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Why I Gave a Days Work For Free.


My social conscience tells me to be kind and authentic so a few times a year I give a charity a days work for free. Once I needed help too. Some grass roots charities need this, paying for luxuries is difficult for them until they are more established. But- are bespoke photographs a luxury? Charities care about marketing their brand and telling their story and I believe that stock images are not good enough, too generic. The story of a business should be personal.

A picture is worth a thousand words - what does the image here say to you? Emmerline’s Pantry helps the most vulnerable women in society, those who have escaped domestic violence or human trafficking. Some have been shackled and 27 organisations in Manchester use the pantry to help these women build a new life. If you feed a mother and give her hope she will take care of her child. I too am a mother and survivor of abuse. I am now an award winning photographer who has exhibited at the Getty London and just had a nine week solo show. I know that I did not achieve this alone and I needed people to believe in me.

I Spent a marvellous day with Karen Wilson who runs the charity. As I arrived she explained that they had a blockage in the drains and instead of shooting where we had planned could we use a new room, Maybe I just felt good that day as I was totally chilled about this! I had no idea how many women would come, Karen hoped about six and asked me to protect the women by not showing their faces. They didn’t speak much English, so body language was important. I actually really loved thinking on my feet that day. The edit that afternoon was a tearful one for me though, I had seen such bravery and hope in that room and was aware of the context of the charity’s work. I find these shoots are humbling work and maybe that is the point: to see how far I have come and to help a charity to tell its story so they can stay open and grow.

You can see more of the shots here: emmerline-s-pantry and do look the charity up if this is close to your heart too. 

Thoughts on Fame

My 15 minutes of fame with a solo exhibition has been a journey, a bumpy one! I see me as a woman with a camera, observing people not the one seeking to be the object of the gaze. A woman who grew up believing she was worth less or worth nothing. I grew comfortable with that. So when people began to tell me what they thought of my work and me, describe the impact it had on them and the community I got really upset; because I have never listened to such praise. To help me to accept it graciously I am going to quote some of it here. Then I can think about telling the world that actually I am worth quite a bit!

“The exhibition isn’t everything it will and has changed things and the more it goes the more it does, the chances to get the models noticed their stories heard and your name out there as a serious portait heavyweight. 

It’s an amazing collection of portraits Allie Crewe and unfortunately at same time still a semi taboo subject I guess.

Consider that it is a beautiful body of work that you have created, and now it has its own identity to grow. Be very proud of yourself

 It will be fine. You’ve achieved so much and you should be proud. The portraits will continue to inspire people, and you will continue to have a positive impact on vulnerable people’s lives. 
Your work is exquisite, and shows the strength, vulnerability, character and beauty of each sitter. It will “grow it’s own wings and fly” without you, as others have said, step back and let your baby go. It will be loved and there will be discussions of all types about it, but at the end nobody will be able to fault your talent xx

Allie, what you have accomplished is an amazing thing. Take strength from the fact that your work brings forth strength in others to be able to tell their stories. This is a wonderful and unique creation. And it all started with you. It is brilliant. XX

Oh Allie Crewe I wish it was as easy as saying how fab you are! We’re curious creatures, aren’t we?! Fear is so crippling but it really is liberating when you stare it down. Set the same standards and expectations for yourself as you would anyone else and go a bit easier on yourself. Oiur comfort zones aren’t fixed, they are like thick elastic bands - hard to stretch but not impossible.Soon you’ll forget where it was once set. Xxx
I haven’t seen this body of work, at the gallery yet, but know it is sensational. I am sorry that the other elements of displaying your work are proving so difficult. However, you should be so proud that your talent merits gallery status, and you can only use it as a marketing tool for future work. I hope that this will bring in added interest in your portrait work, from everybody who views the exhibition. Sell yourself and your capabilities whenever you can, during the exhibition tour. Emphasise that this is just a small part of your work and do not accept that you are only focussed on transgender photography. This exhibition certainly shows the beauty of members of our community, but we are also part of the everyday world. I hope you can get to a point where you can enjoy the attention and emphasis on you and your work. xxx

Get a grip and get real. You have more talent in your little finger than most of us will ever have. Revel in that gift and feel its power. Yours is work that will provoke comment and feelings, it’s not vanilla and never will be. Some people may hate it but the majority see it for what it truly is, magnificent life in all its glory from the hands and eye of a true artist.
Start believing in yourself, self doubt has no place in your life and I’m so going to kick your arse when I see you.”

Quick Before the Tan Fades!

Right now you are brown and healthy, the children are still off school ( okay maybe you look brown and are stressed!) but the children look great. I used to dread the long winters when my daughter was little, she would grow pale and hollow eyed and I’d feel like a bad mother. I’d tell myself the she had a cold then a virus that she just needed more sleep - but I’d worry too. 

I’ve thought of something to help. Why not plan Christmas presents now! Don’t yell at me like that! You will be early, all the tricky pressie’s for the grand parents will be sorted and I can even gift wrap; boxes and ribbons? It would be a fabulous help. At the school gates you may boast, ” We had a award winning photographer shoot the children, yeah the one who had the solo exhibition in Manchester, we were soooo lucky to get a slot, she is quite choosy!”

Smug but appealing right? Now any High Street has those photo places but you hate to copy the crowd. So I’m thinking a “private commission” would help, it sounds mysterious and even posher than “bespoke.” I promise not to tell them the price was reasonable!

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