South London Photographer: Phone photography​

Just before the end of the summer term, I was invited to lead a photography workshop with an enthusiastic group of eight to nine-year-olds at my local school as part of their Arts Week festival. The work they created was great!

One of the things I always impress upon children when doing these workshops is how accessible phone photography is nowadays and why that is a very good thing. Not only do we have ever-improving cameras in our pockets, they can be accompanied by a host of editing programmes, many of which are free or don’t cost very much, and which are becoming easier and easier to use. This is great news. Traditional software can be prohibitively expensive and darkrooms obviously out of reach for many, many people. What that means is, everyone with a phone can engage in creative photography. All they need is the desire to do so.

When I first started getting into photography I remember reading comments made by photographers who lamented the ease of digital photography and all its related software. I recall being shocked to see someone moan how any old mother could potentially set up and become a photographer nowadays – as if this was a terrible thing which threatened to kill off photography altogether. Not any old mother??  Good lord, how dreadful! I mean, whatever next, mothers taking photographs and becoming skilled at something creative which might just fit in with their role as parents. Shocker!!!  Stop it now, please before the old order it overturned entirely!

Last week a famous filmmaker said something equally daft about phone photography. Phone photography is, according to this highly successful man with access to all the cash he needs to pay for Polaroid film, killing off real photography. In fact, it’s so dire, we need a new name for photography. Photography, when translated back to its Greek roots, means drawing with light. I think the word fits perfectly fine and what we actually need is a new attitude. Photography is not for a select few. Phones have made it possible for everyone and anyone to start playing and creating and having fun with the recording of light. What’s more, there are lots and lots of avenues for people to go down, from making commercial images to creating obscure experimental work, meaning there is space for all sorts of photography out there.

I am one of those terrible mothers who had the audacity to just set myself up as a photographer. Of course, just setting oneself up is a complete fallacy in most cases – I suspect very few people can just do that and succeed. The business of learning is long and at times tortuous whatever the equipment. As a financially strapped single parent, a darkroom is pretty much out of the question for me, and film is prohibitively expensive, so I am enormously grateful to the whole digital process which has allowed me to learn and develop a skill which would have been very much harder to access otherwise. My learning has also been significantly enhanced by the apps I use on my phone, not only in terms of ease but also access.

Next term I have more workshops booked in and as well as teaching people how to edit, blend images, cut out and make montages, incorporate moving image alongside still, I will continue to promote the idea that photography is for everyone. You don’t need lots of money or space. You need your phone and the desire to create. That’s’ not to say phone photography is everything. Of course, it isn’t. But it’s an amazingly fruitful and egalitarian route into photography which anyone with a phone can access.

Below are links to my own creations all made on a phone and here is a link to some images by digital artist Stina Walfridsson which go far beyond in terms of editing. And let’s not forget you can also make films on a phone  – check out this film by director Micheal Gondry called Détour. Next time you hear someone say phones have killed photography, roll your eyes, say “what a load of rubbish!” and think of all this amazing creativity.

(c)SJField2018

South London Photography: Phone photography

Quite a few people have recently asked me when I am going to offer phone photography sessions again, having done so in the past. I’m a big believer in the phone camera. Image quality is getting better with each new product launch and since most of us use them regularly to take pictures for social media and sharing snaps with friends and family, why not learn some basics? There are some really simple things you can do to make sure your phone pictures look good, and since I think photography is for everyone I want to share some of that with you. Sending a photograph is a wonderful way to communicate a feeling, an experience, say hi, or just remind someone you’re thinking about them. And for those of you with a bit, or a lot, of artistic flair, there are so many apps nowadays which allow you to have fun, play and create mini-masterpieces of your very own. Come and find out more!

I’m offering a series of sessions for adults and separate dates for children over the summer months starting with one on Friday 20th April at 6pm for grown-ups, meeting at a venue in Wandsworth, SW18 which will be confirmed via email after booking. The sun will be setting at about 8pm by that time of year so we’ll have some lovely light to work with.

Sessions cost £18 per adult and will last roughly an hour and a half. 

Please get in touch via email at photo@sarahjanefield.co.uk or message me on Facebook.  You can also give me a call on 07581694934. Numbers will be limited so don’t leave it too late to book.

I’ll release a date for a session geared towards younger people very soon.

I have also been taking bookings for one-to-one sessions for people with DSLR’s who want to get to get to grips with some basic photography tips, so if that’s more your thing do get in touch for further information.

Here are a handful of images I’ve taken of or with my kids on my phone in recent years.

(c)SJField 2015-2017

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South London Photographer: Digital Spring Clean

For some time I have been wanting to completely overhaul my website. Finding the time, as always, is proving tricky. However, I’ve sort of started the process and immediately I am faced with questions about what what to put where. It will probably take me an age but I’ll get there. In any event, I’ve decided this is a good place to keep certain images; and these flowers fit into that category.  Recently a potential client told me they wanted to buy some of my flower pictures. I don’t tend to make these anymore (although you never know when the mood will strike) and only intend to print a few so if you are interested, here they are. I print them on beautiful paper which makes the most of their textures and can supply them framed or simply mounted. Get in touch to find out more.

(c)SJField 2015-1016

 

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South London Photographer: Not quite singing in it, but certainly enjoying the rain!

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

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South London Photographer: Colours

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!

(c)SJField 2016

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South London Photographer: Another 2016 Photo

It’s a bit like an advent calendar. Perhaps I should have started this process on the 1st December and then posted a shot from 2016 every day until Christmas… well, there’s always next year. Earlier this year I headed to The Photographer’s Gallery to see a retrospective of one of my favourite photographer’s work, Saul Leiter. I must have been feeling very influenced by him when I took this. It’s a refection on the step of a Chinese restaurant in China Town and it had been raining, or was raining at the time. I’m always on the look out for reflections. Something about them is a little magical.

(c)SJField 2016

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South London Photographer: More favourites

This image, as so many of mine are, was taken on my phone as we sailed back across the channel after our summer holiday, and is definitely high up the list of my favourite shots for 2016. As soon as I saw the round windows on the ferry and the lovely light I knew I had to try and get a shot. I must be honest, I had a go on the way out but the little darlings wouldn’t sit still long enough, they were so excited. Thankfully for me they were so knackered on the way back I got my chance. I ended up with two I love and perhaps I will post the other as we move towards the end of the year. I edited this in Snapseed and Instagram and used the Ludwig filter. If I use a filter at all, then that is the one I’m most likely to go for.  Some people can be little bit snooty about filters, but they have their place and are part of the fun of Instagram so best not to worry too much about that. In fact, let’s not get bogged down by any sort of snobbery or elitism. In my experience it can be horribly limiting.  I often reduce filters to about 20% but I think I kept this one fairly high because I like the colours it produced. Have fun!

(c)SJField 2016

Processed with Snapseed.

 

South London Photographer: Another favourite image from 2016

As November draws to a close, as promised here is another image from my wanderings this year which I am glad I took. I was heading out somewhere north of London and loved the way the light was cutting through the train as we left King’s Cross.

This and other images are available as a print. Prices start at £90 for a mounted and framed, limited edition. Contact me on 07581694934 or photo@sarahjanefield.co.uk for more details.

(c)SJField 2016

 

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South London Photographer: A favourite

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.

Enjoy the weekend!

Image (c)SJField 2016

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South London Photographer: A list of contraband words

“So, we need to make a list of words and phrases that we mustn’t use,” announced my oldest son a couple of weeks ago. We were eating supper round the table at the time and as far as I can remember no one had just been rude or insulting, but then perhaps I’m just inured to the open aggression that flies about the place and which three young boys seem to accept as humour.  And in any case, are the harsh words they sometimes use towards each-other any worse or more difficult to be near than the physical aggression they accept as ‘play’? “OK,” I said with encouragement. I’m always very pleased when he appears to want to implement some structure in his life, no matter how small, even something as simple as a list. It’s so alien to him usually.

Immediately he leapt up from the table and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, despite not having finished his meal. He’s not the only one who does this. For some reason these boys simply can’t stay seated for an entire dinner, and spend most of the time finding reasons to spring from their bottoms constantly. And as for the middle one – he’s got jumping beans in his pants and is genuinely unaware, I’m sure, that a seat is for sitting on, despite my constant pleading, commanding and finally demanding that he ‘sit down!’ each and every evening.  I feel myself wanting to erupt and am on the point of yelling, a litany of aggressive language desperate to explode out of my mouth, when fortunately and just in time  I remember my son’s desire to do away with harsh language.

The boys make a list of phrases and words they can’t say and all, especially the youngest one, enjoy very much the business of saying the words in order to put them on the list of words that can’t be said.

“So mum, what can’t you say?” I’m reluctant to give up any language. But it’s right we don’t insult each other constantly even though there are moments when the impulse to is overwhelming. Eventually I say, “Obviously, all the words you’ve already listed”, and then I also stupidly offer the word ‘twit’. Straight way I retract my offer. How on earth will I get through life if I can’t transform the genuinely dreadful words that are in my mind into a relatively benign and ineffectual word, used by Roald Dahl never forget, when I want to express my rage because they won’t put their shoes on, refuse to get dressed, or forget to throw away sweet wrappers and leave them on the floor instead?  “Nope!” says the oldest one, “you’ve given it up. It’s on the list”.

“Mum needs to say, twit!” says the youngest with force.

“N0!” replied his brother.

“You take twit off the list now or I’ll hit you really hard with my fists!” Oh, I think to myself, this moment hasn’t unfolded so well.

The words bounce of the big one, and he says calmly, “Well, if she’s allowed to call us twits, then we can call her one.”

At which point the littlest walks up to his  bother and punches him in the stomach. “Mum can say twit,” he yells, “and you can’t!!!” For a moment, I’m so proud of him and his desire to protect and fight for me with such passion. It’s too adorable. Although I do see it’s not so great that it comes with such a hefty blow to his sibling. Thankfully, rather than prompting my first-born into a full-on fist fight with his four-year old brother, which has been known, Mr. Sensible laughs and tells us he’s happy to remove twit from the list, leaving me at least one word to insult them all with when I feel like it. By now the middle child is laughing hysterically because seeing a four-year old take such command over everthing is simply the funniest thing he can imagine.

I don’t know what eventually happened to that list. It lay on the kitchen counter for a couple of days and hasn’t been seen since. I thought about it afterwards and felt, as much as I agree with choosing to be kind to each-other over meanness, removing words from our language entirely actually presents us with different problems. There is always a cost. Making words illicit risks giving them greater power, and probation tends to force things underground. When we’re angry, instead of expressing it we risk suppressing how we feel if there is no medium for communicating it. And suppressed anger leads to bad feelings building up inside and transforming into trapped emotional wind. And we all know what that results in. It’s painful and uncomfortable and stinks when it escapes. Passive-aggressive language is far worse is my mind than outright verbal insults, even though those aren’t great either. At least you know where you are with open and honest words. But in the end you can’t have small children wondering about the place calling each-other by unmentionable names and shouting out swearwords really loudly down the street now, can you? So, we currently have no contraband list in the house, but we know we’re all OK with twit and flippin’ or frikkin’. Personnally,  I tried friggin’ for a while until I thought about it and resolved that friggin’ was no less ‘rude’ than fucking when you get down to it, although it’s often used as a replacement. I’m not sure you can wonder round saying you ‘friggin’ anything at all to your kids. But I am sure there are times when you and they have just got to say something!

Image (c)SJField 2015

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They follow you, they reflect you, they shadow you. Our kids learn so much from us and repeat whatever we do. Sometimes the responsibility can be overwhelming as we navigate all the pitfalls. This image was taken on my phone and edited in Snapseed and Hipstamatic Tintype apps. I have a  very limited number of prints available. Contact me for details. (c)SJField 2015