Personal >> Random Portrait…

In my spare time I’ve been collaborating with a friend and singer/songwriter on a project of hers.  Rest assured I have no involvement on the musical side (this is a very good thing, I’m completely tone deaf) but when she asked me to take a few photos for the project how could I say no?

So, just one frame from one of our adventures last week.  No description or explanation but I love it as a simple portrait anyway. Oh to be so young and so full of conviction!

Personal >> Travel Photography >> Vietnam

Wow – how did it get to the end of 2011?! I’m not going to do a highlights post for you I’m afraid – mainly because this year has been pretty all round awesome and I think it would probably be a near impossible task to sum it up in one little post. 🙂  What I’m going to do instead is a little post with a few pretty pictures of my recent trip to Vietnam.  It’s such a big, wide world full of such wonderful and beautiful things – I hope to experience more of it in 2012.

>> Temple, Mekong Delta

>> Market, Mekong Delta.

>> River village, Mekong Delta

 

>> Incense making, Mekong Delta

 

>> My lunch (and a whole bunch of cameras!)

 

>> My better half, enjoying the sun 🙂

>> Market, Ho Chi Minh City

 

>> Reunification Palace , Ho Chi Minh City

 

 

Personal >> My Favourite Winter Warmer!

For those of you who know me, you’ll know I don’t do very well in the cold!  In winter I’ll either be found indoors by a radiator or michelin-manned in about a hundred woollies.  That’s not to say I don’t like winter. I’m a massive fan of open fireplaces and endless cups of tea and I’m convinced that my winter wardrobe is a lot better than my summer one….it’s just the tiny matter of the cold….

One of my favourite ways to warm up is this chai latte receipe, given to me a few years ago by the  the lovely Jane Branney.  When I used to work in the City, my office bestie and I would often scuttle down to Starbucks after lunch for a sneaky chai latte, and every time I have one now it reminds me of how much I miss chatting to her (can we have a collective awww!).  This version is pretty awesome, and well worth your time.  It’ll definitely give you the wow factor if you’re doing any Christmas hosting this year.

And now seems like a good time to say a big THANKYOU to Cristina who gave me this lovely mini handwarmer, for my long walks with fingerless photographer’s gloves!  HOW cute?!

What are your favourite winter recipes?

x

*These photos were edited with Lisa Devlin’s Vintage Actions, which was part of an almighty goody bag we received on The Photography Farm.  I’ve been having a play around with them this afternoon and I’m struggling to pick a favourite, they’re all so cute.  What do you think of this one?

Personal >> Travel Photography >> Nepal

One of the questions I get asked a lot is what got me into photography in the first place.  I can’t honestly say that I was wielding an SLR out of nappies (if I’m being honest, for most of my gangly & awkward teenage years I avoided cameras as best I could).  Then in my early twenties I caught the travelling bug, and that’s when I really got how amazing photography could be.

This time last year, I was 3,800m up in the Himalayas, eating yak cheese and hiking above the cloudline.  Of course I had to bring Bobby Kamora with me.

This is the village of Kyanjin Gompa, about as middle of nowhere as you’ll get, about 8km from the Tibetan border and about a 3 day hike from the closest town.   Houses are insulated with yak dung and people wash their clothes in glacial streams.  Electricity? Only if you’re very, very lucky.  It’s one of the places that really blew me away, and thank god for photography because my memory’s so bad, give it a few years and I’d have forgotten what it looked like. (And, considering the bus trip to get to the trail head was as close to death as I’ve ever come, I’m never likely to go back!).

It’s  a different world.  Little runny-nosed boys help their mothers with the industrious task of knitting…

… livestock is herded through the “high street” before being sacrificed for religious festivities….

…and wild horses roam free amongst prayer flags and dilapidated Buddhist monasteries .

(Is that horse smiling? I swear he is. But then if I were a horse and lived there, I probably would too.)

The village itself is breathtaking, and from about 3pm clouds roll in from the other end of the valley and blankets it in white.

Oh, and just when you’re thinking the place can’t get any better, you need to know there’s a cheese factory.  A yak cheese factory, of course.


Before you ask, it’s pretty yummy.  And yak-herding does seem a rather pleasant past time, don’t you think?

The village mainly consists of elderly people and young kids, mainly because folks of school and working age would move down to the towns to educate themselves and make a living.  I did wonder what it’d be like to grow up in a world so completely on the edge of civilisation.  After some careful observation, it seems that it involves (a) flying a lot of kites with your dad, whilst wearing matching snazzy jumpers….

(b) trying to kick chickens

and (c) generally being very cute (but very, very snotty)

Yeah.  The Langtang Valley is a really beautiful place…

When people ask, I tell them they should definitely make the trip there at least once in their lives…if they can hack the 8 hour bus trip on this bad boy that is 🙂

Oh wait, did I say 8 hours? I meant 13…

I’m still glad I went. 🙂

Personal >> The Curiosity Project

A couple of months ago I signed up to The Curiosity Project, which is basically like a giant secret santa gift swap.  It’s organised by Tiffany Grant-Riley, a wedding planner and stylist and you can read more about how the project came about here.

You spend up to £20 choosing gorgeous little things to your anonymous recipient (not an easy task, I can tell you!) and you’ll receive a box in return from an anonymous sender.  Really too exciting for a snail mail junkie like me!

I received my box a few days ago and have been waiting for some dry weather to take the photos.  Here’s what I received – aren’t I a lucky girl?!?!


Personal >> Autumn in France

Last week, I took advantage of a £18-return Ryanair flight and went to visit my parents in France for a few days.  I ate, I read, I edited, I sat in the sun and watched birds and squirrels go about their daily business.  It was glorious.  Unfortunately I didn’t have Bobby Kamora with me (my camera, named after the footballer Bobby Zamora for no particular reason) but I had fun trying out my parents’ Nikon point and shoot.  Yeah, it was ok, but not a patch on Bobby.  Still, one or two photos for you!  Most are straight out of camera and unedited, which is probably rather silly of me but they’re just simple photos. Nothing fancy.

As you can see, Autumn has definitely arrived in France – even though the summer heat has left for the year, everything is still gloriously golden and warm.

The garden is abundant with figs and walnuts and chestnuts this time of year, and the squirrels are running riot in their pre-Winter gathering madness.    Well, not only the squirrels…

Happy Autumn everyone! x


Behind the Scenes >> Lofty Heights!

I woke up this morning and thought it might be a funny idea to start a series showing the ridiculous things we get up to as photographers.  When I get home after a wedding and I tell Tom about my day, I often get a raised eyebrow or two, and probably quite rightly so!

Here’s a nice gentle one to start off with.  Here I am at a wedding last month, hanging out the loft of a barn, having climbed up a rickety old ladder with broken steps, kneeling in bits of hay and who-knows-what else.  I do turn up looking quite smart at the beginning of the day, I promise! 🙂

The venue was the lovely Lilibrooke Manor in Berkshire.  Unfortunately all the buildings were single-story and I struggled to find anywhere high enough to take a group shot of 150(ish) people.  Until the owner pointed out the loft….

Alongside me is my lovely second shooter Cristina Rossi, who very kindly came up to hold me down in case I took a tumble.  Thank you Cris 😉

x

The Importance of Photographs

Not long ago, I met up with a lovely friend of mine for dinner and a chinwag.  The food and company was fab as always, but a part of our conversation left me a little bit sad.  Someone in her family was getting married but wasn’t bothered about photographs in the slightest – she hadn’t arranged anything and thought maybe guests might take photos throughout the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect people to be as bonkers about photography as I am, but to not really want any record of your wedding at all?  That made me a little sad for her.

One thing I’ve started to understand is that photos are important.  Really, really important. You might not realise now, because they might not matter to you so much.  But your photos will matter to someone.

I went to visit my parents a couple of years ago and one evening my Dad unearthed what I thought was absolute treasure – family photos I’d never seen before, going back a few generations.  He’d recently been given them by another member of the family for safekeeping.  There were lots of photos – of my family, of my dad when he was young, of people we couldn’t recognise, of serious faces, of laughing faces, of family pets, of houses, of holidays.  The most precious ones to me though were ones of my paternal grandparents, both of whom passed away when I was relatively young and who I never got to know.  I remember fragments of them – dancing in the living room with my grandad, or making marzipan with my nan.  But it’s all a bit sketchy and it really breaks my heart that I never knew them properly.

At least now I have this:

I make no apologies for the fact that my grandad would appear to be THE coolest guy in the world 🙂  Gotta love that pipe!  And how happy does my nan look?

And then there’s these two photos which my nan and grandad sent to each other during the second world war when my grandad was posted to the middle east.  The best thing about these photos? The declarations of love written on the back (which I won’t write out, you guys don’t need to hear that 😉 ).

And just to complete the picture, here they are with me, many many years later 😉

I was the first girl in – would you believe – THREE generations of boys, so they were chuffed when I came along.  I love this photo.

That’s only part of the story, because a very short while ago I lost my maternal grandfather.  I’m really grateful that at least I knew him while I was an adult, but he lived several thousand miles away in Hong Kong so I didn’t get a chance to see him as much as I would’ve liked.  When I received the bad news, the first thing I did was to get my album of photographs.  It was a way of being nearer.

Here he is, I’m told, on his wedding day with my grandma, both looking positively regal.

Another photo I love more than I have words for.

Photos are SO important.

K x

Personal Post >> London Riots

I hope you don’t mind if I go a little off-topic today (there won’t be a single photo for starters!).  I’m back from holidays and have a really lovely shoot to blog about but there have been such momentous events going on over the past few days it seems wrong to ignore it completely.

With the blanket media coverage,  I don’t need to go into any detail about what’s been going on – the wanton looting, violence and arson that started in London and then spread like a contagion across the country.  Many people – me included – have almost felt like prisoners in their own homes for hours at a time, while senseless rioting and carnage has carried on around them.  The damage caused to people and property is despicable.  The callousness is frightening.

Having said all that, as I woke up today and nervously switched on the news and social media, the mood seemed a little different.  Yes, there were horrible images of the violence that erupted in other cities – most notably Manchester last night – but those clips were interspersed with stories of people coming together, people who’ve said enough is enough and who’ve decided to do something about it.  It’s these stories I want to talk about.

As the rioting escalated on Monday night, the Twitter community rallied and began to organise clean up groups to help tidy up their neighbourhoods that were being so horrendously damaged.  By Tuesday morning, there were hundreds of people on the streets of London, wielding brushes and marigolds.  (In a gloriously English twist, they decided to call themselves the Riot Wombles. Brilliant!)

There was also a call for donations of clothing and household items for families whose houses had been burnt to the ground.  London responded as word spread and clothes, bedsheets, toiletries and other useful items started to flood in.  I can’t confirm, but I’ve heard that there were more than 30 flats above the Allied Carpets building that was completely gutted by fire.  And that’s not counting all the other buildings that were burnt down.  (Just as a side note, if you can donate anything then please take them to Apex House 820 Seven Sisters Road,Tottenham.)

There’s also this lovely story about a couple in Camden who made cups of tea for the police officers protecting their street (some of whom had been on duty for over 30 hours).

Or what about we hear it for the staff of a Nottinghill restaurant, who protected customers from looters who broke in with “rolling pins, fry baskets and other dangerous kitchen tools”?

I even saw one call for a “Carrot Mob” on twitter – the public were asked to buy their fruit & veg from Lewisham market in support of the local traders there whose business had suffered.

And let’s not forget the unsung heroes – people who tried to carry on as normal, who went back to work on Tuesday morning and opened up shops and businesses as much as they could, despite having to commute through areas of potential conflict.  I know my other half was back at work at 8am on Tuesday morning, and he works off Mare Street where worst of the violence happened in Hackney on Monday night.

Tuesday evening brought stories of groups who took to their streets to protect their neighbourhoods against rioters.  In Dalston, Southall, Green Street, Enfield, Eltham – communities took it upon themselves to guard their streets, their families, their businesses, their way of life.   There were heroic scenes in Dalston where members of the Turkish community came face to face with rioters and successfully sent them packing.  More than 700 Sikhs stood guard on the streets of Southall (some of these men were in their 80s!).  I know there are concerns about vigilantism or these groups being hijacked by groups with the aim to cause racial violence but I have as yet to see any evidence of the latter.  All I know is communities have mostly felt appreciation for and reassurance by these groups as a result of the police, in some cases, not doing enough.

Irrespective of how the police as a whole dealt with the crisis, I am absolutely grateful for the individual police officers who put themselves on the front line.  (I have friends who know policemen who were deployed and  received serious head injuries. And for a what? The chance to steal a £2 pair of socks from Primark.  That’s so offensively and inherently wrong.)  It was so nice to hear reports of members of the public going out of their way, thanking and applauding the police.  Yes, I do think the police could have prepared and organised themselves better, but this isn’t necessarily the choice of the individual officer.  If you were frustrated by the lack of police power, imagine how frustrating it is for them, standing under a hail of missiles and not being able to do much about it.

Anyways, I just wanted to get that off my chest.  I know it might not be the end of the riots but the past few days have already shown the worst of society but the best of it too. Whereas people may not have thought there was much sense of community in London (and other big cities) before, I think they’ve been proved wrong.  I’m so proud that London fought back, in it’s own quirky little way sometimes, but fight back we did.

Londoner and proud.