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Sand Dunes

On Sunday we spent the afternoon at Gwithian (which is quickly becoming our most frequented beach). Come early evening the light turned soft and dreamy, however beach was still far too busy to steal a quick photoshoot in peace, so Grant and I decided to explore the sand dunes and find a quiet spot where we could put the light to good use. Taking photos together has been a favourite pastime of ours since the earliest years of our relationship; during our GCSEs we both got DSLRs and took an interest in photography, so we'd go on long walks through the countryside with our cameras and see what photos we could get of the landscape and one another. 

More recently this manifested in our joint work on my old personal style/lifestyle blog, Briar Rose. When I first launched it we would create quirky photo stories based around the outfits I'd put together. At college my personal style was best described as Alice in Wonderland meets Florence Welch, with varying degrees of success. In hindsight there were many outfits that missed the mark, however that was never what it was about. It was an expression of creativity, and that was evident in my early blog photos. I would create outfits inspired by Charles Perrault's fairytales, ballerinas, and -of course- Disney characters. This was before the popularity of 'street style' outfit photos became widespread. I didn't shoot my outfits out in the 'real world' like I did in my later years of style blogging once that had become the standard; I'd have a concept, and I'd create a 'set' in my garden using props, flowers and food. I wanted to share my outfits, but I also wanted to create fantastical images.

Throughout my entire blogging career, this was the time when I most enjoyed creating photos. My following was next to non-existent and I read very few other style blogs (at the time I preferred looking at photography work on DeviantArt and primarily followed weird and wonderful photographers). Over time my photos began to have some success on Lookbook.nu, and my blog began to garner a following. I was so happy that people were enjoying my photos and writing, however the exposure was a double edged sword. I began to get traffic from forums discussing my 'unusual' style of fashion blogging, never in a particularly complimentary way. I'd get comments and tweets saying things like 'I love your fairytale photos, but I want to see what you wear in the real world - out on the street'. 

Succumbing to these expectations was another mixed blessing. I tried to make my personal style a little more widely palatable, started taking more photos in public, and did away with the set dressing and props. The response spoke for itself; by making my content more relatable my following tripled, sponsorships and PR gifts began to roll in, and I began being featured by the mainstream media. My friends and family were all so excited for me, and encouraged me to push my blog as far as it could go, however my passion was beginning to dissipate. Instead of being fun, relaxed sessions of creative exploration with the person I loved, taking photos became a chore. I had a diary of what products needed shooting when, what brands needed promoting, and what sponsored content needed to go live. Photoshoots became less about capturing interesting images, and more about making sure we'd got a clear shot of this dress, these shoes, or that piece of jewellery. With everyone around me so enthused about my 'success', it took me a long time to realise that this wasn't why we'd started doing those creative shoots in the garden when we were teenagers, and ultimately it wasn't something I was enjoying. It was about this time I discovered my love of cosplay. At first I tried to balance it with pre-existing content on Briar Rose, however my drive to write posts petered out.

Cosplay gave me the same sense of creative excitement that my earliest days of personal style blogging did. It reminded me what it was like to feel truly passionate about something. I took 18 months away from blogging in it's entirety, focusing on developing my costume making skills, however earlier this year a spark for taking photos and curating them in an online space reignited. I made Siren and Rose, and Grant and I began taking photos again together. We've stripped it right back to the approach we had when we were teenagers going on our photo walks; just the two of us, no expectations, no list of required shots - just playing with locations and light.

These photos we took in the sand dunes the other day are some of my favourite photos Grant has ever taken of me. They remind me of the kind of shots he used to take of me in my parents garden, or in the woods we used to explore behind his mum's house. No special outfit, just dishevelled beach-weary hair/makeup and complete freedom. 

5 comments

  1. Im so glad to see you blogging again and that beautiful smile return, you know how much I loved your early outfits posts, I loved the prop and set design as it were! Also interesting to read as at the time I never knew about any of the online forums and comments that came and that makes me super sad 🙁 look forward to seeing where this goes! xx

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  2. I'm so glad you returned to blogging and that you're genuinely enjoying it again. I followed your old blog for years and noticed the shift as your entries started to feel less personal and more curated and I got the vibe you weren't happy with it. I never knew about the forums, but I've seen such spaces on YouTubers and I think it's so sad how bitchy people can be to complete strangers over such insignificant things. Although my blogs have never reached anything near the success of yours, I can relate to the feeling of posting things because you feel like you have to instead of wanting to, blogging has become so formulatic and it's sad, I miss the days they were more like journals and about creative expression. I look forward to seeing where this blog takes you, I'm glad you're so much happier now!

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  3. I find it truly shocking that you once had commenters without complimentary things to say. I'm just starting out as a fashion blogger myself, and your old Briar Rose blog (along with Amy Flying A Kite) is what made me want to start this hobby. Creating interesting images and using your imagination- that's what it's all about! It's so sad to me that fashion blogging has sort of turned into this huge, product and consumerism obsessed industry. Small blogs with no following - thats where you see people having fun and being themselves :)

    These shots are so lovely. I'm so glad you're back to blogging.

    -Jacqueline

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