My Love My Life 10/12 - Conquer Fear


© Ian Pettigrew


College have been speaking about the importance of personal projects recently.  Personal projects can turn out to be your best and most fulfilling work, because for whatever reason, you have specifically chosen to do it.  I recently stumbled upon a Canadian photographer, later found out he's half Scottish!  Well, he is currently working his way through a personal project called Just Breathe, where he's photographing adults who are living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  

Media coverage surrounding CF is sparse.  Since the birth of social media, I'm connected to a lot of people who have CF.  There's always somebody who knows a person who has died recently.  It can get really upsetting reading things like that.  It's not high profile like Cancer, but it's equally devastating.  It will kill you; it just drags the process out a bit.  Adults living with CF can often feel like it's a battle to stay alive, that's why they are often referred to as Warriors within the CF community.  Treatment regimes are physically and mentally demanding for patients.  Like many other long term chronic conditions, it may not be widely understood that family members can also endure years of emotional trauma as a direct result of caring for and/or living with the sick person.  
After being diagnosed later in life himself, Ian wanted to spread the message that this is no longer a children's disease and the best way to do that as a Photographer, is by taking pictures.  Lots of pictures! 

Ian started his career in advertising and got the photography bug by working alongside photographers for many years.  He used to think photographers had a glamorous life.  He admits he was wrong.  Just like I used to think the ladies behind the make-up counters in department stores were glamorous, before I did my school work experience.  Someone once asked him why he would want to be in a job that made him poor, but money isn't everything.  

As well as Ian's standard portrait head shots for his Just Breathe Project,  I found another one called Salty Girls - The Women of Cystic Fibrosis  Here he photographs CF women.  But, what does the name mean?  Well, the salt in CF patients bodies travel differently through the tissues to that of non-CF people.  Patients secrete higher volumes of salt through their sweat.  There was an old saying around the 1700s which went like this, "woe is the child who tastes salty from a kiss on the brow, for he is cursed and soon must die".  They used to believe CF children were bewitched. In this project Ian captures how CF can ravage your physical appearance.  I'm well aware of how the effects of CF have changed my appearance and body image.  I've always been a little self conscious.  It's healthier for me to weigh more, but society wants you to be thin.  I think it's very brave of the ladies to expose themselves like this.  It takes real courage, which I'm sure they have truck loads of.  

Ian wants his images made into a photobook.  If he can get enough financial support or even better a sponsor, he could make this a reality sooner.  If you are in a position to be a sponsor of this book, great.  If not, well you could always join the organ donor register in your county instead.  I'll leave you with some of Ian's images and one of me, which is my contribution to Salty Girls - The Women of Cystic Fibrosis.  Photo credit to the lovely Nicola Grimshaw and her team at My Boudoir - Make-Over Boudoir Photography.
© Ian Pettigrew



© Ian Pettigrew


                                                           © Nicola Grimshaw

Urban Photoshoot - Portraiture Brief



In my blog post Mr Gray I told you all about hanging up my darkroom hat for a bit as I wanted to focus, (excuse the pun) more on other aspects of Photography. I applied for a more general photography course a few months earlier.  Putting myself though an interview and selection process was nerve-racking but I was successful in getting a place.  Friends warned it wasn't going to be what I expected it to be, but I thought I'll give it a go anyway.  What's the worst that can happen.  If I don't like it I can walk away.

I'm still trying to get to grips with what's expected.  The workload is challenging.  There's a list of things we need to do and completion dates for final submissions.  There have been a few moans and groans about teachers not actually teaching us anything.  I've recently come to the realisation that this is because college is for adults and adults have to figure things out for themselves.  They call it self-directed study.  When you look back at school, the teacher is pretty much holding your hand to get you through the learning process.  It's their job to teach you a particular subject.  So if you are just out of school, college can seem a harsh reality of the education system you are used to.  I'm not saying I completely agree with it, but this is how it is.

I'd say we're generally shown how to do something once or twice, and then you practise.  If like me you are a bit slow in picking things up, then it's going to be a struggle.  I was the same at school; the only difference now is I'm not scared to ask questions.

I was used to planning shoots for Daisy but they were usually all in my head.  It's out of my comfort zone trying to plan everything but I'll get there. I'm working on a few power point presentations at the moment and have just finished my second photo shoot today.  It doesn't actually take much time to turn up and take the photos.  The hardest part is planning what you want to do and pulling all the elements together.  

I put the war cry out on Facebook a few weeks ago to see if anyone fancied modelling for me.  I needed someone older than Daisy who would be happy to take some direction.  I have to do five Portrait shoots for this brief.  I have to show all my planning in a workbook, poses, lighting examples, styling choices.  I have to include research on photographs I have studied which brought me to my shoot idea.  Out of the shoot, I have to show my tutor around 20 different photographs and narrow my choice down to 15 possible final images.  Out of that 15, I choose 2 to edit further and give my reasons for picking that 2 and disregarding the remaining 13.

We got off to a shaky start as the location that was originally planned fell through, due to a lack of in-house communication.  You always need to have a back up plan, so we got in the car went to location spot B.  I think I'm happier with what I got and straight away a photographer friend said she wanted me to take photos of her in the same spot.  We had a really good time, model Sophie brought along her mum and little sister Sadie.  We almost needed to hold Sadie down as she was very excitable at the prospect of modelling like her big sister.  So, we all stepped aside and let Sadie show us how its done.
The photo on the right is the only one here that has been edited.  The rest of the photos are what photographers refer to as SOOC, which stands for straight out of camera.

Brighton Baby - The Hen Weekend


Our family had two weddings this year and like most weddings these days the bride and groom go away for weekends, usually with friends and/or family instead of just going out for the night.  There were lots of talks about where we might go and one day it was decided we were going to Brighton.  I was very pleased as Brighton is a place I've always wanted to go but had no reason to.

We travelled down to London Gatwick with easyjet at the end of June.  Once we landed it was a short distance on the Gatwick express to the train station that would take us through to Brighton.  It’s a really easy place to get to and as we travelled with cabin bags, there was no waiting about in the airport at baggage carousels.  Arriving around lunchtime, we headed straight to the beach and into a café overlooking the sea.  The sun was shining, the sea breeze on your face, the location, the atmosphere; friends travelled from afar to celebrate.  I decided quite quickly that I would like to take Daisy one day.  


We ordered food, drinks and relaxed while chatting to one another.  It was so warm you could easily have worn a bikini and jumped into the water.  Some of the ladies were optimistic in that they packed shorts, the rest of us cursed that we should have.  I guess you get used to the Scottish climate where summer is literally days in the year rather than weeks.  With Team Gauld being a super organised bunch, our food shopping was being delivered to our rented house while we were sat there at the beach.  


Back at the house we cracked open the Prosecco and toasted the bride to be on her upcoming nuptials.  The house was then decorated with pictures of our Hen.  It's amazing the comedy gold your life long friends hold in the form of photographic evidence.

The next morning breakfast was cooked, we got on our glad rags and did our own thing before heading to the pier around lunchtime.  The plan was to have a fun and stress free weekend without the stereotypical hen activities in sight, well not in public anyway.  Eating marshmallows will never be the same again.

The Brighton Pier is a great place.  The rides are pretty scary, being right on the edge of the pier.  I went on the helter skelter and almost wished I never.  The pier had a Harry Ramsdens, ice-cream parlours, take away style counters selling noodles. I honestly could have stayed the entire week!  I know there's much more to see and do in Brighton and I was sad to leave.

On the Saturday night the girls organised a fabulous meal.  As you could imagine we could hardly contain our excitement when we found out that the brides boss had located us in Brighton and pre-ordered some bubbly for everyone!  How amazing is that!  What a cool boss.  The celebrations continued into the early hours and as you can imagine it was carnage in the morning.  Luckily myself and the brides sister, the non-drinkers, made breakfast.  



This was such a memorable weekend and I’d like to say a big thanks to all involved in the planning. 




Caledonia


You’d have to be on another planet for you not to know that the people of Scotland are on the verge of a life changing historical event.  Yesterday the streets of Aberdeen were buzzing.  It looked like a scene from Braveheart.  The atmosphere was electric, the young, the old, everyone was singing and dancing and having a good time.  My camera and I even got a wee dance. 

It made me wish I liked football.  Was this the feeling people had at football matches?  It also reminded me of Hogmanay, a time when everyone is happy.
For many, national pride is in your blood; you just feel it.  I certainly can’t listen to bagpipes without getting emotional.  Och it would bring a tear to a glass eye!

I know I'm probably not alone in saying that I don't fully understand the inns and outs of the whole referendum debate.  I've even heard people saying they are voting no because they don't like Alex Salmond, which is like not buying your dream home because you don't like the wall paper.  

What I do know is things are not great as they are.  We've already got different laws compared to England, some are better here some are better there.  So when they speak about breaking the union, there are a lot of things that's broken away already.  

It feels like we've got into a situation where we've threatened to leave just like you would maybe do in a bad relationship and if you threaten to leave, and don't, you just look stupid.  If we vote no, I've no doubt we'll suffer.  I guess there is always the Unicorns farting glitter chance, that maybe the threat will make them see sense and we’ll live happily ever after.

All we can do now is wait.

My Love My Life 8/12 - Reflection


The topic Reflection when photography related, usually suggests pictures of subjects seen on reflective surfaces like windows or water.  I decided to be a bit out of the box this month and make mine reflection on a life event.  Daisy's first day at school.

It’s August 2014 and it feels like the last five years has been put on fast forward.  It's hard to get my head around the fact all this time has flown by.  We get caught up in the daily grind of life and it doesn’t leave much time for fun.  Now, we are here, at the school gate.  I seriously thought I would cry on her first day at school, but surprisingly I held it together.  She looked so grown up.  I think my biggest wobble was actually when I got the leaflet before summer telling me who her teacher was going to be.  It hit home then. I felt a little emotional buying her school uniform.  I know normal school shoes are usually black but I so love the traditional red patent shoes, she had to have a pair!  I kitted her out in a Cath Kidston bag, pencil case and stationary.  After all, this is a monumental time in our life together and the perfect time to indulge.

Three little friends from our street started school together and I couldn't be happier.  Although they are not all in the same class, they will see each other at playtime and lunchtime.  Daisy will be going to what we are calling the "school cafe", which to everyone else, is school dinners.  I really enjoyed that part of school since I was a traditional eater.  I wasn’t really interested in sandwiches, fruit and yoghurt, which is usually the kind of thing you would expect in a packed lunch.  Ok, I had the odd plea to my mum to have that but in most cases it was just curiosity on how the packed lunch kids spent their lunch hour.  We always want what we don’t have but the reality of getting it usually isn’t that great long-term.  For me, eating a hot school dinner with my fellow classmates was a social occasion and I'm hoping Daisy will appreciate that time to dine and chat with friends.  

School has been a positive experience so far.  We’ve had PE and homework.  We’ve managed to remember to put a snack in Daisy’s bag for break time.  We’ve even been to the school nurse when she fell and cut herself on her third day.  We are on our last week of half days and next week she is going to be in school all day.  I worry like everyone else with children starting school.  I worry if she will manage to fasten her shoes on her own as I still give help at home when she says “I can’t, it’s to difficult”, but she can do it.  I’m surprised she is able to carry her school bag, as it just looks so big compared to her body.  She doesn’t really chat much about what goes on in school during the day but make no mistake she doesn’t miss a trick.

I’ve met two really great girls since moving, who as well as being my neighbours they are also friends.  There’s never been any nervousness about the whole school event because our girls have played together in our almost cul-de-sac street for sometime.  I'm glad Daisy and I moved house and met new friends.  After all, nothing is scary when you share the experience with some great friends.

Please pop over to Sarah's blog on Reflection of her photography journey.  I love Sarah's photos, they always have a mystical feeling as well as creating the impression you were there.







Crime of Passion

This time ten years ago I was on my way to the hairdresser.  I got married that day to someone I loved deeply.  I thought marriage was forever, but there's always some smarmy buck teeth tramp out there willing to screw it all up.  We all know one!

Mum dropped off a copy of Hello magazine to me the other day.  She thought I would find the interview they did with the former glamour model Katie Price interesting.  I know there are a lot of people who don’t like her very much namely because of her outrageous outfits and bold as brass attitude.  But me, I think she speaks a lot of sense and this interview was no different. 

She says it how it is.  What’s wrong with that?  That type of personality can be seen as a bit of a threat.  But it is what it is, a personality trait.  It doesn’t mean the person is nasty, malicious or awkward.  That is just who they are.  I always think these types of people make the best of friends because lets face it, they’re unlikely to be false and you’ll know exactly where you stand.  I bet she’s really lovely.  I empathise with her.  Just because you have money and success does not make you immune to bad things happening.  Only this week the much-loved actor Robin Williams died suddenly, in an alleged suicide.  There’s a prime example of someone who appeared to have it all.  Life is cruel.  As human beings we suffer the same heartache.  Emotions are indiscriminate.

Katie talked about her husband’s recently uncovered infidelity with two of her close friends.  Katie was very open and honest about her feelings regarding the situation.  Describing how “her heart hasn’t been broken, it’s been shattered”.

There are lots of things you would want to know.  What exactly happened. You need to know the truth.  Then and only then can you make a decision about what to do next.  You need all the facts. It seems she believes his account of events and with Katie being a woman of means she’s in a position to deal with things a bit differently to us mere mortals.  She said in the interview that she organised for her husband to have a polygraph test, just like they do on The Jeremy Kyle Show.  She wanted to know everything. How many times it happened, where it happened, when did it start.  All questions any wronged person would have racing through their head, but could you actually believe what you were being told by the guilty party if you wasn’t in a position to get one of these tests.  I suspect not and it would constantly be on your mind.  Visualising the pair of them ripping each other’s clothes off and having sex.  Was it in your bed, in your car, who else knew about it, who else was keeping the secret?  You would be spitting nails.

She also commented that she couldn’t understand why he would even want to have sex with two older women who were “rank”.    I suspect there are many theories on why someone would do that.  Likely story is, they were easy.  We all know blokes are trouser dumb but it's these ladies of ill repute that really know the lines they're crossing. Imagine being that desperate for attention you had to make do with the crumbs of someone else’s relationship.   Why would you not want to be the star of the show, the leading lady. Why would you be happy in the knowledge you were someone’s dirty secret.  You'd have to be a bit thick.  Why would you prey on someone that is married or married with children or like Katie married with a child on the way.  How could they be so cruel to the innocent victims.  Helping create a situation whereby children don't see the guilty parent as much as they used to.  Meanwhile the other spouse has had their life turned completely upside down and grieving for the life they thought was already planned out.  To be snatched away by a foolish act of greed.  Who does that?  Someone with No Moral Compass, that’s who.

Could you really ever trust someone who’s been unfaithful, not once, but twice and however many other times you don’t know about.  Without everyone coming clean, that situation will never right itself; it will be like a wound that never heals.  Who knows how long it will last between them.   I believe that once the relationship has been poisoned like this, I expect it won’t be a happy ending.  She maintains they are still husband and wife and this is a marital issue.  Something they must sort out together.  What we do know is that Katie is very switched on, so I hope she knows what she’s going to do next.  

If you ever find yourself on the verge of getting into a similar situation, I urge you to stop and think.  This type of behaviour carries a heavy psychological burden for everyone affected, accept the third party.  I'm a firm believer they feel nothing, because in some weird twisted way they don't think they've done anything wrong.  They feel no shame.


So I guess this "tin" of Alphabet Spaghetti is on me.  Your dinner is on the table!  Happy Anniversary.

Nursery Graduation

It’s the end of an era.  Nursery is finished and school is on the horizon.  I’m not sure how much Daisy understands about school and how it will be different to nursery.  She knows her teachers name and that she will be having lunch in the “school café”.

We had two nursery graduations with Daisy going to both school and a privately funded nursery.  All the friends she met in school nursery will form part of her Primary one class.  However the children at private nursery, well she’ll most likely never see them again.  That made me a little sad. 

Daisy had a similar start to my own childhood.  We moved house right at the time I was going to nursery.  Mum couldn’t get me into the catchment school nursery where our new house was so I continued at my old nursery before joining my school class in primary one.  I have vague memories of a little blonde haired boy who I was friendly with, I think his name was Paul.  I recall a photograph of my nursery class but sadly it seems to have gone missing.  When I saw it last I didn’t see Paul in the photo.  Who knows what happened.  Maybe he was off that day.  Maybe it's so long ago I didn't remember things correctly.

Thirty years later I found myself in a similar situation where Daisy had two sets of friends and had struck up a good friendship with a little boy in her privately run nursery.  I imagined when nursery was over Daisy asking me to invite Ewan to her birthday parties and me not knowing where he lived.  She often asks if he can come over to our house to visit.  Sometimes the best friendships start when you are really young.  Could I risk Daisy not seeing him ever again, absolutely not!  

Imagine everyday your child and another child are in nursery together, that they played with each other the entire time.  Dressing up in costumes.  Running around holding hands.  Spotting each other at the swimming baths on days off and being so excited to see each other.  One child, waiting at the door for the other to arrive on their allotted day.  This was the story that was relayed to my mum or I by the staff every week.  Later, I found out the same stories were being relayed to his parents.  Daisy and Ewan are best of friends.  Daisy often tells me she is going to marry Ewan and I know Ewan talks about Daisy a lot.  Now that is a friendship worth nurturing.     
   
Ewan’s mum and I made contact with each other for the first time recently and we introduced ourselves at the graduation ceremony.  We talked about meeting up over the school holidays and shortly after we organised a lovely day out at a local play barn.  We laughed exchanging stories about the things nursery had reported back to us over the past few years.  Some of the things would make you laugh so hard you couldn’t breathe.  We drank slush puppy, we shared slush puppy when someone drank all hers!  Ewan’s sister Ellie kept a tight reign on the jelly tots sweets, only handing one over to her mother.  Exactly the sort of thing Daisy would do to me.  On the way out Daisy gave Ewan a big kiss goodbye and we all laughed at how funny they are together.  I’m glad this story has a happy ending because now we know Ewan lives close by and we can stay in touch.  So it’s not goodbye, not this time, it’s until the next time.  See you soon Ewan. x
   


                      
 
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