In a week of such tragedy and grief, it’s hard to know what to write about. So much of what we do is about joy, fun and frivolity – parties, fairies, photobooths with silly hats, the excitement surrounding a new-born baby, the anticipation of a baby on the way. Somehow that doesn’t chime with the prevailing and perfectly understandable mood of anger, outrage, anxiety and sadness. At first sight, photography suddenly feels a bit of a luxury, a bit self-indulgent.
But that’s not the whole story. Not at all. As people photographers we are invited to capture key moments in people’s lives, from birth (and before) through childhood, school, university, graduation, marriage and parenthood. We see families grow, go their separate ways and occasionally reunite for a precious group portrait. Sometimes we even get asked to photograph people who are seriously ill, perhaps nearer the end of their life. Some photographers generously volunteer to take pictures of babies who have died before, during or shortly after birth.
At bad times, as well as good, people reach for photographs: photographs that stir memories, that show the beauty and personality of their loved ones. Who could remain unmoved by the images on social media pages this week as families desperately hoped for news and information. And at times of great sadness, photographs of happier times may bring some comfort to families in their grief.
Photographs also form part of social history, a permanent record to show generations to come their family origins, their daily lives, their jobs.
As photographers, we see people at moments of much happiness and deep sadness, on days filled with excitement, reminiscence, regret and absence. It is an immense privilege, and we never take it for granted.
Wondering what to do with the children this half term? Or perhaps thinking about a full pamper party but not sure whether it’s what your child would want?
This is a perfect opportunity to give it a try and do something really different during the school break.
If you book our Taster Photoshoot Party for just £99, your child plus three friends can enjoy:
- A fun party lasting one hour
- A light, age-appropriate make-over
- Individual and group photoshoot
- Soft drink and a cup-cake or snack
- Downloadable photographs suitable for sharing on social media
- Opportunity to buy prints at very affordable prices
- £20 voucher to be used for a full Pamper and Pose party
Sound like fun? To book, or if you have any questions, look at our website www.studiog-oldham.co.uk or ring Lisa on 0161 300 6224
Well. What a week! Lisa and I meet every Monday morning to discuss the week ahead. Our meeting usually takes place at Costa (other coffee shops are available – apparently) and we have a roughly organised agenda so we know what we’re doing (again, roughly).
So last Monday, we met as usual, but the meeting did not go as planned. Lisa rather dramatically said “Well enough of that, let’s talk about something important. I’m going to launch Open Shutters today!” Now, dear reader, and I am never less than honest with you, I had heard this before. A few times, in truth, in the time we’ve been in business together. But this time, she really meant it. We didn’t even have a second coffee. We headed back to the studio and started setting up Lisa’s self-portrait which was to launch the project, we recorded the video that told her story – and if you haven’t seen it you really should – they were posted on line, and we were officially launched. As we talked we developed a vision for an ongoing project leading to an exhibition, and perhaps even a book
We were overwhelmed by the response, and decided we needed to post a portrait and story every working day last week, which was of course Mental Health Awareness Week and, with our enormous gratitude to Ella, Scottie, Laura and Chris we achieved that. We’ve had a number of approaches from people wanting to tell their story, and we had some great coverage in the Oldham Evening Chronicle, who were proud of the fact that Lisa used to be one of their journalists. In the event, Lisa was right to abandon our planning meeting, because the project took up the whole week for both of us.
So why are we doing this? Mental Health is getting a lot of publicity at the moment, which can only be a good thing, but the coverage tends to focus on eliminating the stigma often attached to mental illness. No-one seems to be talking about the fact that many people who have mental illness, whether an isolated episode or an ongoing condition, find that it brings beneficial changes to their lives. The people we’ve had the privilege of photographing and talking to this week wouldn’t be the people they are had it not been for their experience of mental ill health. That’s the story we want to tell with the Open Shutters Project.
The project was initially conceived as a personal photographic project for Lisa, but as we’ve got to know each other better, and as I’ve learned about the mental health journey that she and other good friends have taken, I couldn’t possibly let her do it alone. What we’re doing is, I believe, important. It has the capacity to help people, and perhaps change attitudes. I am very proud of Lisa for having the Open Shutters concept, and for finally taking the plunge and launching it, and I’m also very proud and excited to be part of it.
To find out more, check out our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/theopenshuttersproject/?fref=ts or our website www.openshutters.org.uk
WE’VE GOT GREEN SCREEN AND WE KNOW HOW TO USE IT!
This week we’ve acquired a new bit of kit. It doesn’t look much – a bright green pop-up backdrop and a piece of software. But what’s exciting is what it enables us to do.
If you’ve been following us, you’ll have seen our photographs using a number of different backdrops, including fairy glens, arctic ice, Christmas scenes, elegant wallpaper, superheroes and theatrical stage curtains. What our new set-up makes possible is to photograph someone against the green background, then add in any sort of digitally-created background and foreground.
This has lots of applications, including some we probably haven’t thought of. We’re thinking Fairytography® shoots, parties and photobooths, not to mention portraits, maternity photography and business headshots. The possibilities are limitless.
We’ve included a few examples in this blog to give you an idea of what’s possible, but really the only limit is our – and our clients’ – imagination.
This weekend we’ll be using our new set up at Oldham Comic Con, so you expect to see some great pictures of your favourite super-heroes – drop in and see us if you can.
Last Saturday, we both had an opportunity to have one last look around the old Oldham Library before it’s handed over to contractors. Wearing our hard hats at a nonchalant angle, we joined a guided tour of the building in Greaves Street. The gallery curator took us to all the parts of the building that were safe to go in, pointing out what they were used for, the story behind their Victorian construction and development, and how they would fit into the new library facilities that are going to be built.
It was a fascinating tour. Some were seeing the building for the first time, but for most it evoked many memories of library visits with parents, schools and friends.
But the most exciting thing for us was the future. Over the next couple of years we’re going to see a transformation of this 19th century heritage building into a library and gallery for the 21st century. We were shown drawings, and the excitement in the curator’s voice was very noticeable. He also talked about what would follow on from the new library and gallery building, including the new Coliseum Theatre and Heritage Centre.
In recent years Oldham has shown it real commitment to regeneration and improvement. Despite the traditional Oldham cynical attitude – it’ll never happen, and if it does it won’t be any good – Oldham is now on the tram network giving fast and affordable links into Manchester. It has a state-of-the-art cinema which rescued the problematic old Town Hall. It has a brand new Leisure Centre, a Regional Science Centre, and will have a great retail development at Prince’s Gate, even if the details have yet to be finalised. The new library, gallery and other cultural quarter are all further evidence of the town moving forward.
We’re both very committed to Oldham, and fed up with those who seem to delight in talking their town down. Of course Oldham has its issues, as do all post-industrial towns that have lacked investment over the years, but the council has shown its commitment to do something about it, and Studio G will continue to celebrate and shout about that whenever we get the chance!