I joined a photography club when I was 16 years old and I went to Art School on Saturdays whilst studying for my A Levels. I taught in a college, sensibly paying the bills until my daughter was a teenager. I went full time freelance last year. Some dreams must finally be lived. So what did it mean to be short listed for a national award in my first year?
A boost to the self belief. The urge to reach higher. To ask my mentor to help me to develop more meaningful work. To thank my models and ask them to continue offering me so much of their authentic selves to shoot. But also the shock of it. If you know me you will see that I come from a very abusive childhood and never dreamed I would survive to adulthood, evidence that I am flourishing can be hard to deal with. It goes against what I was conditioned to expect. So ‘a win” has humbled me. It is a win too, in my first real year of work I got short listed out of 8000 entries and hanged at the Getty. So I am just going to push on.
So there are two sides to my work. I shoot for families and individuals and for businesses too. BUT, it is really important to me to push myself and develop my style with my tutor Aj Wilkinson. I love exploring how women construct their femininity. Olivia does too. As a trans woman she shares this dilemma. Shall I be girly today- but will I be taken seriously at work? If I want to wear jeans and no make-up will people judge me? Can I be lots of different women – even in one day? Ladies out there reading this know what I mean!
Olivia is one of my muses and we often work together. She gives a lot of honesty to my camera. The image I took of her hung in The Getty, now it looks like we might be off to New York. Cross your fingers for me. Getting international recognition would be amazing. Ultimately it benefits my other clients too. You can buy my photographs knowing that I work very hard to give you something special.
Why do I obsess about being authentic and photographing authenticity? I shall tell you the truth. During my childhood I was tricked frequently and sexually and physically abused. I cannot deal with duplicity. I like people to be straight with me and to say what they feel. I like people who know who they are and are kind. My motto is’ ” In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” And be true; be authentic.
So I find authenticity comforting and I feel the responsibility to handle those who sit for me with care because when someone is real they can be vulnerable. It is crucial I am also authentic, so I am vulnerable too.