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 in 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)

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.

You Are Art

It’s mid-January already.You’ve probably been told that more than once in the last couple of days. Mid-January. Mid-January surely means that the scars of getting through the holidays should be fading by now. Are they?

When you’re The Mom Friend to a whole gaggle of people, this can be the time of year that you playing psychiatrist becomes quite the juggling act. Tensions don’t run quite as mildly as folks on Facebook would have us all believe. Super silly happy family! Look at us all. We love each other. We eat in peace once we have said our prayers. We look like an idealistic painting. Painted by fairies who bathe in the spittle of unicorns.

So it is at this time of year that I tend to contemplate what it means to be the outsider. What it means to be the black sheep of the family. What it means to be the misplaced loner who feels rather alien when it comes to family life. I consider them more at this time of year, not only because I feel them in a small way myself, but because I watch how this familial disconnect keeps happening to people I love. I see how the disapproval directed at them by close friends and family members – gathered together in the name of supposedly the most sacred of holidays for the Christian faith – breaks them into smaller pieces than they deserve to be broken into.

And all I can think is this: You are art.

Because maybe that is the answer. Maybe you are art. We have been told over and over that art seeks to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. And if we are to believe this statement – a statement that I personally hold to be an exceptional truth – then perhaps we are art. Perhaps we disturb the comfortable with our very beings. We may not be a provocative painting or a sculpture that begs questions, but I cannot help but believe that we are a disturbance in the very face of picturesque suburbia, or whatever your familial equivalent of that might be.

Our hair isn’t right.

We’ve dressed too shabbily.

We should really lose weight. Or gain weight.

That’s not polite conversation, we should stop bringing it up.

Have you tried a different shade of lipstick?

What are you doing with your life?

You’re not getting any younger, you know.

All the questions and the criticisms boil down to basically one thing: Why are you this way when you should be that way?

And maybe the answer is that you are art. You are a disturbance in the life of the comfortable. And you know what, my friend? That is such a beautiful thing. I am sorry that this is a hard time of year, one that brings judgements and accusations and  crippling self-doubt.

But you are art.

It hurts and it is a heavy burden.

But you are art.

You are a thorn in the side of those who are incapable of seeking to understand.

But you are art.

You are the most glorious of comforts.

You are the colour against a grey background.

You are dessert for breakfast.

You are art.

Finally, Nadine!

Hello and welcome to Nadine Rose Larter – the url I should probably have been using this whole time. I do particularly love January and the hopefulness it incites (in me at least). This year I have made the decision to split my travel writings and my more personal writings (although let’s face it – probably those travel writings will still indulge in the personal from time to time) and I’ve moved all my non-travel-related musings over here. So welcome. Or something. This is already getting awkward…

The point is… I’m blogging under my own name now. So that one day if I actually ever finish writing the ten or so WIPs that I have going, I’ll totally have somewhere to share the news.

In the meantime I’ll just keep writing my nonsense!