South London Photographer: Stress, being a ‘working’ mum at home during half term and learning “Art”

So, here I am feeling panicked.  I am waiting on one final image choice to come through from a recent corporate client so I can edit and order it by midday, ensuring they have it in time for a launch.  If it doesn’t happen in time they won’t have their products and I’ll feel like I’ve failed!  My children are only semi-dressed and I am feeling guilty that they are not outside enjoying the sunshine I know will probably be gone by the time we leave the house once the deadline for the corporate job has passed and I get on with the job of being a mummy on half-term.  The stress the children induce is nothing compared to this…. Oh, I must sound like an idiot.  None of this stuff is really stressful compared to being a doctor or a fireman or something like that.  Calm, Sarah-Jane!  For goodness, sake.  So what if things beyond my control go awry?  I’m certainly doing my best surrounded by screaming children who are trying to kill each-other because they need to be outside rather than indoors,  have had too much screen time and somehow found sweets squirrelled away somewhere so are all filled up with sugar to boot!   The last two years have seen me gradually go from a full-time mum, to a mum studying and eventually to a mum working and also trying to fit in some study time too.  The kids are patient with me sometimes.  Other times they are quite understandably furious and accuse me of loving photography more than them, which makes me feel horrible but when they are yelling at me and not being 100% appreciative of all that I do for them I find it hard to disagree.  At least photography doesn’t yell at me, tell me I’m awful, a rubbish mum and forget that I spend a good deal of my time picking up after it, washing its clothes and cooking food I’d rather not be eating for it.  But only sometimes… most of the time I know they are the best things in my life and I’m extremely lucky to have them.  Life is them and often, let’s face it, my photography is all about them in one way or another, whether it’s taking photos of them or trying to build a small business so that I can support them as I’d like (with the help of Mr. X of course!)

One of the most important aspects of photography is the art side of it.  I want my commercial photography to be influenced in a huge way by the art side of things, much of which I’ve picked up through the studying I’ve been doing.  But online college isn’t the only place I learn.  I am connected to a bunch of really interesting people on Flickr too and one of them, Michael Szpakowski, is involved in art education himself. However, he has some concerns about ‘teaching art’ and the subjective nature of it. He has instigated an online discussion and I think some of the statements he posits are really worth thinking about and I know he will welcome any points of view from other people – so if you have something to say or feel strongly about anything he says, do join in the conversation.  You can find the document here.   To be honest, I think much of what he suggests is worth considering whatever you’re teaching.

For me, art education is really working for now – but I tend to do my own little thing and use the structure of the course as a guide.  Learning about art is tricky and filled with all sorts of ups and downs but I wouldn’t be without it, although I’m sure the children would love it if I gave up any work, study, anything that wasn’t to do with them in their eyes and just ran around wiping up after them forever.  Maybe I’m being unfair -perhaps they just want to me speak to them now and again…

So, the midday mark has arrived and guess what?  I got the images in just in time – with 3 minutes to spare. My computer stopped working and my wifi crashed.  But somehow I sorted it out in time although of course we’ll have to wait and see it everything arrives on time… Eeeeek!! Work, art, family – it’s a nightmare sometimes.  But of course, that’s all to do with me not being a little more Zen… Ah well, that’s me!  It all works itself out in the end. I’m certainly not the only mum with young children trying to do several things at once.  We all are one way or another.

Enjoy the rest of half term.  I’m off to have lunch with my boys and grab a large glass of white wine with it too.

Image (c)sarahjanefield 2015

Image used in an assignment for my studies where I’ am learning about the ‘art’ of photography. Can you learn ‘art’? People often question my desire to study and my children may be happier if I weren’t studying as well as trying to build a little business. Is what I’m doing a waste of time or is it worth delving into photography and my own abilities to explore, develop and grow into an artist? Get involved with the discussion by visiting the link in the body of this blog post.



South London Photographer: iPhone images and colouring in

I love writing this blog but have been so busy the last two weeks that I’ve not really had time to think about it, never mind write it. That’s a great feeling to be honest as it’s always nice to be working, but I look forward to the time when I can manage my time a little more easily – and am able to make sure the blog doesn’t get pushed aside.

The other thing I love doing is taking pictures on my phone and messing around with them in an app called Snapseed.

I’ve also had less time to do that the last couple of weeks but, perhaps because it takes less active thought than writing, I’ve managed to maintain my iPhone habit a little.  I really enjoy doing this and in fact the image below of a building reflected on the road in the rain is a photograph I have decided to use for some college work, and I’ve not used a phone image for that before.

I have read about quite a few photographers using their phone and the work that’s out there can be really inspiring.  I also have a great book called The Instagram Book, (inside the online photography revolution) published by Ammo which has a collection of some truly incredible photography, all of which originated on a phone and was then shared on the social networking site.

I’m not an Instagram addict; I am actually on Flickr and pretty addicted to that to be honest, but only because that’s where I started and I simply don’t have the time or appetite for yet another social networking site.  But I do spend some time flicking through both Flickr and Instagram looking for inspiration and ideas. I love this aspect of my photography.  It’s so much fun and I often compare playing with the images in Snapseed to colouring in, which I always loved as a child.  It’s nice to be able to revisit some of that even though I’m now, of course, very grown up indeed!

Here is a small selection of some phone images I’ve recently taken.  Next week I might get round to discussing a personal photography project I hope to develop which aims to look at some of the more difficult aspects of motherhood in our culture and a call for mums who might like to be involved.  But I will need a little more time to think about that.  I also can’t wait to show you some photos from the film shoot I did this weekend and there’s some christening photography I’d like to blog about too.  Until then, have a great week!

All images (c)sarahjanefield 2015

London Underground, Baker Street
A plant in the evening sunshine
Clouds above Swaffield School
Reflection of flats off Allfarthing Lane in the rain
Dead daffodils on my kitchen table

A swearing (feral?) toddler, language and discovering other mothers who are OK with being real – South London Photographer

One of the things I enjoy about becoming a photographer is looking out for work by others that I find interesting, effective, beautiful or thought-provoking.  There are so many different uses of and for photography, comparing one with another is often a pointless exercise.  As I study as well as work as a photographer, my understanding of what is possible for me is changing and developing all the time.  Do I want to  concentrate on observational photography or creating my own images that might communicate something to someone? Studying introduces to me to a wide variety of styles and photographic languages and it’s good to have begun appreciating just how much there is out there.

I know photographing families commercially, as I do, gives immense joy and pleasure to parents when they see the images of their children and families.  The funny little scribbles I do on my phone and post to Flickr are like a kind of instant art, colouring-ins that give me immense pleasure and joy as I create them but are ultimately somewhat ephemeral.  I’m still trying to work out how I can use photography to express myself and even what it is I want to express although the college work seems be informing that in some ways.  (I don’t mind saying I was really rather chuffed to be referred to as an ‘artist, thinker and photographer’ by my tutor in my latest feedback!)   I recently stumbled across a highly effective short online film made by photographer, Dana Spaeth, who has put a collection of photographs together to voice her concern about gun violence in the States. It’s a powerful film and the message is stark and alarming – share it, American friends; it is useful for me to see photography being used in this way.

I stumbled across the film on Twitter where it had been shared by a site called Scary Mommy. I’ve not looked at the site fully but my initial reaction was, ‘great, a site that promotes the reality of being a parent’.  There are so many messages out there about being impossibly perfect that it’s somewhat refreshing to come across something that promotes a more truthful message.  My youngest child is at that amazing age where new language just tumbles out of his mouth every day.  As we listen to his developing syntax we are all constantly going ‘cute!!” It’s slightly disconcerting however that he is under the impression when we’re in the car that all people outside the car are called ‘bucking nankers’.  To be fair to me I only tend to use the term ‘bucking nankers’ about motorbike riders who nearly crash into my new car (crazy fools because it’s most likely them that would have come off worse; the bonnet of my car could be fixed or replaced whereas their necks are more tricky to deal with) or suicidal pedestrians who step out in front of my moving vehicle.  Oh, and the occasional ‘bucking’ aggressive driver who thinks he/she owns the ‘bucking’ road!  Still, I probably need to temper my in-car road-rage when the 2 year old is with me.

Here are a couple of photos of my own kids for this week’s blog.  They’re not at all like the commercial family stuff I do but I love the reality about them.  I discussed whether or not to post the second one of my oldest son with him, and he said he liked the styling so I could go ahead – he was having a bad moment, just as any 10 year old boy (well all of us really) does from time to time.  This is the reality of childhood and family life and I do find it quite satisfying to record.  The first image is of my middle son teaching my youngest who has just moved out of nappies how to have a pee when there isn’t a loo around. “Thanks, dude,” said the baby!

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