This Summer I ran away. I spent as long as was feasibly possible in Europe. Huge thanks to my mother for going to the trouble of breaking her ankle and giving us the excuse to escape the UK, and for facilitating it all too. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated the time and the rest. Even so, I didn’t sit around doing bugger all. (Mostly…) I took my work with me and did my best to keep up with it. I wrote essays and I read a great deal. I caught up with books I’d been meaning to read and found new ones. And now back to reality.
But before that, here is a visual poem expressing something about my time in Umbria this summer.
Do get in touch for event or portrait photography on 07581694934 – 5% off the advertised price on my website for family shoots and events if booked before 30th September 2019. (Term & Conditions, as ever, apply.)
I am doing a spring offer at the moment with 5% off family shoots and portraits – even though the weather is trying to convince us we’re still buried in the depths of winter, we are most definitely about to hit March and that is, without a doubt, the end of the dark season in this part of the world. Come on warmth and sunshine, our pasty complexions need you, not to mention the vitamin D levels! Check out the offer here but also take a look at some of the snowy pics I’ve enjoyed capturing over the last couple of days…click on the images to see more. Enjoy it while it lasts, everyone!
Wishing all my clients and followers a very Happy New Year! We spent a couple of days by the seaside; and here is a short sequence from our brief visit taken on the last day of the year. I hope everyone manages to have more than a few moments of this type of joy in the year to come. x
This has been by far the busiest year I’ve had since setting up as a photographer. One of the lessons I’ve had to learn and am still learning is how best to manage my time as I navigate parenting, studies, and social as well as commercial photography. It’s a good problem to have though!
I’ve been extremely pleased to carry on working alongside local charitable organisation Just Shelter throughout 2017 and will continue documenting their trips and the situation in Northern France in 2018. Long- and short-term volunteers I meet are involved in a number of projects devoting their time and energy to a range of causes both here and abroad. At a time when we see so much extraordinary violence both online and in the physical world it is great to be reminded there is also a lot of genuine goodness and kindness out there too.
Workwise, I was pleased to photograph teams in highly recognisable companies, such as Barclays, as well as several other groups in the same sector; a few up and coming businesses that are doing exceptionally well such as Aurelia Skincare; and lots of self-employed people after professional headshots. I was also very pleased to be made a Preferred Supplier for British Land and am looking forward to working with them again.
I was lucky enough to exhibit my work twice this year. The first time was at The Grosvenor Arms, now sadly closed down. I am grateful to Brendan Conway for his support and encouragement and wish him the best. The second show was Oxford House, Nexus, when I was invited by Keith Greenough to work alongside him and John Umney on a project celebrating Oxford House’s history. Thanks to Honor who I captured for the project and to everyone who supported me.
I continue studying, which keeps me from resting on my laurels. I was very glad to receive over 70% for the academic module I finished earlier this year as it was incredibly challenging. I absolutely loved that course, despite its difficulty – and have moved onto a new module where I continue to be challenged.
And of course, I photographed my children constantly. I’m about to put an album together recording our lives – I’ll certainly have lots and lots to choose from, as always.
Do see my website for details if you’re after photography for work or family, or follow me on Instagram to keep up with my visual sketchbook. And if you live in or visit South London, perhaps I will photograph you during 2018 at one of the community events I usually get along to – you never know! Here is a very small handful of images I took in 2017.
The night before my eldest son and I travelled to Amsterdam for two days he sent me via text message a ‘cease and desist order’. He is 13. I suspect only the abbreviated version needs relaying; henceforth, I should stop taking any photographs of him unless I was prepared to pay him – a lot! At his age he’s a far more aggressive business person than I could ever hope to be, although I have explained in the past that as a photographer it’s quite useful to be able to share personal family images from time to time. As marketeers will tell you, nowadays selling one’s services requires a story of some sort. Excuse me, but surely ever since the day and night that was his 22 hour-long entry into the world, I have paid sufficient in the form of mammary produce and sleep deprivation, not to mention anxiety – fuelled by thoughts of various emotional mines I’m inevitably laying down in preparation for some overzealous therapist to unearth in years to come.
Thankfully, without much or any persuasion from me – as is his adolescent wont, he seemed to understand that it would have been a shame not to record our travels, and in the end he was quite amenable about image-making. Phew! We had such a nice time, I’d have been quite sad to have only the option of street photography by which to remember our brief adventure.
At 13, I understand that he needs to flex his adolescent muscles, and is very much on the cusp of a whole new era which will be a challenge for everyone at times, most of all him. Already he is taller than me, and the hormones are beginning to run riot as promised by popular tales of teenage angst. To confuse us all, at times he is incredibly grown-up and sensible, which is always reassuring and gratefully witnessed by everyone involved. However, I do like it when out of the blue he does something which reminds us he is just a little boy and still in need of his adult people. I won’t embarrass him by revealing the details, but rest assured, these moments do happen, and I just love them.
I’ve plenty of photography away from my family coming up in the weeks and months ahead, and will be sharing as always. But in the meantime here are a few moments from my recent travels, family and street shots included, published with unreserved thanks to my growing-up little boy.
All images (c)SJField 2017
Images at artists’ space W139 including work by Lydia Balke, Edward Krasiński at the Stedelijk Museum , along with various streets and interiors in Amsterdam.
I spend so much time studying photography, practising as I go about my day and also working for other people as a photographer that I have not made time to create any personal family photo-albums for a few years, which is something I always did in the past. I decided to rectify this and am now eagerly awaiting a book I ordered this morning with just a few pictures covering the months since last December up to this one. It’s a great way to look back and take stock of all the things we’ve done together.
One of the things I feel really strongly about is the way in which we approach photographing families. These are our memories and we have this fantastically wonderful ability to record moments, so when we make the time to print images, our children will be able to look back at objects they can hold and feel in years to come. They might look at these pictures in times of sadness or big changes in their future lives. But so often when I work with young children I spend a good deal of time trying to overcome their desire to say “cheese!” because we are all so conditioned into thinking that’s the appropriate thing to do and the conditioning starts really, really young. I know it’s great to have smiley pictures to remember the happy times, and I love capturing genuine moments of joy, but life is about so much more than “cheese!” And there are much more interesting emotions to capture rather than forced smiles. We want our children to look at these pictures and see that we loved every part of them; the quite moments, the pensive ones, the cross times too. We want them to know we accepted them for who they really were and didn’t make them feel they were only acceptable when wearing weird smiles on their faces. I am also quite careful about what I Photoshop out of photographs. Cleaning up a dirty face might be the thing to do, but equally it may be that keeping in all the grubbiness makes the picture.
The other big problem we have nowadays is choosing which images to include. I take so many pictures it’s impossible to get right but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since studying is ‘less is more’. While editing my photo-album I was pretty ruthless, and not only because I’d have ended up spending a fortune if not, but also because we stop looking when there are too many images together, or too many of the same thing. It’s hard to edit when the pictures are of your children but try to avoid printing everything you’ve captured!
Here is a very small handful of the sort of images I would include in my own album. If any potential clients think this is something I could help you and your family with, do get in touch.
As we head towards the end of the year I have just a couple more images that I’m re-sharing. I took this one in the late summer sunshine towards the end of the afternoon as I walked home with the boys along our local high-street. I saw the way the light was falling on a red and blue wall across the road and was really struck by the richness of the colours, made more so by the evening glow, so we all carefully crossed over. The shadows meant that when my eldest son stood by the wall he wasn’t quite tall enough, and I was also holding on to my bike at the time so it was all very awkward – but as I was trying to work out a good picture this man walked right into my frame which was lucky because the resulting photograph was much more interesting that anything I was consciously trying to capture. I do love the grey diffused light we’ve got so very much of at the moment but there is something wonderful about long shadows and sunlight so I’m always on the lookout for pictures to take under those circumstances. This is certainly in my short-list of favourites from this year and I was grateful to have captured it.
I have just a little bit of editing to do now and then that’s it for me this pre-Xmas with work stuff. Hope everyone else is winding down now too. I’m so looking forward to a bit of a rest and plan to do as little as possible for a few days!
I thought I might post a few favourite photographs taken over the last twelve months between now and the end of the year. I’m starting with this image which I took during the summer holidays. I made this on my phone as I do so many images, edited in Snapseed and probably in Instagram a little too.
I like so many women I know, can do lots of different things. And often simultaneously. I can get dressed, hoover the carpet, eat toast and reply to an email on my phone, and all at the same time as yelling at a small child who can’t find his shoes because he’s hidden them in a basket for reasons only he understands. Sometimes I truly impress myself with that common mum-like ability to travel through the day successfully, surrounded by several virtual plates spinning maniacally all about my aura. And often they don’t even come crashing down before I make it to the end of the day. Instead I’m able to place them neatly in the corner ready for the next morning, when once again I’ll be getting dressed, eating toast, tidying up and yelling at a child about getting dressed before he ventures out into the street to hunt for ants to observe, because he’s decided that they are the greatest possible pet option on a growing list of exotic creatures, all of which I’ve rejected so far. Nevertheless, I’m sometimes saddened but also perfectly honest enough to admit, there are plenty of things I have yet to master, and many that I likely never will. I have not worked out how to grow an extra couple of arms, although, lord knows, I could really do with a spare set. I haven’t worked out how to be in two places at once, and I can’t even deduce that young boys in places quite far from me are disgruntled because I’m not where they think I ought to be, at exactly the time they think they need me to be.
“I exist in a reality outside your head too, young boy! I’m a person in my own right, really, I am. How can I possibly know you’ve not got your keys if you don’t call and let me know?” He replied, “I did!” I looked at my phone. And it’s true, he did, precisely three minutes earlier. But not at the very beginning of the 45 minute episode that he’d been sitting on the doorstep waiting impatiently. “Where are you????” he implores with utter indignation on my voice mail.
And no matter how hard I try I will never be able to morph into a dustbin, coat-rack, towel or snack, regardless of how much my children think I am surely any one of those objects at any given point. And I will never, ever, ever be able to control the weather. Nope, not ever. And nor do I wish to either. This comes as a shock and rather bad news to at least two of my children who make weather-dependent demands and then become infuriated when it just doesn’t work out the way they hoped.
All of which made me immensely grateful when I spoke to a client who has some weather specific aims for her photographs. We’ll need to play things by ear and see what the weather is doing for that, I said. Of course, she replied, I’m all over ‘flexible’. When you’re dealing with small people on a daily basis, flexible seems like a most precious and cherished trait to come across in someone. Mind you, my client is a yoga teacher, and not a somewhat willful and intractable 8-year-old boy, so it seems perfectly acceptable to expect that of her. And because she’s a mum, I bet she can do loads of stuff at the same time, and a sun salutation to boot too. But of course she wouldn’t even try, because we all know, that way sheer madness lies.
Yes, that’s right. I’ve decided to make September the start of my new year. Bollocks to January! It’s grey and cold. No-one has any money and nearly everyone I know gives up drinking too, which always makes me feel vaguely guilty for not doing so. But come on, didn’t you hear me? It’s grey and cold, and surely everyone can see that’s the worse time to give up – unless you’re really dependent, then anytime is obviously good. But in September, it’s still sunny and mildly warm, even baking hot on some days, and while no one has any money after all those summer days out and camping trips and pizzas which still cost a fortune even with the 30% off voucher, having no money anytime at all is the new reality for most of us, regardless of the month. So, far better to mark time passing, to celebrate the communal endings and societal beginnings, when the brats return to school and we all get to go back to what ever it is we spend our lives doing when they’re not around. Even if that something is simply sitting and enjoying a moment of peace for five minutes without someone yelling, “Mum, wipe my bum!” Or else banging on and on and on about a new game that the whole world is playing on their phones which seems, frankly really boring, except for the fact that since everyone is wandering around holding their phones up to their faces, anyone taking surreptitious street photographs with one can kind of get away with looking like they too are simply playing a game and not being a weird creepy pest, as my eldest son likes to call me.
Hang on, is that peace and quiet I hear? It’s been such a long time since I last experienced anything along those lines, I’m not sure if I should trust my ears along with the slow sense of returning to something approximating a relative type of equilibrium. Oh, yes… I think it is. Allowing it to creep in and take hold of me feels …’oozy’, a bit like the sensation of cool mud squelching between my toes. I like it! And it gives me a chance to come up with a new year’s list of things to consider going forward. Because they do say writing things down is good for something or other, not sure what, but here it is
Create something brilliant and award winning
Have realistic and achievable goals
With reference to point 2 adjust point 1 and internalise point 2
Keep telling youngest son he mustn’t randomly grab a women’s boobs
Or anyone else’s for that matter
Nor lift my skirt up in the high street to show everyone passing my knickers
Or even my T-shirt in the supermarket to show everyone my post-3-children stomach
Nor should said small child carry on thinking its acceptable to swear really loudly in public
Or at all
Sit and do homework with middle child even though he’s a whiny pain in the arse about it
Try to remember point 11 for the whole of the academic year not just week 1 of term 1
Force oldest child tidy to his room occasionally even though he’s going to be taller than me very soon and already has much bigger feet than me – especially so perhaps since I won’t be able to for much longer
Be nice to kids generally
Be stricter with kids generally
Try hard to reconcile points 12 and 13
Make some money
See point 2
And with that I must get on and order things and answer emails and work. Oh yes, now I remember. That’s what I do when those small people are at school. I work!