed. As always in blog posts about weddings, I think I’ll let the photographs do the talking. Have a great week, SJ
I wasn’t quite woken up with a cup of tea in bed, since the oldest child who is capable of making such a thing happen has reached that teenaged habit of wanting to sleep in for as long as he can at the weekends. Instead, my 4 year old ended my night’s sleep with a beautiful rendition of a song about a spring chicken and some chicks hatching – “heh! let me out!” the little chicks yelled at the end of each numbered verse. It was a beautiful, stirring, passionate and loud performance sung right into my ear as he lay on top of me, trying to get his hands up my top. There are worse ways to be woken, of course.
Yes – Mothers day may be a commercial celebration driven by conglomerates in order to commercialise yet another part of our lives. But…ignore that aspect of it. Instead lets celebrate mothers, young and old; those still with us and all the many that no longer are. We all begin our lives inside the belly of of our mum. It’s a profound relationship.
Motherhood is at the same time both wonderful and challenging, life affirming and desperately difficult, exciting and then tedious as hell, extraordinary and dreadfully normal too. And what other relationship entails so much bottom-wiping?
No, it’s not all an idealised fantasy by any means! And we in the West have gravitated away from communal living and instead exist in small units that support our economic social structure. Where once we had aunties, grannies, cousins and other community members all working together to bring up the children, now mothers are more isolated. The saying ‘it takes a village to bring up a child’ really resonates with me. Us mums need to remember this when we’re desperately furious with our little ones, and subsequently disappointed in our own failings. It isn’t easy. Luckily, neither is it always trying – there are times when it’s absolutely wonderful being a mum. Sometimes I just love the simple sound of “Mum!”
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a working or stay at home mum, old or young, have single or many children; from the moment we become mothers, our lives are no longer our own. But they are enriched and we are given the opportunity to love in a unique and important way; a love like no other. And that is a very precious.
So mark Mothers Day in which ever way works best for you. But make sure you do!
Yay – lucky me! I’ve just received vouchers for a massage – one of the best presents I could hope for. I really could do with a bit of pampering. I hope you get what you want. And a message for any husbands or people out there who haven’t bothered…. What are you thinking? It’s not too late! Do something small or big. But make sure you do something. It matters and will be so appreciated.
Gotta run – been called to wipe someone’s bottom!
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Below are a collection of images of mothers with their children or grandchildren, including one of my own mum and there’s even a sneaky picture of me and my son in hidden there! (c)SJField 2014/15/16 (and one that’s very old – see if you can spot it!)
If you’re just after photographs, please scroll down to the bottom of the page. Otherwise….
When I agreed with Nic Brown, editor of the local edition of family magazine, Raring2Go, to head out with her to the newly opened GoApe in Battersea Park, it didn’t really register that I had in fact agreed to climb to the tops of some incredibly tall trees, hang from ropes and then go careering through the sky. I wonder, if those facts had actually registered in my mind, I’d have been so eager. The thing is, just a few years ago I was too frightened to walk across a very high bridge I know well, never mind leap off tiny platforms, harnessed admittedly but still… When I say I was too frightened, what I mean is I was really bloody petrified – stuck, still and immovable about the whole tall bridge thing. But apparently, it’s all changed now.
“Sure”, I said, “I’d love to go along to that”. I wasn’t even nervous. In fact, weirdly, I had sort of forgotten that I was once so scared of heights. So, off we drove this morning. And I have to say, even as we filled in forms and read through warnings that began with the sentence, “You are about to embark on a high risk activity….” I still didn’t think anything at all about my previous terror.
The five minute ‘training’ didn’t faze me, and the first couple of stages didn’t either. It was only as I found myself having to climb up a narrow but steep, netted in – thankfully, tunnel that I had any hint of fear. Hang on a minute, I thought, wasn’t I afraid of heights at some point? Oh yeah…. anyway, I was really pleased because even though I found I was suddenly consciously aware of those past feelings, it still wasn’t bothering me. Much. Cool, I thought!
What was quite tricky, I must admit, was taking photographs. We were high up, so even though I was enjoying myself, and not in the same sort of state I certainly would have been in several years ago, it was still fairly nerve wracking at moments, and the rain didn’t help either. I managed to get some nice shots of Nic making her way across the wobbly roped bridges, but of course I always had to be very careful not to step too close to the really rather small platforms in-between each crossing as well as making sure I wasn’t holding people up, so there were things other than taking photographs to think about.
But the thing with the way GoApe is designed, is that it gets more and more challenging as you progress, and so a little scarier too as you get higher. I’m saying I wasn’t as nervous as I once might have been, which is true, but I did swear pretty much every few minutes, so I guess I was finding it somewhat terrifying in-between feeling fine about it. OK, I’m sort of playing it down; it was getting more and more ‘yikes’ as we went. And then the bars you could hold on to were no longer available. And as we made one crossing, all I could say in disbelief was, “It’s just a pole!, It’s just a pole! It’s just a pole!’
Then we came to the zip wire. Oh my god! Was I really going to let myself fly down that? Apparently I was – but only after some very nice friendly people told me that of course I could do it. And guess what it was the most fun ever. I loved it and was rather sad we’d come to the end. But, brilliant news… We were told we could go up the next level of difficulty and go on another zip wire too – whoo hoo! – not, however, before someone working there asked, “Was that you screaming all the way down the zip wire?” Uuuh, yup, that was indeed me.
So off we went again. A bit harder this time. Oh, hang on, a lot harder this time. More precarious seeming, higher and more wobbly all round. I wasn’t keen on the wobbly bits at all. But apparently I wasn’t doing it quite right, which I found out a bit later when someone told me how to get a better balance by holding on to the ropes properly, rather than clinging ignominiously to the wires. Turns out it really feels better when you hold on to the correct ropes. Note to everyone: maybe, just maybe it’s best to pay attention to the training rather than try to get great shots of the person doing the training… although who knows, perhaps they didn’t tell us about the balance thing; I wasn’t listening, obviously.
There was some more wobbly bits and a roped wall to cling to which wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
And then came the second zip wire. Which was good, right? Because I loved the first one. But suddenly I had one of those ‘what if’ moments. And that’s the worst thing to have happened because somehow I didn’t quite make it all the way across, and I’m sure the ‘what if’ thought was responsible, although of course it could have been that I am just so terribly waif-like that I wasn’t quite heavy enough for gravity to do its thing and ensure I made it. Er, hang on, am I really that waif-like? Well, no, actually. I mean, I’m not large but I’m not a tiny wispy thing either. Nope – I’m not even remotely a waif.
So who knows? It was probably the ‘what if’ moment that threw me off course a bit. Anyway, my harness, with me in it, slid back to the middle after failing to make it all the way over, and there I was hanging goodness knows how many feet above the ground quite stuck. I looked down at the ground feeling suddenly sick with fear and a very sweet looking man putting rubbish out the back of the cafe below smiled at me. Or did he smirk. Who knows? I was fucking terrified! “Hello??” I called; horrible, hideous, terrifying thoughts racing through my mind, adrenalin pricking my cheeks. “Hi,” said a voice from below, “what’s your name?” I told him and he then explained he was going to give me an extra wire to grab onto. “Ok!” No one looked terribly panicked. Well, no one expect me that is. I felt really panicked. I kinda wanted to burst into tears. In fact, it was pretty bloody terrifying actually. At the time.
But of course, I grabbed the wire, pulled myself over to the next platform and then stood very quietly by a steady and sturdy tree and tried to gather myself. “Do you want to carry on?” “No!” I replied, “not really”, the thought of any more hanging mid air really too much just at that moment. “You’re nearly there,” said the kind voice. “Ok,” I reluctantly agreed. But I took my time. Staying very still and letting the fear subside. And suddenly as I stood there, everything became really clear and focused in my mind.
Shit, I thought. You have to face your fears. You have to do some weird and crazy stuff, like climbing up trees and flying down wires. You can’t just sit at your desk the whole time. Or hide under your duvet, which obviously was for many years my default position. But you can’t, especially if you’re going to take any decent photographs. Because let’s face it, any monkey can learn how to press a button on a camera. But if you want to do more than that, you have to take risks and put yourself in scary situations and push the boundaries of what you’re doing. Again and again. And for some of us, well for me, things can seem scary until they’ve been done – and I realise they weren’t that scary after all. Or even if they were, I still managed to get through it and do something positive.
When I first went out to take photographs of actors for free in order to get some experience and build a portfolio, I was shitting myself. And then when I set up and published my website, I was so frightened of what the world might say, I can’t tell you. And then when I went to do some corporate jobs when I still felt I had really no idea what I was doing (I did though, actually, just less than I know now), I was so bloody scared, I nearly burst into tears on the way.
I have to say, one of the reasons I feel I was able to put myself in any of those situations, despite my innate desire to climb under the duvet, is because after having found myself lying a pool of snot and grief on the floor three years ago, following the break up of my marriage, which was perhaps the scariest thing I have ever been through by far, I realised I can pretty much face most things. Suffice to say, it has been a catalyst for all sorts of pretty challenging changes. And definitely for the good too, I’m sure.
I must tell you though, that I still get nervous, but only because I really want to do a good job; and thankfully, no longer to the point where I can barely move, or where I spend more energy trying to quell the terror than I spend on just getting the job done. The more you get out there and do it, the easier it becomes. But the challenges you set yourself get harder, just like the levels at GoApe do. There are barriers inside me that I have to overcome and always will be. And maybe I’ll get stuck now and again but thankfully, there are people like the man who handed me the wire to help. Phew! So, on I went and when I reached the last zip wire I made the people there promise me I’d be able to get across without getting stuck again and guess what, I did!
In the end I had a fantastic time. It was so much fun and despite the slightly terrifying moment dangling from a wire between two trees in the middle of the air, I am absolutely pleased to bits I didn’t remember how bloody shit scared I used to be of heights and went along. Thanks so much to Nic from Raring2Go for the invite! My muscles are really sore so I know I got some exercise. And all in all, it feels like a very good thing that I’m off for a drink with my friends now – I think I deserve it. Here are some pics from the morning. Stay well, SJ
Things that do it for me: Originality, authenticity, intelligence and sheds loads of good-natured humour. Kate and Neil’s wedding, which took place at Islington Town Hall and then The Draper’s Arms, contained all those elements. And to top it off there were lots and lots of kids running around too, which I always love at a wedding. Kate and Neil stamped their personalities all over every aspect of the wedding from the moment the day started. Kate sang beautifully at the beginning of the ceremony, and Neil had written a script which friends of theirs performed. One of the absolute best moments was the wonderfully idiosyncratic and highly original way in which the speeches were made. Instead of simply standing up and talking as we might have expected they did it in the style of Just a Minute, which was hosted by the fantastically funny Bernard in Nicholas Parson’s role (seriously funny actually, a mutual composer friend of ours, whom I recently discovered won a Perrier Award at the Edinburgh festival some years ago!) and everyone involved had to say what they wanted without, of course, hesitation, repetition or deviation. As you can imagine there was plenty of buzzing, which led to masses of laughter and fun. It was such a wonderful and clever way to express themselves and I know the guests all really enjoyed it too. Thanks Kate and Neil for inviting me to be part of your day – it was terrific.
I was thrilled to be asked to photograph Ryan and Jessie’s wedding in the beautiful St. Mary’s on Paddington Green. And wow, they both looked amazing and so in love. I am going to let the photographs do the talking this week as I really think the expressions of joy, adoration and commitment speak for themselves . All I will say is thank you very much to Ryan and Jessie for giving me the opportunity to do their wedding. I felt really blessed to be there, to capture their wonderful day and to be able to record some beautiful memories for them.
Son No 1 left the house this morning telling me I was a disgusting mother who didn’t love him and only cared about myself. This as I was trying desperately to get him and Son No 2 out the house on time so they were not late for school, despite their best efforts to sabotage me, because I think it’s really important to be on time and want them to grow up knowing that. And all because I said for the about the 10 0000th time (and I’m sure I’m not exaggerating!) “Put your shoes on now and brush your teeth” – I mean come on; It’s not like I was asking them to amputate their left arms, or worse, do my domestic chores, or even go to work down a mine or up a chimney. Apparently, however, I’m being a truly unreasonable harridan from hell, because I beg each morning and then when I sense I’m not being heard at all resort to yelling abrasively and far too loudly (ask Ms. B about my loudness…), “make sure you’re ready before you go on the computer in the morning as per the well established house rule which you insist on ignoring”. More fool me, of course, for allowing the same argument to happen each and every day and for being such a bloody ineffectual mother who apparently has a real problem keeping firm boundaries in place.
So, not sure this Monday morning was the best start to a week. It would have been quite tempting to make myself a cup of tea and crawl back under the duvet, put Son No 3 in front of his favourite film and pretend I didn’t have, as usual, an incredibly long list of things to be getting on with, not to mention putting our home back together post weekend chaos.
One of those things is finishing off the last of my assignments for the course I’ve been doing which in retrospect has been an incredibly useful and important journey all about exploring how I might use photography. I’m always surprised when people question my motivation for doing the course in the first place. I think some of it is because people don’t quite understand the course is not about learning how to use a camera; I did such a course a while ago and very useful it was too. The point of this course for me has been about broadening my expectations and certainly by the end of it I can look back and see that the projects I did would never have entered my mind had I not had the support of structured, organised learning.
For the final project we had to create a series of photographs that together form a clear narrative. I thought this was a great opportunity to connect some of the commercial and artistic ideas I’ve been having. So, this week I am posting some of the photographs I will be using in the final project, which record my own family on holiday in Italy. I am putting together an album and when it’s ready I will be posting that here too. These images here are a little ‘trailer’. And in time I will offer something similar to clients. In the meantime I am looking for two families who would be interested in having me tag along with them for a weekend or two and recording day to day life, maybe including an event or trip out as well as just existing at home. I’m happy to negotiate the charge for these first two experimental projects so if this is something that interests you please get in touch, and we’ll take it from there.
Perhaps your children will scream and shout like mine did this morning, and perhaps you will too, just like I did this morning. I’d like to record these moments as well as the less stressful, happier moments we traditionally like to photograph. I’d like to record your family as it is. When I look at the photos I took of my own family I can imagine how grateful I will be to have them later when we’ve changed and grown and life has taken us on journeys that will have transformed us all one way or another.
A photographer I follow on Twitter recently said one the most profound things you can do is pass your photos on to your family for future generations and I think there is something very important there. Photography is an amazing language and one which we all speak nowadays; it’s capacity for storytelling is immense so creating an album that captures your family as it is now might be a wonderful way to give your children and future generations something truly precious and important.
I end this week thinking about my delightful son telling me I was so awful as he left the house this morning. Regular readers will know Son No 1 can also be clever, mature, understanding and incredibly wonderful too. For me the biggest conundrum and challenge of being a mum is accepting our children as real human beings and ourselves too; all the good stuff but also all the less than good stuff that we humans all have. I’d like to develop a photography package that aims to capture all of those aspects of ourselves in images and then put them together in an album really worth keeping.
There…Monday morning is already better because I’ve achieved the first few things on my list including writing this blog, and I’m sure Son No 1 will be in better mood too when he gets home later. Either way, I’ll love him and accept him because he’s my little boy and that’s what it’s all about. Although I will of course have strong words that are indicative of clearly defined boundaries as I do my best to do an impression of an effective and in control mother who knows exactly what she’s doing. Have a great week!
If you are interested in having a photography album made of your family please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07581694934
Despite the inconsistent weather, warm one minute, freezing the next, it’s great to know that spring is poking its buds into the snug little cave I’ve been hibernating inside of these last few months. I do know this because I suddenly feel a little more energetic and am starting to do things that have been languishing on the ‘list of things to do’ for a while now. (Perhaps I must remember to pack away a bigger store of nuts for the next winter.)
So, having been meaning to make a few changes to my website for some months, I am now rather pleased to have done so and can see the very long ‘list of things to do’ beginning to shorten. Making space for more.
As well as work and college tasks, I have also been doing some traditional spring-cleaning. Sorting and de-cluttering is always therapeutic and what’s more it’s just great to be able to sit down without finding a bit of Lego or train set stabbing you in the bottom. Of course, Son No 1, is pretty much up-in-arms about this new zest for order I’ve suddenly imposed. Nothing like some inconsistent parenting to confuse the complacency out of the little monkeys; but I do find it keeps them on their toes.
When I explained we’d be tidying the older boys’ room and taking some of the toys, of which they have far too many, down to the charity shop both of them rather appallingly said, “Yay, then they’ll give us some money so we can buy some more!”
“Uh, no… that’s not quite how it works…” Seems I should have got it together a bit sooner, but better late then never, I hope.
My oldest son also told me that messy rooms are much cosier. We sat down and discussed the term ‘pathologically chaotic’ and messy, however, in retrospect I’m pretty certain letting your child know that you think he is somewhat emotionally and developmentally challenged might fall outside the boundaries of positive reinforcement and all that….oops!
As any mum knows, taking care of your family as well as trying to take care of yourself and your work can be exhausting and demanding, so I have to add I am always grateful for the help I receive, especially the constructive and genuine sort – and I do receive a lot from here and there. My life is certainly richer for it.
So, just to remind everyone, I do events and have finally, prompted by queries and the rhythm of changing seasons, managed to update my site, so prospective clients actually have a chance of finding me!
Have a great week,
Below are photographs from one of the the nicest weddings I’ve ever been at and I was really chuffed to have been asked to do it. I’ve got a couple of lovely looking weddings coming up, and beginning to get queries for more and other events so it’s certainly time to start letting people see some more examples. These were taken on one of the hottest days of the year. See other weddings and events on my site.