Beach House Living

“A beach house isn’t just real estate. It’s a state of mind.”

Douglas Adams

I have spent the last three weekends in three different beach houses. In fact, in the last 16 days I’ve only spent two days away from the seaside. It has been glorious. From exuberant weddings to much-needed solo time to hanging out with family, it’s been a restful and restorative series of June weekends. I left London dog tired; I return energised for a huge new work project and excited about a summer of socialising. Yes, I definitely  recommend the calm peace of the beach house state of mind.

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Sinful Sunday

Bathroom Break

On Wednesday @19syllables and I enjoyed a glorious and indulgent lunch with the very lovely @bibulousone. As coffee arrived I nipped to the bathroom. “Oh my God, we’ve got to do a photo in there,” I said as I sat back down. And would Haiku and I *ever* miss an opportunity to get our kit off and be cheeky, even if we are in a very smart Mayfair restaurant…

PS. You may have noticed I’m absent from Twitter at the moment. There’s nothing at all to worry about, all’s well with me and nothing’s changed. But my business needs a bit of TLC, as do some of my interests outside of E40. I’m not very good at staying away from idle distraction so while I focus in on the professional and the political for a couple of weeks I’ve disabled my account. Once the deadlines have been met and I’ve stuffed as many leaflets as possible through letterboxes, I’ll be back. I’m off on holiday in three weeks and there’s a beach 15 minutes from my cottage that’s favoured by naturists so I’ll be back with camera in hand and some new photos before you know it! Until then I’ll keep up with Sinful Sunday using photos I have in the bank. 

Sinful Sunday

Frame, Reframe, Celebrate

“Thank you for this! I love it. And you, and this community, have made that love possible. Five years ago, a photo that showed my rolls and folds would have made me cry. But now, I see how sensual and celebratory a photo like this can be.” Maria Merian

This was Maria’s comment on her portrait yesterday. And it rings true. I know that if anyone had told me a couple of years ago that I would be excited about posting this photo with my big belly on full glorious display I would have laughed out loud. Many of us frequently make reference to how much this community has done to increase our self-confidence and sense of our own beauty but I think it’s worth saying again and again. Molly does many brilliant things (and I’m pretty sure there’ll be more evidence of that in a few days!) but I think Sinful Sunday and February Photofest are the ones where the ripple effect makes such a profound difference to people’s lives. So, again, THANK YOU!

I have loved participating in February Photofest and you can see all my photos here. Aside from giving this month a black and white theme, I wanted it to embody the spirit of Exposing 40, which is an exuberant celebratory collaboration. Sometimes we’re silly, sometimes we’re thoughtful, sometimes we’re intimate, but we’re always having fun!

This month I’ve posted 11 portraits I’ve taken of others, 10 that have been taken of me by others and 7 self portraits. And how much fun it has been! There’s been new photo adventures with friends, I’ve used photos that had previously only been in my personal library and have delved into the archives for Throwback Thursday and smiled at the memories. I’ve photographed and been photographed by a valued partner of many years and a new lover who I only started chatting to on the 1st of the month! Of course, that one’s at the exciting who-knows-where-this-will-go-but-it’s-fun stage, but I love that he’s found his way onto February Photofest. I wonder if my secret dating superpower is being able to find people who want to be photographed naked?!

In total, 15 people have participated in my February Photofest either in front of or behind the camera. Framing, reframing and celebrating. Thank you! Same time same place next year?

Self Portrait with Exhibit A

Febraury Photofest

Self Portrait

“Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world. Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.” Irving Penn

I commented yesterday that I hadn’t yet used a self portrait during February Photofest…

Me by me 

Febraury Photofest

Sweet Like Honey

I am slightly conscious that we’re now more than a third of the way through February and I haven’t yet posted a self-portrait. But I have so many gorgeous photos of other people and lots of myself shot by others that I haven’t yet felt inspired by my self portraits. I said on day one I would try for a roughly equal split of other sitters, me sitting and self portraits, so at this rate there’ll be a flurry of self portraits at the end!

Today, I’m delighted to share the first of two shots there will be of Honey this month. Apart from Exhibit A (who doesn’t really count as he got me into all this!), Honey was the first person I photographed after joining the community. I still remember feeling so honoured and excited when she asked me to photograph her. I’ve photographed many more bloggers since and there’s more to come over the following weeks and it NEVER gets boring. If you ever fancy a daft giggly adventure with me and my camera do ask!

Back to Honey and her gorgeous breasts. Underneath their huge awesomeness is an even bigger heart that holds an endless amount of love and goodwill for so many. Stay brilliant lovely friend – for others and you! Xx

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Febraury Photofest

As I grow older… (reprised)

I posted this image in November last year, linked to a poem that @19syllables had sent me. I was never very happy with the original image; it would have been better if I’d been naked, my camera battery died before I had a shot I was happy with and the edit is a bit boring. Also, why would you take a photo for Haiku in an Ikea mirror when you have your Granny’s beautiful antique hand mirror?

This time round I wanted to draw out the reflective nature of the poem by having a double reflection in my image. I put the light behind me so that one of the reflections was bleached and a bit ghostly. I still want to play around with mirrors a bit more in some future photography, but I am happier with this image.

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Sinful Sunday

Back to Front

“Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.” Jean Cocteau 

I watched a film yesterday where in one scene a five-year-old boy who has been held hostage his whole life stares in wonder as he sees his reflection for the first time. It got me thinking about how many baby toys are mirror-based. Isn’t it sad that for so many of us a time comes when mirrors change from being objects that captivate and entertain to ones that admonish and chastise?

In celebration of mirrors reflecting good things, here’s a self portrait that I love. I took it playing around in a hotel bathroom in Berlin some 18 months ago – before this blog was even born. I like the framing of the photo and how my breast and arse look but one of the things I love most is that it reminds me of a really fun holiday with friends. 

Sinful Sunday

As I grow older…

MirrorAs I grow older, I feel younger
more eager, more full of love.
More alive the closer I move to death.
More whole the closer I move into blight.
The sweeter life grows as fervent
clamours of youth pass.
Passions of old age take deeper
flavour, ripened, more nuanced.
More easily words and affections
flow when the self-conscious gaucherie
of youth has passed.
Wholeness suddenly is mine
ragged edges of fear hemmed.
Mirrors say Look. Do not be afraid.
You are what you are.

With thanks to @19syllables for sending me the poem,  A Matriarch’s Song by Betty Lockwood and sorry it took sooooo long to use it. I so love the sentiment of this! We only have a four at the front of our age so I don’t think we can use ‘old age’ and ‘blight’ just yet, but it does make me wish 40-year-old me could take 20-year-old me out for a chat. I hope I still have the photos from this blog to look at when I am 60!

Sinful Sunday

Reflections

Man RayIt was only a matter of time before I delivered up a homage to Man Ray for a certain friend in NYC, wasn’t it?

I have a mirrored bedside table, which made capturing the reflected lips pretty easy, but I have had quite a play around in post production. The first two are my interpretation of the sepia-toned original and a colour version of it. The second two use reflection but have a different composition.

Which do you prefer?

Yellow (2)  2015-08-16 20.20.57 (4)

2015-08-16 20.10.39 (4)           2015-08-16 20.13.17

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Whitechapel Smile

I have been so excited about taking this photograph! It was really important to me that the first person who I photographed for Exposing 40 was this friend. Call me sentimental.

Yesterday morning. Tea and toast in a sunny kitchen, catching up on gossip. Then: “Darling, we are going to the bathroom to photograph the scar where you came out of Mummy, you can come in if you want.” My God, my friend is the most laidback cool mum. Her son is a dream.

Footsteps pad down the hallway towards us and a face appears, bearing very important news: “Auntie Catherine, this is a Roman warrior.” A few minutes later: “MUMMY, there’s a bee in the kitchen.”

It was funny and perfect and I will hold the memory close.

The Whitechapel Smile is what my friends (her husband is not just her husband, he’s my friend too!) call her caesarean scar, in an affectionate nod to the hospital where their son was born. When we first chatted about photographing her scar she described how she once hated it but now thinks of it as being part of the “rich tapestry of my life.”

We talked about it yesterday. She touched on her issues with the physicality of the scar – the lip it’s created that’s visible through swimwear, the fact that underwear slips down and gets caught uncomfortably in the ridge. But more interesting were her reflections on how motherhood had changed her relationship with her body.

That relationship had always been a close one – it wasn’t disassociated from the rest of life in the way some people separate their physical and intellectual selves: “I really inhabited my body, I was aware of it.” Childbirth changed all of that. Nearly four years on she says it’s only really in the last six months that she feels really in touch with her body again, that it is once again becoming an expression of herself and her sexuality.

“What’s happened in the last six months?”

“From 30, when I looked in the mirror my feelings about what I saw were all about not looking as good as I once had. I felt like I was fading.”

She was driving as we chatted and glanced away from the road to me.

“We are aging really well you know. We both look bloody good for 40.”

Eyes back to the road.

“Now, when I look in mirror I don’t see what’s gone I think ‘bloody hell you look good for your age.’ Forty feels like a turning point.”

Thank you for yesterday, my glorious friend.

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