Finding Vivian Maier

When I first stumbled across John Maloof’s blog I thought it was a terrible shame that Vivian Maier’s photos had never been published while she was still alive. After watching Finding Vivian Maier at the cinema yesterday I realised that she was a lady who would have hated the fame – not out of modesty, but because it would have been such a huge invasion of an intensely private life. At times during the film, I wondered whether we should really even be watching it for that very reason. 

I remember being drawn to Vivian’s photos because she managed to capture something of the human condition. She managed to get up close to people but at the same time she seemed removed from society; it was almost as if she was invisible. As you listen to the interviews with those who knew her, it’s hard not to want to find out more about a lady who described herself as kind of a spy. John Maloof is certainly committed to the cause but there’s only so much that you can find out about someone who seems intent on remaining a mystery. The contradictions in the descriptions of her character by those who she worked for add to the intrigue.

Out of all her photos and videos, I think it’s the self portraits which interest me the most. I like the way she positions herself in some of the shots taken through mirrors or windows. She’s often not the focus of the scene and occasionally you have to look twice to find her. I hadn’t realised that she’d also taken a trip around the world with her camera, and made trips to see family in Europe. My favourite parts of the film are where John Maloof visits France to find where her photos were taken and the learn more of the story behind them, especially as there is also mystery about her family life. 

There was something about her character and her experiences in life that allowed her to stand at the edge of society and capture these moments with such brilliance. I spent a lot of the film trying to work out whether I would actually have liked her if I had ever met her and I’m still not sure of the answer. Those who she allowed to know her well talk of her fondly, although there were no illusions that she was perfect. 

The film is definitely worth a watch if you get the chance, although if you’re anything like me you’ll leave with more questions than you arrived with.

Friday Links

Hello Friday! It’s been ages since I posted any Friday links, mostly because I’ve barely spent any time online while I’ve been away. This week I’ve been catching up and have stumbled across a couple of things to share with you today… 

Firstly Kinfolk films: I’ve been following Kinfolk on Instagram for a while and finally got round to checking out their website. I was very glad I did because there is section of delightful little films which had me captivated. If I made films, which I hope to try someday soon, I would want to make them like these :) (Beware audio!)

Another thing I’ve been meaning to mention is the Photography Oxford Festival ’14 in September. Oxford isn’t too far from Brum so I’m tempted to pop down and take a look around the exhibitions

Finally, a little post that was created as a bit of a joke and has gone viral. The folk over at Count It Joy had a bit of time to spare and decided to make a set of newborn photos with a difference. I’m not a big fan of a lot of the styles of newborn photograph, but these pics are pretty sweet :) 

Have a great weekend!

50mm Photo Project: 6 – Paris, je t’aime

6/50 View from Montmartre, Paris
Back to Paris we go for photo number 6 of my 50mm project! After arriving into the east of the city it seemed silly not to explore Montmartre, starting with elevenses at the Café des 2 Moulins of Amélie fame :) I love all the winding streets that are so full of character and some rather extraordinary street art.

This was taken at the viewpoint in front of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica which was inevitably packed with tourists. It was unlikely I’d find a shot without someone getting in the way, until I noticed that I could sneak a side on view of the telescope that wasn’t being used. There were plenty of clouds around which I thought might bleach the photo, but it actually blends with the colour of the buildings and the telescope quite nicely. An aperture of f7.1 was used for this shot which makes a change to my usual f1.8-f3, but the distances involved give the same effect :)

50mm Photo Project: 5 – Golden Hour

5/50 Lazy summer eveningI love lazy strolls on warm summer evenings. These crops spread for miles across the French landscape and the evening sun made them shine golden. 

I always find that it’s good to capture photos of farmland crops at eye level to get the most of the detail. The sheer volume of crops can sometimes make it hard to get a good photo as it’s difficult to make order out of the disorder, but if you’re patient you’ll usually find a nicely balanced photo. At a wide aperture (F2.2 at 50mm) this photo could just look like a blur, but the golden hour light lit up the front row of wheat/barley (I’m not sure what it was!) enough for the texture to be noticeable. 

It’s a good job that I captured them at the start of my time there as the fields were all harvested within days. The remaining stalks didn’t look quite so pretty :)

50mm Photo Project: 4 – Metro Saint-Michel, Paris

50mm Photo Project 4/50
It was totally delightful walking around Paris with my 50mm lens attached to my camera; in fact it was almost a little overwhelming being faced with so much to photograph in one day (it was just too hot to spend any more time in the city). It’s also nice to just appreciate being there instead of spending the whole time looking through a screen, so I probably didn’t take as many photos as I could have!

This is the Metro station at Saint-Michel in the Latin Quarter, one of my favourite parts of Paris. There’s nothing better than sitting in the Jardin du Luxembourg on a sunny day and watching the world go by, and then strolling down the road for a drink at the Place Sorbonne. Happy days :)

Thanks July, you were awesome!

July is my absolute favourite month because it starts off with my birthday and usually means holidays and sunshine. I’ve had a month of road trips with my camera never far from my hand, although some days it was just too hot to do anything that required any effort :)

Summer InstagramsThere are so many things that I love about this time of year…

♥ Endless sunny days, where the biggest decision you have to make is which ice cream to choose next
♥ Sitting out after dark when the sky is so clear that you can see the Milky Way (and making up names for constellations ‘cos you can’t remember what the real ones are) :) 
♥ The noise of the sea lapping the shore on an empty beach
♥ Jumping the waves (never too old)
♥ The evening light that makes the farmland crops shine like gold
♥ The smell of summer rain (and splashing about in it wearing flip flops)
♥ Sunshine sparkling on the sea
♥ Road trips when it doesn’t matter what time you set off or get there 
♥ Freshly picked summer fruits
♥ Having to eat ice lollies really quickly because they melt so fast
♥ The soft pastel light after sunset

(I could go on, but I’d be here all day!) 

I’ve been carrying on with my 50/50 project while I’ve been away and have a few more photos to add to the collection. For now I’ll leave you with number three which I took after sunset on a stroll down a lane in rural France; the farmland stretched for miles across the landscape and the sky stayed a lovely shade of pale blue until really late. The barley was just asking to be shot at 50mm :)

Ah summer evenings :)


Cheerio for now x

5 tips for planning a summer photography project…

Summer is an awesome time for a new photography project! The days are long, there is plenty of lovely natural light, and it’s a great time to explore new places. I like to have a bit of a plan in mind so that I can make the most of the time of year. 

Kiki left a comment on a recent blog post which got me thinking about how I make practically make plans for my photos, and so I thought I’d share 5 tips to consider when starting to plan a summer photography project. I’d love to hear your thoughts too so feel free to share your comments below!

Nikon Photography Project Tips
1. Choose your topic. Find an aspect of photography that you want to learn more about. It may be a style (e.g. portraits, street, lifestyle, landscapes), a camera setting (e.g. shutter speed, manual white balance), a theme (e.g. summer, happiness, a colour, Instagrams) or a new piece of equipment (e.g a new lens, a remote shutter). There is no better way to learn than to get out and do it and learn from your mistakes! It’s amazing how fast you will develop your technique and how much your confidence will grow. 

2. Choose your timescale. As with any project, a definitive start and end gives you something to work with. It means that you can devote specific time to developing your skills without it dragging on or taking over your life. A summer project gives you 3 months to build your photo collection, but you may want to choose something a little more intensive if you’ve got the time. 

3. Choose how many photos you want in your collection. Bearing tip number two in mind, the most important thing is to make sure this is achievable; you don’t want to set yourself up for a fall before you’ve started! Choose a realistic number that you can manage alongside your other commitments if you want to undertake a more relaxing project that won’t become a chore!

Also take your theme into account; for example, it is better to build a smaller collection of photos if the theme requires more time travelling to shooting locations. My favourite project involved taking 30 photos over the summer months…it was enough to learn new skills, not too many to become a hassle, and just a nice amount to make a coffee table photo book at the end :) 

4. Be super organised. It sounds a bit boring but start off as you mean to go on by setting up folders and naming conventions for your files. You’ll be really glad you did it from the start when it comes to the end of the project :)

Keep a notebook handy as you’ll find that new ideas pop into your head at the most random of times. It’s good to have a little list for inspiration when you find some days that it’s lacking!

It’s also a good thing to think about the format of your photos too e.g. do you want them to be the same size and shape? It’s all worth thinking about depending on what you intend to do with them at the end!

5. Enjoy it! The whole point of a photography project is that it’s fun; if you’re really not enjoying it and it’s causing too much frustration then ditch it! But first just ask if you’re being too harsh on yourself…it’s too easy to compare your photography with other people’s so remember that the project is primarily for your own pleasure. It’s probable that not every photo will be great but who cares! Stick with it and you’ll see improvements.

I’m really excited about my new project which you may have already seen over the last couple of days. I’ve just got myself a new 50mm lens so I thought 50 photos over summer would be a great way to get familiar with it…it’s already proving to be a treat and I can’t wait to take it on my travels.

So there you go – a few pointers to get you started. What are your photography plans for summer? Leave your links below so I can check them out!

Bye for now x

2/50 – 50mm Photo Project

Nikon D7100 50mm F1.8G

There’s no excuse not to be out with my camera on a such a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon! These are my favourite flowers to photograph in the summer, although it took a bit of contortion and a pair of dusty knees to finally get the shot I wanted. My previous camera had a flip screen which helped me to get all sorts of random angles in my shots, but my DSLR doesn’t have that luxury. 

I always find that photographing flowers from underneath is pretty hard. It’s tricky to find a decent composition as there are always a few with really tatty or lots of missing petals, and then a breeze will blow a random stem across the frame >:( Shooting with the 50mm lens was lovely, although f1.8 was too large an aperture to use (I changed to f2.8 just to give me a bit more depth of field). I need to remember that not all my 50mm shots need a large aperture, but for now I’m loving it!

So there you go….2 down (I chose the top one for my project), 48 to go! 

(Both photos processed with my Shoreditch Lightroom preset)

Nikon D7100 50mm f1.8g