Tuesday, 10 November 2009


This is a scan of a little scrappy thing I made a few weeks ago. I put it in a gilt frame and have it just behind my bed. The scan doesn't really do the colours justice; the ribbon is actually this putrid fluorescent orange and the paper with 'loue;;' transferred on is this really vivid pink; but I like it because it's a big old mess, just how love can be I suppose.

My sister came and jumped on my bed with me yesterday and she saw it and tried to read it. She couldn't get her head around why I had misspelled it, when I'm such a spelling Nazi most of the time. I told her about how when the printing press first came about 'f' was sometimes substituted for 's', so the 'u' was a pretend 'v'. Plus, love doesn't really care if you spell things wrong, or if half of your 'o' transfer doesn't stick properly, or if you need a few plasters on your corners...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


So, this isn't actually anything to do with anything crafty or my photography. It's to do with sheer excitement, and, I will happily admit, pure loserdom. I have a reputation for being a bit of a magpie. The truth is, if it's shiny or sparkly, I totally want it. I try, really hard, not to like things that everyone else thinks are tacky, but you know what? I come from a long line of women who get dazzled by sparklies.

My Nana Rose recently gave me two false nails which she used to wear in the early eighties, sort of like an heirloom, now, surely you think, um, sick, why keep falsies? Because they're made out of GOLD BABY, ACTUAL GOLD. Yes. And I love them, as tacky and weird as they are. They go on your little fingernails. When I wear them, I feel like like an extra in Dynasty and I love it. She once gave me this amazing waist belt with faux gold jaguars on the clasp, with RUBIES for eyes (also faux, but goddamn!). She also has loads of those sparkly brooches in the shapes of animals. At this point I need to be very clear. Nana Rose does not have one of those terrible clown necklaces gracing the necks of chavs everywhere (which, incidentally are horrifically expensive) Nana has style. And panache. And my Mother, dearest Rosebud, she also loves the sequins. She has a mermaidesque ball gown covered in sequins (which I borrowed for a first year uni ball and lost half the sequins riding the mechanical bull...shh, don't tell her), and about a million sequined shoes and tops and those cardigans with the sparkly thread that are a bit scratchy to wear but totally worth it when you stand near a light source. I also own about a dozen sequined tops with massive shoulder pads because I LIKE to look like a Christmas bauble from 1987. One of my best friends Holly had to stay my hand with very firm words at the weekend, because French Connection had a sale on, and they were selling that dress and I wanted it.

I coveted it. I needed it. But Holly said no, and she is generally right, plus it was £250. But not always thank the lord. Anyway, to get to the point, if it's sparkly and gold, I want it. And, whilst casually browsing Wilkinsons yesterday for tracing paper (why doesn't anybody sell tracing paper these days? So annoying. I did find some in Hobbycraft eventually but it cost £4.95! Ouch!), I found myself amongst the stationery (another slightly sad obsession of mine. Swap you a Sharpie for just about anything) and I happened to gaze up on the top shelf and my wandering eyes came upon the holy grail....

BLINGPHONES. Gold earphones with diamantes in them. They took my breath away. Who even imagined that for a mere £9.95, you too could PIMP your ipod? Who knew that you could happen upon such complete tack on the way to find tracing paper? The universe works in mysterious ways. It brought me to them. It was the universal law of attraction. Naturally, I had to buy them. I haven't told Holly yet. I don't think she'll approve. I showed them to some men in the pub last night and their eyes bulged with sheer incredulity. There were mutters of 'women' and gasps of disapproval. But then they were distracted by how much stuff I could fit in my handbag...classic deflection move. Works every time!

Monday, 6 July 2009


I have a bit of a preoccupation with lights. I know it sounds weird, and well, it probably is, but light fittings can make surprising and interesting pictures. I think every now and again, it's important to choose a subject that is relatively mundane and try and make it beautiful. I thought I'd share a couple of my attempts with you!

Forty Sixty Photo

This is a quickie (innuendo bingo!) to talk about this cooool website which sells the ultimate in sexy tees for Photographers. Check out forty sixty photo for seriously awesome t-shirts with tongue in cheek photographic quips a la below. J'adore! Not bad for $18....

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Drag Kings of Derby

Phew, I'm tired. I got back from the anglo-half of last week's Hindu wedding at 2.30am last night. It wasn't so much that the wedding went on for a long time, but travelling back from Preston was an absolute mission. Fortunately, I wasn't driving, so I had a little nap on the way back. Think I might have drooled. Not hot. Anyway, moving swiftly on. Last weekend was Derby Goes pink, so naturally the Drag Kings were out in full force. Here are a couple of pictures of us enjoying what ended up being a large number of beverages. Monday was not a fun day for me. After Alice and Emma stood up to talk about the Drag King Project, we went to Curzons to watch some Drag Queens perform (with a slight detour over the road from The Duke to this interesting digger, which everyone except myself decided to climb. Not because I'm judgy and sensible, more because I'm so clumsy that not falling over is a genuine challenge sober, never mind climbing something not intended to be climbed, after strangely coloured shots.) There was also a male stripper, who got rather creative with baby oil, shaving cream and a Union Jack. I'm not entirely sure that dear old Elizabeth would have entirely approved.

She was really saucy.

Not a lot of shaving foam in evidence there to conceal his modesty.

Check out the back muscles! This chap was B.U.F.F. His name's Angel and I got his email afterwards to send him the pictures. If you want, I can totally hook you up. He was very approachable. And to be fair to him, it was a really well thought out routine. He got the ladies involved too. Probably because the men were going INSANE for him and he couldn't have used the 'embarrassed audience pariticpation' skit effectively.

Whoops, somebody lost a wig!

Emma and Robyn getting up to mischief half way up a JCB.

This Drag Queen was my fave. She cleaned up all the shaving foam and oil with a towel after the stripper left the stage and was fussing and tutting and saying 'Oooh I don't know. These bloody men, can't clean up after themselves. I should know, I used to be a prostitute! They're all messy buggars.'

These two are of Gael, aka Ryan Troy getting her 'tache on. Moustaches are applied by the dab handed Alice.


Have you ever heard of cyanotypes? I hadn't until Karen, Tutor-To-Be, started talking to me about it in the pub on Thursday. It's one of the earliest forms of photography; the first female Photographer and Botanist, Anna Atkins, used it to make the painstaking process of detailing plant features easier!

It sounds REALLY exciting and fun. Basically, you slosh this chemical over fabric or paper, then wait for it to dry, then simply lay things on top of it and put it out in the sun for twenty minutes and there you have a cyanotype. Or Blueprint. I really want to have a go and as it's summertime it's probably the best time to have a little experiment. I've been looking about on the web at other people who have had a play with it and there are some amazing images of blankets which have images of people and bikes and things like that! You're looking at about thirty pounds for the kit, so I think I'm going to save up and have a little go! Pictures to follow...

Thursday, 2 July 2009

darkroom delerium

Well after an absolute mission trying to type up my written submission in time for yesterday evening to go with my six final images (which by the way YES! I totally completed on Tuesday. Booyah.), the first year of the Pro-cert is over! Yes, it involved me waking up at 4.20 and writing my fingers into future carpal tunnel syndrome, but it all got completed in time (for once! The whole reason I ended up with a 2:2 at my first degree in Sheffield was not through lack of brains, it was entirely through the deduction of marks for lateness. I can prove it. One essay I had FIFTEEN marks removed. I have issues with deadlines).

Our final impromptu workshop last night was a mounting class (tee-hee!), then we all went for a drinkie in The Orange Tree on Shakespeare Street, which is really cool but ridiculously overpriced for a student watering hole. And DON'T give me all that crap about buying into a student card, if you were cheap, you'd be cheap. But it is nice. But buying a round meant remortgatging my camera collection. Anyway, it felt great to go and chat with my fellow students, or 'comrades' as our Student Rep Chris affectionately refers to us as. We met our Tutor-To-Be for the new year, Karen, who will be teaching us about the fine art digital print. Exciting, seeing as most of my work is done in digital. Though my new found love for darkrooms will live on. Then everyone got a bit sozzled and ended up in a somewhat heated debate about the purism of wildlife photography (Iain from the course is a wonderful wildlife photographer. You should see what he can do in six hours with a puffin) and whether or not it's cheating if you lure the animal with food to get the dream shot. Iain thinks it is, and he will not compromise on how he gets his images; he really takes time to get to know an animal and its habits in its natural environment before he takes a shot. It proved for a very interesting discussion! I personally said I didn't bother me if he fed the animal or not, but he feels that part of the main selling point for his images is the story behind them. Amazingly purist!

Aside from that, Nick, who takes architechtural pictures and is influenced by fine artists like Kandinsky (honestly, I've never seen a rooftop look so graceful), and I were remembering how, in the delerium of the darkroom on Tuesday, we'd been playing my favourite game, innuendo bingo (it's fun to play by yourself, and with friends...innuendo bingo!). It's unbelievably easy in the darkroom (innuendo bingo!). By the end of Tuesday I was fully insane and everything was hilarious. 8 hours in redlight will do that for you. If you've never played innuendo bingo before, you're in for a treat. It's basically when you say something quite innocently but it can be interpreted as a sexual innuendo. Or it just sounds a bit naughty. Then the game is to be the first person to shout INNUENDO BINGO! as loud as you can. I always win. I rule at this game. I will add though, by way of a disclaimer, that if you say ANYTHING in the right tone, it sounds dodgy.
  • Can you turn me over, please?
  • Can you put me in the wash?
  • Wash me.
  • Hmm, creamy texture. (Fibrebased, matt finish paper)
  • Shall I use the tongs?
  • It's too small! Make it bigger!
  • There's not a lot going on in the trouser area, it needs dodging
  • Do it with your hand
  • Ohh, it's a bit soft.
  • Put it in for me.
  • Put me in too.
It's even funnier in the pitch black, when you're actually processing your film. It's so fiddly (innuendo bingo!) and you have to do it all in the dark (innuendo bingo!). If you've never processed your own film before, you have to take your film out of your camera, cut open the cannister with an old fashioned tin opener, using scissors you have to cut off the end (er, does that count? Maybe as an S&M innuendo bingo!), then feed it into the film reel and wind it on, then put it in the black processing tub, then you can switch the light back on and insert your chemicals. Then you have to swish it about every thirty seconds for about ten years. It's really methodical and I didn't like it very much at all. But my first time was in the pitch black room with Iain and Sam (now that is probably the easiest innuendo bingo of the post) and it was hilarious because it was so difficult and Sam has the most ridiculous sense of humour I've ever encountered.
  • Is it in yet?
  • I can't do it on my own, just help me!
  • Can you feel it?
  • That's the end
  • Cut it off
  • Just be gentle with it, it'll come.
  • What's that?
  • Give it to me....etc.,
Ahh the sweet joy of immaturity. I simply never grow weary of it. And it's so easy! I mean the module title was 'Exploiting the Darkroom'! Hilarity ensued.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009


I'm fortunate enough to be able to work with other photographers on weddings. It's perfect because I get the opportunity to increase my experience, I get more work and the primary photographer can focus on the 'money shots', which I in turn, learn how to create!

These are the websites of the two people I work with:

Will Fenning of Fenning-Brown Photography and Jagdish Patel's company, frontline images.

People can be snobby about wedding photography, but I love it. It's so very interesting. You see a little constructed microcosm of people's lives. At the start, everybody is trying to restrain themselves and behave properly, but come the end of the evening, all the pretension is over. At English weddings people are generally drunk and more relaxed. At the start of the day, I find a lot of people HATE having their picture taken, then towards the end of the night they love it and strike ridiculous poses.

This weekend just gone I assisted on my first Hindu wedding. It was amazing, so vibrant and exciting, all the customs were totaly alien to me, which made for a very interesting (and sometimes challenging) few days. I took this picture of Priti getting ready in her hotel room. I'm a bit cross with myself because it's a little bit soft, and I prefer really crisp, sharp pictures, but I think I can probably get away with it being stylised. Some people like that. It's too romantic for my taste though.
Isn't she beautiful though? I know all brides look beautiful, but honestly, she looked awesome! Breathtaking. I have no idea how she moved. If that was me, I'd have smudged my mascara, I'd have pulled off my falsies in about a second, I'd have accidentally messed my hair up, lost an earring, forgotten to apply lipstick, and probably caught the delicate fabric on everything even mildly sharp and snagged it. I'd probably also fall over in front of everyone. She was so graceful. all day. And it was a LONG day, believe me. In my research for the Drag Kings project, I've been reading a lot of feminist literature about the pressures to conform to femininity, the idea of artifice and constructed beauty being the height of traditional, patriarchal femininity. This took hours of hard work. Amazing.

Monday, 29 June 2009

the fun you can have with a scanner...

So for my last module, Studio Photography, we had to take a self portrait at the beginning using a single light source. Using a scanner is not by any means the most original idea in the world, but it fitted the criteria and managed to twist it just a little. I simply could not bring myself to take a cliche self portrait sat next to a candle or a window or a lamp. The thought made me feel a bit sick. So instead, my little sister and I played with the scanner all night, scanning our faces all squished up and adding in little bits which gave away a whisper of information about ourselves.

The magnetic poetry made perfect sense for me, because I love mixing words and pictures, as well as being interested in visual expression I'm also pretty obsessed with words and communication. It's a set of rude magnetic poetry, which my lovely housemates bought me at University. Thank you Clare, Stu, Sam, Paul, Dave and Helen! It's hilarious. It has the most ridiculous words and you can entertain yourself for hours with it. Simple things...

I also love anything piratey and sparklies too, hence the sequins. Magpie. And the dried flowers were a treasured bunch from a much-loved ex.

I love my sister. We play all the time. Look how cute she is....

darkrooms and the depths of despair...

Tommorow is my final day of darkroom printing for my black and white photography module at NTU. It's an important day. Last Tuesday I arrived at 10am and left at 8.30pm (with a somewhat over-extended break for lunch with my interesting friend Adamski). Even with the break, you still go a little bit bonkers when you're confined to a small space with dim red light and the constant sound of running water for many, many hours, especially when you know up top it's super sunny (a rarity in England!) and everyone is eating ice cream and drinking beer in the park. Having said that, I still only managed to get three decent prints out of last Tuesday and I need six for my final submission, so think of me tomorrow, squirrelled away in the bowels of the Bonnington building, singing made up songs and generally reminding the rest of my class the reasons behind why they all think I'm a little bit strange.

It is immensley fun though, playing in the darkroom. There's something incredibly satisfying about setting up your englarger, organising your negatives, making your test strips, sloshing them about in developer, then stop, then fixer. Then washing and drying, squinting at your print in the fluorescent lights outside the darkroom like a mole. At the end of the process, you feel so very attached to the little prints, that you cherish each one like a child. I love every imperfection, the curled up edges once it's dry, an accidental slice of black border creeping in the shot, a squiggly white line of dust from the neg. You end up giving a deep sigh and thinking, ah well, here we go again then. I'm very new to it all. We've been darkroom developing for 11 weeks. In the cheesy yet immortal words of Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, it's a whole new world.

The course is new too; we are the Professional Certificate in Photography guinea pigs. Because it's a part time night class, there's a wide variation in fellow students. At 25, I'm the youngest and one of only two girls. I would honestly say I'm the least experienced too. I had virtually no understanding of film photography, I cut my teeth on digital, with a Canon EOS 400D, which was given to me as a Christmas present in 2006. Now I have a 10D, which I use for weddings and things. I love my 10D. I love my newest purchase even more, the Canon Speedlite 580ex. It's a sexy, sexy flash. I find the best results for people shots is to strap on an Omnibounce, twist it up but facing backwards one notch, and whack the camera on Auto. Honestly, it sounds like cheating, but you get amazing results.

But anyway, we're getting very off-topic. The pictures I'm developing were taken with a Mamiya RZ-67. I don't need to say anything else other than that. The camera is quite simply, exquisite. I can only apologise for the inexperience of the photographer. I'm a little unhappy with how the shadows worked out. I set up two spotlights pointing in the centre of the studio wall, to try and create a circular backdrop behind the models, then used an overhead softbox to light the foreground. But it's created distracting double shadows, which I've had to dodge out when printing. I decided to print on Ilford Multigrade IV Fibre Based Matt, which I think lends the pictures a depth and softness which almost makes them look like 1920's Hollywood stars. That sounds hugely pretentious. But it does! In comparison to resin coated papers, it's a world apart. I tried a couple of shots with Lomo fibre based matt paper, but you just couldn't retain the sharpness in the detail. I suppose that's why Ilford are so popular...they're amazing! The models are a group of girls I know; I went to school with Alice, the Sailor, and now I'm friends with all the others too! We're collaborating on a really interesting project in Derby, which will hopefully extend further afield in time, looking at gender and the reactions people have to androgyny or mixed gender signifiers; we're exploring the idea of female masculinity. The models are primarily lesbians who dress in drag, not half heartedly either. They glue on beards and go out in public, and I follow them and take pictures. If you're interested, click here. Or just keep coming back, because despite the fact that my module's almost finished, my interest and work with the Drag Kings of Derby is ongoing...

p.s. I apologise for the quality of the scans. I haven't quite got the hold of it yet. For some reason the up close one has come out on an angle and the full body picture is blurred around the face and hand...