I want to focus on the present and celebrate this lovely couple’s intimate wedding at Wandsworth Council but it would be remiss of me to begin without acknowledging recent events … oh, my goodness, how weird were the last few months? None of us is sure it’s all over yet, but it certainly felt good to be getting back to work again. Capturing a wedding was a great way to start. Will and Emma had to change their original plans but they still managed to have plenty of guests via Zoom, along with close relatives in the room. And what a perfect day it was too. The registrars did a super job maintaining social distancing while accommodating the guests – the main difference for me was that I wasn’t allowed to move around in the registry office but, nevertheless, we still managed to capture the smiles, kisses, special glances and oodles of joy. Huge congratulations and best of luck to Emma and Will! I’m so glad they got to have their special day.
PS. One of my favourite images below is the way the bride and groom’s shadows had a sneaky kiss as their owners walked down the street… so romantic!
All images (c)SJField2020
Please visit http://www.sarahjanefield.co.uk for more information on weddings, headshots, and family portraiture. Book before the end of September 2020 to receive a 5% discount off advertised prices – see website. Terms and conditions apply.
I was thrilled to be invited back to photograph a family I worked with a couple of years ago. We’d all had such a lovely time before and ended up with a great collection of images. It was no different this weekend, and I hope everyone loves these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. And what an amazing bunch of stylists everyone in this family seems to be – I might need to borrow their terrific style for all my shoots.
Get in touch for information on family shoots and event photography at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07581694934.
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.
I remember much of what I have written about in this post because of the photo albums which I avidly used to keep up to date, meticulously recording and documenting our lives. Two children and one early pregnancy later, everything got far too busy and crazy. My photo albums stop at that point and it’s harder to piece things together without the visual reminders. I’m pretty sure the last time I went to Brighton I was heavily pregnant with No 3. Hang on a minute, I can’t have been heavily pregnant because he was born in March and we went in the summer. Oh yes, I remember, I looked heavily pregnant from about day 2 of that pregnancy, so that by the time I was just 3 months gone, I looked like I was about to pop. I do know for sure I ate a family pack of Wotsits and felt sick in the car going down – aaah, you might think, therein lies a possible reason for having been so incredibly big. In fact, it’s impossible to forget just how very sick I felt for most of those 9 months, and I suspect the salt in the Wotsits probably helped keep the nausea at bay. I also recall flooding my bag with a broken bottle of water and destroying my phone on the way home. But I wouldn’t have taken any photographs during that visit because just holding my phone, or a camera, significantly and palpably added to the feeling of nausea. Most people reminisce about how they couldn’t drink tea, alcohol or orange juice when pregnant. I remember I simply couldn’t take a photograph. It just made me want to hurl. Which, as you might image, is a truly depressing way to spend your time when you once loved taking pictures of your kids.
It was a weird aversion and I never experienced it during my other pregnancies. But thanks to the albums, I know for certain that we had a lovely day out in Brighton during my pregnancy with No 2 too. I like looking at those pictures. No 1 is still very young. I have a short gamine hair style, which suits me and my large belly well, and we all look really happy sitting in a fish restaurant, and then later on the beach, throwing stones into the sea. (Here’s an image from that visit. I photographed a picture from the album, using my phone, and uploaded it to Instagram a while ago – so a great combination of old and new technology.)
Thankfully, the pregnancy hormones have long gone, No 3 is running around outside my belly causing chaos, and the aversion to technology has dissipated. I started thinking about lenses again when No 3 was roughly 4 months old, so I knew then that me and my photography would be OK. When we recently visited Brighton again (sans any pregnancy) during half term to see old friends whom we’d not seen in years and years, I was able to really enjoy my love of photography and record our day out with my usual enthusiasm. No 1 was very keen to recreate the image I’d posted to Instagram, which I’d taken when he was 3 years old. We had a play and eventually he told me he’d rather wait until he was 18 to do that but he did very patiently let me continue trying out new scenarios.
Here’s a selection from our day. I used my Fuji X100s which is the camera I tend to carry around because it’s light and easy. I really must get back to albums of one sort or another because they’re great for holding and looking through when you have a spare moment, and terrific for future generations to have.
Get in touch for family photography sessions, mentioning this post and I’ll include 5 A4 prints to your booking for free*. That way you can also think about creating old fashioned albums for you and your children to look at in years to come.
Incidentally, I was recently introduced to Light, a camera company that is aiming to change the way photographs are taken with a new compact camera that has DSLR quality in a lighter and more convenient form! One of my photos will be submitted as part of their Vantage Point project.
Back to school tomorrow. And onwards with work in a slightly less disruptive manner (and breath….)! SJ x
Images (c)SJField 2016, *T&C apply – see website for details
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.
“You put dead mans in boxes,” the smallest person says.
His statement races through my mind chaotically like a confused mouse in a clinical maze, trying unsuccessfully to connect Son No 3’s belief that I ‘put dead mans in boxes’ to the conversation I’m having with No 1. He, the oldest and my resident social-networking expert, is telling me about ‘ranters’.
“So, they’re an actual thing?” I had queried.
“Yes, you just rant about stuff. It would be perfect for you, mum.”
Even so, I don’t understand why a ranter is categorised differently to a blogger or a vlogger, but I am told the woman we are discussing is neither of those things. She is most definitely a ranter and I can be one too, if I like, although I must have some extreme ideas to rant about.
That’s the whole point of a ranter. She or he must be vociferous.
Son No 1 goes on to give me an example while Son No 3 continues quietly munching on cereal, and taking it all in.
“So, you could spout extreme feminist views, for instance, but they have to be really out there!” He then does an impression of my potential ranting which is not terribly flattering about men. Or me, to be honest.
“Heh, men are ok,” I say, “so long as they go back in their boxes at the end of the day!”
It’s a joke, of course. But I do worry immediately about the message I’m transmitting to my youngest and oldest male offspring.
Which is where Son No 3’s statement about putting dead men in boxes comes in.
“No, darling, I don’t mean it …I don’t really want to put them all in boxes…” I find it too hard to fully explain because well… how do I deconstruct a slightly acerbic, not terribly funny joke to a four year old? Four year olds famously don’t really do irony. (Neither do psychopaths, they tell me, but that’s another story).
And anyway, I am more concerned about his notion that I want all men to be dead before putting them in their boxes.
“Why do you think they’d be dead?”
“Because your dead dad is in a box,” he replies.
“Ohhhh – yeah!” He’s referring to my late father’s ashes, currently residing in an urn, which is still inside the cardboard box we received it in, on the day of his funeral, and which rests at the very top of the book-shelf in my front room; reasons for which I explained in an earlier blog.
So it turns out, to all intents and purposes, that Son No 3 has listened carefully to the lesson about social networking ranters given by Son No 1 along with my interactions, and concluded that I believe all men should ultimately be turned to ashes and stored in cardboard boxes. Which, I hasten to add, isn’t true. Really. I mean, mostly, it’s not true at all.
All joking aside, in case anyone misses the irony – I’ve realised that occasionally parody doesn’t travel as well as I imagine it might – it is often challenging passing on basic feminist ideals to my three male children in a balanced, mature, and humanist way. Feminism isn’t about women or men. It’s about human beings being decent and fair to one another. Which, obviously….Silly… never equates to one gender being consigned to boxes, dead or alive, at the end of the day, or in fact any time – no matter how their sex is defined.
I am, like so many other parents, trying to ensure the boys grow up to be modern, helpful, authentic, genuinely kind, gentle but happy in their masculinity, as well as present; and who know where the washing machine and dishwasher are. And who don’t assume it’s their God-given right to be absent most of the time doing who knows what while some poor long-suffering wife/girlfriend is stuck at home, either all day or at the end of a full working day sorting his underwear into darks and lights before shoving them in the machine, which only she knows how to use. I know I don’t always get the tone right. In fact, I fail miserably every now and again.
Either I am a little too caustic; presumably generating ideas in small minds that suggest I might think men should be kept in boxes. Or I just find it easier to get on with domestic chores myself, rather than teach them how to contribute.
The challenge of bringing up those three little boys who absorb messages from the world around them, some of which lead Son No 3 to believe that I can’t be a super hero because I’m a girl, is immense. I strive constantly to counter such beliefs calmly and rationally but I’ve been bought up in the same world, and have undoubtedly, and without thinking, upheld many of the gender specific roles we still cling to in our society, by cleaning up after everyone and allowing them to get away with not learning basic white goods management. I do of course know little girls can also be happy to let mum do it all too. And I totally get that we mums love to mother our kids, to make them feel taken care of, looked after, even cosseted to various degrees. Because it’s lovely for them to feel that way, and wonderful to be able to do it. Nevertheless, I am furiously trying to back-peddle, and listen enviously to tales of how other families apportion various chores equally to all their children, regardless of gender. Instead of always doing everything for them, I am consciously trying to remember to give them space to learn how to take care of themselves in the domestic sense. Because it would be awful for them to reach their 50s and still not know how to use a washing machine like that poor deceased dad of mine, whose ashes live in a box on the shelf.
So no, I don’t think I’ll become a ranter as suggested by Son No 1. I don’t have extreme enough views. I can’t possibly bang on about men being consigned to boxes at any time and in any state because the world would be a sadder place without them. Most men are, of course, OK really. Especially when served on a nice bit of toast with a little dollop of pickle on the side. And perhaps a glass or two of a decent chianti.
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!)