Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Portrait of a Blogger Pt 2

David's blog 'The Nyanzi Report' is a superb lesson in how light, composition, an acute eye and a meticulous attention to detail yields fabulous results. His photos are as immediately charming as he is - something he demonstrated by showing me around the nearest shops once I finished snapping.

I spent another day behind the camera today – the sound of its shutter is now less than a faint echo as I scroll through the resulting photos. But they will be for another week... For now I am casting the reel of my thoughts back to the summer, when I started my blogger portrait series, the first part of which can be seen here.

The aim was to capture something of the fashion and style bloggers I pointed my Canon 5D at – and I’m assuming that only they could tell you if I succeeded. The likelihood is that I have a lot more work to complete before I could ever produce a portrait that reflects the absolute character of the sitter, but I guess it’s a goal. For now I just wish to celebrate the work of these bloggers I admire.
However, Lucy made a pertinent point when we were strolling through sunny Hyde Park with her cousin and Carrie. She asked me to explain my aims for the project, which I did. She was interested in the notion that my perception of appearance and what constituted a great shot was very different to her own. I could end up choosing to feature a photo she would never consider airing in the light of the internet. I found this fascinating – that it was up to me to pick out whatever characteristics and details I wanted to with my camera.

Carrie of  'Wish Wish Wish' makes me think of a British Bardot - her classic style and looks set off with a side ordering of whimsy. She is as (if not more so) lovely and engaging in 'real life' as she appears on her beautiful blog.

As self-style bloggers, no matter how objective we try to be, we are still depicting some kind of projection of ourselves. You might delete one photo because you can see skin blemishes, or you don’t like the bags under your eyes. Maybe it just doesn’t have the right atmosphere. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t choose to showcase images where I appear tired or miserable. However, this means that the resulting posts will always subjective – a view of ourselves that we are happy to present to others. I guess it is an active manifestation of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – and as a blogger, you must, for a moment or two, be your own beholder. The photos I choose to post of myself on my blog might be accurate reflections of me, or total daydreams of characters I wish to embody.

Cameras, as I have said in the past, have the most magnificent ability to both conceal and uncover. I discovered this when hiding all signs of my scoliosis for several months. Critics sometimes refer to photographers whose lens no-one can escape as an ‘all-seeing eye’ – as though the camera holds within in it the strange power to uncover the true self of the subject (and thus why some people might be wary of having their photo taken). And of course this is true for the most talented photographers. Henri Cartier-Bresson once talked of the way he “craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph” and “preserve life in the act of living” (both quotes taken from the excellent ‘Photographers on Photography’ set of essays edited by Nathan Lyons – from a favourite bookshop in Hay on Wye). I can agree that the appeal of both photography and writing for me is the chance to grasp at something and stick it down, in either a photo or word document. And yet, the moment it is seen by someone else it is open to a completely different set of judgments - our taste being just another way we assert our own individuality.

Jazmine from Jazzabelle's Diary has both an amazing sense of style (we share a penchant for car boot sales and charity shops) and endless legs. These photos were aptly taken at the V&A - one of her favourite places in London - after we had enjoyed a coffee in the incredibly picturesque cafe there.


Lydia said...

Jazmine is so chic! I love the simple black lines.

Closet Fashionista said...

Such amazing photos! I think you captured them very well, though I have only read David's blog.
And it is so true, as bloggers we show what we want to show of ourselves, some people may be totally different than what we see o their blogs...its an interesting thought

Natalie Suarez said...

amazing!! LOVES IT xx

bonita said...

~ * ♥ * ~

It's funny because I really do think that the camera will either capture my best or my worst side... In some ways it's hard to find the 'real me' in my photos because I always feel like they are an exaggeration; there's no middle - 'normal' if you like - ground.

I think that it's easier to take pictures of other people and find the 'true' side of them because you can recognize it when it is on your camera screen from observing them in real life.

However, I am totally aware that I am always depicting a projection of myself because I just can't be sure that what I capture is really me. I guess that's the art of self portraiture. Thanks for such an interesting topic Rosalind ~ and sorry about the essay... : )

bonita of Depict This!
~ * ♥ * ~

Katrina, said...

Such beautiful and true words. Your blog is wonderful, truly wonderful!

Joy said...

I would have loved to meet every single one of them. You too of course!!!

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

Nice to see the lovely David featured here along with other charming bloggers. I enjoy this serious - portrait of a blogger.

All the time in the world... said...

these are a delight..

Dina said...

What a beautiful continuation of your previous Blogger Portrait post. I also recently published a whole article about the way bloggers present themselves to their readers, and being yourself. However, it is most curious that when I meet most bloggers in person they are almost always just like their photos on their blog! x


What I find the most interesting, and that you touched on, is the beauty in the eye of the beholder. I find this sometimes when I'm doing a shoot in front of the camera, and the photographer chooses to publish pictures which I didn't like so much, or I didn't feel were the best, in my opinion. As a blogger, we're used to the freedom of controlling what projections of ourselves we present to the world, and it's interesting when we lose that control. It forces us to see a version of ourselves we've perhaps tried to hide, but is nevertheless still there, still very much part of who we are. Of course, we forget that we never actually SEE ourselves: moving, talking, laughing. I can sit at the table oposite my mother, imagining I look content and wistful, until she snaps 'stop looking so unhappy to be here!' - a classic example of how we can mislead others unconsciously through our image, whether through the lens of a camera or not.

I can't stand watching video footage of myself, or hearing my own voice - I could never be an actress. What does it mean? When will I stop denying that I actually look and talk like that, and there's no way I can hide it?

It's up for the viewer to decide whether I am really who I am in my photographs - but essentially that too, means nothing, for who is ever just ONE version of themselves?

As much as I respect Henri Cartier-Bresson, I think he sought to achieve the impossible in capturing the 'whole essence' of a subject in a photograph. A photo can say a lot, but not everything.

Wonderful post, and I will write you about Paris soon!

Isabel said...


Beautiful pictures indeed and very interesting approach to fashion, unique.

Isabel x

"I" is for Isabel

lovefashion said...

Love the nyanzi report. Cool red coat.

Flis said...

It's nice how blogging opens your life up to a whole host of new people, and I love how age is never a barrier :) X

SymbioticLife said...

This is a really interesting concept with some very astute insights. I'm really enjoying learning about the bloggers here in England since I'm new here. I started blogging just to meet other people who might be like minded to myself. I hadn't considered the fact that I'm also controlling exactly what components of myself others might be seeing and it will affect the types of people that I come across or attract to myself. xoxo

Margaret said...

Your photography is breath-taking ! I must addmit that you're great photographer and oh your blog is a great source of inspirations <3

the nyanzi report said...

wonderful words Roz. thank you very much. you're so kind.

Jessica said...

Another great post, thanks for sharing!

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

polka dot said...

These are such beautiful portraits, Roz.

What what you've touched on - which Imogen picked up on so eloquently - that has been one of the most fascinating aspects of doing this whole blog thing.

Because I'm older, I find that when people take my photo now - I really don't look like how I see myself! I feel like a mirror, and whoever I'm with, when they're shooting me, I just assume we're.. peers. I'm very often shocked to see this old woman.

God, those ones of Jasmine really are lovely - and David, and Carrie.. I've got to catch up on your other posts - like you (and thank you for your emails & messages btw) I've had no time to be online! AND everything broke - we had no internet, which was great actually.

It's funny: when I was younger, I was doing this all on my own. I'd be with people - away, say, with a boyfriend (often, the one who's now my husband) and bring my tripod, dresses, camera, into the most unusual settings: a roof, a field, the sea, the forest. And do self portraits. But there was no platform for my images to be seen, apart from in a gallery. I was just working with one of the best collectors in the world (in NY) when we moved here.

Okay, time to shut up now. Must run. Please email me tho the shots you took of me - I hope they're not too hideous. I'll send you yours, too - I have a queue a mile long of posts I want to do. And no time.

jill xoxo

The Foolish Aesthete said...

These are smashing and revealing portraits of the bloggers! It's wonderful how you captured the essence of dear Mr. Nyanzi, in full contrasting colors. (I am not familiar with the other bloggers but will happily troll their blogs now. You seem to have portrayed them in the environment true to their natures).

Interestingly, I had recently asked Dvora of Fashionistable where the red phone boxes in London had gone, especially after she showed a black phone box in the background. Well, here you have found 2 of them side-by-side as if perfectly planted for your composition! Lovely work! xxx

Rosa Fay said...

These shots are just beautiful! And every one a different style. Nicely done, Roz :)

Jazzabelle said...

i second what david said - wonderful words, thank-you very much! this series of portraits is just lovely. so honoured to be next to carrie and david!

it was so great to meet you, i was pretty nervous about seeing the final results, especially as it felt so weird to me photographed by someone who wasn't my mother!

i can't wait to see the rest of the series!


sacramento said...

I was sooooooooo curious to know David, wowwwwwwwwwww.That red coat and his smile says it all.
Thank you, my dear Rosalind for spreading love and letting to get to know each other.

Dandy-Doll said...

Amazing pictures :)


confusedbrit said...

Gorgeous pictures....truly beautiful. But the words accompanying them were even more so....the issue of self editing occurred to me the other day, in that I wont post if all I'm wearing that day are my comfy clothes, or I'm having a bad hair day or a millon other reasons!

Carrie looks so parisian it hurts, and Jazzabelle looks intelligent and interesting....and david just looks gorgeous...bravo on an eyecatching and thought-provoking piece!

Catherine said...

It's always fun seeing what you do behind the camera! Lovely shots. The first one with the telephone booths and the red jacket is striking!

- Catherine at Littlehouse of Style

Fashion Tales.... said...

Loved this post Roz. It's nice to see the man behind the blog, and these are also lovely bloggers. These photos: quite natural and beautiful.

Fashionistable said...

These shots have taken my breath away. They are so,so beautiful. They are very much worth the wait.You have captured David so well. And the shots in the museum. How did you get away with that without them throwing you out??? I empathise with Polka Dot. I see myself in shots and think that cant possibly be me. How did that happen. How has time passed so quickly. Xxxx

Kate said...

Great post, absolutely love the Nyanzi Report. Your photos are incredible, I especially love the second shot of Carrie.
I was wondering, what template do you use, it's is just that when I make my photos extra large on my post, they always overlap the side bar, and I think you use the same size images, but yours do not overlap, if you know what I'm doing wrong I'd love your help!

Kate said...

Oh, I've just figured it out, never mind!

Pearl said...

Great post - I just found your blog and am really loving it!


Pearl Westwood said...

David has to be one of the nicest bloggers, I simply adore the phone box shot!

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