South London Photographer: On a road​ trip through Europe

I had never driven to Italy, which I am fortunate enough to be able to visit regularly, but this time I thought I’d try it. And I’m glad to say, it wasn’t as remotely arduous as I thought it might be, although I could have lived without the sinusitis on the return leg. The only problem for me was, despite driving through some absolutely beautiful spots not to mention a couple of incredible sunsets, being the sole driver meant not taking photographs unless we’d stopped. And had I pulled over every time I wanted to snap something we’d never have arrived at our destination.  As we hurtled round a bend of a mountain or emerged from a tunnel at 70 miles an hour, faced with spectacular landscapes, I yelled at the boys, “take a picture, take a picture, it’s beautiful!!”

“Oh, Mum”, said my eldest with rather too much joyful irony, “you’ve got to learn to live in the moment…”

I was very pleased with most of their music choices, however, and from now on I suspect every time I hear Daft Punk I will be reminded of the amazing mountains and tunnels and skies of Switzerland which were absolutely stunning – their Euro-electronic sound was the perfect audio track for our drive. I particularly liked tracks 3, 4, 5 and 10 from Random Access Memories, especially the following spoken words by Giorgio Moroder. Thanks to my lovely boy for playing it me (over and over again!)

‘Once you free your mind about a concept of
Harmony and music being “correct”
You can do whatever you want’

I’m sure that sentiment can be applied to most creative endeavours – and I wonder if we need more of this thinking rather than the conformist tyranny which social media seems to encourage.

Here are a few images from our time away – none of them from our actual road trip, but check out my Instagram page for a selection taken on my phone mainly in various service stations along our route. Do get in touch to find more about family photo shoots and albums or visit www.sarahjanefield.co.uk.

(c)SJFIeld 2018

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And a few street photographs which were taken in Rome below:

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South London Photographer​

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!

(c)SJField 2018

South London Photographer: Just Shelter, Dunkirk

Last Saturday I travelled to Dunkirk once again with local charity, Just Shelter. As we drove into the wooded open spaces behind an out of town consumer village, which always reminds me of something from a J.G. Ballard novel, we saw an elderly man limping in front of us. He carried a small assortment of possessions, blankets perhaps, and his ill-fitting coat was barely wrapped around him despite the desperately cold and wet February weather. He noticed the car and moved over to the side of the road, and as we passed he thanked us for our patience as we had slowed down for him.

We parked and shortly afterwards one of the Just Shelter leaders went over to another group, a team of volunteers from Holland delivering food and blankets, so she could discuss distributing alongside them. The man we’d seen arrived at the same time and according to my colleague, the kindness of the strangers he met prompted him to break down and sob. He was in pain, hungry and cold. Exhausted. He’d only just reached the location, with nothing except the support of his son. They had no tent or any of the items people who have been there a little longer manage to keep hold of. I say manage because often the police visit and destroy or confiscate everything. Volunteers hand out coats, blankets, and tents and then the police come along a few days later and tear it all down. All that any of us could do for the elderly man was offer him a handful of paracetamol and a single meal handed out by the Dutch volunteers. There were no tents left on the shelves of the local shops and as we were leaving later that day the man was sitting under a tarpaulin in the rain waiting for something or someone because he had come as far as he could go. (continued below)

 

Just Shelter Trip February 122ppi (c)SJField 2018-8991IMG_89912018-2
This water covers the ground where just a few months ago you might have seen people gathering to charge their phones on portable generators. That now takes place further along on a tarred surface as this space has become too wet. The images below are of the same position and were taken last year in August, September, and November.

We were able to move him to a more sheltered space and alert a visiting medical team who went to see what they could do to help. We also asked one of our contacts working in France to find him and his son a tent so he could at least get out of the rain.

I can’t stop thinking about that man, who in the last years of his life felt that living in the country he thought of as home was so dire, it would be worth the momentous and risky journey across Europe in search of safety; a better existence. And while I have no idea where he’ll end up, it seems desperately wrong that Europe should do so little to help him and all the other people who have made the same decision.

One of Just Shelter’s aims is making sure we don’t forget the many, many people living without basic amenities all over Europe, as they flee countries which have become untenable for a number of reasons. At a time when here in the UK we are faced with difficult news on a daily basis, which alarms us and makes us angry about how people in this country are being treated, it is not always easy to find ways to keep this story alive. Understandably, many people are worried about homelessness in the UK, or the fact that workers are being fined for taking sick days and dying as they try to avoid punitive measures. Or how a system has evolved which allows companies to make vast profits while the people working for them sit on pavements in all weathers, often unpaid, until they deliver our pizzas and curries, and with no workplace benefits whatsoever. We are horrified by stories about claims being stopped when people fail to turn up for interviews because they are in hospital. Across the political divide, we are angry that many of our politicians seem so disconnected from the reality of our lives. Thinking about people from other countries when we have so many issues to think about here can seem like too much. But there is a strong argument to suggest all of these things are connected in some way. And perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear, I do not believe refugees are to blame for the world’s ills. (continued below)

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This was taken on a walk through the woods beside a lake, which resulted in a meeting with some men living there. They invited us to sit down for a talk and a cup of tea outside a tent situated in the woods.
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The police arrived before the tea was made forcing everyone to move away as they hoped to avoid confrontation or worse.

The dejected man I saw in Dunkirk reminded me a little of my late father. His life was obviously very different but he too was broken during the latter years of his life. However, he could get out of the rain. He could sit in front of the TV and escape a depressing reality with his favourite soap operas. He could drink and eat what he liked and he could go to bed under a roof with central heating warming up his rather dilapidated flat. These things are such basic requirements and no-one in Europe regardless of how they arrived here should be without a roof. I am well aware that people here in the UK are struggling to pay for heating, but again, it isn’t any refugee’s fault. The man we saw in Dunkirk is not just a story on your social media feed. He’s far more than a collection of pixels. He’s real. He’s a person. And he’s somebody’s father, grandfather, somebody’s loved one. And he’s old and living on the ground behind a supermarket car park.

If anyone is interested in helping Just Shelter either practically or with donations, please get in touch via their Facebook page.

All images (c)SJField 2018

Just Shelter Trip February 122ppi (c)SJField 2018-9007IMG_90072018
The presence of people is less obvious than before but look carefully and you’ll see the coloured tents behind and peeking above bushes all along the entrance road.
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Across the road the land has been cleared which prevents anyone from hiding in there. When we visited before you could see people entering through this broken bit of fence.
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It rained all day when we were there. My car got stuck in the mud and the men living there helped me to get it out. They were overjoyed to be able to help us.
Just Shelter Trip February 122ppi (c)SJField 2018-8963IMG_89632018-2
London based artist and teacher, Emily Gopaul, spent several hours with young children in a temporary shelter for people with young children.
Just Shelter Trip February 122ppi (c)SJField 2018-8959IMG_89592018
There were about ten families with young children living in the temporary shelter but I understand it will close in a few weeks. It is unclear where the families will go at the point.
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It was difficult being in this storeroom where donations are waiting to be handed out. The neat and methodical way all the items are arranged represents real people who they are destined to reach. Seeing the items this way was haunting.
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Again, these empty clothes waiting for people to wear them reminded us of the reality of the situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South London Photographer: North London Wedding

…OK, my headline is probably a little misleading, as the wedding itself was actually rather central although hovering on the boundaries of North London.  But the reception was all the way over at RAF Northolt, which for a South Londoner seems like it might be in a whole different city. It was certainly more than worth the trip! The wedding was attended by wonderful friends and family who all made my job fun by being so lovely. And the couple, Emily and James Warrender, are a truly impressive pair. And I’m not being remotely hyperbolic. As I listened to the speeches I was rather overawed by the couple’s accomplishments. I wish Emily and James the very best and hope their marriage is as successful as both their careers. Congratulations!

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(c)SJField 2017

South London Photographer: Happy New Year

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

(c)SJField 2017

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South London Photographer: 2017

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.

Happy New Year!

All images (c)SJField 2017

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Taken in the Dunkirk Children’s Refugee Centre, but which has since burnt down.
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After the official Dunkirk camp burnt down and the Jungle was demolished, people are living in the woods across France.
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One of my very favourite images of actor and my good friend, Trudi Jackson, from a headshot session.
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Mandy who I have been working with on and off throughout 2017.
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A bridesmaid getting ready – the mirrors in this room made for some super shots.
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I was pleased to photograph the Paradise Summer Fete. This is a terrific community project that does lots and lots of wonderful work.
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I loved the light through the window combined with the dark walls in this home which made for some lovely family shots
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Before photographing Honor for Nexus, I spent time getting to know her and took quite a few photographs of her leaping through the air. She really works incredibly hard.
Some people are just great to photograph – corporate headshots
A lovely bathroom to photograph in for this product
I love capturing the hard work behind the scenes on the set of The Other Side with Valerie Hope
An inspiring new business, Strong to the Core, run by Bazz Moffat who is helping women all over South London and beyond
London based writer Ken Wilson – from a headshot session
At a christening
Too cute!
A special family shoot
As it should be …
One of my favourite landscape shots
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My oldest son can be quite strict about when I’m allowed to photograph him so thanks for this one!
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This lovely person is incredibly interested in photography although he sometimes insists on making some weird horrific faces – thankfully not here.
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Photographed intensely since birth – I’m always grateful to my youngest for his patience.
Attachment-2
Huge thanks to my very supportive mother who looks after my kids while I’m working, studying and just escaping for a few moments with my camera

 

South London Photographer: Shooting people shooting again

A couple of months ago I was very pleased to work for the second time with Farrena Films on their production The Other Side with Valerie Hope, written by Lucy Barrick and Kieren Grant and featuring Sinead Parker and Kate Robbins. I worked with the same production team in 2015 and was thrilled to be asked back to do stills for the scenes shot in London. I know they are currently making their way through post production and I can’t wait to see the finished product. It’s really such a clever script! I was so impressed. They did incredibly well with the last film I worked on, The Lights, so I am sure this one is destined to be just as successful. Here are a handful of behind the scene images from my time on set.

(c)SJField 2017

 

 

South London Photographer: Dunkirk

Writing about the state of education today, Julian Astle*, of the Royal Society of the Arts, expressed himself so eloquently that I start by quoting his words alongside the latest series of images taken during Just Shelter’s recent trip.

“The root causes of the West’s culture wars are many and complex. But chief among them is the fact we live on a dangerously overheating and ever more densely populated planet where conflict and persecution, flooding and drought and vast inequalities of opportunity and wealth have displaced 65 million people and created a migrant population greater than that of Brazil. Amid the backlash to this unprecedented movement of people from poorer to richer nations, liberalism is in full retreat, while nationalism, nativism and protectionism are all on the rise. And with an angry populist politics on the Right feeding off, and feeding, an intolerant and censorious strain of identity politics on the Left, our ability to transcend our hardwired instinct to tribalism — to put our shared humanity before our group loyalties — is once again being severely tested.” (2017) (Bold lettering mine.)

These photographs show the area in Dunkirk which Just Shelter has been visiting to deliver donations for the last few months. They include an image of a man who said he was beaten by the police who, according to reports, regularly tear down and destroy tents, confiscate belongings and attempt to move people on. He is not the first person to show me such injuries. As we drive to the woods after disembarking from the ferry, we pass several groups of people in and around the area. There are an estimated 1000 people living rough in Calais and Dunkirk according to Care4Calais**. Each time I’ve travelled with Just Shelter I have met people who have lived in the area for over a year, several months and some who have only just arrived.

If you are interested in supporting Just Shelter you can find out how here.

*Director of Creative Learning and Development

** 3000 across France See Care4Calais‘s latest appeal

Images (c)SJField 2017

Reference

Astle, J. 2017. The Ideal School Exhibition, https://medium.com/rsa-reports/the-ideal-school-exhibition-74cee1951c75 [Accessed 26th November 2017]

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South London Photographer: Headshots for young actors

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.

Grace online (c)SJFIeld 2017-7980IMG_79802016-2Grace online (c)SJFIeld 2017-8051IMG_80512016Grace online (c)SJFIeld 2017-8040IMG_80402016-2

Images (c)SJField 2017