About Me

My photo
A nineteen year old with a camera in rural Norfolk. http://rosajoy.com

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

New blog!

The last year has been such a roller coaster that I've horribly neglected Mystery Companion. Today, though, I have some exciting new: I've moved!

Join me at rosajoy.wordpress to stay up to date with all my new photography news as well as some musings on life in general...

Hope things are sunny!
R x

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Kids Behind Cameras

When I created this photograph last June, I really had little idea of the magnitude my decision to travel to Africa would have on my life ten months down the line. Now, with just a little over two weeks before my plane leaves, I have spent the last month planning, preparing (and panicking over!) the trip I'm about to embark on - and now, in the final stages, I need your help.

During my stay I will be travelling through a number of southern African countries, working in marine conservation in Mozambique and wildlife conservation in Kruger Park, South Africa. Also, during my time in Swaziland I will spend a month at an orphanage, working with disadvantaged children. Part of my role there will be to teach lessons such as English and Maths, but I have also been given permission to run a self-devised project, which I'm calling Kids Behind Cameras.

The concept of the KBC project is simple and exciting. I aim to give each of the children I work with their own disposable camera, in order to record aspects of their daily life in Swaziland. They will learn to look at the world through a lens, compose images, and document the things which are important to them. I'll develop the photographs when I come home to England, sending a copy of the images to the children who created them, and using another set as the centrepiece of my upcoming debut solo exhibition here in July.

The idea for the project grew out of my own joy in discovering the fundamental aspects of photography - the ability to create and preserve. I want to give the children a project which is brilliant fun, and which will also teach them new ways of looking at and thinking about the world around them. I'm hoping that my passion for photography will be a catalyst in creating some fun, fantastic pictures.

And here is where you come in.

In order for this project to be a success I need to raise money to buy at least ten disposable cameras (and, ideally, more.) All profits from my print sales are currently going to my Kids Behind Cameras fund, to provide these cameras, and I would be more than grateful if you would buy a print of mine to raise money for the project.

Almost all of my public photographs are available as prints, so check out my Flickr set here to see the full selection. Buying a print is very simple; just fill in and submit the order form, and pay using Paypal, or by sending a cheque to me in the mail. I ship internationally, but make sure you order by March 25th to get your print before I leave! Every penny will go into the pot for buying and developing photographs from the disposable cameras, and will ensure Kids Behind Cameras is a success.

Thank you so much in advance, see you very soon!

buy a print
buy a print
buy a print

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cambridge, November, around six p.m

This city is beautiful at night. Beautiful enough to remind me that a part of me will always be found under a streetlight next to shadows. London gave it to me, but London is too unpredictable to unearth it yet. This place is quieter, more stately, more safe. The perfect setting to start uncovering bits of yourself. To walk through, alone, in the dark, and feel not afraid but unconfined - at last. Safe and free.

I find it difficult to write about because I cannot describe what was not said out loud but only experienced. Lights and shadows and sounds and spectres and sleeplessness. My two-beat rhythmic click. (Walking because I like to walk.) Especially in the city-dark, which is not dark at all but very alive.

It is like taking part in a dance, or maybe becoming a living cell in the city's anatomy. I'm not good enough to write it, and photographing wouldn't do because it is all about the flow. It was being outside myself for a little while, a part of something much bigger.

As I turned left, away from the road, the bells at King's began to call, for a reason no one I asked later could tell me. There was no one on the pavement despite the evidence of life all around me, and the orbs of bright light above my head moved my shadow faster than I walked.

I wanted to walk back from the station on my own for my own reasons, but it turned into a journey of new sounds and of shadows and of tungsten streets. Of feeling isolated but not alone. A good kind of single-ness. A strong and brave one. A contemplative and quiet one. An independent, individualist, life-affirming one. A photograph self-portrait in motion.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

How it feels to be free

(Blogposts are strange. I've got one I still need to post, that I've been thinking about since before results came out, but apart from that I haven't had anything to write for a month or so. But today, quietly, was different.)

It is quite easy to just let weekends slip by now. Yesterday I slept until two in the afternoon and didn't feel a bit guilty. I'm absolutely shattered (although, perhaps, don't realise it until I wake up) and doing anything vaguely strenuous on the day or two I get off every week seems as ridiculous as it sounds exhausting. Hence, most of my weekends since starting my job have been spent sleeping, watching neuron-destroying television, and browsing the photographs I wasn’t taking. Thinking about loneliness, too.

“Loneliness is a choice,” I got told once. You decide to be lonely. You help it stagnate inside you by sitting around and thinking too hard. Slowly it will leech its way into your system, and it will be almost impossible to shake out.

I miss my friends. A lot. I miss Lottie and Alice and Jonny and Naomi and Ben and Tom and Rachel and all of them. I miss how we were together. I miss the way we had it over summer and the spontaneous, seat-of-your-pants plans we made. I miss walking to Lottie’s when the weather was warm and drinking hot chocolate and sitting by the reservoir and sailing boats. There are things I want back, and I can’t have them.

“So what can you have? Right now. What’s never left?”

Photographs. Singing. Playing music and thinking and writing things down. And new things, like lunch hours spent in quite Costas (which can be lonely, if I let them be, or can be an escape, the way coffee shops look in old, grainy photographs) and bus journeys dreaming.

During a telephone call I got told, “Stop being stupid. Just, go and take a photograph.”
And in a letter, I got told, “keep taking those photos, because Flickr is staying the same for too long.” And other things, like getting back into me. And they were both right.

Today was lovely. I woke up at ten, which was long enough to sleep and have a strange but pleasant dream, and then get up and answer the emails which have piled up over the last five days, and eat pain au chocolat for breakfast and put on a pile of washing. I shrugged on a dress and ignored how badly my hair needed a wash and also the make up bag on my dresser, and bundled up inside a scarf and coat and gloves and thick woolly socks and walking boats. Picked up my tripod and changed Aspen’s batteries. Turned left down the lane.

I miss taking a photograph every week, too. Not fifty-two photographs (this is another blogpost) but being able to get out once every seven days and look at life through a lens. To have the space to do that. Now I have to make the space, and I forget its importance sometimes.

So today I took photographs. Not groundbreaking, not particularly thoughtful or conceptual (although I’ve done some thinking about them since they came home, which has been interesting.) But I was out for a little over two hours and I came home with frozen fingers and a smile. I spent the afternoon editing, and uploading to the internet, and then I found an old CD I haven’t heard since I was about thirteen. Nina Simone introduced me to jazz, and in the same way I have momentarily forgotten the important of photography, I had also (momentarily) forgotten her voice. This song brought back a lot of memories. Evenings sitting on the carpet in my old room and singing and singing and listening to her singing through my speakers. The time I took the CD into school and put it on over the sound system in the music room one lunchtime, and lying on a table and smiling. Not getting told off for it. Today I realised if I didn’t think too hard I could remember all the lyrics, too.

I should make more weekends like this one.

Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Oh I'd soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I'd sing cos I'd know, not sing cos I'm low
I'd know how it feels to be free.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Naming Inanimate Objects

Her name is Aspen, I said, and Jonny looked at me as though I were mad.
What? he said.
Not, ‘the camera’. She has a name.
You named your camera?
Of course.
He said, Of course.

We argued for a little while, and then he told me that if I wrote a blogpost like this it would convince him to name his penknife. So here it is.


What’s in a name? Well, at its most basic, our names are surely given for ease of communication. A label for convenience. For registers and tax slips and birthday cards and book covers. To yell across the street or write on an envelope. Charlie from down the road? Oh, now I know who you’re talking about…

But something like my camera, an inanimate object, must not then be in need of a name. My camera has no human identity, no need for a title by which it can be identified, other than 'Rosa’s camera'. So what else is there, in a name, which means she is called Aspen?

Names are not simply labels. A name defines us not simply as a singular entity but as an individual. A name makes us unique and special and different from everybody else. It gives us a sense of importance and self-worth. But my camera does not need this either; it has no consciousness which needs reassuring.

In that case, try this: why do we name pets? Pets have no concept of the self-importance given by possessing a name. We name them, for the practical use of training them to respond to 'Poppy' or 'Rover' or 'Tequila-mint-humbug-pie' (not kidding on that last one. We had one very clever hamster.) But also, emotionally, to personify them. To humanise them. To name a pet is to show it affection, as if to say: you are more important to me than every other cat out there. Therefore, I will not call you simply 'cat'.

Bingo. Names, as well as all the other ideas they possess, guarantee our affection towards the named. The affection may be to a new baby, or to a new goldfish. Naming the former is more for a practical use than a particularly emotional one, but there is little practical use to naming a goldfish. Is it not, then, purely an emotional exercise on your part?

Naming not only guarantees affection, but guarantees affection through personification. There’s an interesting question here on why we feel the need to make goldfish – and, following the same thread, cameras – more human. (I’m fairly sure there’s a lot I could read on the human psyche and various Freudian theories, and I think the answer could be something along the lines of Homo sapiens believing that they, above all other species, reign supreme, and so bestowing human traits on things which are not human turns out to be affection mingled with pity.) But I digress. Ultimately, though, I think my camera has been named out of affection and my own want to humanise it.

Why did I feel affection towards it and want to humanise it in the first place, though? I suppose for a similar reason that Anne Frank named her diary 'Kitty'. Because through my camera I have found a way to express things outwardly which I have kept inwardly. It is the means by which I can create, and for that I feel indebted? It has travelled almost everywhere with me, has helped me capture moments which I am so glad to have recorded, and has seen me in times when I wanted no one else to see me (paradoxically, for a machine which produces and reproduces images for public distribution: there’s a blogpost I have still to write) Yet through all of that, it does not judge me. I’d like a friend, a human friend, like Aspen.

Because she has a name, she is officially more important than she was before she had a name. And if she is more important, then that which I create with her – to me – becomes more important. Or, at least, more justified. Oh yes: that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet, but while my Flickr profile states I create with a Nikon D40, the truth is that I create with Aspen: and we create together. If I didn’t believe that, my photography would not be half what it is.

You don’t name a camera for its sake. Of course not, that would be ridiculous; Aspen has no brain or emotion or consciousness. You name it for your own sake – for the sake of what you are doing. You name it because without a name (and everything that comes with a name) for your instrument, that which you create with it becomes of less importance.

And if you’re wondering why ‘Aspen’ in particular, I’ll write another blogpost soon.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Silver, wrists, stars and charms

I didn't have a birthday party back in March, so on September 18th, six months later, my friends and I went into the city to celebrate my 18th-and-a-half unbirthday. We met in Costa (the way we always have, and for the last time before we go our separate uni ways) and then walked to a quaint little Italian. I chose the lasagne and finished with scrumptious chocolate cake, we talked about the summer and things to come, and then we went back to mine. Kim and Lottie had baked me birthday cupcakes, complete with candles and singing, and it was perfect. The most wonderful moment of the evening, though, was when, sitting around the table in Pinocchio's before dessert, they gave me a present.

A few months ago, I lost - and then found - a bracelet which meant a lot to me. Not so long ago it went missing again, and I'm fairly certain it is somewhere on the campus of my university-to-be, and I will almost certainly never find it. Upset as I've been, the peace I made when I first lost it at the beginning of summer has stayed with me and I have come to terms with no longer having it.

However, unbeknown to me, as a gift for my unbirthday Jonny suggested my friends club together and buy me something of a replacement. What they gave me tonight was a silver charm bracelet, picked out by Alice, with six tiny charms chosen by the eleven of them together. Each one, Alice said, represents a part of me. A book, a pair of ballet shoes, a camera, a pot of pens, a violin, and a star.

What they could not know was that this bracelet not only lets me carry a part of myself, as my last one did, but also a part of each of them; my friends who thought of the idea and chose each charm. Now that summer is over and we have started to go our separate ways I am realising again how extraordinarily lucky I am to have friends like these in my life. This summer has been wonderful, and such a large part of it has been down to them. I have never been given such a beautiful, perfect gift.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Week 52.52

The power of the sunrise and the power of a prayer released/On the edge of my country I wait for the sun, looking East
- Jackson Browne, 'Looking East'

52 weeks on Flickr

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Week 51.52

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces/Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here/Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/And I say it's all right
- The Beatles, 'Here Comes the Sun'

52 Weeks on Flickr

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Week 50.52

I used to talk/With honest conviction/Of how I predicted my world/I'm gonna leave it to stargazers/To tell me what your telescope says
- KT Tunstall, 'Through the Dark'

52 weeks on Flickr