New website new blog come and visit x

Carolyn-Mendelsohn-Site-Launch

Dearest dearest all,

after many months of working with the genius who is Melissa Love,

I have a new website, and blog,

http://www.carolynmendelsohnphoto.com

do pop over and have a look, and if you have time read my new posts.

Lots and lots of love

Carolyn x

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So I Went and Got Married – or – You are never to old to learn, and you can teach an old dog new tricks!

You are never to old to learn  – and you can teach an old dog new tricks.

A week ago I got married. A beautiful, small, personal wedding with John (my partner of ten years), my son O and our children S and P.

I never imagined I would have children, in fact sometimes I look at my brood with amazement as if they somehow magically appeared. I never imagined I would get married. This wasn’t an issue as at a young age I decided that I would work on my personality and be interesting and have an exciting life.

I remember as a child people always commenting on my gorgeous little sister and then turning to me to comment about my personality. I was told I had ‘interesting looks’ that would get better with age. So at the age of 7, with a big personality and not quite fitting yet into my face  (all curly hair and freckles and a huge gappy grin) I imagined I was destined for an exciting life of exploration and adventure. I also spent hours in my clothes cupboard , with my eyes shut, ruffling my clothes and imagining I would get to Narnia if I thought hard enough – which also brings back the memory of my fantasy that our Loo was in fact a tardis, a time machine that would take me somewhere else, but I digress and that is infact another story.

So time passed, my hair got straight then went curly again, I left school, went to train as an actor and drama practitioner, worked in theatre, did stand up comedy, travelled, made theatre, directed, wrote stuff, made films, did big art events and travelled. Never staying still.

I made lots of friends, had relationships, fell in love, fell out of love, travelled, did more art stuff, but moved on and on and on.

I had an exciting life that was full of exploration and adventure. I took risks, huge risks, but I was always felt protected, like something someone was watching and looking after me. Sometimes I thought it was my Grandpa Henry, other times I felt I had a guardian angel, particulary after surviving a kidnapping (yes really – but another story) and a potentially bad car accident with my oldest when he was a baby, and other dramas. Maybe I had so much drama because I was open to having it. I still have dramas now, but in a safer more handleable way.

Eleven years ago, I met John.

John

A simple strong name for a man who was actually very complex and interesting. When I met him we were both not necessarily looking for a long term commitment. We both didn’t ever play games.

Actually I lie.

I once played a game.

When I felt that he was taking me for granted and thinking if he called me on a Friday night after not seeing me all week I would see him on the Saturday. I told him I was busy and that he would have to make an appointment in advance if he really wanted to see me. He did, and then another, and another, and another – and now 11 years on, with two amazing children of our own, and a rather lovely  photography career,  we have just got married.

We got engaged ten years ago – under the Humber bridge. Then life got in the way of our plans, and we didn’t quite get around to arranging the date.

We didn’t but my children tried to.

My youngest had a cunning wheeze. She got all her siblings together, the plan being to contact a children’s tv channel with a plan to get us married. She had to have our permission. I said “yes” why not? It would have saved me from organising it, and I had done reality Tv before. Then she asked her Daddy. He said – ‘NO!’ under no circumstances would he be on TV.  I can understand that. The problem was our youngest couldn’t . She was devastated. So I asked her what the plan had been.

She said.

“We wanted you to have a Dr. Who wedding, with Darleks, and a Tardis and everything”

” But P, I don’t want to be an assistant”  I told her.

P said

“Mummy, you could have been a cyberman!”

etc etc

John told her that ofcourse we would get married but not on TV.

He (With P’s help)  proposed on Valentines Day this year. He got down on his knees and sang me a song of proposal. P stood by; I cried and said “yes!”, and then asked if we could run away somewhere.

He said “Yes”

So two months later we got married on St. Mary’s, on the Isles of Scilly. A place very dear to us as we stay on one of the Islands every year.

I was worried, I was anxious, I was scared. Not of being married, no. I was scared of the day.

The day came. It was raining, I got onto the little boat in Bryher, and Left J, his brother Dave and the children to get ready. It was really raining, pouring infact. The boat came into St. Mary’s Harbour accompanied by a dolphin! I was met by my Dad, and Andrea Denniss of Pink Lily Photography. She took the photos, and was a complete star.

I had my hair done, got my wedding clothes on, and put on my new sparkly gold shoes. My Dad and Mum and I went to Porthcressa beach by taxi, where my gang (having arrived separately) where patiently waiting.

My anxieties lifted as the sun came out, and shone high in the sky creating the special and unique Scillonian light.

Dad and I walked arm in arm down the (very small) aisle. Time stilled momentarily as all our eyes met. All people I love in one small beautiful space. I saw John and felt like crying.

The service was very special, simple, personal, emotional with the right kind of solemnity and humour too. The children read their pieces so so beautifully and John and I exchanged rings. We signed the register, which was witnessed and signed  by Amy and the children. I felt like this was so much more than I could ever have imagined. That we were together in the best and most profound of ways.

Then we went onto the beach, Andrea took our photos (she also documented every beautiful part of that day) and we played about, had champagne, followed by a coffee and cake at Dibble and Grub.

As my parents, John’s brother, Amy L (from Bryher) and the kids walked ahead to catch the boat back to Bryher, John and I held back and walk together. We were stopped by two couples one after the other. The first were celebrating  because they had got married at the same place and wanted to share that with us. The other couple asked to take our photo and continued to tell us that today was their very happy 30th wedding anniversary .

We eventually got to our boat. Said goodbye to Andrea, and sailed back to Bryher accompanied by the bottle nose Dolphin.

This was just a week ago, in some ways it seems like it was ages ago, and at the same time yesterday. Thinking about it makes me happy and so glad that we decided to publicly, legally and officially declare our commitment to each other and our family.

When I started this post, it was really going to be about photography, but there you go.

What have I learnt?

As a photographer, I have learnt how to be the subject, and allow someone to take control. How to go with it, though I am uncomfortable in front of a camera. Andrea  was amazing. Truly amazing. Lovely. My whole family loved her. She is infectiously enthusiastic and sensitive too.

In many ways I would have been happy for all the photos to be blurred moments, but when Andrea sent the first images over a few days later, I cried. They were truly beautiful, real and us. Completely us.
I understood what it is like to receive this great gift. The pictorial memory that will now be with us too. I am so happy and thankful  for that. I understand too, what it is like to be a client when they receive the images . Andrea says there are many many more, but you know what? If it was just this nine, I would be completely happy.

Thank you universe, thank you Mum and Dad, Thank you Dave (who travelled all the way from the USA), thank you Amy,  and thank you my children, and thank you , thank you Andrea and a big Thank you to my now husband – John xxx

Finally, if you have got this far. Thank you for reading

All photographs (C) Pink Lily Photography

 

Question of the week – “How do you get your models looking so serene and calm?”

So on monday I opened up the subject of my blog to Facebook. What were people interesting in knowing more about?

“How do you get your models looking so serene and calm?”

The question above was put to me.

I find in all shoots there comes a moment that the model (of any age) has complete trust in you, and you work symbiotically. How does this come about though?

I work with my models/subjects, I direct but not overly – They forget themselves, by this I mean, the self-conciousness ebbs away. We laugh, we experiment, I usually fall over, or drop something. My natural clutz like abilities and readiness to laugh about it, usually disarms , as we work at different speeds.

The direction is very particular, a head tilt, eyes looking over there, chin down, fingers showing. I am always aware of the shape and form, the line of the person, the gaze and it’s impact, but there is also a certain organic feel to the shoot.

There are always planned and specific shots I go for, followed by ones where I will experiment, and go with what is happening. I am aware of the drama behind a picture, so here the picture above, I had Lexi run towards me, then stop suddenly a little in front of me. I press the shutter a moment after she stops. For me the dynamic is still there. Something has happened. There is a certain tension – created by the previous action.

So back to the question – ‘Serene and Calm’
It comes with trust, and the naturalness that comes with almost but not quite forgetting a camera is there. A strange kind of hypnosis if you like. I love these moments of calm, and some of my favourite pieces happen during these moments. There is a silence and stillness there, that is so revealing.

I strive for these, there is such powerful beauty contained with in them.

Madiba and Africa

Image

Not a photography post as such, but last night a true hero died.

My thoughts and emotions have been full to the brim to day. Nelson Mandela has been a big part of mine and other peoples lives. I am surprised as to how I am able to mark my life through the amazing events of his life.

Today I have had lots of thoughts to day about Madiba, but also I have thought about his great influence on the world, on people and on my own life.

Today I have also been thinking of Eileen Mendelsohn my grandmother, and the work she did with the Black Sash in Johannesburg, and the fact she got arrested (as quite an elderly woman). She along with many fought against apartheid, and better conditions for people. She protested about Nelson Mandela being incarcerated, and she taught me a lot about justice and injustice at an early age. As a young child I remember watching the bbc news, and seeing my Gran in a news item about South Africa. I spoke to her about it and she gleefully told me that they had been told they were not allowed to gather in groups to protest, open air meetings were prohibited! So the woman of the Black Sash had a cunning plan, they stood separately 10 metres apart from each other holding banners, and took up the whole of Hill Brow in Joberg.

“When Nelson Mandela eventually walked free from prison in 1990, he made reference to the Black Sash in his first speech, delivered at the Grand Parade in Cape Town. He said ‘the Black Sash was the conscience of white South Africa’ during the dark days of apartheid.”

I remember that speech and felt so proud of my Gran and her fellow Black Sash members.

A true hero in our own lifetimes, who will hopefully have influence for many many years to come.

 
I have three children, and when each child reached the age of six I have taken them on a road trip to south Africa. To see the country that had so much influence on my life and on other lives. They explored the country with me, they saw poverty and wealth, they spoke to people and played with children who had different lives to them. They saw wild animals in a natural environment. They questioned peoples living conditions, and learnt about differences. All these things I learnt about too, when I was their age. I documented their journeys with them, photographically and on blogs. They all still talk about their journeys, and I hope that they carry with them, the images and experiences throughout their lives.
 
Mandela lives on in our hearts and minds.

May his legacy live on too.

Glum is the new Black – A new movement in Portraiture.

 

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I find myself thinking back back back to my childhood self.

So, I was small, with short dark hair, and I looked like a boy.

Old men would stop me in shops ( I would have been about 8 ) and call me ‘Sonny’. and tell me to be polite and hold the door open. I was either called ‘Sonny’ or ‘Smiler’. ‘Sonny’ because I looked like a boy – (thanks Mom and Dad for the convenience of the short de rigueur haircut), and ‘Smiler’ because I always had a gap toothed grin or smile. I also had scabby knees and an occasional cheeky/naughty attitude.  Never one of the pretty ones, but then with scabby knees and a gap toothed grin it just wasn’t going to happen. I was painfully aware of this from an early age (having a gorgeous baby sister)  –  It didn’t bother me because I concluded ugliness (read that as quirkiness) was fine because I had that thing called ‘personality’ and ‘it would get me far in life’.

 

When I was in my teens with longer hair and no longer called ‘Sonny’ or for that matter ‘Smiler’, I would go to parties and clubs, with a well practiced, neutral disinterested look. I remember people (older) saying  – ‘give us a smile – it can’t be that bad’ – Now that always annoyed me, and would take me from a peaceful neutral space to cross in an instant.

 

SO again I concluded that maybe my smiling habit was a result of truly looking miserable when I was thinking, or dreaming about nothing in-particular. It is because I looked so sad with out trying.

 

Now I am deviating, but maybe getting onto the heart of this post.

I have a penchant for sad or thoughtful faces – maybe sad is the wrong word to use, but neutral doesn’t work either, and blank really doesn’t cut it. I feel they are so much more telling when taking a portrait of someone. They make me feel something, and hopefully this translates through to the client who has commissioned the portrait. There is beauty there, unforced, natural, thoughtful. A behind the mask look.

The communication is all behind the eyes. Intelligent and thoughtful, no blank stare or crazy photographer smile. Just a moment of thought, focus, concentration and contemplation. 

 

I like to think that I take a portrait and whilst in the process establish and build a rapport /relationship with my subject. The result being that the photograph (which is after all more commonly nowadays an exercise in pixels ) becomes a portrait, and that one can see behind the smile or the photo-look that people do if they feel selfconcious or uncomfortable.

 

Sometimes I look at my stream of images and because I am so intent on capturing the neutrality that exposes the character, I look at my images and see a whole lot of glum!

 

So that where I get to my unique selling point! It was bespoke, emotional, high-end. Now it is capturing the misery of our daily lives, through a series of glum expressions and photographs.

Glum is the new black.

Love to you all on a Tuesday night.

Carolyn x

addendum : I love photographing happiness and natural smiles too! Just attracted to the glum x

 

Professional Photographer of the Year – Winner Lifestyle

Professional Photographer of the Year - Winner Lifestyle

It’s been a crazy, wonderful, beautiful, busy year, and though it has not reached the end, I feel like I have received the best ever christmas present.

A week ago I was at the Professional Photographer of the Year 2013 awards night, in Cheltenham (Hair straightened, dress on, and a little bit of heel too. Very different to my usual crazy haired through a bush backwards appearance) to be awarded with my winners trophy.

It was a fabulous night, and I have to say now that I felt the standard of work was incredible, and it was a real honour to be included. For me, always the bridesmaid, a perfectionist with a dose (verging on unhealthy) of imposter syndrome, this kind of spotlight is not always a comfortable place to be, but tonight it just wasn’t like that.

I met and talked to such delightful and talented photographers, and people involved in the business. I shared drinks with the glitterati and the paparazzi – well ok, getting carried away here. I talked to people who I admire and who when it comes down to it are just like you and me.

The winning photo for the Lifestyle section is ‘Poppy’ I took it as I was about to go on a shoot. I went upstairs, Poppy was sitting and reading, but the light on her was so beautiful, that I ran down to get my camera (Nikon D800) and already with lens ready (135 2f) I took the picture just as Poppy looked up. The shoot afterwards went well, and it was when I edited the pictures – Poppy’s picture stood out.

I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love, I try to do the very best of jobs
and occasionally it is tough and lonely out there, and it is easy to loose the faith. Lots and lots of great photographers out there all working their socks off, and for me and the need to push forward with business and to look after the family can be a little stressful occasionally. ( I have even got a well hidden bald patch because of it). This award has been timely and I will look onwards and upwards.

So thank you Professional Photographer Magazine for a wonderful evening, and it was great to meet you all. Lovely also to chat to Kate Hopewell Smith, and Catherine Conner, both fabulous and influential people in our business. (and they were particularly fabulous last Thursday).

I am so pleased for Mike Deere, a well deserved overall winner and all round lovely bloke too.

and a big thank you to the lovely Peter Zelewski winner of the 50mm section for taking my picture above.

and mostly

Thank you to Poppy x