It feels like spring this week doesn’t it? Working from home can offer flexible days and I like to pause and walk the dogs in daylight. For the last few days I have had sunshine and a touch of warmth. I think the ground smells different too. I used to be very connected to this before my horse died 16 months ago. Winter can be harsh on a stable yard and when spring wakens the horse get a touch of joy that we call spring fever! They know new grass (life, food) is growing and we kind of loose touch with that in our centrally heated offices and homes. Of course we don’t depend upon the seasons to bring food- we ship it from all over the globe all year.
I love the summer and heat. I like to work with the studio door open to the garden, winter is so not my season! November to February I can only do natural family shoots at the weekends and even then I can struggle to find the light I want. Life as a photographer involves much obsession about light - I even named a project “You Brought Your Own Light”!
I have just started to book family shoots after school and I will even be able to use the golden hour by April - a special light that happens each day if we have little cloud. So I will be shooting ordinary family life stories about playing out, dressing up, snacks and dinner and bath time. Except it is not ordinary really is it? We rarely stop to appreciate those everyday moments. My daughter is preparing to leave this year as a new life at University beckons - I wish I had more dreamy photos of life when she was still in primary school but I was too busy cooking, washing up and too tired at the end of the day. I don’t have photos of story time, dressing up or of her sleeping.
I have a lot to process this year don’t I?
I have never presented work at a conference before. First time on the big screen, first time speaking with a microphone. Have you ever stood up to present your work? I thought my voice would sound weird to my own ears with the mic (it didn’t) or that I’d rush ( in my notes I used a symbol to remind me to breathe- another to remind me to click!). I find these experiences empowering, standing up and owning my work makes me proud of it; and me. I once spoke at the House of Lords about youth poverty, I was so scared that I nearly threw up. Yet I wanted to stand up and own that work too. It is surprising what I will sometimes decide to do; but I find it exciting.
If you know me, reading this will surprise you because I am filled with self doubt. Yesterday I spoke at Redeye’s Hothouse ‘19 in Leeds. If you have a book out, an exhibition, a body of work you may present it. Last year I sat in awe of the people speaking. They had such diverse and fascinating projects and some had spent years on their work. Redeye are a photography network who record aggregate and share current practise. They offer training and support with tonnes of super events and I have attended events where some of the big names in this world lecture. You do not need to be an art or contemporary photographer to go though, the audience is filled with people who just love this craft and find it a pleasure or a hobby.
I find it inspiring and I learn a great deal when I look at other peoples work - I feel humbled, to see how people are challenging the world, tackling political issues and creating art with images.
If you go to redeye.org.uk you can try out an event. They have a lot coming up!
Last night I went to the City Life Awards 2019 as my exhibition “You Brought Your Own Light” was nominated. Ever since I found out about the nomination I have felt like I had already won - to have work short listed is a win for me. Yet last night I was shaking when the nominations were read out, it’s a bit like the Oscars, they do the five nominated and then Andy Burnham announced the winner.
Of course Bee in the City won. I knew that would happen as the winner was chosen by popular vote and the Bee Trail was a terrific game in the city with families and tourists. Absolutely a no brainer! Trans women are not a game. This morning I saw that the group ReSisters Unite have defaced many statues all over the country including Emmerline Pankhurst’s statue in Manchester. Thank you Joni Grace Indolent for removing that one - hope somebody took the other three down in my city too.
Conservative feminists and a right wing religious group believe that trans women are a threat to society. To photograph trans women in a manner that explores their humanity and dignity is a controversial act. LensCulture recently described my work as,
” A terrific body of work. These images have a lot of heart and empathy….these images are, in some sense an account of love and are timeless in that sense. They do not judge, in fact they celebrate in a gentle and accommodating way.”
I do not judge, I work at being kind and gentle. The trans women I meet have become friends, they have suffered and they forgive. They sit for me and I ask for their souls. If my work goes, “beyond the surface” I have looked into the hearts of these women and captured human stories. I do not mind if others see trans women differently but I will continue to photograph these narratives and challenge hate.
If you’d like to be a part of this portrait series get in touch x