In the previous blog post I shared the news that I have a been selected to be part of Portrait of Britain 2019, a project run by the British Journal of Photography. The winning portrait of Karen will be shown nationwide in a month long exhibition and will also be featured in a book published by Hoxton Mini Press.
I’ve actually photographed Karen aka The Fabulous Miss K several times over the years we’ve known each other (and we can never remember how many years that is, it might be about 6 or 7?…) Those years (whatever the correct number) have seen me leave my 30’s and Karen leave her 40’s. Any step in to the next age bracket is a big, new stage. We’re told that ‘life begins at 40’ and ‘50 is the new 40’ etc etc and all that jazz…
This year my photography has seen me working with lots of women over 40. Lots of women who have been discussing what being ‘an older woman’ is like for them. This has included some very frank conversations about the menopause. At times it’s felt like being back in the school classroom as the teacher has explained about periods. It’s been a life lesson if you like, about what changes will occur in my body and how this might feel but as these women share their experiences my mind drifts off and I realise how little I know about this stuff… why do I know so little? Why aren’t women told/educated about the menopause? Why don’t we talk about it? So I’m reminded of those school days where your period was like a thing of shame, an embarrassment and I wonder how as a woman in my 40s I know so little about the next big physical change a woman will go through…
This was the topic of conversation whilst walking to a location to take some new images of The Fabulous Miss K. So I asked if she’d mind writing down some thoughts based on our walk and talk moment in time. So I’m calling it a photo essay, mini project, one shoot project… take your pick.
“It is funny where life takes you, who would have thought that when I
was 20 something living a mad life in London and Paris that 30 odd
years on I would be living in Norwich - a city that I have grown to
love. When I first moved back I thought I had moved back into the
dark ages but I have seen it grow into a vibrant creative hub that I
love being a part of. Don’t get me wrong I still love to travel and
explore new places but really loving living in this Fine City.
Now in my 50s things have also changed and moved in unexpected
directions - with a model contact, working with such a diverse group
of photographers, students and people. With exiting projects
happening all the time I am living my best life. The only downside is
the dreaded menopause but with the help of HRT it is not as bad as it
was when I first stated to go through it - it honestly feels like you
are loosing your mind - the brain fog, depression and feelings of
total despair. I have always been a confident person but the feelings
of self doubt were over whelming!! Add that to the hot flushes, night
sweats and insomnia - it is a tough time to be a woman!!
But with all the trial and tribulations I am loving life at the
moment, I have got to the stage where I don’t give a fuck what people think and over the last few years have discovered that not everyone is going to like you and that is OK and once you let go of that and just do what makes you happy, and realise that some people just don’t “get”what I do and who I am.
My style is now my own - I have always loved vintage and charity shops
but am now not bothered about what people think of what I wear - if you don’t like it look away - life is too short to wear boring
Karen writes a blog in which she muses about life as an older woman along with her life long love for vintage which you can read here. She is also a model, represented by Crumb Agency. Thanks to Karen for these words and I think it’s also worth mentioning that all clothes in this shoot were secondhand/vintage purchases. This is something really important to both Karen and myself, and in fact was key to our paths crossing in the first place.
A portrait from another photoshoot with Karen is also currently on display around the country as part of the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain 2019 which I wrote about in a previous blog post or head over to the see the exhibition online here.
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