'The Nyanzi Report' is a superb lesson in how light, composition, an acute eye and a meticulous attention to detail yields fabulous results. His photos are as immediately charming as he is - something he demonstrated by showing me around the nearest shops once I finished snapping.
I spent another day behind the camera today – the sound of its shutter is now less than a faint echo as I scroll through the resulting photos. But they will be for another week... For now I am casting the reel of my thoughts back to the summer, when I started my blogger portrait series, the first part of which can be seen here.
The aim was to capture something of the fashion and style bloggers I pointed my Canon 5D at – and I’m assuming that only they could tell you if I succeeded. The likelihood is that I have a lot more work to complete before I could ever produce a portrait that reflects the absolute character of the sitter, but I guess it’s a goal. For now I just wish to celebrate the work of these bloggers I admire.
However, Lucy made a pertinent point when we were strolling through sunny Hyde Park with her cousin and Carrie. She asked me to explain my aims for the project, which I did. She was interested in the notion that my perception of appearance and what constituted a great shot was very different to her own. I could end up choosing to feature a photo she would never consider airing in the light of the internet. I found this fascinating – that it was up to me to pick out whatever characteristics and details I wanted to with my camera.
'Wish Wish Wish' makes me think of a British Bardot - her classic style and looks set off with a side ordering of whimsy. She is as (if not more so) lovely and engaging in 'real life' as she appears on her beautiful blog.
As self-style bloggers, no matter how objective we try to be, we are still depicting some kind of projection of ourselves. You might delete one photo because you can see skin blemishes, or you don’t like the bags under your eyes. Maybe it just doesn’t have the right atmosphere. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t choose to showcase images where I appear tired or miserable. However, this means that the resulting posts will always subjective – a view of ourselves that we are happy to present to others. I guess it is an active manifestation of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – and as a blogger, you must, for a moment or two, be your own beholder. The photos I choose to post of myself on my blog might be accurate reflections of me, or total daydreams of characters I wish to embody.
Cameras, as I have said in the past, have the most magnificent ability to both conceal and uncover. I discovered this when hiding all signs of my scoliosis for several months. Critics sometimes refer to photographers whose lens no-one can escape as an ‘all-seeing eye’ – as though the camera holds within in it the strange power to uncover the true self of the subject (and thus why some people might be wary of having their photo taken). And of course this is true for the most talented photographers. Henri Cartier-Bresson once talked of the way he “craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph” and “preserve life in the act of living” (both quotes taken from the excellent ‘Photographers on Photography’ set of essays edited by Nathan Lyons – from a favourite bookshop in Hay on Wye). I can agree that the appeal of both photography and writing for me is the chance to grasp at something and stick it down, in either a photo or word document. And yet, the moment it is seen by someone else it is open to a completely different set of judgments - our taste being just another way we assert our own individuality.
Jazmine from Jazzabelle's Diary has both an amazing sense of style (we share a penchant for car boot sales and charity shops) and endless legs. These photos were aptly taken at the V&A - one of her favourite places in London - after we had enjoyed a coffee in the incredibly picturesque cafe there.