About Me

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Going barefoot

I notice that you go without shoes in a lot of your photos. not trying to be critical at all, it seems like it adds a lot of character + uniqueness (not to mention courage in some of the places you shoot), but just a little curious as to what inspires you to do that?

Best question I've ever been asked on formspring. Cookies for you, anonymous thinker.

Firstly, I’ll start off by saying that I am not fashion photographer. Oh, I like a pretty dress as much as the next girl (as you have probably noticed!) but I don’t own hundreds of pairs of interesting shoes. Clothes in my photographs are definitely not the focal point or the reason behind clicking the shutter. They add a lot to a shot, but through the atmosphere they can create when twinned with expression and emotion – not through the garments themselves. I’m not saying that this is the way all photography should be (aren’t there some rather well-off photographers working for a little magazine called Vogue?...), or even that fashion photography – that which puts clothing at the forefront of the image – is anything “less” than the type of photography I like. It’s just not what I personally am interested in, right now.

Linked to that, the practicality of actually wearing pretty shoes in my photographs is fairly difficult. The Norfolk countryside I traipse across to get to a lot of my favourite locations certainly isn’t too friendly with any shoes other than wellies. (The looks I got on my way down to the lake last weekend... You’d have thought they’d never seen a girl dressed in jeans, a skirt, a knitted jumper, a sweatshirt, and bright pink rainboots.) A pair of small pumps are easy to carry and easy to slip on once I get there, which is why, when I wear shoes, I almost always have these on. Most of the time, though, it’s easier to just not take them with me.

But those reasons are in no way the crux of why I go barefoot in as many photographs as possible (and why, to their horror, I almost always ask those I am photographing to take off their shoes.) The best explanation I can give for going barefoot in photographs is this: that it is natural.

It is the most natural thing in the world to walk barefoot. You should try it. Feel how liberating it is to have the grass under your feet, to feel the mud ooze between your toes. The lake grass here, as I leapt between the jetty and the tripod, was sodden and wet and wonderful. I couldn’t feel my toes after this; and that was the whole point of a photograph entitled Numb.

It’s the earth. It’ll talk to you, if you let it. One of the things I value most about photography is that it has brought me closer to the place I live in, and taught me that.

And from an aesthetic point of view, there is something beautiful about feet themselves, when they’re not hidden away inside shoes. Bones and wrinkles and insoles and ankles. I like hands and wrists too, but feet are awfully symbolic. Just think of all the places they carry you. Aren’t they graceful? They allow me to dance.

I don’t own a lot of shoes. I spend so little of my income on clothes, and then why waste what I do spend on shoes: shoes that I don’t need to wear anyway, in order to make a photograph beautiful. Who needs shoes? These kids don’t. Here, in my cosy, western, middle-class house, help me identify with that freedom. Let me, through my photography, break down the rules imposed on us by society which dictate this day and age; when capitalism rules, when being close to the Earth labels you as a freak, and when fashion would rather we forgot floral prints and instead flocked to Primark.

That’s why I go barefoot.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Week 29.52

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears/And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears/Get over your hill and see what you find there/With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair
- Mumford & Sons, 'After the Storm'

52 weeks on Flickr

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A note on Week 29

If you've joined me from Flickr, welcome.

I had far too much to write about this shot. Over the week I seem to have collected ideas until they've overflowed, but none of them were totally coherent, totally formed. Origami and water and new life and film photography and hills and grace. I have felt like a fledgling this week, perhaps unsurprisingly, but this has not been a rebirth. I am not wholly and entirely different to the person I was a fortnight ago; there are things which I have clung too and which have brought me solace. Photography is perhaps the most notable, because it is the one thing which always stayed separate from my life before. It has always been solely mine, and it has remained mine.

It was this week, in fact, when I realised that this, photography, is going to be with me forever. But that's another post, and the reason for my mum's old Pentax in the photograph.

The symbolism of the origami swans is two-fold. Firstly, why choose swans themselves? Are they not a bittersweet choice? Most associate swans with love and long-lasting partnership, as they pair for years or even a lifetime. They seem an irony to choose. On the other hand, the Celts believed that a swan’s pattern of migration and transitory nature proved them to be symbols of change, in mood and heart. But the symbolism of a swan is so much more.

In dreams, white swans can signify cleansing and purifying both ourselves and our lives. Black swans are symbolic of self-mystery; our longing to be set free and express ourselves creatively. Perhaps I have been a black swan, and this week has seen a change of feather colour.

Also in dreams, swans may ask us to spread our wings and take flight into our waking dreams. They encourage us to strengthen our relationships, as well as make new, long-lasting bonds with people whom we admire.

In The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson, the swan symbolises the theme of transformation. Although born “ugly”, the duckling is a graceful swan long before he sees his appearance change. In times of challenge, therefore, it is important to remember that we all own inherent power and beauty.

Secondly, I chose to use origami because, as paper, the swans are tiny, frail, delicate. On the lake, once I had left them in the water and packed up my things, they looked so incredibly insignificant as they bobbed on top of the water. Some had already become waterlogged and sunk. But they were exceptionally graceful, elegant, beautiful - almost hauntingly so - in the light. I have felt delicate this week, but I have tried to be graceful. I have tried not to sully my thoughts or taint my memories or turn friend against friend. I thought I had succeeded, until Friday night.

Lo invited me out with friends from her school, to drink coffee and eat Chinese and watch Alice in Wonderland and make a general nuisance of ourselves. I’ve always wanted to learn the art of paper folding (mostly for photography’s sake, admittedly), and it just so happens that one of her friends is a master.

Jonny talked me through bird bases and fish bases and valley folding and mountain folding. But round the table, eating with chopsticks and while I was expressing my outrage at men’s lack of emotional understanding, he asked: “What should he have done differently?”

And it stopped me. What should he have done differently? I started looking for an answer - and it was at that moment that I realised: despite my best intentions I have polluted myself by harbouring my negativity inside. Although it might not have shown outwardly, the resentment and the pain have bottled in my heart, and left no place for grace.

I got to be in love, and it was a wonderful gift. Why should I be bitter? Why should I resent it? It is over now, but as a memory it is beautiful. Like an experience, like travelling or a holiday, it is painful to return to the place you left. But there are memories. And there are photographs.

I have got over my hill. And look what I found.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Week 28.52

I was dreaming of you, with my heart in your hands/And I was following through with my beautiful plans/I thought that it would kill me/But I'm alive
- Jackson Browne, 'I'm Alive'

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Week 27.52

No more photos. Surely there are enough. No more shadows of myself thrown by light onto pieces of paper, onto squares of plastic. I suffer from my own multiplicity. Two or three images would have been enough, or four, or five. That would have allowed for a firm idea: This is she. As it is, I'm watery, I ripple, from moment to moment I dissolve into my other selves. Turn the page: you, looking, are newly confused. You know me too well to know me. Or not too well: too much.
- Margaret Atwood, "The Tent"

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Week 26.52

Suddenly I see/This is what I wanna be/Suddenly I see/Why the hell it means so much to me
- KT Tunstall, 'Suddenty I See'

52 Weeks on Flickr

Monday, 1 March 2010


In the days when I kept a diary, I would write things down as they happened. Pages and pages of my school exercise books are missing from where I jotted something down and then ripped it out to write up later. Most of these snippets have been thrown away, but I've spent the last hour tidying up my desk and unearthed some that got away. Some of them are no more than a sentence or two, but they are pure. Umblemished by fancy language or imagery or the little ornaments that I was tempted to insert when I wrote them up. They made me smile.

And then, after I finished my desk I started clearing up the odds and ends that have accumalted around my bedroom. One was a big baubel (hung on my wall for gosh-knows how many years.) As I took it down, it broke - only, it didn't, because it would appear it was meant to come apart. Inside I found another snippet, from a moment and an event I had forgotten.


ps, Diary writing is interesting. The truth and the not-quite truth, and the embellished truth, and why you would decide to present yourself/an event in a certain light when nobody else is going to read the entry but you. I might write a post about it some time.