Harrow Fashion Show: Lisa in Neil’s hat

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My camera struggled in the gloom, but as I looked across the runway to where Lisa was trying on this electric blue hat, she pulled a pose, I quickly snapped the shutter, and chaos continued all around.

This shot was heavily cropped and edited in Picasa, but I just adore the vintage feel to the final image – she looks like a member of the aristocracy posing for an official portrait.

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La Petite Mort

Photograph by Kat Philcox Photography

I watched a lot of old movies when I was a kid, and just adored the graphic world of black and white cinematography; when I grew up, I wanted to look like those beautiful, remote, magnificent women. Then when I grew up, I realised that they don’t really exist, that they are a confection of the studio; still, I longed to be portrayed as a femme fatale at least once. My big opportunity was the photo shoot with Kat Philcox, and we worked with a black backdrop much of the time.

While I was putting together the photo book (see previous post), this photo led me to do a little creative writing, limited only by the amount of space on the page. Before I knew it, I had written a film noiresque scene, inspired by such movies as The Big Sleep. I picture “him” as a Private Investigator in the style of Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe.

 

LA PETITE MORT

He surveyed the room: signs of a struggle were evident, from the overturned boudoir chair, to the crooked lampshade, and a shattered vase of Stargazer lilies, strewn across the floor. Then there was the body of a girl, supine on a rug beside the bed.

Sniffing the air, he decoded the smell – a strangely intoxicating blend of Bourbon whiskey, sweat, and lilies, with a faint underlying odour of something bad. He shuddered – he hated the smell of lilies and the memories they brought flooding back.

Apprehensively, he walked towards her body, noting her disheveled clothing. When he saw her stillness, and her glazed eyes, he froze. “Get a grip”, he urged himself, looking away for a moment to refocus. Dropping to his knee, he put his ear close to her mouth, and heard her slow breath. So, not dead. Then…what? A seizure? Pondering this development, he slowly came to the realisation that she was under the spell of ‘the little death’. “Well that’s just swell”, he mumbled cynically, moving away to upright the chair and wait for her full recovery.

 

36: the perfect age of a woman

*Photographs by Kat Philcox Photography

A lot of photographers hide their shyness behind the camera, and are often quite unused to having their own picture taken – even if we may sometimes take self-portraits in the desire to record a version of ourselves with which we can be content. 

Since reaching my thirties, I have set milestones that I could look forward to. It may seem a little morbid, but so far these have related to amazing people who died at a particular age; I don’t know why, but the first milestone was 33, the age at which Jesus Christ is believed to have died.

Then as 33 turned, happily, to 34, I set my sights on 36: the age that Marilyn Monroe was when she died. At 35, I read that 36 was considered to be the perfect, golden, ageless age of a woman. With this in mind, I decided that when I was 36, I would pose nude for a photo shoot – something which the inimitable MM also did, only six weeks before her death.

Having agreed to be my photographer, in September 2012 close friend Kat of Kat Philcox Photography took me into her studio for a couple of hours, both of us somewhat apprehensive about this new experience. Like me, Kat is not very comfortable having her photo taken, so I knew she would understand my trepidation. After a few preparations were made, we began working on clothed shots until we were both comfortable enough for me to begin to shed my clothes. Most of the photos were taken without my glasses on – a rare experience, and one which turned out to be quite helpful: having Kat removed from my focus (and therefore my personal space, even when she was quite close) allowed me to be less inhibited. The shoot was an extraordinary experience, one which I was delighted to share with her.

My original vision was to have a collection reminiscent of classic Film Noir, and those surreally perfect images of the silver screen sirens.Although clients rarely have the opportunity to do so, Kat generously provided me with a disc of (largely) unedited photos so that I could edit them myself. As much as I had enjoyed seeing the “teaser” photos from the shoot, it was not until I began editing that I really felt connected to them – almost as though I had been the photographer of another subject – and I felt privileged to have this opportunity.

I am very pleased with how they turned out, and now have a visual reminder of this time of my life to look back upon in years to come. Initially unsure what to actually do with my photos – many of them are a little unsuited to being hung upon my walls! – I decided to make a book, using the free software from Blurb, which I have used several times in the past few years. The image above is from the front cover; the one below is on the back cover. Maybe sometime I’ll share what’s between the sheets!

Having turned 37 shortly after the shoot took place, it is time again to set my sights upon another milestone age – and to devise a way to commemorate it.

Harrow Open Gardens 2012: worth a million statues

Today I had the pleasure of visiting four local gardens which were open to the public as a fundraiser for the Harrow Bush Nursing Centre, a health service provider which our remote community highly values, and which has recently been of great assistance to my family.

The grounds that I most enjoyed visiting was adorned by a number of statues of naked women, their placement in the English cottage garden a testament to the artistic flair of Rosebury’s owners, Jeff and Jenny Brow.

e. e. cummings may well have written that a pretty girl who is naked / is worth a million statues, but when no pretty naked girls are to be found, such a delightful statue as this ought not be overlooked.