Norway part 1: Arctic Winds, Rainbows and Midnight Sun

I’m really excited to be able to show these so quickly after my trip to Norway. It is so appreciated when photographers send things to me so soon after a shoot! Hakon Gronning had invited me to Norway for 4 days to shoot with him and, on some days, a small group of other photography enthusiasts. I’ll say straightaway that this is hands down the coldest I’ve ever been on a shoot. It was almost debilitatingly cold, and I became absolutely best friends with a blanket between shots, though even with several layers of knitwear, a huge padded coat and this thick wool blanket, I still felt very cold, so there was definitely quite a lot of insanity required to do this. The main reason for the cold was the fact that the arctic winds were blowing directly at us!!!! Not very comfortable…. Luckily, the photographers were all completely understanding of the need to shoot (and for me to pose) efficiently, with absolutely minimal time ‘unwrapped’ in the wind. They were also very appreciative of my efforts, which goes such a long way! All of them were very creative and lovely to work with, warming me up with lots of tea afterwards!

Considering these conditions, and the very short time frames (maybe 1-2 minutes per go), I think we did quite well. I’d brought one of my pairs of dance wings in my suitcase and the light just washed through so delicately, like they were insect’s wings! It kept raining (and there was a brief rainbow behind us!), but the ‘midnight sun’ (these were shot around the summer solstice!) was just incredible. Such a magical place and yet another opportunity I can look back on with pride and excitement that I did it!

I hope you like these as much as I do. There will be many more from this trip from different locations and from different photographers – I’m just being impatient and showing these straightaway! 🙂

… And behind the scenes from earlier that day: me with my best friend:

Into the Deep

I absolutely loved working with Clayton Bastiani on the Isle of Wight earlier this year. He is just so incredibly creative and it’s really no wonder that his images have been published on hundreds of novel covers all over the world.

I was thrilled to be booked with the aim of producing a few more for his novel-cover stock (though we also did some different things as well). As someone who is rather fond of books and stories myself, I find it very exciting to be able to find myself on the front of another person’s story, representing some aspect of an imagined world – it’s a similarly wonderful feeling to know that a complete stranger has a portrait of you hanging in their house (or indeed, perhaps a bronze sculpture!) – really quite bizarre and odd (I always wonder what kind of person they are, and what it would be like to meet them and also how odd for them it might be to meet me). It will be interesting to see what stories out there will be matched up to my image, and why… Anyway, I’d better not get too ahead of myself, but I’ll update on here with any news down the line… 🙂

I’m allowed to show four individual images here on my blog, followed by a composite grid of some of the other images. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: all images are strictly owned by Clayton Bastiani and may not be used/reproduced in any way without permission.

I should mention that Clayton wrote a ten-part series on photo creation and photo manipulation for Black & White Photography Magazine, the May edition of which featured the first mermaid image below. In the article Clayton explains all about how it was made, and you may be surprised to hear that I didn’t actually grow a tail especially for the purpose of the shoot (I suppose I’m just not that dedicated.. ;-))

Here’s a snippet of Clayton’s own words (from his facebook page), from when the magazine came out:

One of the driving forces behind many of my pictures is improvisation, finding ways to create images on a tight budget with minimum resources. This month I wanted to make a picture of a mermaid swimming in the murky depths of the sea.At the beginning of a recent shoot with Ella Rose I asked her to stand in the bay window and pretend to be swimming underwater. After the shoot I popped to the shops and bought a small fish tank and an assortment of plastic plants. Through trial and error and a little bit of torch light I spent a couple of days (in my usual to-ing and fro-ing manner) and created the following piece.


The Deep:



It’s always so kind of photographers to send prints to me after a shoot and I was really excited to receive an actual ‘moving image’ of this one; when you walk past it looks like I’m swimming in the reeds! Very magical! 🙂
Mermaid on Rocks:

Moon Dance:
Sword and Fire
And here’s a grid of a few more from the day:
A lot of the images above were created in the most unlikely set ups: a lot of hocus pocus went into them and so the results were such a fun surprise for me (even knowing what the intended outcomes were, via some pencil sketches!). 
You can look through more of Clayton’s work and purchase some prints of his fantasy and storytelling work from Stephen Bartels Gallery here.

Right, time for me to finish packing for France tomorrow!

2012: a Retrospective

My New Years Resolutions are going to be quite pared down this time around. I’m actually not keen to change a huge amount. I’m feeling happier than I’ve felt in a while and am gratefully aware of it. This last year has been hard in certain ways, but I’ve got through it by frequently reminding myself how much I have to be grateful for, how independent and capable I have become, and also relying on my (full of questions, full of curiosity) spirituality. I am extremely lucky in so many ways and thankful for it! On top of that, I feel like I’ve finally found my ‘tribe’ in terms of dance classes, which are very important to me (missing them terribly over the Christmas break, but I would like to officially announce that I at least went on my exercise bike ON CHRISTMAS DAY, in between fistfuls of ferero roches), have made lots of new friends in the last few months by putting myself out there and meeting up with people based on shared interests, and am feeling more confident that I will be free to finally focus on what I want to focus on, now that upset and confusion are out of the door. I also have a lot of very exciting possibilities to look forward to!

Anyway, enough of all that. I’m shamelessly copying something Ivory Flame did last year, and showcasing some of my personal favourites from my 2012 year of blogging. What an amazing year it’s been!!!

From Happy New Year, by Ron Skei, Vancouver:

From Rich Caramel Chocolate, by Cam Attree, Mexico:

From Mosquito nets, Metaphysics and Mississippi Mud Pie, by Mel Brackstone, Mexico:

From Pottery, Petals and Peach Sunset, by Cam Attree, Mexico:
From Luxury Strikes Again, by Keith Cooper, Cheltenham Film Studio
From Natural Women, by Stephen Billups, Mexico:

From Bug Off*, by Cam Attree, Mexico:

From Dance in the Studio, by TarMoo, Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Trips and Leaves, by Robert Farnham, Mexico:

From A celebration, some wedding princessing and some Lions (and a monkey), by Mike Croshaw, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From The Edge of the World, by Billy Sheahan, Mexico:

From Costume Changes, by Mike Croshaw, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From Spring Flower Portraits, by Richard Tuckett:

From Technicoloured Earth, by Billy Sheahan, Mexico:

From Silk in the Dark, by Barry Barker:

From Let’s Dance, by Jeremie Nassif, Paris:

From Mean, Moody and Magnificent Muse in Montmartre at Midnight (post macaroon), by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From Strength in the Dark, by Eric Kellerman, Nijmegen, Holland:

From Swathes of Lavender, by Imagesse, Gloucestershire:

From Paris by Day ~ Travelogue, by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From Portraits, Box, Stripes and Lightning, by Eric Kellerman, Nijmegen, Holland:

From Postcards – an Exhibition, by Robbie Wraith, Oxfordshire:

From On the Plank, by Vanijzen, Amsterdam:

From Fairy Paintings, by Philip Malpass:

From Lioness Lightplay, by Neil Snape, Paris:

From Trees and Bicycles, by Jules Photography:

From Riverdance, by Britalicus, Edinburgh:

From Extreme Eiffel Tower Exploits, Etc, by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From White on Black, by Klaus Kampert, Dusseldorf:

From TWO ~ Ella Rose and Ivory Flame, by Karen Jones, Eye for an Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Yerbury Fine Art Nude Masterclass, by Max Operandi:

From Pebbles, by Jeremy Howitt, Brighton beach:

From Public Service Announcement ~ A Book! 😉 (And I’m hoping to start putting together a massive book for myself in 2013, covering various styles) Cover image by Keith Cooper, digitally magicalised by Moonmomma:

From Bedroom Glamour, by Tony Ornstien, Oxfordshire:

From Clouds and Poppies, by Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

From Colouroids, by Steven Billups, Black Forest, Germany:

From Lions, Points and Window Light, by Nige W. Hallam Mill, Stockport:

From Gypsy Dance, by Frank (Pangolin). Gregory Brown’s LoftHouse Studio, London:

From Red Jellyfish and Black Tutus, by Richard Spurdens. Hallam Mill Studio, Stockport:

From Painting with Chaos, by Terry Joslin, featuring Ivory Flame. Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Sunset, Candle, Tree, by Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

From When We Had Summer, by Max Operandi:

From Hands and Roots, by Steven Billups. Black Forest, Germany:

From Peaches and Cream, by Richard Lund, Buckinghamshire:

From Purple Haze, by Keith Cooper, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From Mr Cupid, by Karen Jones, Buckinghamshire:

From Enchanted Forest, by Calandra Images. Fife, Scotland:

From Solarised, by Zoe Wiseman. Palm Springs, CA:

From Beetroot and Rocks, by Bob Freund. Joshua Tree National Park:

From Cracked Earth, Sleek Fashion and Tumbleweed, by Jeremy Howitt. Lucerne Valley:

From Ourania Ascending Mount Wilson, by Jeff Wack, featuring Anoush Anou. LA:

From A-flitting and a-fluttering, by Brian Martin. Fife, Scotland:

From Mirrors, by Neil Snape. Paris:

From Otters, Rocks and Water Lillies, by Imagesse. Pembrokeshire, Wales:

From Running in Heels, by Tony Ornstien, Oxfordshire:

From Underwater Fires, by Zoe Wiseman, featuring Meghan Claire. California:

From Grapes and Ferrets, by Vincent Rijs, Amsterdam:

From Thinkin’ About Your Body, by OnePixArt, LA:

From Guide us to Thy Perfect Light, by Karen Jones. Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

Back to the New Years Resolutions thing, I’ve realised that, for me, black and white decision-making is liberating, though it’s definitely not something that comes easily to me. With that in mind, one new thing is that I’ve decided I will probably no longer drink any alcohol – not because I think drinking is bad (it’s not!), or because I don’t like the taste (I do; wine and cocktails especially!), or because I have a problem with alcohol (I hardly drink as it is!), but because I’ve finally acknowledged the fact that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve shown signs of alcohol intolerance. I looked it up on Christmas Eve when one drop of sherry made my face red, and apparently most of my Mum’s side of the family were tee-total for reasons unknown (hhhmm….); and I’ve since learnt that alcohol intolerance can be hereditary. Ha! Thinking back, as a teenager, there are a few things that stand out: I only started wearing make up on my face to pre-emptively cover up the extreme ‘flushing’ I’d get over my face and chest after just a couple of sips of wine, and I remember sitting with my friends and wondering whether I was wearing the wrong size underwear because my chest felt painful and tight after a few drinks. I also know that the ‘depressant’ aspect of alcohol, especially after drinking wine, is a real thing for me, where a party high is followed by feeling really down the next day. So I’ve decided not to bother drinking alcohol at all. That’s not really a ‘resolution’, though, as it’s not something I feel compelled to do for moral or health or other reasons of self-improvement (and I won’t be strict about it); it’s just a new, official validation of what I’d suspected all along. So bring on the lime soda and cranberry apples! Or something. I can still dance and have fun; I just won’t feel like my cheeks are on fire, and can drive home at the end of it. 🙂

On the other hand, I’ve also learnt that black-and-white goal-making is not so helpful for a person who is already extremely ambitious and has high expectations of herself. So sometimes ‘I will do a bit of x every day, and just so long as a bit of x gets done, I will have succeeded’ is more helpful as a goal than ‘I will do precisely y amount of x everyday, so that by z (where z = an unrealistically short term), x will be completed’. You all know I’m talking about my writing. And that I will probably still aim to do y most days. It’s just that I’ll be kinder to myself if I don’t manage it, so long as I’ve ‘shown up’ and done something. (But see ‘free to finally focus on what I want to focus on’, above.) 🙂

…Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful final few days of 2012… and a fresh, bright and hopeful start to 2013!