When I was a child I was cast as Alice in Alice in Wonderland for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. It may have been my earliest professional acting job and I remember being terrified on the first day in the studio. An assistant walked me along the never-ending corridors, and I followed the whole time secretly wanting to cry with nerves. But when I reached the dressing room door I was absolutely delighted and excited to see my name on it, and I started to feel better about everything. If I allow my memory to take me back in time, I can smell the staleness of the wig which I had to wear and feel the stiffness of the dress and petticoats. I was dressed up and made to look just like the famous drawings. I have a mixture of feelings about that experience but I do remember being quite pleased when some money came my way a few weeks later and I was able to go and buy clothes with my very own hard-earned cash. I bought a big baggy red paisley patterned shirt, a neon pink one, and a pair of black brogues. I’m not sure if I also paid for the tightly fitting long black skirt, the sort that flared at the bottom, and the fishnet tights which I wore with the shirts, but nevertheless, I was really very pleased with the look. I’m pretty sure I also had a ridiculous fringe, which I spent hours straightening and shaped to sweep down in a diagonal, covering half my face. I was more than impressed with the final look! (I swear my mother wore those shirts for about two decades after I handed them over to her. Actually, after reading this she tells me three decades…)
I very much hope that Grace, the young actor in this headshot, receives lots of invitations to audition from casting directors as I know she works incredibly hard and has so many skills; I’m in awe! She can dance, play instruments, sing, act and finds time to do well at school too. I was never that able. Best wishes to Grace and I’m looking forward to seeing her name in lights one day.
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.
I am getting my blog for this week done sooner than usual as I am working tomorrow afternoon – a shoot with a family who have a young baby, yay! And then I know I will have quite a lot to do for the following few days. It’s called forward planning, I think. Always worth aiming for but not actually possible in every instance when you’re juggling lots of stuff at once. No doubt I shall be quite pleased with myself if I manage to get everything done that needs doing over the next 48 hours or so, and that’s even without having made my bed this morning. I mention this as I read some peculiar article on Twitter that said making your bed in the morning makes you a better version of yourself… really? I guess I should give it a try and see how I go – If I manage it I’ll report back and let you know if I think I’ve become an improved model of SJF.
I am posting a photograph of Son No 2 today as it’s one of my favourites. And I know some people might look at it and go, really? What? But for me this photograph works. The light, the subject, the reality of it. It doesn’t look posed but I have to admit it actually is. I saw him sitting there drinking his drink, well actually my drink and I said, hang on – let me grab my camera. At which point he got out and ran around the house covered in bubbles laughing at me. He only got back in and let me take the photograph when I had promised to Photoshop something unspeakable on the can. Where this seven year old gets his humour… it’s a worry. I took a few shots but the first one was the best in my view and then he jumped out and I told him I was going to break my promise and not Photoshop anything into it, so he now thinks it’s a rubbish photograph. I don’t mind. I love it.
I think I might have to do a series of photographs of the boys in the bathroom mainly because the light in there is simply beautiful. Is that a good enough reason? Who knows? My studies with art and photography have left me wondering what on earth art is and if there is indeed any reason behind any of it at all. I chat about the teaching of art here in Michael Szpakowski’s Art Education discussion which I mentioned in my last post. Actually, I can’t wait to finish the current module I’m doing at OCA and move on to the next which probably won’t answer the question but it will give me lots more to think about when considering it.
Some of my photographs will be displayed at Barmouth Kitchen on Barmouth Road in Wandsworth from next weekend over the summer. Will they be considered art? I don’t know. You’ll have to pop along and see, and make up your own mind. Not sure BK will want pictures of my kids in the bath plastered all over their walls next time round… but who knows? Perhaps they’d love it! This time though the theme is Wandsworth and colour. So if you’ve got a spare wall looking for an image, pop along and take a look or get in touch. Mounted hand printed images will cost £55 or you could just grab yourself a set of postcards if you prefer. I’ll pop the images online after the launch at BK next Friday. (If you’re local, do pop along – Friday 5th from 7pm)
In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of half term and bring on the last few weeks of the school year! My little home needs a bit of a rest from the kids being here quite so many hours – they were actually decorating the walls this morning. And I don’t mean in a helpful way.
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!
I had so much fun yesterday doing a portrait shoot with a very old friend of mine from university days. Actor and director James Nickerson has always made me laugh and yesterday was no different.
Our shoot started in a local, proper old-fashioned pub that has yet to be homegenised and plasticised. I think our starting venue came as bit of a surprise to James, but I really like the lighting as well as the vibe in there and I’m sure James was rather pleased to start the afternoon off with a pint. The landlord was welcoming and jolly accommodating too – thank you!
I’m sure our location is not the only reason James relaxed into it so quickly — something to do with being professional, experienced and the fact that we know each other might also have played a part, but it was just such a joy to work with someone who wasn’t prone to tantrums, demanding of regular bribes of chocolate and who didn’t have eager parents standing around saying, “If you don’t smile, Father Christmas won’t come!” (Never that helpful, by the way…) Having concentrated on children and families for a bit, that is the sort of thing I have become used to.
Just before Christmas James and I had met and we hadn’t seen each other for years and years so had lots of catching up to do. We had a good laugh about all sorts and I brought him up to date on the tale of woe of my somewhat disastrous marriage/divorce. Which took us onto the subject of Internet dating.
A good friend who shoots weddings had suggested I sign up to an online dating site as a large proportion of her clients meet that way. Since I am no mood to get married again this century, I think I might be avoiding the site she suggested. And I know I’m too old and somewhat disinterested for another site that I’ve heard is really all about instant gratification. I asked James’ advice and he said, don’t bother; you meet too many weirdos on the Internet. Then he told me about some of his friends’ dates, which all sounded very unappealing, I must say.
I remember reading an article in the Guardian suggesting that you should try to avoid being too honest about yourself when you sign up. This particular article was written by a women whose male friend told her she came across as too successful, too intelligent and basically rather daunting for any potential male suitors. So, this is where I have a big problem with the idea of Internet dating, even though I know so many people do meet that way nowadays. (In fact, a potential client of mine told me he and his future wife met via the Guardian. He went that route, he said, because at least he could more or less guarantee anyone he met would have similar political ideas to him.)
My problem really lies with the ‘not really being yourself’ aspect to it all – oh, and the meeting weirdos bit too. Given that I have spent my entire adult life trying to find out who ‘myself’ is and then trying be that person, I think I’d find it all a bit bothersome and annoying. And I’m really not sure it would do to start my little online dating career with the following:
“Woman: slightly moody, often neurotic and definitely needy, but also bizarrely distant and fiercely protective of time alone; occasionally rather slovenly but highly censorious about anyone else’s mess; probably quite intelligent and not really up to pretending otherwise in order to flatter any fragile male egos; no money to speak of; three brats in tow; rather cross and peculiar ex-husband lurking in the background.
Seeks man: Well, maybe she does and maybe she doesn’t;
who isn’t a sociopath and washes properly.”
Yeah… I’m not sure my Internet dating life has any legs…
James did come up with another idea though. Do a long-term project where I go on Internet dates and do a portrait of each one, then write about them on a special blog. “So,” James advised, “You’d tell them, no ongoing dating or sex or anything like that – ‘I just want to take your photograph’’. You see, James is just funny! He did make me laugh – thank you, James, and thanks for being such a brilliant person to work with.
So here they are. I’ve popped little notes about lighting etc. underneath for anyone who is interested.
All photographs (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015
Thanks to the Grosvenor Arms on Garrett Lane in Wandsworth for being so welcoming.
I sometimes wish I’d cottoned on to photography a bit earlier, although I do believe it’s best to avoid spending too much time regretting things that never were. However, there is something about photography that helps to keep me in the here and now which I really like. You spend your time nearly always open to seeing little things that might make an interesting photograph. I think this attitude would have helped me in years gone by when I’ll admit to you now I might have been a little bit of a flake occasionally, sometimes letting the world go by without really noticing it or even finding ways to deliberately miss out altogether.
A long time ago I was lucky enough to live with an old friend who worked for a music agency which meant going to lots of concerts, after-show parties (nearly always boring because we weren’t actually part of it), hospitality bars (nearly always brilliant because I was a very poor actor/waiting-on-tables person at the time) and sometimes festivals too. Had I been into photography at the time I might have refrained from spending the entire time at a Massive Attack concert rolling around on the floor of a private bar laughing at nothing with said friend’s future husband. And actually seen one of my favourite-bands-ever perform live, for free. As it is, I have no idea what they were like at all.
If you can imagine a little collection of orbit-less space dust floating about the universe, that is probably what I resembled. Having children put a stop to that immediately. Perhaps I should have had them younger too, although then I might have ended up with even more that I have now! (OK, maybe a good thing I waited.) As soon as Son No. 1 came into the world, I went “Oh!!! I see what it’s all about now…” I think what I meant was – how nice to have some purpose on this little blue sphere of ours at very long last. Which meant collecting all my disparate space dust together and trying hard to swing into some sort of regular routine down here on the ground. And that has been fantastic for me.
Thanks, kiddie widdies! You may take ages to get your shoes on in the morning, yell at me, poke me in the eyes and throw peas all over the floor, stay on the computer for much longer than I’d like, tell me you hate me almost daily, trash my house constantly, break televisions (seriously – one of them punched it whilst in a temper this weekend) and generally make such huge demands of me that often I feel a little like I’m being stretched from here to another place I don’t know the name of very, very far away. But you, all three, have given me a whole lot of purpose which has meant that in amongst the snotty tissues and burnt baked beans (how, Sarah-Jane?!!) I also manage to have purpose elsewhere in my life – such as photography.
This weekend I went along to see a distant cousin play in his band and took a bunch of photos that were really fun to take. I can’t say that it was more or less fun than rolling around in helpless laughter for two hours whilst I missed out on Massive Attack, but it was certainly more productive, and far less destructive – I drove so had to refrain from having more than one beer. And you never know, it might even lead to more gig photography because I loved it! The bands were really great too. And I promise, Mrs. P, I will tell you next time I go and see live music!
Next week I might have a copy of an article about some alternative therapists I took some portraits for, but if not I’ll tell you about my actor’s head shots promotion. It’s all go here!
Here’s a handful of images from this weekend with captions of who and where underneath.
Despite the inconsistent weather, warm one minute, freezing the next, it’s great to know that spring is poking its buds into the snug little cave I’ve been hibernating inside of these last few months. I do know this because I suddenly feel a little more energetic and am starting to do things that have been languishing on the ‘list of things to do’ for a while now. (Perhaps I must remember to pack away a bigger store of nuts for the next winter.)
So, having been meaning to make a few changes to my website for some months, I am now rather pleased to have done so and can see the very long ‘list of things to do’ beginning to shorten. Making space for more.
As well as work and college tasks, I have also been doing some traditional spring-cleaning. Sorting and de-cluttering is always therapeutic and what’s more it’s just great to be able to sit down without finding a bit of Lego or train set stabbing you in the bottom. Of course, Son No 1, is pretty much up-in-arms about this new zest for order I’ve suddenly imposed. Nothing like some inconsistent parenting to confuse the complacency out of the little monkeys; but I do find it keeps them on their toes.
When I explained we’d be tidying the older boys’ room and taking some of the toys, of which they have far too many, down to the charity shop both of them rather appallingly said, “Yay, then they’ll give us some money so we can buy some more!”
“Uh, no… that’s not quite how it works…” Seems I should have got it together a bit sooner, but better late then never, I hope.
My oldest son also told me that messy rooms are much cosier. We sat down and discussed the term ‘pathologically chaotic’ and messy, however, in retrospect I’m pretty certain letting your child know that you think he is somewhat emotionally and developmentally challenged might fall outside the boundaries of positive reinforcement and all that….oops!
As any mum knows, taking care of your family as well as trying to take care of yourself and your work can be exhausting and demanding, so I have to add I am always grateful for the help I receive, especially the constructive and genuine sort – and I do receive a lot from here and there. My life is certainly richer for it.
So, just to remind everyone, I do events and have finally, prompted by queries and the rhythm of changing seasons, managed to update my site, so prospective clients actually have a chance of finding me!
Have a great week,
Below are photographs from one of the the nicest weddings I’ve ever been at and I was really chuffed to have been asked to do it. I’ve got a couple of lovely looking weddings coming up, and beginning to get queries for more and other events so it’s certainly time to start letting people see some more examples. These were taken on one of the hottest days of the year. See other weddings and events on my site.
Lucie struggled across London on a wet and miserable rainy day; and to add to the misery the tubes were on strike. Many others might have cancelled under such conditions. Lucie is immensely professional though and really knows what she’s doing. It was an absolute pleasure to work with her and I hope to do so again in the future. It would be great to do something a little more adventurous than 10×8 head shots with Lucie – however, I’m really pleased with how these turned out.