Taking My Clothes Off on Instagram

Would you post a shot of you in your underwear or bikini on social media?

I wonder why we do that? I wanted to show off my “yoga toned bikini body” and it felt like everyone else did it and as I shoot lots of nudes I wanted to experiment. So how did it make me feel? Unnervingly I loved it. I felt proud of myself, sexy and thought, “Woah -I’m like all of the other babes out there!” This is a new feeling. 

My clients loved it too. They felt I was now the same as them, exploring my sexuality publicly and staking a claim for body positivity.  Man did I feel validated. Yet is this type of image really a sexual revolution? My daughter took that shot and I had messy hair and no make up on - extra points to me!

As a feminist I do not like the way that men are often judged for performance and women for our “looked - at- ness”. So much of feminine identity is bound up in appearance and conforming to ideals of femininity: slim, hair, make-up, sexy clothing. We perform womanhood armed with our MAC palette and GHDs. 

As a female photographer I try to challenge this male gaze - do I dress you like a porn star, cover you with make-up and then add props that have a touch of S&M, ask you to lie whilst I hover over you? No, you can get that type of shoot elsewhere. My artistic references are from paintings not Play Boy (or 50 Shades of Grey). I strive to let you explore the nude form, the real you. Of course I will book you hair and make-up if required but the pleasure is in showing you the beauty within you. The image here is from a series of nudes for a cancer charity. This woman has accepted her altered body ( though I suspect that we all have to work on self love everyday) and I wanted to show her power. She is not a sex object, yet to me she is utterly gorgeous. My bikini shot was not on this level. 

So many of my emotions conflict, it’s fun / no it’s demeaning / I like it/ but I shouldn’t. Being a woman is complicated, I don’t have all of the answers yet and in some ways I find the contradictions fascinating; ying and yang. In my personal life and work I am exploring femininity. Trans Women - yep a whole story there too!

Okay you can click to my Instagram account on the link if you really must see that bikini shot! Remember you have to follow me to peek! 

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. 


The Value of Everyday Life

When I photograph the everyday of your family life you like it. Mums and Dads tell me that they have never seen their family like this - they are caught up in this busy life and had no idea how special and intimate it feels to see their family captured so lovingly. A Dad recently told me that, he “loves the dishes on the draining board, it is the real us and feels like our normal life is valuable.” I enjoy the challenge of following you around your home and using my artists eye to find the light and composition and meaning in the story that unfolds. I am working on an art project at the moment, maybe you’d like to take part? Or maybe you’d like me to shoot you privately with no obligation to make these photos public? Either way get in touch, I’d love to know what makes your family special! Have a look on my website. 

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