Finding Photographers: One Two Tree Photography

After grumpy-posting last week, I’m quite pleased to have another Finding Photographers instalment to present. I’ve been a little slow on my photo project this year, but thankfully the existence of Bernadette Meistre from One Two Tree Photography inspired me to book a family photoshoot as a present for the parentals this year. Even though the husband and I have a ton of professional photographs of the two of us, it’s been a while since we’ve had any family ones done. And by family I mean the whole damn brood! I couldn’t have chosen anyone better to capture our sense of “family”.

Now, we know that I’m “experimenting” with photographers on here a little bit, so I told Bernadette that she would need to tell us what to do. I wanted the Bernadette-stamp to be as authentic as possible. This “rule” of mine tends to be met with a little bit of hesitation on the photographers’ part, I admit. And I get it. When you’re working with “clients” you like to give them what they want. And here I am telling the photographers that what I want is what they want.

What would you like us to wear? Where would you like us to meet? What would you like us to do?!

So much pressure!

But Bernadette is a little bit like a magical unicorn. First she suggested a Maroon & Blue theme and then she did one of the coolest and cleverest things that has ever made me go “oh duh, what an obviously clever trick that I’ve never even remotely thought of”… She sent me a colour swatch that we could use as inspiration for our matchy-matchy photo shoot. I didn’t even have time to stress about “getting it right”. And to be honest, after she sent the cool colour palette thingy I decided  I didn’t even care how the pics turned out because I was too busy being over the moon impressed with being sent such a pretty colour scheme.  I’m kind of excited at the prospect of using such swatches to inspire myself in the future. Maybe that sounds weird… (more…)

Dear Standard Bank: What on Earth?

I reckon it’s probably a bad idea to blog while the rage is a little on the high side, but skipping the emotion-fuelled writing sessions is pretty much why I’ve been quiet around here for the last while. Woosah and all that. At least rage is “safer” than vulnerability.

But today? Today I have some questions….

Please forgive the long story.

Before I went to Turkey in May I attended our EC Bloggers Meetup and was quite stoked to find a Zando voucher inside my goodie bag. This morning I remembered that voucher and decided to have a little look-see to find something to spoil myself with. At some point the husband and I need to cash in a photo session with Kick Push Photography and Marc Hervé so Momma needs a new dress. You know how it goes. I’m vain.

Anyway…

I find myself a rok and some stockings and off I go to purchase said goodies. I put in the CC details, I put in the voucher code. A pop-up asks me for my phone number for the OTP. I put in the OTP. I press enter and yay I have my new dress on the way!

Oh. Wait. Not yay. No. “There was a problem with your purchase.”

Er? Say what now?

I try to order again, but now my voucher is “only one per customer” so I can no longer have my discount. Discount is everything, folks. You know this.

I email Zando because now I don’t know what to do. (all this goes down in about a minute – I want my damn dress)

And then I get this sms….from my bank. (more…)

The Heartache of Friendship

I’m not a very good friend. It would be wrong to say that friendship baffles me, I suppose, but I certainly seem to get it wrong enough to lead me to wonder if I shouldn’t be questioning myself a little more often. I mentioned in my post about Odette Johaar’s photography that I had in the last year befriended a group of women whom I found quite good for my soul. They continue to be so daily. These lovely ladies tucked away in my phone, always ready to help at the touch of a whatsapp message, even though our real lives seldom collide. I adore them. They make me feel sane. Calm. And honestly? Loved. I am lucky to have them. It worries me, however, that I possibly feel safe in our friendship because our lives are not so intertwined. Perhaps it feels safe to me because we all live our separate lives, and then whatsapp wave to each other on occasion, tell each other how awesome we are, and then carry on with those lives. I can’t hurt you, and you can’t hurt me. Because there isn’t a secret rulebook of expectations that any of us are failing to abide by. The only rule is that we’re nice to each other. And being nice is easy because each member of the group is so easy to like.

My friendship track record in general, however, is something of a minefield of confusion and mistrust.  And then a couple of weeks ago something happened with a very good friend of mine that made me realise something about myself… (more…)

The Sweet Comfort of My Left Foot

It’s been a weird year. I suppose I’m not really ready to talk about it, which is why I’ve been kind of quiet around here. There’s so much to share, and yet there’s a little hesitation on my part. It’s not because I don’t want to share or that I feel it’s inappropriate. I don’t believe in inappropriate topics. It’s just been a weird year.

It’s already May and the only progress I’ve really made is in a direction that I was supposed to move away from. Basically: instead of sticking around South Africa this year and doing a bit of  local travelling, I’ve instead planned a trip to Turkey. None of the other stuff I had planned is getting anywhere. Like how I planned to read more. Or how I planned to blog more. Or actually learn how to use my camera better. Although to be fair I promised myself that from here on out I will not be doing “new year’s resolutions” so much as just all year resolutions. So I shall give myself a break on the things I haven’t gotten to yet.

I did discover something new about myself though. Apparently my left foot is a little kinder to me than I had noticed before. Yes. That’s right. I just said that crazy thing. But I discovered this year that in times of distress, quite out of nowhere, that my left foot likes to tenderly rub itself against my right foot in a sort of soothing manner. When my anxiety is flying high, my left foot likes to tap against my right ankle. My brain likes to abuse me with all sorts of dodgy little anecdotes, and my gut likes to churn for no reason. My heart likes to start racing as if I’m being chased. And then there’s that knot of fear that likes to churn my stomach when I am completely safe.

And so, my  left foot has taken it upon itself to offer up comfort. And, if I do admit myself, it kind of works. I cannot for the life of me figure out when it started. I don’t know why it started now. But as I lay here in my bed the other night, feeling a little wrecked and tender, knowing that no person was capable of offering me comfort in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to the little rhythmic tapping that once again proved to be both soothing and sedative.

So thank you, Left Foot, for knowing what I needed even though I didn’t. I am grateful to you.

Finding Photographers: Odette Johaar

On the 14th of May 2016, a woman walked up to me at the first EC Bloggers Meetup and kind of changed my life.

It seems so silly. Like it shouldn’t be a big deal. This lady who was a stranger, walked up to me and told me that she liked my blog. She appreciated the things I had to say. She seemed a bit shy about it, this act of approaching a sort-of stranger that she had possibly forced herself to do, but I was so charmed that she had done it. For one it felt nice to be appreciated, and for another, I know that it can be hard to approach people sometimes and I felt really good that she had deemed me worthy of overcoming that “fear” for. I’m not always that brave.

What’s more, since meeting her that day, she has introduced me to a group of girls who have significantly added value to my life. For this I will be forever grateful.

When I mentioned this Finding Photographers project to the blogger group that she had introduced me to, I knew that Odette would join in with both feet, and she did.

As I did with Meggin’s shoot, I insisted that Odette choose where she wanted to shoot and what she would like us to wear. She insisted whatever was comfortable was fine, so I decided on light coloured stuff because it seemed (to me) to fit nicely with the venue she chose.

We met at The Pearson Conservatory inside of St. George’s Park for our shoot. A good thing too since it started to rain so at least we were sheltered. Admittedly my hair looked a bit like it had been rained on by a monsoon before being struck by lightening…but you know…you can’t beg it to co-operate, it doesn’t listen.

I love the way Odette works. She’s quick an efficient, and it so easy being around her. Ever since I met her I have marvelled at the way her presence actually relaxes me (a big deal really since I am so highly strung!) and I was pleased to feel just as relaxed while having to play model for her as I am when simply enjoying her company.

I was also completely tickled by the fact that she brought along a little music box thing (seriously: I should know what these things are called) and she played music for us while we took photographs. I must admit it added to the relaxed atmosphere and her choice is music was great.

What I learned: Odette shoots in black and white because this helps her keep an eye on the contrast in her photos. I actually quite like this idea as it does actually make sense to do so.

Another thing I learned: take a hairbrush with you to photoshoots….

Mad hair aside, I’m totally happy with what we got out of our quick one-hour shoot!

PS: How friggen gorgeous is my husband though?

The Potential for Extraordinary Never Dies: Not Really a Valentine’s Post

Every morning I check the “On This Day” feature on Facebook. Perhaps that’s a little narcissistic. I don’t know. What I do know is that it helps with my capacity for nostalgia.

You see, I sometimes worry that I am incapable of nostalgia. You know how most people say that childhood is the best time of your life? Or how people get really bittersweet when they hear a song from their past? Or when old friends get to chatting about “the good ol’ days” and then they get a bit morose about it?

That doesn’t happen to me.

Songs that I used to listen to in high school irritate me. They feel more like a jab of holy-crap-how-did-we-listen-to-this-rubbish. I don’t look back on too much of my life with longing. I don’t miss things very much. Sometimes I miss my grandfather, though even then I have to admit I am probably more “too much” for him these days than I was when he was alive. Would we even get along now?

Anyway, I check my On This Day feature every morning, and I delete all the things that have no nostalgic value. Sometimes I smile at what is left over.

This morning I flicked through my nostalgia timeline and it was filled with Instagram images from my trip to India (I’m sort of sorry about that by the way – in the moment I didn’t realise I was posting so many!) and I couldn’t help but smile at the memories, even though they barely feel like memories so much as just things that happened the other day. We spent Valentine’s Day at the Taj Mahal last year. It felt nice to be able to say that, I must admit. But I also admit it was quite nice to scroll down further and get to the year where the husband and I spent all day posting Doctor Who valentines on each other’s Facebook walls. That made me smile too. Maybe that means my nostalgia isn’t broken?

I sort of thought to myself: won’t it be nice in about ten years time when every day my On This Day timeline is filled with at least one magical thing that happened in the past? And wouldn’t that be such a lovely reminder that good things kind of do happen all the time?

Yes. Of course we fill our timelines with dreadful things too (they’re totally delete-able online though!) but those good things can be so powerful. From silly things like mentioning that you baked a great batch of cupcakes to that time your kids did something really sweet.

Social media is seen as such a skewed picture of life, and perhaps it is, but I cannot help but be grateful for the reminders of celebrated little things, because they remind me that little things are always around the corner. I tend to get so stuck in the now. Caught up in an extra bad instance of anxiety, or being overwhelmed by the trials of a loved one. Those sorts of things take dominance so often.

And yet my cat is cute as hell when she sleeps. And my husband sometimes brings me a choccie from the shops. And sometimes I take a hundred pictures during a walk in the park.

So today I am thinking about the potential for extraordinary. It is always there. Overshadowed sometimes by my own potential for dread. But it is there. And for that I choose to be grateful.

A Geeky Valentine

So Valentine’s Day is just about upon us. I’m pretty sure my opinion of this day changes from year to year, depending, most likely, on how lovey dovey I am feeling when it arrives.

Last year I was at the Taj Mahal for Valentines Day but I can’t for the life of me remember what we did after we were done there. Did we just go back to our hotel and nap? What food did we eat?

Anyway, this year I’m just embracing the whole love-dorky package that is the celebration of St. Valentine. I imagine this will likely displease my grandmother considering how not-so-impressed she was by my lack of love for Christmas, but what can you do?

I reckon that adage of “promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate” applies. I love love. So I’m going to just go ahead and love loving it.

Yeah?

Yeah.

Gosh that’s cheesy.

Luckily for us Port Elizabethans, this year, Geek World exists. Which kind of means that us Geeky Girls and Boys have somewhere fun to shop for Valentine’s trinkets and huggable plush toys that don’t necessarily have hearts on them.

And I do find myself quite charmed with this idea. Like, why does love have to be a bouquet of roses? Why does it have to be red or pink? Can’t love be a Ravenclaw scarf? Or a Doctor Who charm bracelet? Or a Star Wars figurine?

I reckon it should be.

And it should be all year long. But, you know, if you’re feeling the Valentine’s pressure to do some celebrating on February the 14th, I reckon a Yoda plush toy, a bottle of champers, and a cuddle on the couch with a Star Wars marathon will suit some of us far better than roses and chocolates.

Oh, who am I kidding? Get the roses and chocolates too.

(PS: I’m still a Doctor Who girl, the Star Wars references were just for the Star Wars folks)

The Wonders of Harper Lee

Last year a bookish friend gifted me with a brand new copy of Go Set A Watchman. I’m not sure why she chose me to gift it to, but I am exceptionally glad that she did because it made me haul out my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, which I had not yet attempted to read.

2016 was not a great reading year for me. I squeezed in a couple of easy reads between my travel plans and life in general, but I didn’t get through too many. Finally in December I decided to give the previously discarded To Kill A Mockingbird another try. I’d set it aside before because it was kind of heavy and 2016 was an otherwise light year (if you disregard all that stuff where the free world elected an oppressive twat as their leader) so heavy reading didn’t quite fit.

I finally picked it up though. And wow. Have you read Mockingbird? It’s undoubtedly exceptional.

It has left me in a bit of a fog though.

I’m no scholar, so perhaps I am wrong, but I cannot help but feel that both Mockingbird and Watchman were written by a woman who was clearly trying to come to terms with her own whiteness and the undoubtedly unjust privilege that comes with that. Perhaps I recognise it because I feel it myself, but I cannot help but notice that without being preachy, Harper Lee exposed and questioned so much ugliness in the black/white dynamic of America. And she did so most likely at a risk to herself.

So I have to ask: If this book was so popular (30 million copies sold, boasts the cover of my copy of Mockingbird) then surely it must have had some sort of societal impact. Surely people cannot read books like this and remain unaffected.

Or perhaps the question should be: If people are affected by this kind of art, why does it still feel like it is not enough? Would society in general be worse if these minds did not exist and share their musings with us?

Is it possible that it will ever be enough?

When Watchman came out it was followed by bad reviews. I know Harper Lee herself wasn’t enthusiastic about it going to print, and I can even understand why. Watchman is completely out of Mockingbird’s league. It is almost as if it were written by a lesser version of Harper Lee. Or perhaps it even reads as if it might be fan fiction. And yet the heart of the questioning white girl is still there. And I cannot help but feel a lot of love for that girl. I imagine I will most likely be criticised for it, but so much of race dynamics relies on white people choosing to better themselves, and I do choose to do so, though I undoubtedly fail at times. I cannot help but have great respect for someone like Harper Lee who struggled with it on her own, driven by her own conscience more than by a massive collective conscience which we are fortunate enough to be able to turn to for guidance today.

I read the other day that parents are calling for Mockingbird to be removed from the American school curriculum because it is derogatory to black people. It is. Of course it is. But that’s kind of the point. It is a narrative that seeks to expose and understand those dynamics. Studying that and encouraging those kinds of conversations amongst young people strikes me as so exceptionally important. It shouldn’t be thrown away because of its use of the n word. The heart of it is so much more than that.

To my white reader friends: I encourage you to read these two novels and catch the heart of the justness that they try to communicate. And while you do so, marvel at the fact that an author, lost to us now, could have created something so long ago and still have it be relevant to today’s society.

And then think: what can I do to make this less relevant?

Finding Photographers: What I Learned from Meggin Murphy

When I was 15 I tried my first cigarette in my best friend’s dad’s office. It was kind of lame. I didn’t inhale. I just pretended I did and then followed it with a fake cough to prove that I had inhaled. Of course we went to a Christian school in a small town so it took about 3,5 seconds before the story of Kelly, Chrissy, Jacqui, and I trying cigarettes was the story of the moment. Minions of Satan, we were. Funny enough not to the grownups so much as to our fellow scholars. I giggle just thinking about those looks of disapproval. Like I said: lame.

The incident did kind of endear me to my friend Meggin Murphy for life, though, and it’s weirdly the first thing I think of when I consider our friendship. After that incident, Meggin, who was ten at the time, pulled me aside and burst into tears because she didn’t want me to die from becoming a smoker. It’s funny how potent the idea of someone giving a shit about you can be.

Anyway, Megs and I go a long way back and to this day we indulge in a strong friendship despite the kilometres that divide us, so with this project I’ve already broken some rules for her. I intend to feature mainly Port Elizabethan photographers here (it is where I am after all) but I’m making an exception for her because a.) she’s my Meggin, b.) no one else has photographed me more than this woman has, and c.) she visits Port Elizabeth often enough for us all to take advantage of her skills at some point if there are any takers.

The only issue I ever have with working with Meggin is perhaps that we are too close, which sometimes causes a bit of a hit and miss before we hit our stride. I’m awkward in front of the camera in general. Sometimes I think that  I actually find it far easier to be natural with strangers than I do with people who know me, but I’m not even sure if that’s true. Maybe I’m just awkward with everyone.

My favourite thing about Meggin is that I can always just tell her what to do without feeling idiotic about it. She really does go out of her way to understand my vision for stuff. But for this project, she was in charge. (more…)

Finding Photographers: A New Blog Project

After spending much of 2016 falling more and more in love with my photography hobby, I decided that this year I should actually start learning some things instead of just snapping away and hoping for the best. I have always adored the idea of photography as an art, and have come to know quite a few photographers in the last while. Some professionals, but many just hobbyists like myself.

This year I have decided to spend more time with my photographer friends and collaborating with them in a sort of experiment. I want to show myself, and you, how the photographic style and personality of different photographers can make  a difference when it comes to photoshoots. I especially want to show how a little element of art can be found when photographers are given all the say. I want to show how that varies from photographer to photographer, even when the subjects (myself and my husband mostly) stay the same.

So basically the premise is this:

1.Find a photographer.

2. Give them free reign over the photoshoot.

3. Share the experience.

I have my first photoshoot ready for sharing already, and I’ve got a couple of other shoots planned so long, but if you’re keen to take part in this project or if you know someone who might be please do feel free to give me a shout so that we can set up a time to play together.