A path offered

 

I’ve been a little quiet on this Blog since starting back on my final year doing a BA Creative Practice (Photography).

Over the summer, in fact over the last year a number of changes in my life have resulted in my path taking a slightly different direction than I originally thought. My path over the summer turned to end of life, particularly the practices and rituals around death, dying and bereavement. I’ve also been blessed with meeting some truly wonderful, wonderful people who have signposted this path. Whether it be the balance between heartache and heartwarming or just listening to my ‘bliss’ in each moment.  Suddenly the images I am producing start to make more sense. As a good friend would put it “I am in the flow”.

So let me introduce you a little into my work these last few months and some of the people that have influenced me.

Rocky, I simply must start with Rocky, a true Yorkshire Cowgirl. Rocky lives on her ranch between Barnsley and Holmfirth. When I say ranch, I mean Ranch with a capital R. A wood built log cabin, overlooking hills, moorland and fields, with a nearby Pennine Trail that she rides her four horses along and to a nearby reservoir.

The day I met her, she was on the trail with friend Sue. They climbed off their horses and strode into the cafe where I was sat. I knew immediately I wanted to photograph them. The day of the photographs was terrible weather, but I persevered and they did too, In hindsight it was this patience that led to one of my favourite images, of all the images I have ever taken. Two of these images were produced in the Times along with Rocky’s story as a direct result of that photoshoot.

Then there is Ria, beautiful, beautiful Ria. I came across Ria on a website called Helpful Peeps. She offered to sit for a portrait but I learned much more about her than just these pictures. Ria’s son Gareth died earlier this year. Our conversation turned to grief, plans, not making plans and how life continues despite such heartbreaking tragedy. I asked Ria to recount funny stories of Gareth as we took these images.  At a later shoot we held a memorial with two close friends of Ria’s on Cleethorpes beach. The following week Ria was due to attend an inquest detailing the cause of her son’s death. The sunset was blazen pink that evening in Cleethorpes. A mothers love and deep distress was crystal clear, even through the smiles.

 

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Grey Britain

I love the uk and I love photographing it, whatever the weather.

Welcome to my collection of Grey Britain, a celebration of the beauty that still exists when it is wet, foggy, drizzly and damp.

Enjoy!

Where is the love?

It is national writing day today, as well as the solstice. A time for welcoming and being grateful for the sun and fine weather.

Go silently was meant to be about finding calm in a chaotic world. a world where we are thrown into a media mix of news, advertising, and social networking. Everywhere is vying for our attention, access to our purse, our support or our opinion. Noise is frequently all around us pulling us ither and tither. Go Silently was meant to be a pause, a period of stillness within the noise, not outside of it. Right now I find myself outside of it and wanting to be a million miles way from it.

Today I sat in the pedestrian area in Sheffield city centre. I watched the world going by. So much diversity, so much poverty and a lot of difference. I saw addiction, I saw homelessness, I saw power being abused and I saw desperation. I did not come away inspired by humanity between all these people. Which brings me to love. I saw no love.

In that hour and a half of pure watching, never once did I witness any love. The opposite of love is not hate… it is selfishness. What I did see was a great deal of selfish behaviour. People so wrapped up in their own world that doors closed on elderly with shopping, mums with babies in arms toppled and fell on the tram unable to find a seat.

Smiling, giving up a seat, saying hello, welcome, how are you? greeting strangers as friends, helping one another, waiting for someone, being patient, being accommodating, being selfless all easy things to do, surely?

Perhaps I was not being loving enough, not projecting all those values that I believe in. I am not sure what made me hold back from being the one to offer love. I have had a very tough time physically lately and today needed my walking stick to get about. Going from occasional mobility problems to virtually constant pain has made me withdraw a little. My hesitation to love feels like more than that though. I feel I have given too much physically, and emotionally recently and it has left my well of humanity rather dry. So dry that it feels like there is nothing left for me to give. How I refill that supply I am not sure. I am around people who are happy to take all that I can offer at no or little cost to them and with but a tiny trickle of love offered in return.

I think it time I found myself a new circle of people to love.

Connecting the Dots

Steve Jobs gave a talk to Stanford University students graduating. In that talk he said that looking back he could now see connections between different events on his life path . At the earlier event he had no idea the particular passions or interests would be useful further down the road, he was just doing what he loved. The example he gave was attending Calligraphy class at college and then using that learning ten years later on building the Mac.He called these events or passions dots.

In response to this, I have drawn out my own path of dots so far. The result is not really what I expected yet it is what I should have expected. Here are all the things I have been passionate about in a rough chronological order.

  • Den building
  • Climbing trees
  • Being outside dawn til dusk – nature
  • Folk song Raggle Taggle Gypsy
  • Stories, poetry, books, reading
  • Campfires
  • Spirituality/healing/alternative medicine
  • Art/creativity/imagination
  • Biographical storytelling
  • Mystical traditions
  • Natural ways of living
  • Empowerment / freedom / change
  • Environmental  issues / recycling / leave no trace
  • Change / Improvement / Communication – telling it as it is
  • Music / festivals
  • Travel, exploring
  • Walking
  • Wild camping
  • Gardening
  • Photography

Seeing these ‘dots’ my Photography starts to make a more sense. I would challenge any one to look at my portfolio and not see these ‘dots’ reflected back. Themes of nature, mysticism, exploration and life stories are everywhere.

Thank you Steve Jobs, for bringing it all together.

book-3-1-3-2
Wharncliffe Side

Rainy Days & Mondays

Growing up my mum used to sing Karen Carpenter around the house. She had other repertoire but Rainy Days and Mondays was regularly on the playlist. Singing was a regular way of her going about her business.

Often my brother, sister and I would join in at some point unaware of this special therapy. Still today I can’t hear many songs from that time without thinking of Mum and her housework karaoke.

My mum had us quite young, but even so there is a generational difference when it comes to vocalising issues that trouble us. My generation and younger appears to be more vocal in our unhappiness. I am sure that is not entirely a bad thing, this blog itself is a form of that vocalisation after all.

Is it possible that talking about what troubles us could well become like the four yorkshire men sketch Monty Python.  I think there is potential for forgetting many wonderful things in our lives focussing too much on the bleak.

A ray of light in dark times will also be to think about the silver linings, counting blessings, as well as offering empathy a friend would ask positive open questions. These things  might help keep the balance. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it is about denying the bad things happen but having realistic positivity at the same time. Sometimes there really is no room for positivity, and that is ok too.

As I go silently this next few days I will try harder to keep a balance. As Karen Carpenter sings, we’ve been here before and we will be here again!

tidal
Tidal

A photographer's peaceful space

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