12/02/2010

Uniform Of Youth

Undoubtedly one of the biggest perks of taking photos of people is that you get to meet so many different personalities. Whether it's in a club, at a wedding or in a studio for a magazine, there are just so many faces to talk to and hear stories from. There are the clients. Then there are the make-up artists, the stylists, the lighting technicians, the runners, the ushers, the family members, that long lost cousin twice removed who forgot the floral buttonholes in the taxi... Everywhere you look, there's an interesting angle, a possible photo, and a fascinating story to hear.

Of course, many of these people wash past you during the course of a day with little interaction. If you stopped and talked at length to everyone you came across, you wouldn't end up taking that many photos (something which even years later, I still often have to remind myself of during shoots.) But there are some people who for whatever reason stay in your head. It's not necessarily about how good the photo looks, but what was left behind after the image was snapped. Some people just leave an impact on you, and sometimes, this impact turns into something even better; a friendship.

I've always been quite lucky that I have an amazing circle of close friends. Even when a few months pass without seeing them, there is that magical ability where you can sit down over a cup of tea, and it's as if you had seen them just yesterday. Others drift in and out, and even if there isn't such a closeness, there is always that warming feeling of seeing a familiar face. I think in essence that is part of the job; you just get to know people. And as you might have gathered, despite my hermit-editing-hobo state at the moment whilst we get The Second Floor Studio to take care of itself, I do love being around and meeting new people. So in the spirit of that, here are a few beautiful faces, who I am always more than happy to see.



Geoff Carr stumbled into my life in the most unlikely of ways. With our eyes meeting across the less than romantic plains of Wood Green, he was a Northampton based studio technician on his way to test  the lights in a small studio that I worked from in North London. Although we didn't meet again for months, it was one of those moments where something just changed, and somehow several hundred miles back and forth later, we're now both in London, pushing our own studio further, and producing better work every day. Although the reality is that we've known each other for a year, have been dating for just six months, and living together and running a business together for three... somehow we seem to have put an entire lifetime into such a short space. The way I see it is that we've not killed each other yet. So we've passed the first test... That and he makes me more happy than I ever thought possible.

 
My beautiful Bunny Munsta! Partner in crime, dyer of hair, killer of zombies and introducer of Nandos to the vegetarian. My best friend and accomplice in wasting time at The Prince Charles Cinema. Destroyer of Krispy Kremes. And person who I miss so much right now since he moved to Barcelona for a few months. I'll be waiting on the tarmac as soon as he flies back armed with some beef jerky and many, many shiny pound coins to go and play arcade games with him. London hasn't been quite so bright since him and his cymk personality vacated in search of cats and sunshine...


Carl Morris. Writer. Actor. Teacher. Tea lover. I can't quite put into words how much I adore this man, and love that an afternoon of hot chocolate and book buying can lead to adventures in Wonderland, and 5am cups of tea in Turkish cafes. And that was just on our second meeting. His answerphone messages left in either the voice of Stitch or with various regional accents are as endearing as they are silly, and it is this exact, inane silliness which makes Mr. Morris so much fun to be around, whether it's in front of the camera, or shopping for real coffee and books in Soho.


I hardly even know where to begin with this beautiful girl. Janey Hallam was a friend who I met through Bunny, which began a long saga of multiple cats, cider and a discovery of how to make sushi. She has let me try out so many ideas with her, and is as wonderful a model, as she is a friend. Currently residing in the USA, I am counting down the seconds until she's back in London in January. The Hackney House of shame has so many memories, many in photographic form which may at some point need to be destroyed... :-)


Binky + Diana = Cupcake and cleavage overload. Divine, adorable, evil and amazing, this glitter queen has the burlesque world at her hardworking feet, creating the most amazing pieces over in the world of Pearls and Swine. I have been lucky enough to work on several photoshoots with both her and her products, and every single one of them has been amazing. There are just some people who creatively, you spark with and Binky is most certainly one of them, if not THE one for me. However I am lucky that she isn't just a creative partner, she's also become like a big sister, always at the ready to lead my astray. And for that, she will always have my heart. And my last cupcake.


It was fortune which led me to meet these two beautiful ladies. Both friends of friends, Natalie Booth came along first, having bumped into her at a magazine launch party. With her bright red hair and model height, my initial reaction was one of wow. Especially as she was wearing a different coloured version of a dress which I'd recently purchased, and was making it look literally a billion times better. That dress has languished in the back of my wardrobe ever since, and is unlikely to ever see the light of day until I can either walk in 15" heels or find a corset that can suck me in by about 60 inches! However it was worth the loss, as I gained a wonderful friend instead who luckily, has become less shy of the camera since we've met. Which is awesome for me, as she is a natural pin-up, and a super-cutie!

Kat Kollinski was again met through a friend, and it was upon seeing her photo on Facebook that I just knew that I had to photograph her. What I hadn't quite prepared myself for was the fact that as well as looking like Poland's answer to Dita, she also handmade all of her incredible 1940s style clothes, from the tailored dressed and matching separates, right down to the winter coat which is quite literally to die for. She has such a natural elegance, and looks as if she's stepped out from a vintage postcard, with her cutesy smile and set-curly hair. The camera adores her, but not as much as I do!

Next, come the faces who I don't get to see nearly enough and often miss... Mr. Phillip Spence, creator of Ninja Bunny, my darling cute-faced Missy, Lauren Ding of Pocket Rocket Fashion, and that boy's face who I'm sure I contemplate offers of tea and friendship with far too frequently. Not that there's any bad feeling. It's just. Well. You know. Sometimes you miss people even when you shouldn't.









I think that it's just difficult to walk away when someone made such a huge impact on your life. A year isn't a long time, but it's long enough to make a difference, and although a photograph might be thrown away, those memories still stay in your head. Even if you did try to erase them with several bottles of cheap wine at the time. And it might be easier to cling onto the bad memories but, it's more fun to remember the good ones. It's just that being that way inclined ensures that you dream of tea in Soho, movies at the PCC, and forget how badly you were hurt. It's difficult to navigate.

I think as well that when working with different people, you can learn so much as well. I think it'd be fair to say that assisting with photographers such as Medwell, ensured that I learnt more about lighting and posing than what I ever had done from books or classes. It's a mixture of seeing how things work first hand, but also feeling inspired by someone elses expertise.



Medwell for me was some sort of deviant teacher. Dismantling wrestling rings at 5am whilst drunk after a crazy shoot, falling asleep on buses with hundreds of pounds worth of equipment with us, and baking scones in his kitchen when too broke to buy real food. I have a crazy adoration for him, but also a very high level of respect for his craft. Which he'd probably respond to by trying to draw on my arm in marker pen, but this is partly why I wish I saw him more now.

People to me are important. I'm lucky that as a photographer, I get to document the people who waltz in and out of my life at will. But sometimes I wish that I was better at being a proper friend and keeping in touch. Photos are good, but they're nowhere close to a cup of tea and a hug.

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