South London Photographer: How my catalogue of images relates to a kiddie’s film about memory and self

I am certain there are more pressing things than writing this blog for me to be doing since my To Do list is as long as ever, but I also know that this part of my job has proven to be quite effective recently. The more I write the more likely my name pops up when people insert “photographer” and “South London” into their search engines. As Son No 1 pointed out to me last night though, there is also quite a lot of other people’s ‘stuff’ out there linked to me, so I guess posting more of my own things is quite pressing in the end.

Anyway, despite the many work and domestic related items on my list, not to mention the sickly 3 year old in my care today,  I think I’m going to give myself a break from more serious tasks and witter on here for a moment. Truth be told I’ve not exactly had an arduous morning but it has been trying and annoying as I sat here communicating with Adobe for several hours trying to sort something out that I’d cocked up. It took a while but at least I now do have my editing software on a lovely new bigger and better Mac. And a deeply sincere thank you to Mr. & Mrs. C who kindly donated it to me after reading about my computing troubles in an earlier blog. How lucky to be surrounded by such generous friends.

Of course, ensuring everything I need going forward – minus all the crap that I don’t – was transferred to the new Mac proved challenging for me. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so for everyone out there in my position but my brain doesn’t always lead me down the smoothest of paths so after downloading and uninstalling and attempting to re-download and then getting in a right pickle I was extremely grateful to the helpful, patient souls I spoke with this morning. I am now almost there. All that is left is my catalogue of images; a catalogue that reaches back to 2011.

Now here’s the thing. I remember reading that it’s best just to keep one catalogue and not to have a whole bunch of catalogues scattered about the place in Lightroom. So I have stuck to this. But it seems to me that I have reached a moment where it is possible to let go of all those hundreds and thousands of old RAW images. I mean why would I want to keep them at the ready going forward anyway? I have a bunch of edited JPGS safely stored and easily accessible. Surely I no longer need to scroll through all the overexposed, underexposed, unutterable genuine rubbish that exists within that relatively old catalogue. So, I’m pretty sure now, after some back and forth, upside down, inside out scratching and working out which went on inside my head, that actually it might be feel rather nice to start a new catalogue and simply archive all that’s gone before for now; a bit like in a scene from Inside Out (oh, one of the best kid’s films ever to come out of Pixar by the way – a film that brilliantly explores philosophy of the self. And, my goodness, like most of you who have seen it must have done, I balled my eyes in that memory dump scene!)

So here I am, surrounded by various wires, leads, separate drives and USB sticks, as well as a few too many Mac related bits and pieces, feeling streamlined and lightened by the decision to start afresh. And it’s not like I won’t be able to retrieve things should I ever need to. (Gosh, it is just like Inside Out! And quite frankly, a lot of those old images, deserve with a doubt,                                                               nothing more than the memory dump, for sure.)

Right, now that I’ve thought that through and written about it here, I think I might be ready to get on with the more pressing things that make up my long and never ending To Do list.  Or perhaps just sit with my little boy who is burning up instead, which may well be the most pressing thing of all.

Ps! I recently did a family shoot which was a present given last Christmas. For anyone trying to think about what to give grannies and granddads this year, consider a photography shoot. I know everyone was very pleased with the results and it went down very well as a gift.

(c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015

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This morning I’ve been getting on with some technological house-keeping

South London Photographer: The Minotaur, a giraffe called Donkey and Us

One of the good things about the early mornings we have been getting used to since my eldest started secondary school, is that there is enough time to have a bath rather than a quick shower. Of course, where I go, the two smaller boys tend to follow, so rather than a long relaxing soak, it’s more of squashy, crumpled stew. On Friday just gone, a translucent plastic giraffe called Donkey, which doubles as a swivel stick when not being an animal friend with an identity crisis, joined us too. And that was just for starters.

“So, No 2”, I said, just before he stripped off and climbed in, “if you’re going to ruin my peace, I guess we might as well do your talk homework in here,” since we’d not got round to it. We should have done it the night before, but I had been out for the evening; gosh, it seems there is so little room for slippage in our schedule so every moment must be put to good use – doing it in the bath solves our failure to get Friday’s homework done on time brilliantly.

I had actually chatted briefly with No 2 about it previously, but the subject had quickly turned to computer rights. I have recently banned him from watching YouTube altogether, after hearing one of his heroes going on about masturbation being a really useful arm strengthening exercise! His profile on my desktop computer is monitored and streamed for adult content but clearly I’d not thought about securing my own gadgets, which he had been using at the time.

It’s so bloody difficult to keep all this stuff at bay. No 1 had alerted me to the fact that I had unwittingly allowed his younger brother to download Mortal Combat; thankfully No 1’s fascistic monitoring of No 2’s online activity meant we caught it very soon after my own clumsy mistake.

“Why can’t I watch YouTube???” No 2 had wailed when I’d mentioned homework previously because his conversation is littered with such non-sequiturs and in his mind any question he is asked should rightly be answered with one of his own, about the frustrations of being 7 and having to adhere to at least some basic restrictions online.

“Because, you love the violent stuff and it’s totally inappropriate for your age. I can actually see it making you more violent before my very eyes. Next question!”

He agreed it was a good idea to do the homework in the bath, and picked up the instructions, which I’d placed carefully between the bottles of shampoo and conditioner, to read them.

As No 3, Donkey, the plastic giraffe, No 2 and I all squeezed in, in anticipation of the stories we were about to hear, I said,

“So, tell me, my delicate 7 year old, what are we chatting about today?”

“King Ageaus, Theseus and the Minotaur,” he replied.

“Ok, tell me what happens ”

“Well, there’s this guy called King Minos and he’s really evil and every year gets King Ageaus to give him 7 men and 7 women to feed his Minotaur, a beast that is half bull, half human with huge horns who lives in a labyrinth designed by Daedalus. And Thebes, King Ageaus’ son says he’s going to go and kill the Minotaur, but King Minos’ daughter Ariadne falls in love with him and helps him by giving him a ball of string so he can find his way out of the labyrinth. And Theseus rips the minotaur’s head off because he’s superhuman and escapes using the ball of string, which he nearly loses, so is terrified for a while until he can find it, in case he has to die next to the stinking dead body of the Minotaur in the dark, scary labyrinth. And then he takes Ariadne on a ship but dumps her half way home, on an Island where she’ll probably starve to death, because she’s in love with him and he doesn’t really like her as much, but he forgets to put up some white sails on his ship, which was meant to be a sign to his dad that he was alive, so his dad, King Ageaus, jumps off the cliff and commits suicide in the sea, which is named after him and is still called the Aegean sea today ….”

“Well, remembered…” I tell Son No 2 as he recounts one of the goriest stories I’ve ever heard him tell me with gusto, glee and an impressive attention to detail.

Your boobies are funny!” says No 3 as he tries to poke them with Donkey.

“Stop that!” I shriek.

He eats the piece of paper with the talk homework instead, and then grins.

Thankfully No 2 is so enthralled with his myths he remembers everything he has to chat about, so when I say, “And is there anything else you have to tell me?” he recalls exactly what the next question was, as I swill about in my bath, now not only over populated with people and a giraffe named Donkey, but also seemingly littered with the dead bodies of countless tributes to the Minotaur, the Minotaur himself and Theseus’ dead father.

“Yeah, Daedalus and Icarus were in trouble because they had helped Theseus escape so they were locked in a tower. But they got away. And he had designed some wings for himself and his son, Icarus, but they were held together with wax so he told Icarus that it was really important not to fly too close to the sun. But Icarus didn’t listen and so the wax melted and his wings disintegrated and Daedalus watched as his son fell to his death, yelling at the last moment, ‘help me, father’, which haunted Daedalus for the rest of this days in Sicily.”

Bleedin’ heck, I thought, perhaps I should let him play Mortal Combat after all, just for some light relief.

I pushed the corpses of so many tributes aside, shoved the Minotaur to front of the bath – he’s dead anyway, what does he care if he gets the tap end – , climbed out, stepped over the charred, soggy remains of Icarus, his toasted feathers littering my bathroom floor – scoffed something at him about hubris –  and escaped the gruesome hell to get dressed before dropping off the boys off at school just about on time.

Amazing how all this extra time in the morning somehow means we (I say we, I mean I) are constantly fooled into thinking there is still loads of time left when actually there isn’t.

I hand the boys over and rush home to sit down and read as Friday has been appointed by me in my busy schedule as Study Day (I’m think I’m going to need more than one day a week actually, although where I find extra ones, I’m not sure). Lovely, I think, no more gruesome Greek mythology for now. Instead I shall be looking at Freud and one of his mates, Otto Fenichel.

I begin by reading some text that concludes “(to look) is: to devour the object looked at, to grow like it, or, conversely, to force it to grow like oneself.” I go on to understand that our eyes evolved for the purpose of seeing other organisms that their owners might eat, shag or entrance. And that organisms with good eyes had a greater chance of surviving to go on and eat, shag and entrance for longer thereby producing progeny with bigger, better and stronger eyes used to locate other organisms they could eat, shag or entrance.

I crawl under the desk, my own eyes agog with horror and my hair on end at the viciousness of existence – and log into iTunes looking for Mortal Combat to download. Seems that violence is at the core of us all, and it’s me who needs the light relief.

Tomorrow morning I think I’ll lock the bathroom door and keep the whole ablution time to myself.

Right, off to do some corporate shots this week, which have come about as a direct result of the clients seeing some corporate work I did earlier this summer. Good!  All the seed sewing of the last 18 months or so is really beginning to pay off. But before that a delicious curry lunch since I have twice cocked up social outings this week where I should have been eating curry, and I do feel I owe it myself to have one.

SJ x

(c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015narstutium

South London Photographer: Empathy, children & me

“Mum,” said the big child who for most of his life has been up at roughly 5.30am, “Why is it, the moment I enjoy sleeping in in the morning I have to start waking up really early to get to school on time?”

“One of life’s hilarious ironic jokes, my sweet,” I answer with perhaps less empathy than I might have shown.

The thing is I’m tired too. It’s not only him who has to get up earlier than we’re used to every day. I feel it’s only right to be there with him, making encouraging sounds and offering support where necessary, struggling together through the dark, sleep-deprived morning, but it’s a bit bloody exhausting.

Today shortly after 6am I made something called coffee-tea. It’s exactly what it says on the tin – coffee with some tea in it.  Either I’m so sleepy that mistakes like that are inevitable or somewhere in my preconscious mind I think I need the caffeine from not one but two different milky beverages in the morning and was trying to get it in fast.

Nevertheless, despite the earlier-than-we’re-used-to-mornings, I am finding this whole new paradigm we have all stepped into pretty good most of the time. Son No 1 has taken this giant step towards independence and in the main seems to be revelling in it, although as I point out later, sometimes needs to remind me he’s still very much a little boy.

The middle one has just about gotten over a slight crisis of confidence about who his friends are after the summer holidays. And the littlest one has taken to full-time nursery with gusto. Although, I should add that this Monday, at the beginning of his second week, he said to me,

“I don’t want to go to school today.”

“Oh? Well, you don’t’ really have a choice,” again with perhaps less empathy than I might have had.

“Why?” he asked, looking genuinely perplexed and even dismayed, evidently only just beginning to glimpse the very outer corners of a new reality.

“Because that’s how it is. School every day from Monday to Friday except in the holidays. Which is great, isn’t it? Because you love it there!” I added hopefully.

“But I want to go the park…”

“Maybe later, after school.” I suggested. Mmmmm – I could see him thinking – I’ve been tucked up right and proper up here!

A friend of mine must also be adjusting to earlier-than-she’s-used-to-mornings. Not long after I’d discarded my coffee-tea when it was still quite dark, I received an email from her inviting me to join her at a gentle-parenting seminar later this year. “I know it’s preaching to the converted,” she said, “but I think it will be interesting”. I can’t help feeling she’s deluded about my parenting skills. Converted? Yes, I do and have read much about gentle parenting, and I do my best to follow many of the principles. I have read about how to model empathetic and open behaviour, point out the good moments, use communal rather than individualistic language which can come across as accusatory (so say we and us rather than I and you when attempting to correct unhelpful behaviour), encourage everyone to apologise and make up with each-other following arguments, rather than simply fighting and then ignoring the damage done, and above all listen to what they are telling me and take their concerns seriously.

But I am very much a normal mother with normal failings. So, and perhaps it’s down to tiredness or just the general stresses of life, last night for instance, when they were yelling and refusing to sit down on their bums at supper time for longer than thirty seconds, I totally lost it and flounced out the kitchen like some mad prima-donna, but not before slamming down the banana I was slicing for a fruit salad and screaming, “If you’re not going to listen to me, make your own bloody pudding and clean up afterwards! Brats!!”

A while later the smaller two people came upstairs with ice-creams which I’m glad they found because if your mum is going to yell at you and abandon pudding mid-way through making it, the least you can expect is a sneaky Nobbly Bobbly. They asked me why I had been so cross.

“Well, because you guys never listen and you’re so loud at supper and I just want you to stay seated throughout a meal without me having to keep saying ‘sit down!’ But it was wrong of me to lose my temper and shout and I’m sorry,” I added.

Then they both hugged me, which I always love, and apologised most sincerely too. (Yay – evidence of empathy, as well as making up properly after an argument.) Afterwards they went downstairs and dragged their older brother to the kitchen, where they emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up the plates. I followed and we all repacked the dishwasher together, finished making the fruit salad and laughed a lot when No 3 said that he liked the ‘garlics’ in Doctor Who the best of all. Then No 1 decided to make apple turn overs; he’s become much more confident about baking since starting secondary school and cooking lessons.

So, I was feeling very smug and pleased with my little family, but this morning when Son No 1 told me was ill in order to stay off school when he clearly wasn’t, I just felt weary and annoyed by the fact that the feeling should have lasted for so short a time.

“You’re not ill,” I said with a lot less empathy than I might have had, “You’re just tired!”

“Of course I’m tired, getting up at this time every day! And I am ill. You just don’t love me.”

“You’re not ill! I’m not having you lying around in your pants all day feeling sorry for yourself when you should be at school.”

“It’s not fair! I’m one of only four people in my class who hasn’t had a day off sick this term…” he wailed.

I knew he wasn’t ill and was probably just feeling overwhelmed so I held my ground and eventually he sloped off to school but not before I called after him,

“I love you, little boy!”

He responded by blurting out, “No one loves you, no one even likes you!”

Okaaay – I thought to myself. Maybe I could afford to work a little harder on the whole empathy thing with my belligerent pre-teen, although, I do think if you’re going to say such nasty things then that’s about the right age for those kinds of insults.

I replied to my friend’s email inviting me to the gentle-parenting seminar, “Sure,” I said, “I’ll come along!”

In the meantime, lots to do; photos to edit, essays to write, books to read. Lots of wedding pics in next week’s blog. It’s a good job I’m not full time with weddings; I keep blubbing as I edit them – it’s so lovely! I’d be a wreck. SJ

(c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015

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Photograph taken in Son No 1’s new secondary school which has just been renovated and looks fantastic – of course he wants to go there instead of lying around here all day.  He just didn’t know it at the time.

 

South London Photographer: The start of a new era and another baby!

Last week as I walked away from big boys’ nursery school, having just dropped my youngest son off, No 1 said to me, “So, this is the first time in nearly 12 years you will be free…” I don’t know what to say about the fact that at the tender age of eleven he had decided his presence no longer counts in the mix of small boys I am responsible for, but anyway, I did try to answer at the time without twitching and also maintaining a clear and reasonably calm modulated voice, “YES!!!”   Not that I was excited by the prospect of a few hours of daily uninterrupted work time available to me from now on, or anything. Oh no, I’m lying. I was!!

Later that day Son No 3 who had waved me away so cheerily that morning, and with so much confidence and a genuine sense of happy independence, put his head in his hands over supper and moaned, “I haven’t got a life!”

Oh, my god, I thought. One day at school and he has obviously realised that this is it for him; the start of a life long journey, which for many of us is made up of going to school, then possibly university, then work, then retirement followed only by the inevitable end.

I was just about to quote Woody Allen, who’s alter ego Alvy Singer, says in the opening gambit of Annie Hall, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon” followed by “so stop your wailing small boy and make the most of it!” when I noticed the plastic cutlery he had thrown on the floor ….

…Aaaah, yes, he wasn’t actually having an existential crisis. He simply can’t pronounce the word ‘knife’ properly and was merely expressing his sadness about the fact that he (and no one else, take note) threw his knife on the floor and was really quite annoyed that it hadn’t magically jumped back up on table ready for his grubby little paw to grab hold of.

Phew! I mean I do like a thinker and all, but there is a limit and succumbing to the futility of a modern, Western, materialist-driven existence when you’ve not reached your 4th birthday is under-stepping the mark, surely. I don’t think he can have overstepped it at this stage, but of course I may be wrong. And actually, even if I do say so myself, he looks to have a fantastic life from where I’m sitting, which at that time was not as near as he was to the knife/life he’d discarded, and so I said to him, “Well, pick up the knife you’ve belligerently and churlishly chucked on the floor then.  And your problem will be marvellously solved!” He did.

This morning Son No 1 started secondary school and so now I truly do have a great deal more time than I’ve had before to get on with work and studies, and, oh yes, that other murky thing I don’t quite get…domesticity. Yes, time for that too. I have a million things to do though before I begin balling socks and folding clothes; such as editing clients’ baby and wedding photos as well as setting up a blog for my new course, which all come at the top of the list.

Last week I photographed a little boy who was just 5 weeks old. His mummy and daddy look like they’re doing amazingly – They won’t believe how fast it all goes. I remember so very clearly, like most parents, bringing home Son No 1 for the first time and wondering what on god’s earth I was meant to do next.  Thankfully, almost twelve years later the two of us are able to muddle through together, which sometimes results in minor scrapes and mishaps, like this morning when he left his brand new school bag on the doorstep at home, as we drove off to the start of his first day. “Oh, crap!” he announced when he realised and we were already half way there.

Here are some of the images from the baby shoot. I love these jobs and I do absolutely adore babies. But having tasted what is now nearly 4 hours of my newfound freedom I am certain that photographing other people’s tiny people is the way forward. My latest baby is my photography and that is just perfect for me.

SJ x

(c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015

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South London Photographer: Summer holidays….Really? Yikes! Whoo Hoo! Yay! Oh, god…..

I am filled with joyful excitement and nervous horror all at once about the impending summer hols.  The smallest one finished nursery two weeks ago and asks me daily when he can start big boys’ nursery school.  In six weeks, I say.  Who knows if that means anything to him whatsoever?  If it did it would seem like an age, I’m sure.  I know it will fly by but even to me it’s a little daunting.  Six weeks of waking every morning and wondering what I can do that day to get them away from screens for a few hours.

But before it begins Son No. I will come to the end of his time at primary school. How did that happen?  When did it happen?  It has just sped by so fast.

I remember him starting nursery at the same big boys’ school No 3 can’t wait to get into when he was 4.  They are very different boys.  No 1 was born pretty much attached to my breasts.  “That will hurt if you let him keep doing it,” I was told by the midwife in hospital.  I didn’t care.  He seemed to need it.  And when he started nursery he was attached to my legs. Tearing us apart in nursery seemed like the cruelest thing in the world and he would wail and flail about as the very patient teacher prised him off me.  As I walked away there would be tears streaming down my face.  Apparently on his second day there, he just stood at the gate the whole time waiting for me.  First children are so different to third, that’s for sure.  Son No 3 adjusted straight away when he started at the little kindergarden round the corner in preparation for big boys’ nursery and is more than ready to get on with it.

No 1 though took forever to adjust.  But of course, he did and although he remembers very clearly standing at that gate all day he now barely says goodbye when we part at the gate.  And heaven forbid I should try to hug or kiss him.  I wasn’t even allowed to greet him properly when he came back from the week long school trip he recently went on.  Par for the course, I guess.

I think I need to really appreciate this summer with Son No 1 though because once he starts secondary school, I am told it will race by even more quickly. I’m glad I ignored that midwife – it did hurt but he’s Mister Independent now and it was such a short time, in the grand scheme of things, when he really needed that connection.

So, anyway my blogs might be a little haphazard and irregular over the next six weeks is what I think I’m saying.  You never know, there may be another tomorrow… who knows how it will all pan out.  I’ve got some exciting work things coming up and there will be plenty of kiddie photographing opportunities.  I might even manage a joint selfie with Son No 1 hugging me at some point.  Overly hopeful?  You just never know…

Let’s hope the sun does it’s thing as often as possible – by that I mean shines through because this grey week has been most disappointing!

Happy summer hols everyone!

Image (c)sarahjanefield 2015

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South London Photographer: I’ve done all the laundry; what can this possibly mean?

Something very strange indeed is happening in my world. It’s most perplexing and disorientating, I can tell you. Try as I might I can’t quite get to the bottom of it, although in one real and certain sense ‘to the bottom of it’ I have without any doubt arrived.

You see, I have washed everything in my laundry basket. Yes, everything! And now, for the first time in I do not know how long, it stands empty in my bedroom waiting (neither patiently nor impatiently for it is just a basket) to be overflowing again. I do not recall when last that was the case!

How did this happen? I have absolutely no idea, other than I know I must surely have washed everything in it. Not only have I washed it all, I have put most of the clean laundry away too. Which is even stranger.  No more scrabbling through piles of clothes to find a pair of matching socks in the morning – well, for a day or two at least.

I can only think it must have something to do with the very tangible state of transition we are in the middle of. My friend swears its something to do with Jupiter being in conjunction with Venus.  I think that’s a load of twoddle myself, but certainly – so, so much is changing at the moment, or about to change, and what that seems to mean for me, other than lots of clean laundry, is a great deal of emotional weeping on my part…

Son No 1 is about to finish primary school. I went to his Yr. 6 final production the other night.  I did, I’m pleased to say, manage to stop myself from just lying down on the floor in front of the stage and howling extremely loudly. I could not quite believe that all those little people, most of whom I taught drama to for a few weeks when they were in reception, were all so terribly grown-up already, not quite the maniacal mini apes they once seemed.  I must add that that experience 7 years ago elicited in me an overwhelming and immense respect for the real teachers of those little, terribly cute but barely human, and somewhat maniacal, hairless chimps.  The other night though, I felt so proud of them all.  And of course, proud most of all of my own crazy, beautiful, intelligent and belligerent Son No 1.  Even as I type my eyes well up. He’s about to embark on a whole new chapter in his life and despite the fact he drives me truly, absolutely spare I am so proud of how he seems to be navigating this huge transition in his life.

Then there was Son No 2’s end of term assembly. Son No 2, whom I think has always been a little overwhelmed by his older brother, hiding in or rather hidden by his shadow, gives me the impression he feels able to venture out of it, perhaps because said older brother is heading off and leaving some space for No 2 to find his light. For the first time he had several lines in the play, which he was very chuffed with. I loved that he looked at me every time he spoke, proudly showing off his newfound and growing confidence. There I was sitting on a plastic school chair in the upstairs hall, in maternal tears again, and the wonderful Mrs.B, who had been at the Yr.6 play as well smiled sympathetically at me – honestly, Mrs. B, I never used to be this emotional. I don’t know what’s come over me!

I don’t actually have time to get teary over Son No 3. I’m too busy trying to keep up with him. He too is heading for a major change having just finished at his nursery school. “I’m on my summer holidays now” he routinely boasts to his brothers, who aren’t yet. But in September he will go to big boys school and jolly excited about it he is too, although I’m not sure he will be quite so enamoured by the full days once he realises what that actually entails. I’m also hoping that his obsessive Spiderman-costume-wearing phase will be over by then because it’s going to be quite trying tearing it off him every morning to get him in a school uniform if not. Not that there will be anything left of it by then. He currently wears nothing else so it’s very quickly disintegrating, made as it is of cheap nylon.

I guess that might be one reason I have managed to get through all the washing. His refusal to wear anything else certainly means there is less laundry being generated.

Summer must have something to do with it as well.  We all wear less and I’m loving the weather we’re having.  It makes me ride my bike more and even though my mother told me I look weird with my pre-Raphaelite curls and a safety helmet that looks like something from Star Wars (I did have it on backwards at the time and I’m sure it did look weird and so probably did all the people who smiled at me that morning) I don’t really care about how I look on it. Goodness, Spiderman sits behind me in his bike chair pulling up my shirt, showing off my greying underwear to the world and I tend to have my skirt hoiked in my knickers.  What difference does a weird headdress make? The photo at the top of the page was taken one of my lovely evening bike rides last week (thanks mother for making that possible) where I think I managed to get the helmet on the right way round.

Is my laundry boon simply down to summer or is there something else going on here, I wonder? You see, I too am on the brink of a new stage and feel I have a little more space for now (in my head at least) but maybe that also means a little more time. Son No 3 is now most definitely no longer a baby and I’ve never got to this point with a small person and not had another on the way. I have also come to the end of the module I was studying, well, apart from some reading I need to get sorted before embarking on the next. All of which is a good thing because more work is coming in and by September I hope to have signed up for another module which is, I think, going to be quite hard – I nearly changed my mind about it when I looked properly at the course work because I’m really setting myself quite a challenge if I go that route. Yikes!

Whatever the cause for my sudden, unexpected, and terribly weird laundry miracle, which I don’t for a minute pretend to understand, as we stand on the threshold of the new, getting ready for the next era we’re all about to embark on, at least I know we all smell good and clean and fresh* as we go!

*Any South Africans my age – do please feel free to add the “♪tra ♪la ♪la” you won’t be able to stop yourself from hearing at the end of that phrase!

Images (c)sarahjanefield 2015

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Son No 1 after his school play where he was very grateful I only cried quietly and unobtrusively. He made a very good George Bernard Shaw.
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Son No 3 won’t wear anything other than a tatty, ripped, old Spiderman outfit at the moment and gets extremely upset if we suggest something else.
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Son No 3 and I doing some homework for his next school project. He loved a video installation by an artist called Kadar Attai where sugar is dissolved in unrefined oil, which I can’t help feeling reminded him of a YouTube video (no offence intended to the artist) which is why he it felt so accessible for him. He really loved it.

South London Photographer: Some more road rage but also a long-term personal ambition achieved!

On Wednesday I overslept.  This was a bit of a shame as it was an induction day for Son No 1 at his new school.  With very little time I threw some clothes at all the children, made arrangements for the younger ones, and also for my supermarket delivery to be welcomed whilst I was out as I’d evidently forgotten about the school thing when I finally realised our cupboards were quite bare (I really was quite disorganised about this whole day, it turns out); and leapt into the car yelling at Son No 1 about how we had to hurry because we were going to be late, almost as if it were his fault. I guess it wasn’t an ideal start to the day.

Of course we then hit a traffic jam and I had to do a U-turn to avoid being even later than we already were, so when an annoying man banged on my car and told me off for turning around near a zebra crossing, I must say I wasn’t really in the mood for receiving his opinion about any possible errant driving habits I may have.

Poor Son No 1.  Nervous about his upcoming day, a bit ruffled by our rushed exit and now sitting next to his highly neurotic yelling mother, who was currently swearing at a complete stranger about how she thought he was a wanker who should wait until his own life was perfect before taking it upon himself to start telling others how to live theirs!

“Mum, you’re so embarrassing!  You don’t even know him.” Mmmm.  Would it have made it any better if I had known him?  Sometimes, I do wonder how much the therapy that my intelligent and sensitive boy will need later is going to cost him?  Not ‘me’ you notice…

So anyway, we got to the secondary school on time, thanks to my U-turn. (Which I will tell you was not actually on the zebra crossing and in fact there was no one except said censorious grumpy pants crossing at the time, and I do have a rearview mirror and a small camera at the back so I could see him, and had I wanted to run him over, I of course could have and with a great deal of accuracy too.)

I was exceedingly proud of Son No 1. He was exceptionally cool about it all, really enjoyed the day and later when he tried on his new uniform in the pop-up shop at the end of the day I could have wept.

I find it hard to have ambitions in life.  Not sure why, I kind of just rumble on taking little steps in all directions, making strides and then finding myself sitting down for a brief or even a long whistle and possibly a little think before bothering to get up again. Probably because taking steps in all directions all the time is really quite tiring, not to mention disorientating.  But one of the ambitions I have held for a long while is to try and give my children some sense of stability.

That hasn’t always been easy, especially given a recent divorce and some house moves we’ve had to do.  But an ambition of mine that meant a great deal to me was to ensure that at least one of my children (if not all, although I do have high hopes) managed to stay at the same school for the duration. I guess because I went to quite a few schools in my time – and I actually mean a lot – and found it extraordinarily disruptive although I’m certain it needn’t be so if your children have moved about, please don’t feel I’m having a go.  This was just something that felt personally quite important.

And guess what?  We’ve achieved that.  For Son No 1 at any rate.  He’s been at the same school since nursery and is now really ready to move on. It’s just a small thing to some but to me it means a great deal and I’m pretty pleased with it, I have to say.

It doesn’t mean he’s without his problems. He’s been in trouble at school this week, had computer rights taken away and then earned back and then taken away again several times.  He’s rude as hell to me and drives me round the bloody bend. But we’re doing OK despite my road rage, current state of exhaustion and bad time keeping in the morning; along with my absolute inability to keep on top of the online food shopping! Have a great week.

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The children engrossed in playing and So No 1 showing the others how it’s done.

Image (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015

South London Photographer: Editing photographs I took nearly a year ago!

I have just edited a bunch of photographs I took last year. I remember doing them. It was the second job in a single day and I’d just finished shooting my first christening. I’d been pretty nervous at the time and was tired. I went along to the subsequent job, got a little lost on the way and arrived feeling stressed. I managed to get through the job and got home later to edit two sets of photos.

I can be quite hard on myself and I was a bit worried about the photos I’d taken for job no 2, as I was in the very early days of all this photography stuff at the time. Well, I still am but not quite so very early now… The family were just about to move back to the States at the time and it has taken them quite a few months to come back to me with an order. Which, of course added to my concerns. However, not only have the family got back in touch and ordered their images but they have also ordered many more than were originally offered in the package, which is pleasing.

What’s interesting for me after all this time is to see that I had actually taken some photographs that were OK, despite my reservations. Yes, there are some that I’m not at all happy with but then there always are and I suspect there always will be. I hope however that by now, after 18 months or so of slowly building up my little business, I would have found different ways to solve some of the conundrums that come up when doing family portraiture. The images that work, work well (enough) and I needn’t have been quite so tough on myself at the time. Nevertheless, opening yourself up to the world with work that will be liked and disliked by people depending on their tastes is part of the job.

I recently read a very helpful blog by a successful and thriving photographer/blogging person, in which he wrote that he is sometimes told he takes horrible photographs, writes awful blogs and a whole bunch of other such negative stuff – all of which he helpfully advised to ignore if you were to find yourself in that situation.  Good advice!  And goodness knows, there is enough truly ridiculous crap in life to be getting on with without piling any more crap on myself by being overly harsh and negative about my own work! (I do wonder as I write this if I’ll ever take any real notice of my helpful realisations…)

So, that’s it for now – just some photographs I took nearly a year ago which have been helpful for me to revisit.  Interesting to see where I am now in relation to nearly a year ago, and I think was more than heading in the right direction. Anyway, I will have to write another blog pretty soon to chat about my very first foray into exhibiting my work to the general public, well, I say general public, I mean mostly my very supportive and lovely community… but it was a good start.  Does that mean I am going to step up to 2 blogs a week yet… it’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while… we’ll see. Certainly, I might make it to two posts this week.

Right, that’s it for now… off to get those kids to bed.  Have a great couple of days – back soon. All images (c)SarahJaneField 2014 untitled- untitled-9318 untitled-9320 untitled-9324 untitled-9359 untitled-9371 untitled-9390 untitled-9464 untitled-9520 untitled-9619

South London Photographer: End of half-term and a busy few days ahead

I am getting my blog for this week done sooner than usual as I am working tomorrow afternoon – a shoot with a family who have a young baby, yay!  And then I know I will have quite a lot to do for the following few days.  It’s called forward planning, I think. Always worth aiming for but not actually possible in every instance when you’re juggling lots of stuff at once.  No doubt I shall be quite pleased with myself if I manage to get everything done that needs doing over the next 48 hours or so, and that’s even without having made my bed this morning.  I mention this as I read some peculiar article on Twitter that said making your bed in the morning makes you a better version of yourself… really?  I guess I should give it a try and see how I go – If I manage it I’ll report back and let you know if I think I’ve become an improved model of SJF.

I am posting a photograph of Son No 2 today as it’s one of my favourites.  And I know some people might look at it and go, really? What?  But for me this photograph works. The light, the subject, the reality of it. It doesn’t look posed but I have to admit it actually is.  I saw him sitting there drinking his drink, well actually my drink and I said, hang on – let me grab my camera.  At which point he got out and ran around the house covered in bubbles laughing at me. He only got back in and let me take the photograph when I had promised to Photoshop something unspeakable on the can. Where this seven year old gets his humour… it’s a worry.  I took a few shots but the first one was the best in my view and then he jumped out and I told him I was going to break my promise and not Photoshop anything into it, so he now thinks it’s a rubbish photograph.  I don’t mind.  I love it.

I think I might have to do a series of photographs of the boys in the bathroom mainly because the light in there is simply beautiful. Is that a good enough reason?  Who knows?  My studies with art and photography have left me wondering what on earth art is and if there is indeed any reason behind any of it at all.  I chat about the teaching of art here in Michael Szpakowski’s Art Education discussion which I mentioned in my last post.  Actually, I can’t wait to finish the current module I’m doing at OCA and move on to the next which probably won’t answer the question but it will give me lots more to think about when considering it.

Some of my photographs will be displayed at Barmouth Kitchen on Barmouth Road in Wandsworth from next weekend over the summer.  Will they be considered art? I don’t know.  You’ll have to pop along and see, and make up your own mind.  Not sure BK will want pictures of my kids in the bath plastered all over their walls next time round… but who knows?  Perhaps they’d love it!  This time though the theme is Wandsworth and colour.  So if you’ve got a spare wall looking for an image, pop along and take a look or get in touch.  Mounted hand printed images will cost £55 or you could just grab yourself a set of postcards if you prefer.  I’ll pop the images online after the launch at BK next Friday. (If you’re local, do pop along – Friday 5th from 7pm)

In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of half term and bring on the last few weeks of the school year!  My little home needs a bit of a rest from the kids being here quite so many hours – they were actually decorating the walls this morning.  And I don’t mean in a helpful way.

Have fun!

Image (c)sarahjanefield 2015

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Son No 2

South London Photographer: iPhone images and colouring in

I love writing this blog but have been so busy the last two weeks that I’ve not really had time to think about it, never mind write it. That’s a great feeling to be honest as it’s always nice to be working, but I look forward to the time when I can manage my time a little more easily – and am able to make sure the blog doesn’t get pushed aside.

The other thing I love doing is taking pictures on my phone and messing around with them in an app called Snapseed.

I’ve also had less time to do that the last couple of weeks but, perhaps because it takes less active thought than writing, I’ve managed to maintain my iPhone habit a little.  I really enjoy doing this and in fact the image below of a building reflected on the road in the rain is a photograph I have decided to use for some college work, and I’ve not used a phone image for that before.

I have read about quite a few photographers using their phone and the work that’s out there can be really inspiring.  I also have a great book called The Instagram Book, (inside the online photography revolution) published by Ammo which has a collection of some truly incredible photography, all of which originated on a phone and was then shared on the social networking site.

I’m not an Instagram addict; I am actually on Flickr and pretty addicted to that to be honest, but only because that’s where I started and I simply don’t have the time or appetite for yet another social networking site.  But I do spend some time flicking through both Flickr and Instagram looking for inspiration and ideas. I love this aspect of my photography.  It’s so much fun and I often compare playing with the images in Snapseed to colouring in, which I always loved as a child.  It’s nice to be able to revisit some of that even though I’m now, of course, very grown up indeed!

Here is a small selection of some phone images I’ve recently taken.  Next week I might get round to discussing a personal photography project I hope to develop which aims to look at some of the more difficult aspects of motherhood in our culture and a call for mums who might like to be involved.  But I will need a little more time to think about that.  I also can’t wait to show you some photos from the film shoot I did this weekend and there’s some christening photography I’d like to blog about too.  Until then, have a great week!

All images (c)sarahjanefield 2015

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London Underground, Baker Street
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A plant in the evening sunshine
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Clouds above Swaffield School
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Reflection of flats off Allfarthing Lane in the rain
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Dead daffodils on my kitchen table