I had no idea that I would be so inspired by today’s magnificent Cyanotype workshop at London’s Free Space Project taught by Daniel Regan. Feeling wobbly after only 3 hours sleep I dragged myself to Kentish Town expecting to last about an hour before I would have to leave. Instead I stayed to the very end, learnt a new process, met some talented artists, and caught some of the last summer rays too.

Below are a couple of the cyanotypes I made today and a few images processed on photoshop after I had scanned the images in. I really enjoy combining analogue and digital techniques.

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The Reveal

More from my All my Bad Work portfolio where I share photographs that I wouldn’t usually want people to see . The self portraits here are a million miles away from the beautiful selfies you can find with a swipe or mouse click. I live with a fair amount of fatigue and pain and I took these today when feeling exhausted. I feel so old. I look and feel totally worn out and seeing that made me cry.

Does it really matter that I look far from gorgeous ?

When I was editing I took a deep breath and tried to see the story in the pictures. For a moment it was no longer me in the images, all that mattered was the connection between the subject and the audience.


Nothing is perfect, everything is perfect.

Sleepless nights make it harder for me to face the day and to acknowledge the balance that is always there. Although my ‘All My Bad Work’ project is still in its infancy I find myself drawn to my living space, the mess of it and the things that I’d rather not share. In my worst moments I feel ashamed that I don’t have a more pristine life where my home, life and presentation is in perfect order.

A wise friend reminded me, that to find happiness, we must learn to love what we hate. I think that’s especially true for emotional unrest. And whilst I am not in love quite yet I’m finding this experience of exposing what I want to hide a very exciting and educational process.


Point and Shoot

I have decided to challenge myself and take photographs which aren’t driven by finding a charming aesthetic and instead take pictures without a specific goal in mind. My hope is that by allowing myself some freedom creatively I will be able to befriend the parts of my personality that I reject or find uneasy to live with. I'm calling this project 'All my Bad Work'.

The images below were taken on a Fuji X100s and, unusually for me, they are straight out of the camera without any processing.


All my Bad Work

Recently I’ve been having a tough time taking photographs. My inner critic has been yelling at me. The work I produce is not technically proficient, it’s shallow, there’s no narrative, it’s meaningless or riddled with cliche. The work I produce is just plain ugly.

I have decided to challenge myself and take photographs which aren’t driven by finding a charming aesthetic and instead take pictures without a specific goal in mind. My hope is that by allowing myself some freedom creatively I will be able to befriend the parts of my personality that I reject or find uneasy to live with. I'm calling this project 'All my Bad Work'.


The One I Love - Exhibition and Private View

Scarlett publicity I'm working hard on my new exhibition 'The One I Love' which explores the relationship people with long term invisible conditions have with their pets.

Where : Free Space Project, Kentish Town Health Centre, 2 Bartholomew Road NW5 2BX

When : October 23rd - December 14th

Private View : October 23rd at 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Hope to see you there !

Naomi x

Living Differently - Holding the Gaze

Wall of meBack in 2013 I did an online photography course with Vivienne McMaster. Vivienne's work encourages her participants to "discover tools that will help you to cultivate a relationship of self-compassion both through the camera and in your every day life" (her words from the website), the premise being that self portraiture can help us look at ourselves with love and lessen the hold of self-criticism. It can be a radical act to show up in front of the lens and direct that gaze, that multi-facted honest gaze towards our most bullying critic - us. We can feel the earth shift when we direct a look of love towards ourselves instead.

A year before this I began using photography as a way to deal with living with chronic illness. After feeling trapped in my body I felt an enormous sense of relief capturing what was happening to me on camera. I was both the photographer and the subject and that allowed me to explore my feelings in depth without having them overwhelm me. The camera was a tool for both investigation and validating my experience. I began my self-portrait journey wanting to record the truth and the last thing I wanted was to 'play nice' for the camera. As I continued my work with Vivienne I learnt how to enjoy being in front of the lens. I found out that I was a worthy a subject as anyone I had turned my camera towards.

A few years have gone by and I'm still adapting to a life I did not choose, still looking for  my own story in the midst of change. The past 6 months have been very tough and I've got puffy and swollen in my face. This shouldn't matter, but it does. In an attempt to self-validate I forgot one thing - the constant passing of time. When I look at the photos above, all taken and processed on my phone, posing, pouting and beaming - I can also see someone trying hard to pretty herself for the lens. Looking at these pictures something is missing. Where is my body ? It's no coincidence that I live with an invisible illness.  I've managed to hide myself from myself.

Looking  again I can see that even the most processed of them are a part of my story. Some days I let my vulnerability show, others I shine with joy and then there are the times when I feel the only choice I have is to 'say cheese', hold my gaze and face the world.

Living Differently - Nothing is Beautiful

A week ago my solid, kind and adored therapist finally retired. I'm still numb from the ending of what has become one of my most important relationships to date. Every therapeutic relationship is different and ours evolved in to something far away from text books and theories and in to something imaginative, philosophical, supportive and ultimately saved my life more than once.  A few weeks before our final session we were talking about photography. I mentioned the work of Khalik Allah, whom I had only just discovered. I broke down in tears recalling the images of these New Yorkers - tough, broken and on the edge of survival. What struck me most is their vibrance. Yes, there's suffering here, addiction and poverty but there's also tenacity. That the photographs are in colour, deep saturated flourishing colour, spoke to me about the vitality of the human spirit. And that's why I wept. 'All photography captures life' I said 'Even if it's no longer there, it's the evidence that it has been. From the sky at night to a lamp on a table, to the people in the photographs, it's all about life. And because it's all about life it means that it's about beauty.' I thought about the photographic projects I've assigned myself since becoming ill - from taking pictures of the small and mundane, snapping the shutter at the same subject matter over days or weeks to my most recent project 'The View From Here'  (taken entirely from my bed during this recent crash). 'Even nothing is beautiful' I said.

My therapist smiled and repeated 'Nothing is beautiful' and in that moment we acknowledged both meanings inherent in this statement. The way I had originally meant it - even nothing is beautiful - and also remembering the despair I had taken to many session where I would arrive joyless and sad believing that there was no beauty in myself, or the world that I had access to. Nothing is beautiful, not this moment or any moment to come. But now my wish is that by stumbling on these words I can find moments, however short, where both the hope and hopelessness can live side by side. And that there will always be colour even in the most brutal of times.