Redeye Hothouse 19

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 you can try out an event. They have a lot coming up!


Courting Controversy

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

On Being Free (lance)

Being Brave for £100 a Month!

18 months ago I became freelance. This shot was the shoot that kicked my butt, an image from it hung in the Getty Gallery in London (with Martin Parr) and another went to America. I awoke one morning and had an unstoppable need to leap to a new life and freewill on an adventure. I had just done something spectacular and surprised myself by producing work that was good enough to hang with great photographers. Do you let those moments pass you by? Fear change? Am I brave because I felt scared but did it anyway? A client’s blog caught my attention this week, she was watching a TED talk,

“… of one of the influencers I follow, Harriet Minter,  stopped me in my tracks and challenged my thinking. She was delivering a TED talk titled “Proceed until Apprehended” which broadly lands the message that as women we often wait to be invited or seek permission to do the things we want to do rather than jumping in feet first and chasing the dream.” Jodie Salt of The Violet Society. 

I too sought permission and hunted for people who would support me but in the end I chose all alone, because those close to me dislike change and made me feel fool hardy. They asked what if I failed, was it wise to give up job security and a pension, was I prepared to pay the price of freedom? Well yes I fucking was - because I did not want to give up my dream. I think that people who stop dreaming die a little bit everyday. 

So my husband pays the bills, we are safe and money is quite tight. My photography business is like any new venture - money does not pour in and the first 18 months have been lean. Running a business costs money, in my first tax year at least I was not in debt - WIN! Of course it was wise financially to stay in my job but my comfort zone is a dull place. I kind of figured that with my dreadful abusive childhood I deserved a chance to find out if I am worthless or maybe with more. I wanted more. I had a nine week solo show this summer,  I’m doing ok.

There are many things that I gave up: days off; buying clothes ( all my T Shirts and jeans have holes in); my beloved horse riding; coffee that is not home made; eating out…….. all of life’s little luxuries. I barter for yoga,  and a few beauty services; and a walk with friends is free. I am determined to remain independent and write a few things off as expenses but it is okay to do without for a while. I am hoping to rejoin the capitalist society I actually live in soon though. Charging my worth is the next step - now that I have realised my worth that is!

The link to Jodie Salt’s blog is below - just in case you wanted to be brave in 10 steps.

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