I’ve made a start on the design of my book with Victoria and the editing process is about to begin. I still have a few unfinished ideas floating around in my head. If they are to stand a chance of making it into the book; I have to pluck them out quick and get them onto film. The book is all about a single colour and as an end shot I like the idea of using a rainbow to emphasise the full spectrum. I took a picture about six months back on my phone. It’s of my daughter with a rainbow of light over her eye. It was a quick snap, as the sun came into the bedroom one morning, and bounced off the edge of the mirror on my jewellery box. It was early summer.
Now it’s mid January and the sun no longer reaches around to the bedroom window. I’m desperate for some direct light. In deepest darkest winter my window of opportunity has decreased drastically . I know that the back of the house gets direct sun from about 1-4pm. I know because each time it comes out I watch it, in envy. By the time Ruby is home from school the light has gone. To stand a chance of getting a shot we are down to weekends.
And weekends have a habit of getting filled up with life. But I am desperate for this final shot. It’s Saturday. The sun is out. I grab the jewellery box and find a tiny pool of light coming through the bathroom window. I make Ruby sit there on the bathroom floor, trying to catch the rainbow on her face, but I’m seven months pregnant, my body awash with hormones, tiered and with no patience. I’m short with her and command her into different positions. I’ve lost it. I’ve lost the skill of making the process any fun. She sits, grumpy face, but still there doing this for me, to help her mum. I feel dreadful, and shoot one frame before the sun goes in behind a cloud. The light has gone and I give up.
Later the light shines through her bedroom window lighting up a doll’s house. I curse it. The next weekend I ‘book it out’ for photography. I tell Tony this is what I need to do. It’s my sole focus. But will the sun even come out? Saturday after lunch we have sun! I leave the lunch stuff and we run upstairs to the bathroom. I muster all my patience. we talk about her, about how strong she is, about what a fast runner she is. We catch the rainbow. I exhale.
I don’t know if I’ll use this shot. It doesn’t matter. I did it – we did it.
7 days till my Kickstarter campaign… if it all goes to plan..
I’m dragging myself back into work mode after the Christmas break. The past couple of weeks have seen me concentrate on filling my belly and emptying my brain. As I prepare for the onslaught that is crowd funding and book design. The first stage of this process is a change in title. I am working with photo book designer Victoria Forrest. Her first input was the tentative suggestion of changing the title.
This work has been on the boil for the past 4/5 years. I’ve called it ‘Generation Pink’, for a long time. It started off as ‘Pink Pricesses’, but as the work developed Gereration Pink became more appropriate. I always name my projects early on. Some projects get names, but never even make it to the photo stage, they stay as an idea, but don’t work to be taken further. I find the process of naming a project really useful. It is labelling. It helps me to decipher what the project is really about and why I am interested. Giving work a name also helps me to see it as an end product, whether it will be a book, an exhibition or a series on my website. It enables me to see the work as a whole. So Victoria’s idea to change the title is a good place to start. It’s the first step in the process of translating this work into a photo book. ‘Generation Pink’ is too descriptive, gives too much away, too soon. Victoria has suggested “My Favourite Colour was Yellow’. It comes from an interview I recorded with one of the girls I photographed. Her name is Rosie and I photographed her a couple of years ago when she was 14. She told me how her friend had asked her favourite colour. She felt under pressure to say pink and purple, even though it wasn’t. “My favourite colours were yellow and orange. When I took the pens out of the pack I took the yellow first, always and then the orange”.
The new title places an emphasis on a lack of choice, and that’s what is at the core of this. I am looking forward to working with Victoria over the next few weeks. We’ve made a good start and she has already helped me see this work more clearly as a book.
With Christmas fast approaching these recent images will be amongst my last serious photographs for this year. I have been working with book designer Victoria Forrest. Even when I thought all the work for my book was done – Victoria told me to keep shooting. So there is more in the pipeline, but now that will have to wait until the new year.
For now my attentions are set on planning my Kickstarter campaign. I am on a mission to self publish my book, in time for a launch at Photo Book Bristol next June. I am aiming to raise £12,000 over the next few months. People have told me that I am a quietly confident person. I am confident about my photography work and even the process of making a photo book for the first time. With other people’s help I have gained enough confidence to embark on self publishing. However the thought of raising such a small fortune, by crowd funding, is seriously worrying. If I don’t reach my target- I won’t get a penny.
I have the confidence in my own work, but somehow I need to turn that into other people having confidence in the project, enough to want to preorder a copy, with their own money. From what I’ve learned, crowd funding campaigns are all about momentum, and people having faith that it will be successful. So what can I do? I have never taken on such a huge challenge as this before. All I can do is to research and plan. I have been talking to other photographers who have run successful crowd funding campaigns and self published. Asking as many questions as possible, trying to gain tips and advice and and understanding of the whole process. I have been compiling a mailing list, planning a video shoot for the campaign, gathering endorsements etc etc. All I can do is be prepared and give it my best shot. I will be launching the campaign towards the end of January. Look out for it. You’ll be able to pre order the book or back the campaign. I need to move a 12K mountain and I won’t be able to do it alone.
Big thanks to Rudi Thoemmes, Rosie Barnes and Tom Groves for their generous help.
The idea for this photograph came to me 3 years ago. I had noticed people on the street with bright pink hair, and I realised I had to use this in my book project. It has taken me all that time to get the right picture. I first photographed Sarah and Christie below, but as my work envolved to focus solely on children these portraits went out. I then had the idea of photographing a mum with pink hair. The first two mums I approached were initially interested but didn’t make it to the shoot stage. Then there was the pink haired girl that I met on the bus, but again no shot. I met Liz in a cafe, pictured below with her baby daughter. We made some really nice portraits, but the picture didn’t capture what I was trying to say. Then I bumped into Rachel (bottom image) in the park. I thought I made some nice portraits, but when I saw them back I realised that she wasn’t really a child anymore and my head had been turned by her pink locks.
Then a few months ago, out of the blue, my friend Shelby dyed her hair pink. I had photographed her daughter before for my project. When I photographed them together it worked. I talked to Rosie about her mum and that is when she hugged her in this protective way. Her mum looks doll like and I like that. I once read that Trent Parke went to the same spot every day for 3 months to try to capture a picture. That is devotion and detection. It is what I would tell students and those at the early stages of learning to take pictures – that sometimes photographs take time. So often, we only see the finished article, but photographs are made from many failed attempts, journeys down the wrong path, experiments, hard work and then one day it all just falls into place.
I went to a screening of Martin Parr’s film ‘Turkey and Tinsel’ last week. Martin Parr makes films, but we don’t get to see them that much. There were books for sale too, but it wasn’t a photo book event as such. After the film there was food and music. As Martin busted his moves to Slade on the dancefloor I was in the back room hudled around a table looking at photo book projects. This is where I have ended up at previous Photo Book Bristol events. It’s my favourite spot, for after the main event the nurturing environment and the shared love for photo books in Bristol takes hold.
My own photo book will be self published next year and it will be a direct product of this environment. It will be ‘made in Bristol’. Akina’s book making workshop, and all the talks I have been to at IC Visual lab and Photo Book Bristol have seeped into my work. The relationships I have made with the Bristol photo book crowd have helped me to think about, edit and give me the confidence to pursue self publishing my own book. The book will be designed in Bristol by Victoria Forrest.
I’m not the only one. There are many of us working on book projects. There will be more photo books ‘Made in Bristol’ – a lot more to come. The scent hangs thickly in the air. If you come and visit, breath deep and don’t be afraid to inhale that luscious scent of the photo book.
I have neglected my blog of late and that’s mostly due to being pregnant. It’s not that my head is already full of parenting dilemmas – which pushchair to by? To swaddle or not to swaddle? My brain is still firmly focused on photography. The arrival of another member of the family looms large as a clear cut deadline for getting my work done, in particular – my book published, while I still can.
This lack of writing is due to many things, tiredness and lack of motivation in early pregnancy, concentrating on the work that really needs to get done, but I blame it mostly on a lack of caffeine. Caffeine has always been my friend when I need to write. Of course I can still write, but its not as much fun. I’m less sparky – its more like hard work.
With the role of being a new mum again on the horizon, mixed with the excitement, contentment and anticipation is a sadness. As I know that my work will stop. I know this from experience with child number 1. I know that when you care for a totally dependant human being that it is all consuming. There isn’t the space left in your brain for the creative thought necessary for making decent photographs. When my daughter was 18months old she started to go to a childminder one day a week. This gave me some thinking time and only then did I get any ideas for my work. My work gradually got stronger and more prolific as she went onto nursery and then school.
I will still be able to get on with the office based work and setting up the Photo Bristol network. That doesn’t require the same kind of thinking. But the work.. the ideas… and making photographs will go. I’ll miss that.
I’ve always disliked the phrase “Having It All”. I’m not greedy. I don’t want it all. I want two things and they are to have a family and make photographs, because if I can’t do those things I am only half of what I am. I don’t buy into this picture of perfect parenting that I see all around me. As with all the good things in life having a baby is full of mixed emotions. I already love this baby, but I will miss my work. I live in hope of a baby that sleeps and an extended 1 day a week paternity leave.
I will be holding a workshop on portrait photography, here in Bristol with local photography organisation IC – Visual Lab. It’s a whole day event aiming to simplify the process of making portraits. The first practical session will be broken down into: people, backgrounds and lighting.
The afternoon session will try to help participants become more confident at approaching and photographing strangers. We will also look at how to make people feel at ease in front of your camera and how you can get the best out of the people you photograph.
There are still places left. Here is the link to sign up http://icvl.co.uk/portraitworkshop/