We love a winter walk and are fortunate enough to live close to several open spaces in or very near to South London. Just before sunset this afternoon, we traipsed about Richmond Park and almost ended up being locked in! Worth it though for these images. Incidentally, the yellow gloves were for magnet fishing – it’s a thing, apparently! (c)SJField2019 (click on individual images)
My first love with photography is portraiture. It always has been. And since taking up photography I have enjoyed the process of spending time with people, getting to know them relatively quickly and capturing an authentic quality about them in my camera. However, there is something quite satisfying about photographing people I already know well, like one of my oldest friends, Trudi Jackson, who also happens to be a talented actor. Trudi was recently kind enough to let me work with her for longer than I normally do when shooting headshots. Poor woman must have been exhausted after our day, which of course included a couple of breaks, (I’m not a total tyrant!) during which we fetched her daughter from school and ballet. And who, lucky for me, is equally obliging. Working with Trudi for an extended period gave me plenty of opportunity to play and learn, so I was grateful for her time, and her daughter’s too, of course!
Here are a handful of head shots with some very different looks, chosen by Trudi’s agent, followed by portraits for my own purposes including a couple of the future talent that is Ms. L, who may well follow in her mum’s footsteps by the looks of things.
Clients always tells me they hope for lovely weather when we have shoots, but don’t completely write off rainy days for photography. The light is generally much nicer and easier to manage than when it’s bright, and cloud cover is a brilliant diffuser. I’m not sure the kids are quite as enthusiastic as me, and perhaps if it had been a bit more stormy this morning they’d have had something to say about being dragged up to Wimbledon Common. Nevertheless, they were content enough to go for a walk in the drizzle, providing hot chocolate and marshmallows were on the agenda, and even let me grab a few snaps of them as I we did. Here are a handful. (That’s my woolly hat, he’s wearing, by the way…)
Despite the weather there are definite signs of spring in the air! And to celebrate I am currently offering a 5% discount off the cost of a family shoot (as specified on my site, valid until the end of April, T&Cs apply.) Get in touch for more information.
Have a great week. SJ x
Images (c)SJField 2017
I was incredibly pleased Just Shelter invited me to accompany them on Saturday to the Dunkirk Refugee’s Children Centre again, and I’m grateful to all involved for allowing me to document the day. Since first going to the Jungle in Calais in December 2015 I have been mindful of respecting people’s privacy and have avoided posting images of recognisable faces online. However, a part of me really wishes I could share more of the images I took this weekend, but of course safe-guarding means that isn’t possible. If it were you would see children just like yours and mine, playing, laughing and enjoying a fantastic day. We are all used to seeing some incredibly powerful images in the news, as journalists cover the crisis, but often those images emphasise and re-inforce difference. During all of my trips to northern France I have tried to focus on aspects which I recognise as deeply human regardless of any of the categorisations we apply to each other. For example, an innate creative response in all and every social group. This morning, as I looked through and edited photos from Saturday, it was extremely clear the children I photographed in Dunkirk and those I might be employed to capture in south London are exactly the same. Although the former aren’t living surrounded by all that we take for granted, they are just kiddies doing what kids do. The people who set up and run the Children’s Centre in Dunkirk have done a fantastic job making that a possibility.
If I could show some of those other photos I took, the ones with faces, you would see joy in the smiles of the girls who had been singing and dancing to Let it Go from Frozen several times, just like my friends’ daughters might have done, before playing All About That Bass as loudly as they were allowed to. You’d see the eager faces of toddlers who enjoy showing off artwork or toys they are particularly fond of. And perhaps you’d be able to recognise and connect with the physicality of the little boy who skipped through the camp in exactly the same way my own four-year-old son does routinely. The delicious hysterical laughter triggered by Earlsfield based performer, Jake Rodrigues, was, as always, wonderful to hear. Perhaps one of the best things from the day was the genuine, utterly spontaneous laughter from so many young children, and we were rewarded with plenty of it. Jake thoroughly entertained everyone, including a journalist who insisted on joining him with a guitar he somehow found during the second half of the day, which led to an impromptu mini-gig for all. I’d hope that rather than difference my photos would show you how very similar we all are. But even though we had such a lovely time the seriousness of the situation could not and should not be ignored. For instance, you can’t help but notice the rashes and bites some children have on their skin, an inevitable and common problem in refugee camps, as it would be for anyone living in cramped conditions without adequate facilities. I have nothing but admiration for any parent living under such conditions while bringing up their children.
During our time in Dunkirk, it was very hard to conceive of anyone wishing those children harm, or of being unable and unwilling to offer sanctuary; yet there they are, stuck with their families in a refugee camp that is woefully inadequate, despite being a far cry from the first Dunkirk camp, shut down last year. The officials who allowed the current camp to be built have done so with some risk to their political careers and should be applauded for that at least. Even so, families are in dire circumstances and the help they receive is deeply appreciated. I know Just Shelter and the Children’s Centre have expressed their huge thanks for all support they receive.
Just Shelter are hosting a coffee morning on 10th March in Earlsfield at 9.15am to raise awareness, garner any further interest and help, as well as raise funds or donations. I will be giving a short talk and showing some more photographs from my various trips to the area. Please get in touch if with me or Just Shelter if you are interested. Numbers are limited so don’t leave it too late.
Views my own.
Images (c)SJField 2017
I don’t really get the thing where people manage to start buying Christmas presents six months in advance. Thankfully I only have a few people to buy for as I’ve yet to do my Christmas shopping, and looking at my diary I’m not entirely sure when that is going to happen. Let’s hope I can avoid a frenzied assault in a state of angry panic in the local toyshop sometime after lunch on the 24th. I have friends who have dozens of cousins and nieces and nephews, all of whom need something. Surely a Secret Santa is preferable in that case! If you’re like me and have left it until the very last minute, and have no idea what to get, how about a voucher for a family shoot? You can choose between a relaxed session where we aim to capture some images of everyone in a favourite place or at home, or something more planned where a family and I will work together to create an image over a period of time that is deliberately made to say something about you and your loved ones. Visit my site for more information or get in touch via email or phone.
Here are a few images from a recent shoot I did where we took a few photographs in the family home and then headed to Merton Hall in Wimbledon.
Happy shopping or whatever else you do at this time of the year.
A couple of weeks ago I dropped the kids off at school and sauntered down the road to Wandsworth Registry Office to photograph one of the loveliest weddings. Maybe most weddings are lovely but I particularly liked being witness to the genuine and extremely evident feelings of joy I hope I was able to capture in this one. And what a cute baby to make my day too. I’m so pleased Hannah & Andy got in touch with me so I could photograph their day. All in all, everything about my morning at work that day made me think, this job’s pretty good indeed. As always in blog posts about weddings, I think I’ll let the photographs do the talking. Have a great week, SJ
All images (c)SJField 2016
“Mum,” said the middle child on Thursday afternoon with a great deal of seriousness,”I don’t know how to live.” Good grief, I thought… what now? I was about to embark on a gentle and encouraging speech about how life is full of complex feelings, and suggest that whilst it sometimes feels confusing, I loved him, and that his current state of emotional turbulence was only normal and to be expected occasionally, etc, etc, etc, when he continued. “Yeah,” he said sorrowfully, “I’m not allowed Mortal Combat, which, you know, makes it kinda hard to fit in with my friends.” He stared at me to see if his ploy had worked. “OK! I’m actually rather busy over the next two days getting this exhibition stuff ready, so next time you want to try manipulating me into a buying a game that is way too old for you, and which incidentally I won’t ever let you have at home anyway, you might want to pick a less stressful time.” I ended with a loving and maternal smile, of course.
Despite various complaints from children, not to mention the rain, I am really pleased to say that on Friday evening I arrived at Barmouth Kitchen where my work is being exhibited, completely ready and with everything in its place. And, that lots of people turned up to take a look and also buy prints. This was the second of my exhibitions at Barmouth Kitchen, or, for that matter, ever. Just like the last time, I learned a lot from the process, and also had a brilliant evening talking to friends and strangers who had come to support me.
For those of you who weren’t able to make it, here are just a few examples along with the statements I wrote to accompany the images. They will be available to see at Barmouth Kitchen for a while yet and are for sale, so do pop along and get in get in touch if you’d like to order. I’ll make sure they’re all up on my website over the next few days too.
The child wanting Mortal Combat has just come to show me a different game which he thinks isn’t as bad, but the point of it seems to be something to do with squashing and exploding an animated man standing in a lift, which I’m not convinced is much better. Still, who am I to say? Hang on, oh yes, I’m his mother!
Have a great week! SJ x
Barmouth Kitchen, 2 Barmouth Road, Wandsworth, London SW18 2DN – Huge thanks to all their support and to Ryan who helped me hang the pictures on Thursday evening surrounded by my screaming boys.
Images (c) SJField 2016
Things I noticed
I took all of these pictures on my phone. I am not apologising or bragging about where or how they are produced. It’s an important part of their existence. We in the 21st century are increasingly connected to the digital world, especially the one that is recorded on our phones. These small objects which we take everywhere with us offer a digital record of our realities at any one time. During the last 12 to 15 months I have used my phone extensively and obsessively to record what I see as I go about my day. Editing the pictures doesn’t take long but it does keep me occupied when I perhaps could/should be doing other things, and might be viewed as therapeutic, but could also be referred to as avoidant. By mediating the world through my phone do I render the world less authentic or real? Often people can’t work out whether the pictures are paintings or photographs, and that lack of certainty about the nature of the pictures generates questions about how we relate to reality as I, and the rest of us, dive further and further into the digital sphere.
£80 for mounted only, 8×8 or 7×10
£95 for mounted and framed, 12×12 or 11×14
All limited to 5 editions
Printed on 310gsm William Turner paper and supplied with certificate of authenticity on request
“You put dead mans in boxes,” the smallest person says.
His statement races through my mind chaotically like a confused mouse in a clinical maze, trying unsuccessfully to connect Son No 3’s belief that I ‘put dead mans in boxes’ to the conversation I’m having with No 1. He, the oldest and my resident social-networking expert, is telling me about ‘ranters’.
“So, they’re an actual thing?” I had queried.
“Yes, you just rant about stuff. It would be perfect for you, mum.”
Even so, I don’t understand why a ranter is categorised differently to a blogger or a vlogger, but I am told the woman we are discussing is neither of those things. She is most definitely a ranter and I can be one too, if I like, although I must have some extreme ideas to rant about.
That’s the whole point of a ranter. She or he must be vociferous.
Son No 1 goes on to give me an example while Son No 3 continues quietly munching on cereal, and taking it all in.
“So, you could spout extreme feminist views, for instance, but they have to be really out there!” He then does an impression of my potential ranting which is not terribly flattering about men. Or me, to be honest.
“Heh, men are ok,” I say, “so long as they go back in their boxes at the end of the day!”
It’s a joke, of course. But I do worry immediately about the message I’m transmitting to my youngest and oldest male offspring.
Which is where Son No 3’s statement about putting dead men in boxes comes in.
“No, darling, I don’t mean it …I don’t really want to put them all in boxes…” I find it too hard to fully explain because well… how do I deconstruct a slightly acerbic, not terribly funny joke to a four year old? Four year olds famously don’t really do irony. (Neither do psychopaths, they tell me, but that’s another story).
And anyway, I am more concerned about his notion that I want all men to be dead before putting them in their boxes.
“Why do you think they’d be dead?”
“Because your dead dad is in a box,” he replies.
“Ohhhh – yeah!” He’s referring to my late father’s ashes, currently residing in an urn, which is still inside the cardboard box we received it in, on the day of his funeral, and which rests at the very top of the book-shelf in my front room; reasons for which I explained in an earlier blog.
So it turns out, to all intents and purposes, that Son No 3 has listened carefully to the lesson about social networking ranters given by Son No 1 along with my interactions, and concluded that I believe all men should ultimately be turned to ashes and stored in cardboard boxes. Which, I hasten to add, isn’t true. Really. I mean, mostly, it’s not true at all.
All joking aside, in case anyone misses the irony – I’ve realised that occasionally parody doesn’t travel as well as I imagine it might – it is often challenging passing on basic feminist ideals to my three male children in a balanced, mature, and humanist way. Feminism isn’t about women or men. It’s about human beings being decent and fair to one another. Which, obviously….Silly… never equates to one gender being consigned to boxes, dead or alive, at the end of the day, or in fact any time – no matter how their sex is defined.
I am, like so many other parents, trying to ensure the boys grow up to be modern, helpful, authentic, genuinely kind, gentle but happy in their masculinity, as well as present; and who know where the washing machine and dishwasher are. And who don’t assume it’s their God-given right to be absent most of the time doing who knows what while some poor long-suffering wife/girlfriend is stuck at home, either all day or at the end of a full working day sorting his underwear into darks and lights before shoving them in the machine, which only she knows how to use. I know I don’t always get the tone right. In fact, I fail miserably every now and again.
Either I am a little too caustic; presumably generating ideas in small minds that suggest I might think men should be kept in boxes. Or I just find it easier to get on with domestic chores myself, rather than teach them how to contribute.
The challenge of bringing up those three little boys who absorb messages from the world around them, some of which lead Son No 3 to believe that I can’t be a super hero because I’m a girl, is immense. I strive constantly to counter such beliefs calmly and rationally but I’ve been bought up in the same world, and have undoubtedly, and without thinking, upheld many of the gender specific roles we still cling to in our society, by cleaning up after everyone and allowing them to get away with not learning basic white goods management. I do of course know little girls can also be happy to let mum do it all too. And I totally get that we mums love to mother our kids, to make them feel taken care of, looked after, even cosseted to various degrees. Because it’s lovely for them to feel that way, and wonderful to be able to do it. Nevertheless, I am furiously trying to back-peddle, and listen enviously to tales of how other families apportion various chores equally to all their children, regardless of gender. Instead of always doing everything for them, I am consciously trying to remember to give them space to learn how to take care of themselves in the domestic sense. Because it would be awful for them to reach their 50s and still not know how to use a washing machine like that poor deceased dad of mine, whose ashes live in a box on the shelf.
So no, I don’t think I’ll become a ranter as suggested by Son No 1. I don’t have extreme enough views. I can’t possibly bang on about men being consigned to boxes at any time and in any state because the world would be a sadder place without them. Most men are, of course, OK really. Especially when served on a nice bit of toast with a little dollop of pickle on the side. And perhaps a glass or two of a decent chianti.
Image (c)SJField 2016
I’m sitting here staring at my books and the kid’s toys willing them to pack themselves. I should be concerned by this peculiar delusional conviction of mine; that if I stare hard enough it will eventually and spontaneously happen. I’m clearly not wholly aware of the total disconnect with reality my delusion must surely represent otherwise I’d have started doing something physical by now like actually getting on with the business of putting things inside boxes. Of course, if you know you’re mad you aren’t actually all that mad, so the theory goes, which is good to remember while I ponder my reluctance, ok let’s be honest – hopeful sloth …
I do hope the truth hits me before the movers actually turn up on their appointed morning and ask where all the packed and ready to go items are.
The previous movers I’d hired when we moved in here a couple of years ago were very sweet indeed, offering boxes which they never charged me for and helping to sweep up the last of the Lego bits, broken action figures, random books and other detritus just moments before shutting the door on that place for the last time. What are the odds of the next lot being equally as understanding? Well, I do find that the vast majority of people I come across in life are helpful and kind, but even so, it will probably be best to snap out of this limbo, or do I really mean denial, and dig those folded cardboard packages out and start the tedious process of sorting what I need and want to take forward, and discarding all the junk I no longer have room for in my life?
“Are we taking Grandad?” asks Son No 1.
“Where’s Grandad?” asks the littlest one.
“In that box,” No 1 replies pointing to a plain brown cardboard package on the very top of our bookshelf.
Son No 3 looks very confused. Son No 1 helpfully explains that granddad lives in an urn inside that box until we figure out where his final resting place should be. Obviously the top of my bookshelf is not ideal.
Once son No 3 has listened to his older brother explain some of the facts of life, or rather death, my delightful small person helpfully suggests that we take Grandad to Italy next time we go since there is a cemetery at the beginning of the dirt track that leads to my mother’s house. He refers to the cemetery as ‘that place with the flowers’. I don’t tell them that my mother rejected ‘that place with the flowers’ as a final resting place for her second husband because it was filled with dead people.
“Yes, for now we’re taking Grandad,” I reassure everyone, as I silently thank providence that we are no longer still the guardians of someone else’s parent’s ashes too. That particular lady was quite well to do in life, apparently dressed always in Chanel twin sets, and so she might have been more than a little disappointed, perhaps even disgruntled, to find herself living out eternity on top of my bookshelf, alongside the ashes of my late father, looking down at the scattered broken toys and chaos that exists in my living room. Well, not eternity, obviously – clearly, I will be arranging a more dignified last resting place for Dad. (Although how I achieve that when his final wishes were to be scattered on a race course so that his beloved horses can pound what’s left of him into obliteration along the grassy furlong – in a weird way mirroring what his gambling habits did metaphorically in life – I’m not sure!)
So now you know why my blog has been quieter than usual of late. Not because I’m busy doing things (but yes, that is true too), rather because I’m in a state of utter paralysed shock at the thought of how very much I’ve got to do.
Presumably after I’ve moved normal business will resume. And hopefully not before too long.
Lastly, before I go – do remember I am doing a special offer right now of 5 free A4 prints included in all family shoots until the 28th February 2016. (Conditions apply – please see the prices page of my website for details).
Image (c)SJField 2015
It’s only just gone 11am and I’ve completed a ridiculous number of tasks already. From putting away 3 week’s worth of washing (“3 weeks!” you may well say), to cleaning the whole flat, writing some ad copy and providing images to the advertiser, as well as a bit of filing and some invoicing; and I’ve even confirmed a selection of images I’ll be displaying in the new year, which incidentally will be for sale, of course (more info soon). And now here I am again, jabbering away about life with three kids, a job and whole load of studying to get through too.
Maybe someone put some rocket fuel somewhere unmentionable because I can tell you, I’m not normally this focused and capable of achieving quite so much in so short a time. Of course, with three kids, the youngest of which is 3, you can understand why life often feels a little like I’m wading through syrup. Although I don’t think it’s the number that does it. I suspect it’s like that for anyone with small children – they’re just so demanding sometimes.
Without a doubt, I really felt very sorry for Son No 3 who kept me awake for 2 nights in a row with his truly dreadful cold and cough. Especially when I clambered out of bed at 3 in the morning to find the Calpol and he looked at me with wide open eyes and said apologetically, “I don’t know why I feel like this, Mum.” Oh, my poor little boy! “It’s not your fault, silly. You’ve got a cold!”, I assured him as I scooped him up. But the person I felt most sorry for the next day as he watched Spiderman happily while I tried to concentrate on work was me. Yes, everything feels like such hard work when you’ve not had any sleep and you have a list as long as your arm to get through looming in your mind’s eye, threatening to bash you over your tired and sleepy head at any moment. And it never ends, so just as you think you’re on top of everything you check your list and it seems to have grown even longer – not shrunk at all.
I keep my real list, as opposed to the imaginary head-bashing personified one, in the Notes section of my phone. There I scribble down what I need to do, jot down articles I might use for college work and sometimes I record stuff the kids have said which has made me laugh, and which I might include here. Such, as the other day when the sickly small person told me I didn’t look like me after I’d clipped my hair up. “Oh, and who do I look like?” I replied. “A man,” he told me! A man!? How’s that for a thank you after I’d stayed awake most of the night while he climbed all over me with his germs and snot, foot in my mouth at one moment, and then when he finally did fall asleep, his small body managed to take up the whole bed, so I clung to the edge too afraid to move in case he woke again. A man!?!
What was much cuter and seemingly less offensive was when shortly after saying I looked like a man, he kept repeating, “The greatest weapon of all is imagination”. It was really very sweet indeed, so absolutely, I wrote that one down. However, when I realised he’d heard it on YouTube in a truly irritating ten-minute advert for junk, it kind of lost its appeal. And then when he kept saying it over and over again for about half an hour I think it really died a death in the cuteness stakes. Especially as by then I’d given up trying to work and was no longer fighting my body’s desire to catch up on some of the sleep I’d lost out on the night before.
Lists are just so important. Without them I’ve forget everything I need to do and instead of starting this blog as I did, I’d have had to say, I haven’t done much today, but I’m sure there was something…. But sometimes I find things on my list I don’t understand at all and that really confuses me – such as when I found the following statement at the end of my most up to date list page: “You eat shit!”
“Kids!!!” I yelled. “Who’s been writing inappropriate things on my phone and why?” As I studied the possible culprits’ faces for signs of abject lying, I couldn’t fail to believe them when they both categorically denied it, and showed no hints of dishonesty whatsoever. And then from somewhere deep in the back storerooms of my hormone battered brain I recalled having written it down myself. But I have absolutely no idea why. Did someone say it? Did I say it? Did I think it? And if so why did I write it down? Was it a message to myself from myself, although why I would choose to be so horrible to little ol’ me, I have no idea? Or was it the imaginary personalised list that threatens to bash me over the head actually getting in on the action by beginning to write stuff down itself? “MY list! Do you hear that head-bashing list-thingymajiggy!!! MINE!”
So even though I keep a list, various lists actually – it’s far from failsafe (especially if it starts adding things itself). Having had plenty of chats with mums in similar situations I am well aware that this is what is to be a mother of small children whilst also trying to do a million other things too. You know, as well as feed, clothe, clean and house the little buggers. We are never on top of things, we are always catching up, constantly forgetting, cocking up and finding ways to make amends to children, family and friends; always running, always in a hurry. And sometimes it really does takes 3 weeks to put away the clean laundry.
So even though the beginning of the week was frustrating because I couldn’t get on with my chores and work, having had so little sleep, I really ought to thank my son for forcing me to have a break because obviously I must have needed it. Considering how much I’ve got through today before lunch, the relatively restful two days I’ve just had seems to have done me the world of good.
And who on earth knows why I wrote, “You eat shit”? But I can safely say from the self who read it to the self that jotted it down, “No, I bloody well don’t!”
Have fun! SJ x
PS. If you’re after a shoot for Christmas presents, do get it booked sooner rather than later. Time’s a marching on!