Sir Don McCullin exhibitions at Tate Britain & Hamilton’s Gallery

I grew up in communist Russia and even with the limited press resources then compared to too many now, photojournalism played a crucial part in the formation of my character. Yet after attending two read more

Mikhail Baryshnikov Dancing Away photo exhibition at Contini Art UK

There is a saying that a truly talented person has multiple talents and that certainly rings true when it comes to Mikhail Baryshnikov. He is a renowned ballet dancer ( he trained at Vaganova School in Leningrad & entered the Kirov Ballet at 18 as soloist ), artistic director of Baryshnikov Art Center in New York and actor but what is probably less well-known to a wider audience of his fans is that he has been taking professional photos for over 20 years. Baryshnikov combines his skills as a dancer and understanding the physicality of the body, with taking the images which capture movement and emotion. His first solo exhibition ‘Dancing Away’ in London, at Contini Art UK, is a true revelation of this side of a truly private, yet world-famous man.

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A peek inside my photshoot with Aneta Mak

Any woman with an ounce of vanity will be nervous before a photo shoot for her website profile photos, but I ended up having the best photo session, thanks to Aneta Mak, who simply allowed me to be myself in front of her camera.

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I love photography and have folders and folders of magazine editorials, creating a background for mood-boards and a source of endless inspiration, so when I saw Aneta’s photos on Twitter, I delved into her blog. Aneta specialises in wedding & lifestyle photography, in fact she is one of UK’s top ones in that niche and every time we meet for a catch-up I marvel at how this Tinkerbell of a woman can be incredibly friendly, insightful, focussed, generous with her advice and professional in equal measure.

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A few weeks ago Aneta popped round to my house and armed with steaming mugs of coffee we started planning, with Aneta looking at best places to shoot, examining the light and asking me to tell her what I wanted to achieve with my photos. For me the best photos are the natural ones, where you are the best version of yourself looks wise but more importantly, the real you shines through the lens of photographer. I can try to strike a pose ( after all, a woman can do and achieve anything, if she puts her mind to it and works tremendously hard ) but I am a journalist and blogger who prefers her writing to do the talking ( even though being a woman has plenty of its charms ).

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Aneta gave me lots of pointers, casually observing that we will have fun, while we work. She told me to approach our upcoming photoshoot with the view of hanging out with a friend, drinking coffee, trying on cool clothes. In terms of prep, I narrowed down the looks that work well for me, natural & timeless ( think Katherine Hooker jacket, Banjo & Matilda sweaters, Victoria Beckham jeans, Coach bag in collaborating with James Nares, Hermes trilby ) – Aneta’s actual words were ‘just be ready with the make-up that makes you feel great, happy & confident, sprinkled with just a teeny bit extra glam than usual”.  ( I was lucky to get a treat courtesy of Home House, as my hair was blow-dried the day before the photoshoot – minus one headache for me, as unlike a supermodel, I had no one to prep me but myself ).

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On the morning of our photo shoot ( apart from a spilled bottle of Armani’s liquid fabric that went everywhere in my bathroom, my prep went smoothly – and I actually viewed the bathroom clean-up as an extra fitness before the shoot – it certainly made me look more flushed & ready to face the task at hand ). I laid out the outfits on my bed, so they were ready for Aneta’s attention-and believe me, she doesn’t miss anything, her attention even to the miniscule detail is riveting. I also compiled a mood-board of images, in order to give Aneta a more accurate direction of what I wanted to achieve. Until now I had images of me on my website that were taken during my travels and many of my friends & colleagues who work in fashion, beauty or run their own businesses ( you know who you are and I say daily prayers to have such a wise, funny and supportive council, who offer constructive criticism in order to make me & my website better ) again and again told me that I needed to have ‘professional images’ taken, while I continued to mull where to start, as most often than not I am the one who photographs friends and family, rather than nudging myself forward to be in the shot.

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The day of the photoshoot was sunny to start with, with an odd rain drizzle, so Aneta directed me first inside, telling me which way to pose to get my best angles. It was so much fun, just talking to her, pausing, holding the poses and trying to remember to keep a perfect pose when prompted ( think of a string attached to the top of your head and pulling yourself upward, relax your shoulders, tuck your pelvic bone in – do all that and will look almost swan like .) In between outfit changes I actually turned the camera ( this time my own ) on Aneta, while asking her about the specifics of her job, her cameras and what makes a perfect picture.

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Aneta also put me through my paces outside as well, but with my Louboutins refusing to cooperate and gleefully sinking into the turf or between the bricks, I silently thanked Tory’s wedges for being chicly stoic in the face of earthy elements.

After fours hours that flew by, hundreds of shots and many camera rolls – Aneta shoots films and digital – the photoshoot came to an end and I can honestly say it’s been the most fascinating hours, which made me appreciate how unglamorous modelling is and how time-consuming the capturing of a perfect moment can be. I can’t wait to see the final results and share them on my website but first and foremost I now love photographers and photography even more. The attention to detail, the instructions, taking even the tiniest details into account and most importantly, reading the person correctly and making them feel at ease-so many components for a perfect moment in time. Aneta, I am an even bigger fan of your now !  

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For information about Aneta, examples of her work, as well as her blog, go to here website here

Haute Couture by Cathleen Naundorf-my photographer crush!

I love photography and vivid visuals ( be it in colour or black & white ), so it’s always interesting to see new work and to be surprised. Hamiltons gallery, my favorite gallery representing many well-known photographers like Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts, hosted a first London exhibition by a photographer Cathleen Naundorf in March of this year and when I received the invitation to the preview, the invitation itself, one of Cathleen’s photographs, blew me away with its delicate, yet strong beauty.

I couldn’t make the actual opening ( still kicking myself for the missed opportunity to meet Cathleen in person ) but I did go to have a look at her huge and poetic photographs-there is a delicacy about her pictures ( even though they were exhibited in a fairly large size ) but they make such a strong visual impact, that you just stop and observe each one of them for what seems like ages, and time just flies by seamlessly, as you feel entranced by the beauty of her Polaroid images.

Cathleen, who was mentored by Horst P. Horst, just had her book published by Prestel, called

‘Haute Couture the polaroids of
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Simon Annand at V&A

There is something magical about theatre and it doesn’t matter what age you are. I prefer the theatres that are smaller, more intimate and then you get to feel like you are part of that mysteriously creative process.

So, if you like theatre, you are bound to like Simon Annand’s exhibition ‘The Half’ at Victoria & Albert museum.

‘Half” is the term used in theatre, those sacred 30 minutes that actors get before the start of the play, when they immerse themselves in their creativity or just stay reflective, getting ready to surprise their audience. Rarely, if at all, you are allowed to see actors in those precious minutes but over the course of 20 years that’s what Simon Annand did and his work is truly mesmerizing, giving you a very intimate glimpse in to the un-atteinable world.

Beware, though, that finding the exibition in the maze that is V&A isn’t easy, it took me several attempts, following mixed-up directions of the staff. A worthy treat in the end, though .)

www.simonannand.com

www.vam.ac.uk