I can’t quite believe it’s October already.
This has been a weird year. Big and complex, I’ve tried to accomplish more, but most of the time it has felt like trudging through tar.
As I push for more originality, to make my images more mine, I create more details. More props, more specific styling, more location hunting. More details take more time and I’m not sure if I’m being a perfectionist or procrastinating.
Plus, is originality even possible?
I’m fully committed to my first series, but even with the first few shoots done, I have the fear. Is it original enough? Is the idea stupid? Is it the direction I want to go in? Does it matter and should I just move forward anyway?
My photography is a reflection of me so it’s important to me that it reflects my values. I used to see it as part of me leaving a piece of myself, part of a paper trail of my life. So it feels so important that I get it ‘right’. The theme, the story, the styling and mood. But I always miss the spot on an aspect or two, the theme is right but the execution is messy, or the whole thing somehow ends up too pretty. And it’s insanely frustrating.
I keep reminding myself that no-one ever makes a piece of art exactly the way they want, there are always compromises. But I’m feeling under pressure to go somewhere with this, to realise some sort of potential and that pressure becomes pretty suffocating sometimes. At the moment, I’m just trying to keep trudging on, keep producing, keep tweaking, keep learning because the alternative is to stay still and stagnate.
Recently I’ve been returning to the shoots that just worked, trying to figure out what worked and how I can learn from the happy accidents that helped pull it all together. The shoot I’ve just completed was the result of that and of simplifying and I think it’s worked.
Hopefully, it’s original enough.
One of my favourite things about Malta is the accessibility of abandoned buildings.
Of course what leads to them being abandoned isn’t great. The majority of these buildings are casualties of the bottom falling out of the tourism market in certain areas. Some are just a shell, never getting so far as light fittings let alone furniture before the developers packed up and left. Others are ghosts of what could have been, marble tiled floors cracked and covered in beer cans, huge rooms that suggest bars or receptions – the only light being provided coming from the gaping hole in the ceiling or missing walls.
In the UK, these buildings are usually boarded up and guarded, their secrets shut away behind so much barbed wire. I personally think this is a great shame. These buildings contain stories, their decay a beautiful reminder of former or intended utility. I feel like these places deserve to be documented and remembered.
Recently, I went to an amazing abandoned hotel in Malta. Outside, people had set up beach and picnic gear on the former poolside area. Gazebos stretched between the gutted swimming pool and the sea.
Wandering around, my friend and I started guessing at what the rooms were. This one had to be the reception, the pillars in another suggested a bar or dining area. The toilets were more obvious, even with missing cisterns and mirrors reduced to a few fragments on the wall.
I’m currently trying to figure out how to turn these into composites. I really wish I could have arranged for a shoot there, or even manage to work past my discomfort in self-portraits, but I’ll use them somehow.
“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air” – Bram Stoker, Dracula
Evening shoots are tricky. You’re hoping you can get the shots before the light disappears, hoping your camera is picking up as much of the blues and purples of the night sky as possible before your shots fade to a grainy dark grey. A shoot with an uncompromising deadline.
And as the yellow smoke of the smoke bombs disappeared into the night, I hoped I’d captured images that did justice to everyone’s hard work.
I’ve been dying to feature Rosie’s dresses in my photography since I first laid eyes on her Instagram page. I knew the sheer material and delicate lace would look amazing on camera and every dress has an attitude to it, something that makes them not just beautiful.
Amy worked so hard, creating beautiful poses while balancing on a ladder, in a headdress and holding flowers, while getting soaked by crashing waves long after the day had passed its warmest.
The beautiful colour scheme, carefully chosen props and overall styling was all down to Georgina of Ruby Wedding Design. Although we had to forego the red smoke bombs (after being advised that red smoke means ‘I’m in danger’ and is a great way to get the coastguard involved in your shoot), the colour scheme beautifully matched the serene location.
Running around between us all, helping Amy to scale cliff faces in delicate lace and supporting her as she climbed a ladder balanced on a shifting shore of stones was AJ. All after creating the fabulous updo Amy is sporting.
We may have finished the evening exhausted, cold and chasing down the beach after wandering balloons, but working with a wonderful team made it all worthwhile.
Couture: Rosie Red Corsetry & Couture
Styling: Ruby Wedding Design
Hair: AJ Judge Hair
Flowers: Hunter Florist