Photography Show Masterclass and Mentoring
“Sometimes the best dreams you will live, are ones you cannot even imagine right now”.
Feather in Cap
I have already achieved more in my career than I imagined all those years ago when starting out. Delivering a Photography Masterclass at The Photography Show was a new feather to add to the cap.
Being asked to deliver a Turning Pro Photography Masterclass at The Photography Show an event I used to attend myself as student and as an emerging photographer is a 2021 highlight.
Made more special by the fact that I was sharing a stage with greats Rankin and Charlie Phillips. My journey to becoming a full time photographer was not a conventional one. Like all great photographers, I did my degree in something completely different! I spent most of my life in other careers and changed careers in my mid 30s.
I like to think that as an average working class person with no particular privileges in life, my story and path could inspire others, and it turns out … it did! The Google Reviews, Inboxes and Emails from other people who my story resonated with proved testament to this.
Other women approaching middle ages, other working class people, others trying to make a go of it without any links to the industry. The Turning Pro Photography Masterclass was for designed with them in mind.
Why I wanted to be and do different
I have attended so many photography workshops and left with no real tangible points that I can implement to pursue my own path. I have heard of photographers that were financed by well off families and partners, dads that gifted 2k cameras and parents that were partners in their business.
Many people do not have access to these privileges. I wanted this to be different and be an example of someone who made it without things. I showed the council estate I grew up on; the comprehensive school I attended and gave delegates homework! As you do!
I wanted delegates to implement actions, once they had left my Turning Pro Photography Masterclass , that I had implemented to get to where I am today.
Mentoring via Patreon
After the show I received so many messages about mentoring I decided to formalise what I already had in place and set up a Patreon page. I was already informally mentoring many people, I lecture at Sandwell College, Dudley College and Walsall Studio School. I have been part of the Blast Series of Workshops for Multi Story and also delivered to BIMM and Birmingham University. Imparting knowledge in photography is not new to me.
In my work with UK Black Female Photographers, further helping emerging photographers in their career. This seemed like the right time to formalise my mentoring of emerging photographers.
Real World Lessons
I want merging photographers and creatives to have access to real world lessons and mentorship on how to make a living from being a creative. Most of us cannot afford to work just for the love of it.
Although I also do love my job, I also like having a roof over my head and nice things. I have also noticed a gap in the knowledge colleges and Universities provide around this, as many lecturers are not working photographers.
My aim with all of my workshops, any further Turning Pro Photography Masterclass the Photography Show may want to book me for (wink wink) and mentoring; is to build the next generation of photographers with real world skills and knowledge.
I just hope I am remembered in their speeches!
Ankara Travelling Dress: How we shot it
Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress
The Travelling Dress. One dress infinite possibilities, proving how differently we all see the world.
The Travelling Dress
The Travelling dress project seemed to originate in the USA with a dress travelling to other countries and being photographed by tens and tens of photographers. Photographers have tulle dresses, colourful dresses, wedding dresses. I loved watching the different travelling dress projects we came across, but one thing was evident about so many of the other projects. They all seemed to be very Eurocentric.
As a minority in the photography world, it is something that some people take for granted, being visible, being included, being part of the discussion, being heard, but for some of us our exclusion is the norm. It is not always a purposeful thing, but sometimes a “oh I never even thought about that” “ oh that didn’t even cross my mind” because its something that hasn’t effected the person viewing that project. But it is something that I see instantly.
This was also picked up by other users on some of the blogs about other Travelling Dress Projects.
So with this in mind, one member suggested we wanted to open up this discussion and shoot a travelling dress project that had not already been done. Photographers and models that seems to be largely missing from many of the other projects would therefore be part of the discussion. We had an Afro Centric garment commissioned by Thea Ayayi of House of Tendai and a group of UK Black Female Photographers created a schedule to shoot the dress as we saw it.
We chose a vibrant bright red ankara print material. It was strong and bold, I wanted a model that matched this feel. So I searched for a bald headed dark skinned model. I visualised a Skunk Annansie, Alek Wek, Lupita N’yongo inspired of model. I found this in Sheleema.
New to modelling but an amazing model none the less. She had already done high fashion and a number of fashion magazines. As a professional creative I always pay other professional creatives … see my blog on working for FREE. As a photographer shooting various genres I have worked with models previously. Some great ones and some not so great ones. From Sheleema’s portfolio, I felt she could carry off what I wanted for the shoot; and she did.
There was very little direction, only for minor tweaks.
I also commissioned Make Up artist Kemeko to do an editorial type look.
We purposefully did not discuss each others ideas, or show each other our finished shoots until way after they were completed. Does this create more competition or fuel you to push yourself even more?
I purposefully wanted to test myself for this shoot. I initially hired a studio and was going to do my normal clean cut portrait photography style.
Fate then took me to fashion season collections on Vogue Magazine, I came across Beyonces front page shoot for Vogue earlier that year, shot by Tyler Mitchell. This inspired me to strip this right back. Go back to nature, a much more deconstructed messy idea and just shoot with whatever I’m presented with on the day.
So I let nature and circumstance drive my vision. I knew however I wanted an edgey editorial look, and something different to how I would normally shoot most of my work.
So with no real plan in place, except for channelling Beyonce, I vowed to adapt to whatever I was presented with, come rain or shine (or being in the UK sleet or snow also)! After all this is what creatives do … create. I also shoot for fashion designers such as Kolchagov Barba and wanted to create something I could imagine designers using in a magazine editorial.
On the day we were blessed with a beautiful sunny, bright, warm day. It was cloudy in parts and bright in parts, but still perfect. I chose to use the natural sunlight with additional outdoor flash, playing with sync speeds to create some other interesting shadows and looks.
The environment was naturally green, this complimented the dress perfectly. I also put up a draped messy backdrop, I initially wanted a heavier cotton material backdrop, looked into buying one, but agin thought, let me work with what I have.
Making a big headpiece similar to Beyonces own was considered, but ended up not having the time. The option to instead use oversized bouquet, which substituted. It meant that the red was sandwiched in between a sea of green, which aesthetically looked amazing.
Ten Favourite Lensi Photography Shots From the Ankara Travelling Dress Project
These are the blogs and contact details of other photographers who took part in the project.
#5 Rele James
IG : @pausepushclick
#6 Toyin Sho
IG : @toyinphotography
IG : @la_creativityportfolio