Two Beautiful.

A rough count of the people who have been good enough to be photographed for this project so far revealed a degree of sexual discrimination.  Not through any policy on my part of course, but nevertheless there have been more men than women featured.

Strange really, since you would think I would favour shooting beauty rather than the beast, yet I seem to find more of the latter.  Having reflected on the reasons for this I’ve concluded that it is a consequence of attitudes to being photographed.

Unless I have a particular topic in mind for the day I never go out looking to capture images of one sex over another, and I will generally approach anyone who I think will make a good picture.  The fact that more women than men have declined my offer may well play a part, but how much of that has conditioned me to expect a masculine “yes” and a feminine “no”?  If that is the case perhaps I’m giving off some air of negativity to women that exacerbates the situation.

This week though I have been fortunate in photographing some beautiful women who can help to redress the balance, and even then there has been a spectrum of responses.  Men who I approach tend to say “go for it” or words to the equivalent and stand upright ready for the shot.  When I photographed Jo on Monday, surprised as she was that I had asked to photograph her at a bus stop, she was prepared to move and pose to suit me.  By contrast when I shot Sita on Wednesday, although she knew me well and was keen to pose as requested, her nervousness made her a far less compliant subject.

Today I experienced two different attitudes.  Hayley is a photographer’s dream.  She’s slim, attractive, wanted to be photographed and was comfortable enough in front of the camera to take direction easily.  How could I fail to capture her beauty?  (Actually with more time, and the option to try some different locations to counter the bright sunlight I might have got more, but that’s not really how this project works).

I met Hayley at the school where Gill my wife works as she was there for some practical experience and I was running a short session on photography for some of the pupils.  I don’t know her well, but I can’t wait to photograph her wedding next year based on working with her today.  She’ll be stunning and a dream client.

I was a little early arriving at the school so waited a few minutes in the school office where I photographed one of the school administrators as she was answering the phone.  She was too busy to pose, but had no fear of the camera.  Unlike Hayley her attitude was one of tolerance rather than enthusiasm.  Still got a nice picture of the old “Trouble & Strife” though.  Guess which is which?  😉

Summer nights


If there should be no blog tomorrow alert the police for I shall be lying in a shallow grave having met a grisly end whilst asleep.

Let me explain.  A schoolboy error when saving some training materials I’d written meant I lost a chunk of work today, leaving me little time to go out shooting.  No need to worry though, my wife was going out with old friends and once I’d done the obligatory taxi drive I’d have no problem finding someone to shoot.

Remarkably she was ready early, and less remarkably she looked beautiful, so as I had my camera to hand I just had to stop her in the one band of light breaching our hallway while I rattled of a few hundred megabytes.  Job done you might think, but this is one area where I walk a dangerous line.  The good lady is very particular about what she likes in a picture, and where I see beauty, she sometimes does not.  Consequently I was under orders to do nothing with the pictures until I had her approval!

So off we go across town, and on my return I stop and wander the area around Sunderland Minster.  It is only a few weeks since the solstice yet already the sky has a warm glow at 7.30 as we enter the golden hour before sunset. 

Lots of buildings bask in its amber hue, but there isn’t anyone about I want to photograph.

A group of nondescript Chinese students, one with washed out purple dye in his hair?  No.  The Neanderthals sitting outside a pub and making animal noises as a police van passes.  Maybe not.  A woman out running  – you’ll never catch her.  There are few people about – the workers have all gone home and the party people won’t hit town for several hours yet.

And then a young woman passes before me in denim mini and grey t-shirt that virtually guarantee her anonymity, until I catch a flash of light in her eyes and I stop her for a picture.  I’m blessed by a perfect smile to go with the shining eyes and we have a result.  Thanks Jess – you saved the day…

…but maybe not my bacon.  You see I just couldn’t resist…  She might not look dangerous…



Truly Gifted

Thelonious Sphere Monk
T S Monk (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

If you’re not familiar with jazz you may well not have heard of Thelonius Monk, a pianist whose style is unique; tonally and rhythmically his work is highly original.  Within the jazz community he is held in great respect for compositions such as Round Midnight, Epistrophy and Straight, No Chaser, in fact though he composed only a tiny fraction of Duke Ellington‘s output he is, after Ellington, the second most recorded jazz composer.

Thelonious Monk – Straight No Chaser

It is thought that he suffered some form of mental illness, possibly bi-polarity, which may have played a part in his originality, although being born in 1917 there was never an accurate diagnosis.  He certainly received psychiatric treatment and there are some who believe that the drugs prescribed were actually responsible for his mental state.

Pannonica de Koenigswarter
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I heard an interview with film maker Hannah Rothschild (yes those Rothschilds) talking about her great-aunt Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild who, I was surprised to learn, heard a recording of Round Midnight in the 1950’s and decided on a whim to turn her back on European high society for a life amongst the black jazz musicians of Harlem.  Living out of a Manhattan hotel, she and her Bentley became part of the jazz scene, providing transport, and financial support to many including Monk and Charlie Parker.  She famously tried to take responsibility for a drugs charge being levelled at Monk for possession of marijuana.

She became such a close friend of Monk and his wife, that he retired to her home when he gave up performing and died there in the early 80’s.

Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon Manor (Photo credit: etmeyer)

I don’t know what makes a woman raised in the privileged atmosphere of Waddesdon Manor decide to rebel, but she was clearly an inspiration to her great-niece Hannah, which started me thinking about aunts and uncles.

When I was a child many of my parent’s siblings seemed a lot more fun than my mother and father.  As an adult I can understand why; my wife cheekily encourages our nieces and nephews to bend the rules in ways which she would rarely do with our daughters, driven seemingly by a wish to wind up the parents and a knowledge that she won’t have to deal with the consequences!  Similarly our children have often been encouraged to be a little wilder by those who should know better!

I can’t say that she doesn’t hanker after Manhattan, though if she does it’s more likely to be the shops of 5th Avenue than the streets of Harlem.

Appropriate then, that today’s portrait should be of someone who is an aunt.  This is Gill who is the proprietrix of a cornucopia called Truly Gifted; perfect for a blog referring to Thelonious.