LOOKSLIKEFILM: A Story About Us
by Tash Jones
This Winter 2022 LOOKSLIKEFILM turns eight years old!
What started late one October evening 2014 as purely an ‘inspiration space’ has grown into a community.
A space that was once where photographers could quickly source images that “looked like film” for their creative inspiration & appreciation of the artist behind the image has evolved into what we see today.
LOOKSLIKEFILM is a website.
But, what else?
It’s multiple Facebook groups –
It’s an Instagram community –
It’s a Pinterest space
It’s the LOOKSLIKEFILM store that includes many assets to assist in streamlining your business, such as templates, contracts, guides and more.
It’s real-time education sharing spaces & problem-solving.
It’s local community groups.
It’s educational resources, interviews with much loved artists, elevation of artists, elevation of new and undiscovered artists.
It’s artist spotlights, conversations, movements… and this is just the beginning.
These mentioned alone culminate in over 250,000 creatives worldwide – creatives welcome from any country, with any belief system, with any background and from all demographics – to share in a common goal.
The goal of sharing their art, to enjoy the artistry of others, to communicate and network with other like-minded creatives, to share knowledge and to support each other to grow and evolve into the best possible creator they can be.
LOOKSLIKEFILM has birthed businesses, friendships, love stories & inevitably, fall-outs.
It has grown alongside the community to be what we believe to be the best version of LOOKSLIKEFILM thus far & we want to continue to serve the members, the industry and be here with you to grow as individual artists along the way too.
Meridian Presets. The LOOKSLIKEFILM stand-alone hub with various Lightroom Presets and Effects to enhance your photography from some of the world’s best photographers and artists.
This month we launched our new stand-alone platform called AEON University. AEON is a community-based education hub with guidance direct from the professionals themselves.
From, “how-to” posing guides, all the way to building an associate empire, creative shooting techniques and everything in between.
A Love Letter To The LLF community
We felt this was the ideal time to introduce you to the hearts who work upfront & behind the scenes to assist in making this community what it is today.
This introduction to us is our love letter to you, the people who continue to participate, educate, speak up, hold space & grow right along side us.
We want to thank each & every one of our members for the love, friendship & lessons over the last eight years and cannot wait to share & enjoy all the new elements that will come with the future.
Sitting here, writing this, I cannot help but reflect on my own LOOKSLIKEFILM journey and can barely believe where it has taken me.
But, more on that later – right now, I want to give the LOOKSLIKEFILM community an update and much overdue insight into the team, who we are as a collective and who we are as individuals.
Above all – we are a community – and we cannot wait to see what you have in store. To observe and appreciate, and ultimately celebrate your growth as we walk this choice of career path side by side.
LOOKSLIKEFILM: How it all began
LOOKSLIKEFILM was born with the premise of inspirational images that did exactly what it said on the tin, for the most part, they “looked like film” – now this is more than an idea or a name, it is the brand and it is the beginning.
No longer do images simply need to ‘look like film’, all imagery is included in the round-ups, the blogs, the highlights & the community.
All forms of photography are appreciated and like most things in life, personal taste will affect the responses to imagery. The community is vast, but rest assured, that someone will appreciate the concept, the image, or the creative artistry that is involved in an individuals work.
So, we all know the CHOO CHOO right?
What is the Choo Choo? (And why?)
The Choo Choo train that stops by in the main Facebook group once an image hits a certain number of likes by the community & its members – well, the Choo Choo got a reboot/refresh and I’m starting right here with this integral part of LOOKSLIKEFILM history to tell you how, what & why.
The great thing about this is and the ‘why’ behind the concept is that you can inspire people who subscribe to the website, people who may not partake in social media, you can inspire globally.
When you get a Choo Choo, you will receive a comment, usually from Matthias and very occasionally from myself, on the image comment section. The comment will let you know you have a Choo Choo and request a high-resolution version of the image along with information, for feature purposes.
Once live on the blog, you can also post the Choo Choo feature badge on your site to direct your website visitors to the feature and direct them there via link.
How has the Choo Choo evolved?
We have introduced Staff Picks. They are Instagram round-up from the #lookslikefilm and #lookslikefilmweddings tags via Instagram. This also means that members who no longer have or participate on Facebook can still be found & featured for their work.
The Choo Choo is no longer the only way to be featured on LOOKSLIKFILM.
With the ever-changing algorithms on each social media platform, making it a “hit and miss” set of requirements to sometimes even achieve visibility – we wanted to ensure that artists we loved were not missed.
These Staff Pick stories took a brief hiatus whilst we navigated post 2020 work-loads as individual businesses & worked on AEON University & all the good-stuff we have upcoming for the community.
For the record, Staff Picks are back & posted at random, usually mid-week.
They are based on the following categories – Weddings, Lifestyle, Couples, Portraits, Kids/Family & Our Picks, which are often miscellaneous & whatever speaks to us at the time of choosing!
As long as you are using one or both hashtags, your chances of being picked by one of the three of us is the best it can be! This is also how we pick for the grid.
Please note, using the hashtags are the best way to be seen, we each check both hashtags within the scroll feature and regularly spend time picking from this & refreshing our choices.
We do not currently check image tags within Instagram that come via direct message to the pages, as we have so many per day along with messages, questions, and general bot DM’s!
LOOKSLIKEFILM – Instagrams
Our General Manager, Matthias Jaworksi, curates the main LOOKSLIKEFILM Instagram. When he has (rare) time off, it’s then curated by Tash Jones, our Creative Content & Community Lead & LLF Weddings Manager. She also Team-leads the moderators who work so hard to keep the Facebook groups running smoothly.
Most Instagram stories are created and posted by Tash, similarly if away, Matthias takes the role.
Tash curates the LOOKSLIKEFILM Weddings Instagram page.
These pages do post some “Choo Choo” images, but we tend to also post images that didn’t get the likes due to algorithms or images we just love too!
LOOKSLIKE – IG Live Sessions
‘LOOKSLIKE’ will be a regular Instagram Live session ran by Tash, hosting a variety of creatives, artists, communities, educators, brands, and more.
Think of them as in-depth, no holds barred, intimate ‘catch-ups’ with our most talkative team member from the comfort of their homes or office/workspace.
The IG-lives will be available for viewing in the highlight section of Instagram for a period of time & may include exclusive updates, offers and give you an insight into creatives you may know of and also people who deserve the recognition that you may not.
We are super excited to get started with these, and we will begin in early 2023 with an Aeon Artist who has already created their education video on our Aeon University platform.
AEON UNIVERSITY – Video Education
AEON University, as mentioned above, is a community-based education programme for photographers, we soft launched part of the courses in November and have lots to come in 2023 from your favourite artists and your soon to-be favourites, in the form of education and sharing.
Aeon is based on accessible knowledge and is already stocked with videos from the likes of Igor Demba, Naomi Van Der Kraan, Sean Flanigan, and more.
All other exciting news and updates will be shared with you in real-time, we will also create twice yearly round-up posts of anything you may have missed via the newsletters, social media or otherwise and giving you up-to-date news on the team.
For now, let’s get back to the re-introduction and introduction to the LOOKSLIKEFILM team, starting with the man, the myth, the legend, the LOOKSLIKEFILM founding Father: Lukas.
LOOSKLIKEFILM: Meet The Team
LLF: Concept, Creation, Present Day
LOOKSLIKEFILM was born out of my personal need to have a place where I could go to find inspiration to grow as an artist and evolve my style as a beginner back in the early days.
This was all pre-Instagram and Pinterest in their current forms. It all started with a small Facebook group that quickly grew.
It became bigger and bigger again, on its own.
We didn’t do any marketing or planning for it at all, and initially, it was just me.
Many people joined because they heard about it in passing, so it was all natural and organic growth.
Over the years it evolved into the blog, community, listing page, preset company, and now a place for online education.
LLF: Team – Staff
The LLF team is constantly evolving, but at the moment, we have Matthias Jaworski, who runs the website in terms of blog posts and taking care of customer support. Matthias also covers the LLF Insta grid.
The wonderful Tash Jones is responsible for our new online education site project called AEON and she is the direct line to the community & is always considering the needs of the people first, with idea after idea – she also runs the social media stories & LLF Weddings.
Tanisha Clay and Seila Stone are our moderators of the Facebook groups, they are busy taking care of everything that might come up in there.
Laura Beck is currently taking a break due to her health, but she is our LLF Bare Queen and leads the boudoir group.
Our LLF Kids group is currently on hiatus but will be back in 2023 with a slight re-brand.
Goals – Growth – Photography – Business
I don’t have a particular vision or plan, just a passion for what I created and where it can go, I know that the immediate future involves growing AEON into one of the main supportive spaces for creatives to find online education and also evolving LLF into a bigger & more engaged community with other projects that are coming up.
As far as my own photography business goes, I just want to take care of my bucket list in terms of destination wedding countries.
I totally want to go to Japan, which I cannot wait until 2023 to shoot a wedding!
Other countries on my bucket list are Greenland and South Africa.
At this point in my career, I have a specific target audience so my ideal clients always find me, it’s a true joy to work with them no matter where in the world their wedding is, the people make it great.
I do also offer mentoring options covering a range of available subjects, SEO is my most popular mentoring choice, but I also do posing and some other stuff in between. You can find information on my website.
Introvert – Impact
Of course, when you are running a community, speaking and other roles are offered to you. I am totally an introvert and sometimes feel pressured to speak at events. I’ve definitely gotten better over the years, but I’ll never say it’s fun! I’m sure people can relate – I know Tash does!
People often ask when they can next hear or see me speak, any events like that would be shared via LOOKSLIKEFILM and my personal social media.
Sometimes, in the midst of the weddings and balancing work and home I temporarily forget the sheer size of this community across all platforms.
While I’ve had some incredible excitement, fun, and life-changing opportunities from creating LLF, with it is also a heavy burden because with so many individual human beings coming together in any capacity, things don’t always go the way you hope.
People aren’t always what they seem and I am someone who takes people on who and how they are in real-time. I care about it like you wouldn’t believe and that can feel like any issue or negative event is my responsibility.
Me – Family – Home – Life
My wife Lena and I had our baby daughter Rubi last year in May and she just turned 19 months.
Besides us, there are also Milla our Bernese mountain dog and Alma a mixed breed that we rescued from a shelter in Romania.
We also have three bunnies named Dunphy, Klops, and Motte!
Image by Pablo Beglez
With such a young child, our entire focus is on her at the moment as we try to give her the best possible life that we can.
I take a lot of photos at home now, looking back I wish I had known sooner how to really handle my camera when I was much younger.
The way I can capture light and emotions now is very different to when I started, I wish I could have learned whilst my grandparents were with us.
That’s why I always say I don’t have a favorite location to shoot, I have favorite things to shoot and that’s real emotion and light. Anywhere is beautiful when you can capture light.
Outside of work, I either play soccer in a local club, which I’ve played now for over 20 years, or I play video games! Another new hobby that I just added last year is collecting old and new comics.
My main goal for 2023 is to relax and spend time with my family. My daughter is at that age where I do not want to miss a thing because I notice how quickly she’s changing whenever I am on the road for a couple of days and come back. Spending time together and just enjoying life is THE big win for me.
I don’t know what the future holds, of course, nobody does. But I do know I’m excited about it. I’m excited for new memories with my family, to travel, for the growth and building of LLF and Aeon, and to do a lot more gaming too!
PS my favourite snack is crisps or in the US ‘chips’!
My Favourite Photographs
This shot is special to me because it basically started my career as a destination wedding photographer. It all started with this wedding in Iceland. It is 3 am in the morning during the summer so there is no real night time and we could travel to all locations without the trouble of the tourists. This shot however could have been taken anywhere in the world but I simply loved the expression and this shot was used as the main header on my website for over 3 years.
New York, 2019, 18 hours of shooting this amazing wedding. My longest wedding to date but I loved every second of it. It is not perfect but its special to me as I love the expression as it describes perfectly what I and all the guests felt at that moment.
This was the first wedding of the year in Germany.
It was the moment the bride walked into the room of her grandma who had some serious health issues the week before the wedding and no one knew if she would make it.
I never cried so much behind the camera as this was such an intense and emotional moment for everyone involved.
August of 2022, my longest journey ever to French Polynesia and I got to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. The way the light lit up the sky and the glow was magical. It was also a very intimate and beautiful moment that made me realise once more why I love doing what I do.
Lukas and I have been friends for more than 15 years now. We lived and still live in two different cities, which are only a few kilometers apart. Outside of LLF, Lukas and I regularly see each other and share activities with our families and friends.
I never intended or thought I’d be a photographer. In my youth, my creative side went into making music with my friends, I played in a Rock band, and we had incredible times playing on stages all over Germany. Each of the band members, in the end, has followed their own path of career, so, unfortunately, we have stopped making music.
Start at LLF
My initial career path was in banking, and I got a degree in economics. Although I do enjoy the economical topics, the bank job overall wasn’t making me happy – one day in January 2017, myself and my wife spent the day in the Netherlands with Lukas and Lena. We discussed our worries and joys of life, as friends do.
Lukas mentioned that LLF was growing rapidly, and what started as a small Facebook group had grown substantially. He had a great group of friends from across the world to support him when it got going initially. However, like with my music group back then – everyone follows their intended path and journey in their career. The friendships are ongoing, but the work with LLF came to a natural end.
Together though, they set the foundations that are the core identity of the brand today.
That day in January, Lukas asked me to become a full-time staff member, and I joined in February 2017, almost 6 years ago!
I know that I used to describe my role as an executive assistant, but as it’s evolved, it’s more of a General Manager.
Lukas and I work together in our office, which has meant I’ve been able to learn the processes and administrative tasks around LLF and our preset brand Meridian. This in turn has enabled me to manage the brand when Lukas is abroad shooting or out of the office. We are based in Germany, but our wonderful LLF community unites photographers worldwide.
I don’t offer mentoring or anything such as teaching as I don’t see myself currently in the position to teach other established photographers about photography. However, I once shared my knowledge about photography when a school kid asked for advice!
I think LLF is a great starting point for “new to the industry” photographers and also for seasoned professionals who want a safe space to hang out.
In my opinion, the reason LLF works is because it’s got a specific value. The “why” has always been really clear and consistent.
There goes my hero
Lukas taught me everything in regard to photography – I wouldn’t be here if Lukas hadn’t believed in me and the talent I have. So, yeah – my personal photography hero is Lukas, who introduced me to this beautiful part of my world.
Besides that, to add a little more cheese – I admire the photographers from our LLF community.
I scroll daily through our groups for the content, and over the years, I’ve learned so much from simply observing and admiring images from different fields of photography and through the comments and discussions that then take place about them. The positives but also the struggles people openly discuss in our groups are huge learning opportunities and opened my eyes to the potential hurdles running a business could present.
My biggest challenge with LLF is time – it would be great to have more than 24 hours in a day!
The LLF community life is a huge gift we have the honor to manage. But, with all the tasks besides the Facebook group, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to get into passing conversations or to share images of your own.
LLF is not just a Facebook group, as it once was in 2015. There are so many elements, from legal to invoicing, queries and customer support, and product management – keeping everything on track alongside a family and shooting weddings can be a juggling act at times.
I know my persona is perceived to be quite quiet, which is funny because I don’t have a problem being on stage and speaking in front of a crowd! I guess my reserved nature around LLF results in the fact that I’m not a native English speaker. My first language is German, my second language is Polish, and then my third language is English! Sometimes it feels overwhelming and/or intimidating that I cannot express myself or my point of view precisely when I’m unprepared, especially when the topic is sensitive.
As I mentioned above, LLF unites people from across the globe, so sometimes, the differing time zones make things hard to manage. Especially if something happens during our night-time within the groups, we have two amazing moderators, Seila & Tanisha to help with that now.
Nevertheless, I take my responsibilities seriously and always endeavor to promote open dialogue and participate when possible.
Leading by example is imperative.
Having a good team dynamic is crucial to keep things running efficiently. Thankfully we currently have an amazing team!
LLF + Meridian – Business Goals
I hope that LLF will be in a good position within the photographer’s world in the next 5 years and continue to grow. I also hope that we, as a brand and, more importantly, as a community, still provide value and positive delivery of relevant education and inspiration for those creatives looking for a space.
The best part of LLF is the education and knowledge sharing, that and the community spirit.
Three specific goals that come to mind, though? Helping LLF to the next level, maintaining running my own photography business effectively, and I’d love to shoot a wedding in North America.
Another goal I have as a personal one is to share more work and thoughts within our community and find time to engage. I run the Meridian Instagram and do many administrative tasks behind that brand. It’s exciting to see new artists emerge with varying styles and each bringing something new to the art.
I currently edit with Cascade 02 by Benj Haisch, and I love the LLFx effects that spice up some of my images in addition to the edit!
My biggest milestone in business so far was this –
“Hey Matthias, we love your work! Are you cool with flying 2000 kilometers to photograph our wedding?”
That is SO crazy and so cool – sometimes I catch myself in a moment on the couch and cannot believe the journey photography has taken me on so far.
Family – Life – Me
I live in a small house in the West of Germany, an hour’s drive from Düsseldorf/Cologne, close to the Netherlands border. My wonderful wife Sabrina and I said “I do“ in Las Vegas in 2015. We have two cute daughters, born in 2017 and 2020, and I couldn’t be happier to spend my life with them. We love dogs, so our french bulldog called Penny completes the list of family members.
When I’m not working, I love spending time with my family and friends, watching football (for the US folks: soccer) in the stadium, and loudly supporting my favorite club FC Schalke 04. If there’s some free time left, you’d probably catch me playing on PS5 or watching NFL & NBA on TV.
I really enjoy good food and travel like most people – my favorites being traditional Polish or Asian food, but I do have a soft spot for a good burger!
I’ve been lucky enough to see some amazing places in my life so far. As Poland is deeply connected in my heart Zakopane, Krakow and Gdansk are definitely some gems to visit. But Corsica, Iceland, and New York City were also impressive.
To close, I’m looking forward to the exciting projects we have in store and to seeing where this wild journey takes me!
My Favourite Photographs
When I began my photography journey, I never thought I’d ever be taking photographs at a funeral. Even though it was emotionally challenging, I found comfort that the family who could not attend the funeral*, could still have the closure and say goodbye through my imagery. *Due to pandemic restrictions)
This image is a favourite of mine as it marks the official start of my photography career. Lukas and Jacob (pictured) taught me the free-lensing technique during our LLF World Meet-Up in Barcelona 2017. I gave it a go and felt lucky to get this shot of Jacob.
Whilst this isn’t my work, it is shot by Lukas at my own wedding and is extremely important to me. This image depicts my Grandpa who passed away in August 2021. He had Parkinson’s Disease for many years which affected him physically and mentally. I love this photograph because it looks like the illness vanished and he’s simply enjoying our wedding day.
I know wedding day shared images are usually romantic and intimate moments, but this is one of my favorites because it reminds me of the fun element. I hate being in front of the camera and I know that many of my clients feel the same.
I aim to make it fun and relaxed on each and every wedding day. Being silly and simply having the best time of our lives is what I aim for when I work and this image is the perfect example of it.
Backstory – The Shortish Version – Hiya
I find this super discombobulating, as I’m writing up this blog and writing up the words of my two colleagues then adding my own – it’s truly taken me 6 weeks, if not more to complete (thank you ADHD freeze!) I can talk about the team and LOOKSLIKEFILM forever, I mean I can talk full stop. But, when it comes to myself, I find it, just, yeah!
I am the newest admin team member and in all honesty, I struggle to say it, write it or believe it. I joined the LOOKSLIKEFILM Facebook group on 10th May 2016, my memory is terrible, I literally just checked in the group on my phone to clarify! I came across the group when it was repeatedly mentioned in my Facebook newsfeed in conversations and curiosity got the better of me.
I naturally don’t recall the first few months of being in the group, but I do remember the overwhelm of being exposed to SO.MANY.EPIC.ARTISTS and experiencing what I now know and can identify as imposter syndrome.
I was a Customer Service representative for 6 years in a steady job role with progression opportunities before starting my own business, having flitted from job to job prior to that in the most incoherent way – From selling motorbikes (!) to working at a fish and chip shop to teacher training for early years primary education to packing plant food at a factory.
You name it, I probably did it!
One thing that has remained consistent for me, is the customer service side of my personality that’s keen to make things honest, clear, and fair.
LLF World Meet Up – 2017
I started my business, Love Luella in 2013 as a hobby and by 2016 I was very much a “weekend warrior” and part time shooting weddings.
I wasn’t well travelled, I still consider that to be true and I certainly wasn’t very confident in my ability as a human or in my photography!
I had, at age 31 never been abroad.
That was until March 2017 when I acted on impulse and booked to attend one of the LOOKSLIKEFILM meet up’s… in Barcelona! It was an experience and a half.
I think there were at least 12 other photographers from the UK on the flight across and I’d never been exposed to so many people who had similar interests with very different approaches.
Most of us on that flight stayed in a hostel in a shared room and I just about made it through the trip without any huge mishaps, if you don’t count rapping ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ wearing a pink feather boa in the karaoke bar as huge.
(Disclaimer – I didn’t get out much and that’s the first and last time I will ever take part in karaoke..)
2017 LLF World Meet Up Barcelona – Image by Tim Dunk
Overall, the trip boosted my enthusiasm for LLF and what it was.
I witnessed people who whilst I didn’t know of initially – I could just tell they were good.. right?!
There they were teaching and sharing their business approach, art and heart, all for free in a room of strangers who are considered ‘competitors’.
I loved the ethos, I loved the delivery and detail of knowledge shared so eagerly and I truly loved my lanyard!!
(I still have it in my bedroom hanging on my curtain rail!)
I never officially met Lukas, I think I waved once, but we do have a group selfie where we are in the same frame, just about and a roof top image taken where there are a few of us attempting an MTV cribs casual dancing on the top of a building in Barcelona moment.
Regretfully I never met Matthias in person, although he was there, and we never spoke to each other until 2020.
I’m super introverted unless it’s work related or in the company of people I’ve crossed many internal barriers with, so the experience was quite intense for me.
It was also the first time I had ever left my children for a number of days.
One of my sisters, who is not a photographer, came with me. How many 31 year old parents do you know that require a chaperone who is also their younger sibling / not a photographer, to attend a photography event in Spain!
Skipping parts, I continued ploughing away into my work and learning via trial and error and raising my sons.
By 2018 LLF, for me and I’m sure like for many of you at some point or another – was muted.
There were no hard feelings, or issues, I just couldn’t focus with the distraction of beautiful work and then came the comparison feelings and we all know that comparison steals joy.
I endeavoured to go “full time” in 2018 – that’s the official thing I’ve said somewhere and in comparison to previous years, 2018 was busier.
However, 2019 was my first year as a full-time photographer.
As a single parent to then, younger children, my time was needed elsewhere and of course we all know what happened with weddings the next year. (2020)
At some point in the space between Gangsters Paradise and 2020 I started unofficially helping out with the LLF sub-group for Wales. (I don’t recall exactly how and I didn’t do much to warrant help anyways) – it’s pretty much inactive now. My point being, I had no real ties to the community, rarely posted anywhere (i’m even worse for posting now) and didn’t “know” Lukas or Matthias other than their names and pleasantries via inbox with Lukas.
I feel the story of my joining the LLF team deserves a stand alone effort. Each time I try to condense it, it does the time & true impact a disservice and I will, once my new website is launched early 2023, write a post about the entire experience of 2020 to present day and what occurred, for anyone who has a remote interest. Mostly though, for myself.
Writing this has been cathartic & also reminded me of so many elements to express gratitude for.
Matthias has waited a long time for this draft so I think doing it that way is more logical (I hope!)
2020 – Present Day – Growth
The last couple of years haven’t been easy for anyone, us no different, as a family we are navigating some incredibly challenging situations, some of which are unfortunately ongoing.
For now, I just want to state that Lukas was one of the first of many people to ask for my insight in 2020.
The difference was, after asking he gave me the space to contribute organically and honestly, in the only way I know how.
There were no rules or restrictions – just the ability to share my lived in experiences. His efforts and work in making the LLF community, not just a safer space for everyone overall but a proactively safer space, are sincere and consistent.
It’s fair to say that he has changed my life.
The knowledge, opportunities, the harshest of lessons and ultimately, the friendships I have gained from this time..are priceless to me.
I confidently support the ‘brand’ with my whole heart because I know the two people who invited me into their world and shown me that all is not lost, at a time where I very much felt like they were.
Business Goals – Hopes
In regards to LLF, my core passions alongside equality within this industry are it’s community members.
Their experiences and the educational value we can add to their time spent within the groups and platforms whilst maintaining the integrity they started with and still have today is key.
During lockdowns, I spent a lot of time chatting to the community in the what felt like a “worldwide” time of Clubhouse.
Sharing and listening to so many artists I would have never got to know. That time helped me to clearly see what could serve the community better and what I could do to assist in that.
A few of the projects in motion currently and pending are my impulsive ideas (there are many) this naturally makes me nervous as my overarching drive is fuelled by anxiety and the desire to serve and serve well.
But, I do know that any idea I’ve had that is rooted in giving and not taking, on sharing and not keeping and with the motive of making things easier and / or better for others has always served me right in the end.
From the Staff Picks, to the additional Choo Choo’s or my soon coming, Artist Highlight feature, I don’t know how to exist without doing what I can, with what I know and learn on the way, to help make people feel seen and accepted.
As with anyone, I am always growing as a person.
I have grown within my parenting role, photography and every other element of life.
I hope to continue to grow as a team member and community admin and to better support the friends I have grown to appreciate and value beyond words.
Tripod – Trigger Warning – Mental Health
I live in North East Wales, not far from the Cheshire border. At home, it’s me, my sons and our four cats!
Life this last couple of years and especially this year in particular has not been smooth sailing – I am so lucky and count my blessings every day. Myself and my children (the tripod) have a wonderful relationship and I consider myself blessed to the highest degree every day I wake up to them.
Gratitude in place, I have a tonne of work to catch up on over Winter and right after finishing this I’ll be packaging up what feels like thousands of gift parcels to send out to my ever patient clients.
I don’t envy the person behind me in the Post Office queue!!
I assume by now I’m known by those who have worked with me or know me in general that I hold myself to an inhumane standard of customer service and it’s no secret that this year I have struggled outwardly more than I ever before.
As someone who prioritises everyone and anyone, it’s only very recently I’ve truly acknowledged that in order to work effectively, serve to the best of my ability and to parent these two epic people I get to call my children, I have to listen to my body.
Mental health is wealth, and whilst I will default into feeling varying degrees of anxiety and shame because I’ve been so behind with deadlines – I know I’ve tried my very best to navigate the challenges that have presented.
I firmly believe that Lukas, Matthias, my children, cats & the treasured people who have supported me and my clients, have kept me alive this year.
That and keeping a fairly dark and dry humour…
It’s a hefty statement, that I may possibly regret sharing, but honesty is the core of my personality and when you continuously ask people to do better, or be better.
I think it should start with doing better yourself.
And, on that note, I look forward to learning, growth, sharing, laughter, sunshine, being by the sea & the next year of this incredibly humbling career path this life has taken me on.
My Favourite Photographs
This is Holly, my original muse.
We don’t see each other often as I’m based in North Wales and she’s based in Bristol, England. But, when we do it’s like no time has passed.
When we catch up, even if it’s just literally two minutes, we try and take a picture or two.
Initially, when starting out, not many people around me were comfortable with me taking their photos.
But, Holly was always patient and willing and I’m still so grateful for that.
I feel that having her to photograph during different lighting situations, under time constraints, with our kids around us running wild, sometimes only for seconds/ probably helped me to grow as an artist.
This is just one quick snap from a pathway in the middle of the night in 2016 on a random street in Bristol where we met for 15 minutes. I remember thinking I’d finally nailed low light (I had not!)
This image isn’t necessarily a “favourite” but it’s important to me, it was my first protest in 2020 with my sister & our friends at the time in Manchester.
I had so many emotions running through me in this moment – the crowd below me was chanting in unity. I felt so small and simultaneously powerful that it’s hard to explain. I was devastated, grieving, scared, nervous, anxious, worried, and hopeful.
I still haven’t looked at many images from that day, but perhaps one day I will. But of the four I did edit, this one stood out as it’s an unusual editing choice for me. It possibly reflects my mood at the time.
This image is one of my favourites because it captures exactly why I do this job.
I was shooting a lovely couples portraits in their family garden and they suddenly seemed to get shyer than in the previous moments. I looked behind me and saw that the bride’s grandparents were watching together and just glowing with pride and emotion at seeing their granddaughter, celebrating love, having just got married.
It was a unique moment because more often than not, nobody else is present for couples photos – it was a moment in time I feel will be remembered for them & for me for my lifetime.
Images last longer than any human life, but love is forever and this image just contains so much love.
This was taken in 2020 during one of the eased lockdowns, I hadn’t picked up my camera in what felt like forever and by pure chance, a fellow Black woman who then lived in the same small North Wales town as I did was introduced to me.
We were both incredibly tired in a way that words couldn’t describe.We met up on a freezing cold day with no plan and a vintage wedding dress in the bot of the car. We ended up by a lake, and Casey got fully into the water, I stood over her, around thigh high and we talked about our feelings, the current social climate, the impact and just created together.
I free-lensed a lot of the shoot, which was hard as my hands were ice cold.
But it was worth it.
The water looked black, and I called the shoot, “Dŵr Du” – “Black Water” in the Welsh language. The shoot went on to be exhibited in the U.K. Black Female Photography exhibition, “We Are Here” and went on to be published in various publications, like the Guardian.
It’s just one of my many favorites from that day and a rare time when I photographed for myself and not for work in the last few years.
Here’s to the future!
From all of us, to you and your loved ones – we wish you a peaceful transition into 2023 and a Happy New Year.
We cannot wait to learn and grow with you as a collective and to see what you will create in the next year.
Thanks for sticking with us.
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