I talk a lot about feedback in my job, and how we frequently dismiss the feedback we receive as we experience denial and then emotions such as anger or embarrassment.  Then all the words pour out as we make excuses.  We don’t want to accept our imperfections or listen to others describe our strengths.  Far better that we should be calm and reflect.

My best friend described me as an angel some time ago for my ability to bring a sense of calm into her life at times of crisis.  I laughed it off; far too aware of my sins and failings to even consider it.  Someone else that I met on a date, whose accomplishments overawed me described me as “too good for her”.  Our own view is often so different to the way the world perceives us.  The world sees the mask that we present to it; behind that facade we see the cracks, or as that friend put it; “Our personal and professional personas can be very different”.

I’ve done so much writing this week that I was struggling for words to post here this weekend (which might surprise some!) so I’m going to listen to that friends feedback and join her in calm serenity.

This picture that I took yesterday fits that mood.  The Angel of the North is a photographic icon that challenges photographers to find a new angle.  Yet for me it’s not about the Angel.  The Angel remains constant.  His partner the sky provides the beauty.

Spend all your time waiting
for that second chance
for a break that would make it okay
there’s always some reason
to feel not good enough
and it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
oh beautiful release
memories seep from my veins
let me be empty
and weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

in the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you’re in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

Sarah McLachlan – Angel


Click the image to enlarge – it’s worth it!

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This has been one of those languid days; overcast skies have no wind to break the clouds which become an amorphous pale grey blanket.  That same stillness leaves the sea unperturbed with not a wave to give texture.  It warm enough for a slight haze to soften the line between the two elements creating a picture that only a minimalist could love.

I feel the same about the people today.  Few inspire, and those who do I reject as too like others that I have photographed before.  Cliché is not on my agenda today.

This is dangerous territory, for by spurning the familiar, I could leave myself with nothing at all to photograph.  I’m reminded of this as I cross Roker Ravine and look out to sea.  The lighthouse and pier must have been photographed hundreds of times, (by me alone I think!) yet today I spotted a new take on the scene, and one so ephemeral that it must be captured there and then for tomorrow it will be different again.

Yet as I cycle on into town I find it filled with dozens of examples of the same thing, grey haired pensioners slowly picking their way across the flow of people to reach their objectives, tattooed single mothers lighting their next cigarette, young girls wearing more make up than some of the models I have shot under studio lighting.  It all feels so “samey”.

And then I spot Rachel in conversation with her mother, and when she smiles I know I’ve found the grail I seek.  Her alternative look breaks the monotony perfectly, which is ironic since a monotone image suits her really well.  Shame it only tells half the story, yet full colour seems too much.  For me that answer lies somewhere in between.