I know I am in a similar boat to many other photographers who have endured a year and a half of barely any events to photograph! However, I am happy to say that work is beginning to trickle back. And what better way to reintroduce myself to the wedding scene than to share this beautiful occasion. Liz and Bayly are a wonderfully thoughtful, kind couple who went out of their way to hire local contractors and make their intimate wedding an opportunity to support local business, as well as celebrate their vows with close family and friends. Thank you to both of them for sharing their day with me and allowing me to share it with you. Below are a handful of moments from the event, some of which I’ll definitely be adding to my website.
In the meantime, do enjoy these pictures of this lovely family having a wonderful wedding in Wandsworth!
Some readers of this blog may have forgotten it ever existed! To be honest, I’ve ignored it for a while. I started it several years ago and routinely made an entry, almost every week to begin with. In 2016, however, I slowed down. Several momentous things happened that year (you may remember), which made me think that wittering on about my photography seemed silly and pointless when so much awfulness was taking place across the globe – and although I tried, I couldn’t find a way to reconcile my disquiet. I gradually stopped writing the blog altogether and just shared images as and when they came, on Facebook and Instagram. But lately I have felt that a blog might have something to offer again, although I’m not sure I’ll be writing quite as often, nor as personally.
I have also recently finished a second degree (currently awaiting results) and am hoping to begin an MA in September. So there is a natural hiatus and it could be the right time to abandon a blog altogether! On the other hand, as we emerge from Covid lockdowns and life gets back to normal, there may be some life left in it yet. The journey I have travelled on my studies has been quite adventurous and the work I ended up making at the end of my degree, and will continue into further studies, is very different to what I made at the start of the course. Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? To explore. But it’s not quite what is expected of a commercial photographer.
Some of you may have noticed a name change at the top of this blog. Because of the wildly different work I have developed, after lots of to-ing and fro-ing and wondering and pondering, I have decided to separate the names that head up my commercial work and my more experimental meanderings. I will continue to be the same photographer but I will keep these two different strands of my work completely separate.
If you’re interested in the multi-disciplinary ramblings of my on-going inquiry into systems change and its relationship with media, as well as some occasional documentary photography, then please do follow Sarah-Jane Field at www. sarahjanefield.com on Instagram and Twitter.
I’ve no idea what to do with LinkedIn! I’ve never understood it, but maybe in time it will make sense to me.
Clients always tells me they hope for lovely weather when we have shoots, but don’t completely write off rainy days for photography. The light is generally much nicer and easier to manage than when it’s bright, and cloud cover is a brilliant diffuser. I’m not sure the kids are quite as enthusiastic as me, and perhaps if it had been a bit more stormy this morning they’d have had something to say about being dragged up to Wimbledon Common. Nevertheless, they were content enough to go for a walk in the drizzle, providing hot chocolate and marshmallows were on the agenda, and even let me grab a few snaps of them as I we did. Here are a handful. (That’s my woolly hat, he’s wearing, by the way…)
Despite the weather there are definite signs of spring in the air! And to celebrate I am currently offering a 5% discount off the cost of a family shoot (as specified on my site, valid until the end of April, T&Cs apply.) Get in touch for more information.
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.
I like so many women I know, can do lots of different things. And often simultaneously. I can get dressed, hoover the carpet, eat toast and reply to an email on my phone, and all at the same time as yelling at a small child who can’t find his shoes because he’s hidden them in a basket for reasons only he understands. Sometimes I truly impress myself with that common mum-like ability to travel through the day successfully, surrounded by several virtual plates spinning maniacally all about my aura. And often they don’t even come crashing down before I make it to the end of the day. Instead I’m able to place them neatly in the corner ready for the next morning, when once again I’ll be getting dressed, eating toast, tidying up and yelling at a child about getting dressed before he ventures out into the street to hunt for ants to observe, because he’s decided that they are the greatest possible pet option on a growing list of exotic creatures, all of which I’ve rejected so far. Nevertheless, I’m sometimes saddened but also perfectly honest enough to admit, there are plenty of things I have yet to master, and many that I likely never will. I have not worked out how to grow an extra couple of arms, although, lord knows, I could really do with a spare set. I haven’t worked out how to be in two places at once, and I can’t even deduce that young boys in places quite far from me are disgruntled because I’m not where they think I ought to be, at exactly the time they think they need me to be.
“I exist in a reality outside your head too, young boy! I’m a person in my own right, really, I am. How can I possibly know you’ve not got your keys if you don’t call and let me know?” He replied, “I did!” I looked at my phone. And it’s true, he did, precisely three minutes earlier. But not at the very beginning of the 45 minute episode that he’d been sitting on the doorstep waiting impatiently. “Where are you????” he implores with utter indignation on my voice mail.
And no matter how hard I try I will never be able to morph into a dustbin, coat-rack, towel or snack, regardless of how much my children think I am surely any one of those objects at any given point. And I will never, ever, ever be able to control the weather. Nope, not ever. And nor do I wish to either. This comes as a shock and rather bad news to at least two of my children who make weather-dependent demands and then become infuriated when it just doesn’t work out the way they hoped.
All of which made me immensely grateful when I spoke to a client who has some weather specific aims for her photographs. We’ll need to play things by ear and see what the weather is doing for that, I said. Of course, she replied, I’m all over ‘flexible’. When you’re dealing with small people on a daily basis, flexible seems like a most precious and cherished trait to come across in someone. Mind you, my client is a yoga teacher, and not a somewhat willful and intractable 8-year-old boy, so it seems perfectly acceptable to expect that of her. And because she’s a mum, I bet she can do loads of stuff at the same time, and a sun salutation to boot too. But of course she wouldn’t even try, because we all know, that way sheer madness lies.
Whatever you feel about the current political state of collapse it would be difficult to deny how historically important it all is. I won’t say much in words. Everybody has their view and I know from past experience that asking people on either side of an argument to shift or broaden there positions can be hugely challenging. But obviously I took some photographs while out and about today and I’m sharing some of those here.
During the last week I have facilitated a couple of workshops, sharing some of the lessons I have learned when using my phone to take and edit pictures. At each session I have started by urging people to stop thinking of their phones as poor relations to their cameras and start appreciating the possibilities phones offer. “The best camera is the one you have with you” is quoted by various people all over the internet, and is the title of a book by photographer, Chase Jarvis. Regardless of where the quote comes from, it’s very true – you can only take pictures with the camera you have on you at the time. And most of us nowadays do have our phones with us pretty much all the time. I’ve read recently that point and shoot cameras may well disappear from the market altogether as phones have replaced the need for their existence. But I was also recently sent some information about a new powerful, wifi enabled camera, which I noted has been designed in the shape of a phone. I can’t help wondering if the makers will ultimately be forced to shoe-horn an actual phone into their camera to make it sellable. Who knows what the future holds? We’ll see!
Here are some of the comments that were sent to me or posted on Facebook after Friday evening and an earlier worksop in the week where I taught teachers, which I have to say was a little bit nerve wracking.
“Just had the most brilliant evening playing around with phone photography under the inspiring tutelage of Sarah-Jane Field.”
“Worth every penny. Thank you so much for a fab evening and brilliant photo experience!”
“Thank you for the workshop yesterday evening – all of us very much enjoyed it and felt that we have learnt something that we can use personally as well as here at work.”
“I loved it – definitely recommend it!”
And here are a couple of lovely pictures taken by the people who attended:
The positive reaction has generated further interest and so I’m sure I’ll be doing another local session soon. Look out for details.
Here are some pictures from Friday evening’s workshop, which I must admit I didn’t take on my phone due to the fact that it, along with the camera inside it, is pretty smashed up and broken, and has been for a while now. I really must get it together to call the insurance company and sort that out and I very much hope to have a new phone by my next outing with phone photography enthusiasts. I’m beginning to get quite frustrated by my compromised phone camera!
This week I am attending a workshop myself rather than taking it and I’m incredibly excited. Having spent the last few days sharing my love for the most up to date technology in phones to take photographs, I shall be travelling back through history and learning to make ambrotypes, one of the earliest forms of photography there is. Aren’t I lucky? I’m sure I’ll be posting lots of pictures afterwards about my time there so look out for those.
Last night I met up with a group of 10-12 year olds to share some fun tips about using their phones or tablets to take and edit photographs. It was a bit of a windy, grey evening weather-wise, but even though we all had horribly cold hands by the end of it, I definitely enjoyed myself and hope the others did too. I’ve alway liked that age group. Years ago when I used to teach drama to children and young people (adults too, in fact) I remember acknowledging that I really enjoyed spending time with preteens. They’re not quite grown up yet, so mostly are still imbued with a happy childishness, however, they are without any doubt fully fledged human-beings by then. Because in actual fact, the very young ones just aren’t. Nope, not at all. I realised this fact about some four and five year olds when I offered to do an after school drama club with my oldest son’s class when he was in reception. It was then that my respect and admiration for anyone working with that particular age group soared. I tried desperately to keep those rowdy miniature hooligans in control, failed utterly, and eventually gave up, blaming my son’s obvious jealousy and discomfort over sharing his mum with 18 other children. (I’ll always be grateful to the mums who stayed behind and helped with toilet breaks and upsets). But I realised too that the uncontrollable chimp-like lunacy of those small people was not for me. Teachers who can manage it, for there are those that are brilliant at it, deserve our utmost admiration and thanks.
Last night’s workshop made me aware of some important facts as far as sharing information and knowledge goes. Perhaps a really important point was made when a lovely girl I’ve known since she was born told me she couldn’t work out whether she wanted to make her photographs look very natural and realistic, or ‘weird’. Heh, I said, join the club! I still can’t work that one out myself and keep playing with a variety choices, and maybe will forever. Just play, I advised, and maybe you’ll reach a decision or maybe you won’t. Don’t worry about it for now, though. One day, if you’re photographing for a specific reason then you can make choices based on what is required, for instance it might not be appropriate to have a ‘weird’ image illustrating something in a text book. Saying that, I recently read that if you want to make lots of money then settle on a style but if you want to explore and discover, don’t limit yourself. I think it was a great photographer called Alec Soth who said that. Do look him up if you don’t know him and are interested in photography – he’s terrific.
I’m sharing a picture here which I’ve already shared on Instagram, one which has had lots of positive feedback, although I’m torn about it. I love the mood but in the same vein as my friend’s daughter who questioned her aesthetic choices last night, I never know whether I’m entirely happy using affects and apps, or if I’ve gone too far, or if I should simply accept that those choices faithfully express something I’m playing with right now. I think I should take my own advice and stop worrying about it – although I think I am probably expected to have more than an inkling about why I make certain decisions, especially in my studies. Whatever else is true, and perhaps down to being little bit ‘naughty’, for now I think I’ll continue to approach my own work by just playing and discovering for as long as I can, and trying not to worry too much.
As we had so much fun last night, I am going to offer an ongoing phone photography club aimed at kids aged 10-13 years old. We’ll meet once a month and just hang out taking pictures and sharing them like we did last night, and generally talk about how we think we can improve our skills. Please get in touch at email@example.com or message me via social media with your email address and I’ll keep you informed with updates. I may well offer a different club to a slightly younger group, 8-9 years olds, because in the end a few little monkeys can be fun and they’re certainly very close to being human beings by then, but that group will be limited to a relatively small number. Again, let me know if this interests you. Keep a look out on Twitter and FB for dates regarding both. And I’ve got a couple of places left on the adult workshop/photo walk in the 17th, so get in touch about that if you fancy it.
Enjoy the rest of half term for those of you still on it. My font room seems to have been turned permanently into a den made out of blankets and duvets. And I’m fine with that, really. Honest. No,no, no… I am!
I’m very lucky to have such nice neighbours. They’re very understanding. I should think it’s like living next door to a group of howling monkeys for them. Mornings can be fairly frantic in this house, as they are all around the world where young children are concerned. But on Saturday mornings my lot really do take the almighty piss. We have a club to get to by 11am so not too onerous time-wise, you would think. Only, No 2 likes to languish in bed for as long as possible, by default refusing to get dressed. He favours reading, which is hard to be discouraging about, or watching someone with an incredibly loud and annoying voice play games on YouTube, which is best to stay as far away as possible from; and No 3 is just ornery about getting dressed whatever the day, time, or mood he is in.
Son no 1 does not have the patience of a saint. In fact, he might have the exact opposite amount of patience. So he can be more than a little disgruntled when 10 O Clock passes and the small ones still haven’t bothered to put any clothes on, despite having been asked several times by then. If we don’t leave by 10.15 then we can’t walk and No 1 likes to walk. At which point he goes, well, I think the phrase might be ‘ape-shit’. I do tell him his tempestuous encouragement towards the small people is not actually terribly helpful, but he’s usually too far-gone to hear me, bearing his teeth aggressively and howling like a proper monstrous primate from the deepest unconscious depths of our collective evolutionary past. And that obviously sets the small ones off. From the safety of my own screen, where I might be trying to get some work finished, I try in my ineffectual way (‘come on, boys!’) to calm it all down but I seem only to make things worse. (Yes, I do hear the voices out there suggesting that perhaps I shouldn’t be trying to get some work done at that particular moment and therein lies the problem… but … a woman’s gotta do what a … and all that….)
After some grunting and pushing and shoving, whilst attempting to drag his brothers to the pile of clothes I’ve left out for them, No 1 eventually recovers access to language and I get told, “It’s all your fault! You don’t bring us up to be normal! Why can’t you parent like other people? They’re psychotic and it’s because of you!” It’s quite hard to hear though because of the crying and yelling behind him.
Mmmm… Is now the right time, I wonder, to discuss the word ‘normal’ – what is normal anyway? Do you really think your friend’s parents are normal? Ha! You just wait….I decide now is probably not the best moment but mentally log the philosophical debate for later.
“They need more rules! I had more rules when I was their age…” he continues to rant at me while his younger brothers run round howling and beating each-other up in a confused and pointless act of retribution aimed in entirely the wrong direction, although for them it would seem, any direction will do. But they don’t get dressed.
“We discussed rules last week,” I tell him, “but you said the rule about no food outside the kitchen was a dumb one. And have you bought that collection of cups and bowls down from your room, while we’re about it?” I ask.
“That is a dumb rule. And I don’t mean those sorts of rules…”
“Oh… how about a rule saying you must help me with the dishwasher every day instead of randomly every few weeks or so. Or you must bring your own washing pile down and put it in the washing machine, and change your own sheets? They sound like good rules to implement.”
He grunts. But by now we are far too late to walk and must drive to the activity, which annoys me too. So it becomes hard not to sympathise with No 1 even though he’s clearly being selective about what sort of rules we should have and who should be required to follow them.
I manage to get all of my various sized simians into the car; more yelling, more howling, more gnashing of teeth from all of us. And on our journey No 1 declares we should have a chart that clearly identifies the rules he thinks we should start following. I dreamily imagine what I would write:
‘No fucker will grow up in this house to become an imbecile who can’t take care of themselves as an adult….’
No, that ‘s not right… I know exactly what the oh, so sensible No 1 will say…
“Mum, children whose parent’s swear at them are more likely to grow up depressed!” He keeps telling me.
“No, no – that, my love, is likely to be down to a genetic predisposition… sorry.” But he’d be quite right to chastise me, not because I shouldn’t swear at them, which of course I shouldn’t. But because we’re meant to be thinking about a set of rules, not a manifesto. And in any case a manifesto is a pointless thing because one of us is bound to creep in during the night, alla Napolean the Dictator Pig along with his helpers, and cross out bits or add words to suit whatever changing relationship we have with the rules anyway. In the end I don’t think a set of rules up on the wall will suit us.
And anyway, it’s not all bad because No 2 isn’t always howling like a deranged primate. Sometimes he’s wandering around with a pigeon-feather tucked behind his ear like Haiwatha and laughing hysterically at the thought of ‘mature’ cheddar. “Is it really called mature cheddar? Oh, I’m such a mature cheese, I’m so very, very, very mature! Hahahahahah!” I loved that moment. And when No 3 isn’t screeching like an absolutely maniacal and outraged mini-ape, he’s hugging me and telling me I’m the best mummy in the world. And as for No 1, he’s really being amazingly mature most of the time right now, although not in the same way as the cheese thankfully. I do just feel for the neighbours though. Because really, all they get to hear are the howling animals we’re all so good at impersonating.
On the work front, my iPhone photography session for children is full but I’ve been asked to do one for adults too. I will probably hold one on the 10th of June from 6pm for 1.5 to 2 hours. More details to follow this week.
Phone photography sessions for children aged 8-12, £8 per child, Tuesday 31st May, 2016, 5.30pm. Get in touch for more details on 07581 694 934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising over…. I have been a bit quieter than usual on social networking the last couple of weeks or so. Several reasons and actually, a good thing for my relationship with the non-digital world, but maybe not ideal for my business. It’s tricky to get the balance right. You read all this stuff saying you must be Tweeting/Instagramming/Facebooking constantly to get your social media marketing statistics up, aiming always, of course, to result in bookings, and you should be regularly engaging with others too otherwise it doesn’t work – obviously, and don’t what ever you do, disappear from the digital airwaves. Geez… so many rules! When’s a person meant to do some actual work? And when did all those terms become verbs, anyway? Language, heh…. fluid, in flux and developing always; so interesting.
Anyway the reason I am quieter than usual is because a couple of projects I am working on are taking up a great deal of my time, energy and internal resources. So much so, that I am often surprised by how quickly time passes; especially when I turn around and notice that it’s 6pm instead of 3pm, which is what I assumed it must be on Sunday evening, having finally remembered I needed to tell a friend I wouldn’t in fact be turning up … admittedly that was quite a large amount of time to be wrong by, and thankfully it’s not always so dramatic. Sunday, however, utterly disappeared and before I knew it the kids hadn’t been fed properly or even put to bed, and I had a meeting online with fellow students, which to be honest proved slightly tricky, but all we got there in the end, wherever there might have been. Bed and asleep for those small people, thankfully.
The whole creative process is incredibly fulfilling, even though it means being on a bit of an emotional roller coaster…”that’s what I mean… shit, no it isn’t,… yes, this works,…oh, my god, I’m awful, I can’t do anything right!… yes! No! Maybe! Try that … help! try this… back that way, where did I put the thing that I need now?..Aaaaargh!!!” It’s quite tiring too, actually, but most of the time I love it a lot. And, despite the current political debate within the education sector, where it appears that some quarters are attempting to limit and thwart creativity in our schools nowadays, children are thankfully still very much up for exploring the world in a creative and artistic way. Which is a good thing.
And is probably why I’ve been asked to do some photography sessions aimed at kids. I’ve had a think about the best way to go about this, and decided to initially offer an hour in a local park and to concentrate on using a phone/tablet or iPod, and see how that goes. All participants will need an electronic device like a phone that has a camera on it. We’ll have a chat about taking images, how to edit, the merits of apps, whether or not to use effects, and where to share them. Get in touch and I’ll give you further details as there are a couple of apps that your child will benefit from having access to.
Right, that’s it – must get on with some admin whilst I’m taking a quick break from one of the projects that’s absorbing so much of my being. Here are some pictures I have taken on my phone recently, which are the sort of thing we’ll be aiming to do in the kid’s session. (Mmmm… wonder if the social media gurus will be satisfied with today’s efforts…)