Monday, February 19, 2024

A Balancing Act


I always find myself in a reflective, pensive mood at this time of year.  Life moves at pace and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to squeeze in everything I want to do and sadly that includes blogging.  Whilst I very much enjoy many of the blogs I read and value the virtual, 21st century friendships I've made, I'm still very conscious of what I divulge about my own life.  Photography may be my great passion, but I rarely feel comfortable in front of the lens (hence the scarcity of photos of me).  Add into the mix my butterfly mind, a giant whirlpool of 150 things I need to do and consequently, sitting down to diarise my life at the expense of doing something else, is becoming increasingly challenging.  As we all know, life is a tricky balancing act.  I want the balance to tip towards living life as opposed to documenting it.

That said, marketing is the number one priority of any small business and people do occasionally want to see the face behind the blurb.  I've been busy with my homework of late and even though I've filmed (and deleted) more videos than I care to mention, I'm slowly getting there. Blogging is another tool in my armoury. 

The poet and artist Adeboye Oluwajuyitan once said: "Colour details the story.  Black and white make it a myth."  I like that.  It makes perfect sense to me.

If I scroll through my Instagram feed, it always strikes me how much nature informs my work.  The colours flow from black and white through to fresh pastel hues and into vibrant colour, before deepening into rich tones until finally, the colours leach out once again as we return to winter. 

I'm playing catch up a little here, but black and white was firmly in charge in January.

After the fun and frivolity of the pin up shoot, I had a wedding booking in Worcester, which happened to fall on one of the coldest days of the year so far and sadly, a beautiful blue winter sky was notably absent.  The trees of Worcester Wood which provided a backdrop were still bare and I just knew that the photos would look infinitely better in black and white when natural colour was so lacking.  

Francine and Gabor's wedding was a memorable one.  Due to a last minute hiccup, the couple asked if I would step in and be a witness.  I was delighted to oblige and touched by their gratitude and insistence on giving me what seemed like a quarter of their wedding cake.

Parts of the register office building were out of bounds due to the discovery of RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete), a lightweight material that was used on flat roofs and in walls and floors between the 1950s and 1990s.  It has a lifespan of around 30 years, but can cause structural failure when exposed to moisture, often collapsing with little or no warning.  It's a huge problem in many UK public buildings right now.

The couple had what is now referred to as a micro wedding; a small affair with fewer than 20 guests.  (The couple had already enjoyed some extremely colourful and traditional celebrations in Francine's home country, Rwanda).  This photo of the newlyweds is my favourite.  Despite the cold weather and metal barriers behind, their happiness radiates from this photograph.

The whole micro wedding trend is just my thing.  Admittedly, it's a dull title, but the reality is freedom, no structure, your nearest and dearest (not the great aunt you never see or your parents' friends) in attendance, family favourite dishes on the menu, a country pad or restaurant party location and no formality for the sake of formality.   

I've even forsaken my own Vinted and vintage hunting to inspire brides to be.  Check out these beauties; a mix of second hand, vintage and sustainable dresses for under £150!

Black and white and winter are the perfect partnership.  Naked trees, the high contrast between featureless white skies and landscape and water reflections are black and white's best friends.

Here are a few from a recent stroll around Shropshire's Dudmaston Estate (run by the National Trust).

Black sheep, given the folklore, dark fairy tale treatment.

Winter's prettiest offering...snowdrops.

Ducks coming into land.

No one is spared my portrait practise - or a black and white edit.  Here's the best Valentine's gift I ever received, ear phones firmly in place, and rocking his newly bleached hair, the result of teenage experimentation...

...and cats are always wonderful subjects.  After the death of our beloved Lotte, we're getting our cat fix from no less than 17 feral cats at the local vineyard.  Here are four of them filling their furry faces.

Don't adjust your TV screens.  This is a natural concrete divide and there's no camera shake, just a kitty shaking off the rain.

Don't be fooled by her expression, this one's a little more friendly.

Even the less mobile amongst us are fair game for me and my camera.  Here's a scarecrow operating in the Castle gardens of Bridgnorth.  I've christened him Zapata, after the Mexican revolutionary.

I'm permitting some colour for his companion and have even created her very own backstory.  Here's Linda Burrell.  Linda is a failed actress and British eccentric.  Linda had a flirtation with film director Woody Allen in the early 1970s and contrary to popular belief, Woody wrote Annie Hall for Linda.

However, Linda fell out of favour with Woody after a row over a sourdough starter in New York and he went on to cast Diane Keaton, who has since been credited as the inspiration for the screenplay.  

Linda never got over this rejection and returned to her native Shropshire, where she took up gardening as a form of therapy.  Here she is.  She can't shake off that Annie Hall fashion aesthetic.  She's encouraging me to go and check out her hellebores.

But fear not!  I do mingle with real people too.  I've been busy meeting clients, catching up with friends, taking bracing walks - followed by coffees in cosy cafes, not to mention a fun night out watching a Fleetwood Mac tribute act and investigating the pubs of Dudley.  A tribute act?  I hear you cry.  As fun as it was and as accomplished as the musicians were, there's no possible way of seeing the coolest line up of the Mac.  It no longer exists after the acrimonious exit of Lindsey Buckingham and death of Christine McVie.  Thankfully, I've seen the real band (and separately, their founding member Peter Green).  There really is no comparison.

It's clearly been a while since my last blog and in spite of all the black and white, I have to concede that spring is on the way...and nothing says Spring like cherry blossom. 

In other news, I've bought a drone, which will come in useful.  Watch this space.


  1. Yes, all these things we want to do take time. I spend hours blogging...for what? I remind myself, it's for me - one day I'll look back at my life there (I already do, 16 years in!). Your black and white pics are lovely - gawds, you are so talented. Lovely kitties, just want to stroke them. A drone??

    1. Thanks Sheila. I think there are times when I'm just on a screen for far too long and I have to prioritise.
      Yes, a drone to capture life from above. It will also come in useful for wedding photography group shots. It's still in the box at the moment until I feel brave enough to try it out. :-D Luckily I know an excellent drone photographer who has offered to show me the ropes. x

  2. i´m sure you´ll find the balance!
    like sheila, i do blog for myself - writing down things helps me to sort out my brain and its a logbook/diary after all.... and i need a place to show my humble photos to some people ;-D
    the wedding portraits are gorgeous!!!
    B&W is perfect - especially as the couple has a vintage style going on.... micro wedding? by the numbers this were the normality once........
    black sheep pic - huuuu****
    love the cat portraits - and the stories you made up for the scarecrows - esp. the female one :-DDDD
    have fun with the drone!!

    1. I will and I'm glad you choose to publish your blog, because I love seeing photos of your corner of the world!
      Thank you very much. I don't really like these buzz words and yes, you're right, lower numbers used to be the norm. I'd be happy to see a return to that.
      I don't know where the Linda story came from, but it just flowed! :-D xxx

  3. I love the term butterfly brain, I can absolutely relate. Like you, sometimes blogging is just not on my radar, and that’s ok. There’s so much life to cram in. I do love black and white images, there’s just something so classic about them. I definitely want to experiment a bit more with imagery this year, but I’m quite drawn to the imperfections we had in 80s/90s photography. I’m increasingly drawn to a more analog existence, viewing the past through very rose tinted specs. Xx

    1. Thank you Louise. I agree. I think we put ourselves under pressure, which is why I was questioning myself and my motives.
      I agree with you about imperfections in photography being a positive thing and right now, looking back seems like a good option! xx

  4. I'm completely with you, as life has been quite the balancing act for me as well lately. Like Sheila and Beate, I'm mainly blogging for myself, as my blog has - quite unintentionally - turned into a kind of journal, and I admit I'd be completely lost without it.
    Your black and white photos are stunning, and I love them all: the wedding, the cats, and of course the ones you've taken on your stroll around Dudmaston!
    As for the Bridgnorth scarecrow brigade: although I can't remember meeting Linda, Zapata did look familiar. It seems I photographed him back in 2022, so I'm glad to see he's still around, even if looking a bit worse for wear! xxx

    1. It's very tricky isn't it? I decided at the beginning of the year not to worry so much about regularly posting on social media in general and to just go with the flow and do something when I want to and not because I feel obliged to maintain a certain number of posts. But I also totally understand your journalistic approach Ann.
      I thought you might enjoy a visit to Dudmaston and the cats are very entertaining.
      Fancy you meeting and photographing Zapata before! Linda says hi and that she's looking forward to meeting you! xxx

  5. Hi, nice to see you! I'm the same, not liking to show myself on blogland! I love the wedding couple pictures, they are so styling and the posture of the bride! she knows how to carry herself and you captured them so well :) Betty

    1. Hi Betty! Thank you. I'm glad you understand. :-)
      The bride was beautiful inside and out! x

  6. Despite you not liking to be in front of a camera, the camera certainly loves you, that's a gorgeous photo!
    Blogging shouldn't be a chore. For me it's a way to clarify my thoughts and silence the commentary constantly going on in my head. Lockdown and travelogues aside, I've never really diarised my life via my blog, my life isn't all that interesting! I just post when I'm in the mood (which seems to be quite often, I've just published my 1942nd post!)
    Those cats are gorgeous, I'd be tempted to visit with a massive bag and steal a few. Love C's bleached hair and those wedding photos are fantastic, what an elegant bride Francine is. I love your mood board, the dresses beat a nylon meringue into a cocked hat. Those scarecrows are anything but, they're very stylish! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! Your 1942nd? That's a lot of blogging!
      You know that the thought has crossed my mind about those feral cats, but we'd be bringing them back to almost certain doom unfortunately.
      Yes, the bleach was a success (second time lucky as he failed to leave it on for long enough the first time).
      Francine just has natural poise and was very photogenic.
      Linda and Zapata send their regards. xxx

  7. You can probably tell by my super late comments - I simply do not know how to balance life! Nice to meet Linda and super gorgeous grumpy cat. There used to be a cover band in these parts called Fleetwood Back :0 :) :) Lovely photo of you xXx

    1. I get it Lulu!
      Linda says hi and grumpy cat was actually especially friendly, taking up residence on my son's lap until he was forced to move her.
      You have to laugh at some of the tribute band names! xxx



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