I had the idea just over a week ago that I would quite like to do a themed week in photos every once in a while. I was reminded that it was International Women’s Day coming up so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to set myself a bit of a brief and decided that I would shoot every portrait this week of a woman. I realised that in order to do this, it would be worth choosing in advance who I would like to photograph and why. I wanted to choose women who I admire, who are good role models and who show strength in different ways. So I called, texted, emailed and begged and found seven amazing admirable women to photograph each day this week. :)
Tuesday 5th March 2013 – This is Helen charles. There is just so much to say about Helen… She is an academic who has studied and written papers on the subject of race and sexual politics. She is a trustee for the Allsorts Youth Project in Brighton. Helen has also worked for many years supporting young people in career advice and currently works at Brighton City College as a personal advisor to the students. I went to see Helen before she went to work last Tuesday and she let me take some photos of her at her home. I didn’t know a lot about Helen before so this was an opportunity to ask her a few questions too. I told her about my idea of photographing strong women and her response was “Aren’t all women strong?” Of course, she is very right. Helen, is so very wise and lovely too. I can see why she is so good for her students and I hope that I will get to spend more time with her in the future.
Wednesday 6th March 2013 – This is Cara Mair. She owns and runs Arka Original Funerals, a funeral business with a difference. Cara became involved in the funeral industry following the death of her Mother and has since built a business which works tirelessly to support the bereaved. Cara and her team help people plan unique ceremonies which really represent the life and beliefs of the deceased, as well as their friends and family. As well as this, she built her business based on good green ethics. I just popped over to the Arka website to see if there is anything else that I want to say about Cara and her business and found this quote which I think sums up how wonderful they are: “ARKA Original Funerals is owned by women and run by women, with the support of just a few lovely men. Women do everything. We don’t have different people taking on different roles, which means that the person there for you in the middle of the night, gently collecting your loved one, is likely to be the same woman who helps you with the arrangement and who will be supporting you on the day of the funeral.” Sorry for the shameless plug and the shameless grab of their wording, but I’m not great with words… and I think this sums it up perfectly. Makes me feel all fuzzy. :) I can’t tell you how much I admire Cara for all of this.
Thursday 7th March 2013 – This is Tracy Steel. She is a very talented artist, sculptor and stone carver. I thought of Tracy when choosing women for this week because of her inspirational art work (I have an amazing sculpture by Tracy in my house) and because of her involvement in a world that is normally so male dominated – She learnt the art of stone masonry from a master mason when she started working at H.D.Tribes ten years ago. I went to take a photo of her early on Thursday morning – she showed me around the workshop and I got to see her in action with a current piece she was working on. The fine precision involved in carving letters by hand along with the permanence of each single stroke of the chisel was amazing to watch. Tracy showed me some pieces of stone that had been cut by a machine and the difference is very obvious – I hope that the art is not one that will be ever be replaced by a machine and lost in generations to come. Not only is Tracy extremely skilled in her stonemasonry work, she is a fantastic artist and certainly one of the most imaginative people I know. I feel very grateful to her for showing me a small glimpse into her world.
Friday 8th March 2013 – This is Heidi Reynolds. She is a firefighter based at the Hove Community Fire Station. I went over to visit Heidi at work on Friday and she suffered a fair amount of teasing from her male colleagues when she kindly posed for a few photos for me. Heidi started working at this station several years ago and has returned to work last year following maternity leave and the birth of her son Jude. I wanted to photograph Heidi this week because she is one of the strongest people I know in many ways and so courageous in what she does. And she let me slide down the pole in the station!
Saturday 9th March 2013 – This is Kris Worlidge. She is also known as Mistress Von Uber Vixon and she is a top Roller Derby skater who plays for The Brighton Rockers Team. I went to watch the Rockers in action at a bout in Haywards Heath on Saturday where they were up against the mighty London Rockin’ Rollers. If anyone reading hasn’t seen this sport before, they should look up their local team because it is amazing to watch. I am also learning to play the sport myself at the moment and Kris is my coach. Kris devotes a lot of her time to help new players learn the sport and is such a role model for new and experienced members in the league. She is fierce and strong and fast. I took this photo just after the Brighton Rockers won the bout and Kris kindly took a few minutes out before celebrating to let me take a few photos. :)
Sunday 10th March 2013 – This is Angela Kent. She is an artist, cook, all round amazing human being and my Mum. :) What else can I say?! Of course I am a little biased but she really is lovely. She used to be a midwife and a nurse who specialised in caring for premature babies, now she gives up a lot of her own time to volunteer and cater for large numbers of the community through her church. What better role model could I have in life? When thinking about this weeks theme and also the fact that Sunday was Mother’s day, I knew there would be no one else I would rather photograph. My Mum has always been a creative influence of mine and has supported and encouraged me in all choices I have made in life.
Monday 11th March 2013 – This is Joy Pennells. There is far too much to say about Joy in just a few paragraphs… She is a bit famous in Sevenoaks – the town where I grew up. A few years ago she was nominated and voted for an award from the Soroptimist International – organisation for women, for her services to the community. I imagine this is because, Joy is always always helping other people and I can’t imagine anyone who deserves it more. Joy is a Mother, a Grandmother and a Great Grandmother and cared for her own Mother before she died. Family is very important to Joy and she is full of wisdom about the subject. We were talking about children growing up and leaving the nest and she said this rather lovely quote: “Having a family is like holding mercury in your hand. If you hold it in the open palm it can flow around but it stays together. If you hold it too tight, it will break or disintegrate” What I found really interesting when talking to Joy, is her stories of how career options have changed for women over the years. Joy spent the majority of her working years as a teacher in various schools around the local area and dedicated her time to help students who struggled in various ways. Joy said that when she left school, it was very much encouraged for young women at the time to become secretaries or nurses and other ideas were simply discouraged or not at all possible. Not to say that there is anything wrong with these two professions, but isn’t it great that we have a lot more choice now? I believe it’s because of brilliant women like Joy that we have these choices and I myself will always be grateful for that.
There are just so many women that I admire and could have filled weeks more on this theme… I have loved the challenge of sticking to this brief this week and loved learning more about the lives and work and passions of each of these women. It feels important to celebrate International Womens’ Day and take time to appreciate how strong we all are. Thanks for reading and thank you again to Helen, Cara, Tracy, Heidi, Kris, Angela and Joy. :)