It’s always a weird mix of lovely and scary to meet people you admire. To unexpectedly have the chance to meet, talk to, learn from and shoot with one of the photographers whose work you most admire is a bit overwhelming… but in a good way!
Fine art photographer & artist Brooke Shaden comes over to the UK and does a meetup in London once a year. I’d never been before, but spotted this one just a few weeks before it happened, so signed up on the spot. I arranged to meet Louise there, took half a day off work, and made my merry way into London on the 2nd of September.
As soon as I got there my fear disappeared, because it was obvious that we were surrounded by likeminded creative types. Brooke’s talk centered on fairytales and living boldly, creating your own fairytale – and if you’ve been reading this blog for even a short time you’ll see how much that chimes with my own take on life.
To add delight to the evening, the lovely Virginia (who I’ve known online for a long time, but who I’d never met) came and said hello – she’d recognised me from across the room which was a wonderful surprise!
We all swapped fears, and the ones I received were surprisingly similar to my own… fear of not being good enough, fear of never making self employment work. It’s unbelievably comforting to know that other people (whose work I admire) suffer the same fears and worries and doubts that I do.
Brooke set up some shots for us to see how she works, explaining her thought processes as she went.
And then we were free to wander, roam, and play!
Here are my raw shots….
One quick edit…
and countless others lurking, waiting for me to turn them into the art that was in my head when I pressed the shutter….
I’m definitely having a photography moment in the second half of this year and it’s making me ridiculously happy returning to my first love! And it was a massive confidence boost to have models and costumes to play with, without the pressure of creating anything specific.
This event also ticks off 2, 36 and 52 on my daydreams to do list!
2007 and 2008 show up in my archives as self portrait upon self portrait upon self portrait.
In a time before the word “selfie” existed, and when Facebook was only a year or two old, it was less about exhibitionism and more about discovering myself and improving my skills as a photographer at the same time.
Following the break up of a seven year relationship with my childhood sweetheart at the end of 2007, I had no idea how to deal with it and quickly retreated into my own little world with my camera to try and make sense of my grief. While driving my friends and family to distraction with my circular thoughts and endless tears, I took photo after photo after photo, both posed and candid.
I started a 365 project which can be seen here, though not all the images are publicly visible – they’re mainly snapshots but having a zero-faff daily project helped so much:
They can also be seen here on my Flickr account if the slideshow is playing silly buggers (internet explorer, I’m looking at you…)
The daily ritual of remembering to take and upload my photo, of finding new ways to see myself, to pose, places to be – they helped me see myself as a whole person, not the half of a couple I had always been. I learned how to be me, how to be by myself and how to be happy alone… crucial lessons for rebuilding my current happier, brighter, colourful life.
In essence I suppose photographed my way around my broken heart, fixing the break with pixels and colour and light. The thing I’d adopted as one of my many interests and developed as a skill ultimately helped me find myself again, deal with the pain, shed my old self and move on with my life.
Looking back at those photos I took, I can see (because hindsight is magic, but also because I have changed so, so much in that time) the girl I was and the woman I am. I can see the pain I was in and my desperate hope that it would somehow turn out to be a bad dream, but I can also see my true personality peeking out, though at the time I didn’t notice it. And it’s like getting to know a little sister after a long absence… it’s bittersweet to see her ups and downs and I wish I could tell her it would all be ok. More than ok – it’ll be rather wonderful a few years down the line!
And as the catalyst for a curious life – well, seven years later I’m still photographing my way through this world, and learning daily from it.
I’m thinking of doing another series soon – drop me a note if you’d like to join me!