Posted on November 12, 2016
Peruvian woman, 2016
taken with Rolleiflex on Ilford pan 50
We were lucky enough to visit Peru this summer. This woman sat outside our hotel in Cusco every day, all day, and that sad, faraway look in her eyes still haunts me now. She wasn’t begging, exactly; it was almost like she just sat there out of habit. She was resigned, but she was also proud. Whilst others ran after us begging us to take their picture with cute baby limas and kids in papooses, all dressed in their finery, she would sit, and wait. I don’t often take portraits of strangers. I’m far too British and generally worried about embarrassing or inconveniencing people, but I decided to ask her on a whim. She said no at first – I respected that and walked away. She looked so tired and weary of being an object of the intrusive tourist gaze that I felt instantly ashamed, but at that moment my husband was buying a piece of art from a street vendor who worked his patch next to her and he saw and came over, persuading her to agree, so I paid and quickly took my shot, then thanked her. It was a bit of a rushed job: no light meter or tripod and the framing is a little off. I wish I had included her hands. I think there may be some light leakage which explains the weird specks. My rollei is so old and battered now it doesn’t perform at its best and the winding mechanism frequently gets stuck, but I persevere with it. So in the end, I got the shot, I suppose, although, taking this picture of this woman made me sadder than taking any other picture I have ever taken.
© image and words by Emily Hughes, 2016
Posted on January 11, 2016
overcast with sorrow;
a concrete sky
slinks into a frothy slick
of ashen wilderness
and the moonshines,
© image and words by Emily Hughes, 2016
Posted on January 1, 2016
He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the centre of the world, as each of us does.
from Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
I have been playing around with this one for a while now and posted the original not long ago with some other medium format pictures of seed heads. I came back to it recently because I started reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and the thought of falling stars and magical faerie worlds brought it to mind. Anyway, here it is again, slightly re-worked.
A very happy New Year and thank you to all of my readers. Here’s hoping 2016 brings you much magic and serendipity!
© images and words by Emily Hughes, 2016
Posted on July 14, 2015
I’m trying to work on a new black and white image, so I’ve been playing around with a few ideas.
© images and words by Emily Hughes, 2015
Posted on June 26, 2015
I love photographing seed heads. It’s a mild obsession of mine. They are a popular subject these days, it seems, appearing on everything from kitchenware to lino prints. I’m a big fan of Angie Lewin’s lino cuts especially. I think it is a bold simplicty in their structural form, and an unassuming elegance which makes them so enticing and lends itself so well to so many different media. I have always felt like they are beseeching in some way; offering up their fragile form to the wide open sky. To me, they have become a symbol of the infinite, innocent generosity of nature’s gentle rhythm.
Usually, I would reach for the macro lens and get in close (as I did here, here, here, and here again!), but I decided to try out my rollei with some black and white medium format shots for a different perspective, still keeping the aperture as wide as I could. Unfortunately I had a bit of a light leaking incident, which is why the last image has a flecked, slightly grainy appearance (the film was fine grain), but I decided not to correct this. I quite like the otherworldly effect. It’s a bit like a meteor shower, or some other celestial phenomenon. As if their willowy limbs are tentatively reaching out to greet a scatter of star dust.
© images and words by Emily Hughes, 2015
Posted on June 1, 2015
First off, I’m sorry for the misleading title (it is about daisy chains, but there is no set of instructions I’m afraid). And whilst I’m at it, I would also like to apologise to regular readers especially for the overload of family pictures recently. I hope it’s not all too saccharine for your tastes (but you know I can do acerbic just as well as I can do sweet, I think). It has just struck me with some force, this spring holiday, how they are at such a magical age; on the cusp of knowing, discovering the world – their world – through their own eyes as they are. So many questions and misunderstandings tumbling from their tongues. At once categorically assertive and desperately unsure. I’m painfully aware also, as they bow their heads and giggle about private jokes and shared experiences which are theirs and theirs only, how much I am no longer a part of that; how every troubled thought, or stubbed toe nail no longer requires a kiss and a cuddle and soothing words as they learn to regulate their own emotions. Don’t get me wrong; I’m also glad for this. Very glad, that they are learning to forge the paths of their own world and navigate through thorny issues like fears and friendships. But along with that comes a distance. A gap. Only small just now, and still easily overcome when troubles spill over into tears and I am needed. But it is there in the closed bedroom doors and the occasional quiet withdrawal of hands from mine. In the silences to my many questions about their day. And then there are the rolled eyes, the But mummy, you wouldn’t understand, and Don’t take that tone/attitude with me! altercations which are now part of our daily patter.
But still they want the hugs, and sometimes stories at bedtime. Still they want to laugh and dance, and share silly jokes with us at dinner time, even though I’m embarrassing in front of their friends. So those precious in-between moments – the ones without the sulks and the temper tantrums and the arguments and when I’m not so tired I don’t have the energy (and then I kick myself for missing them) – I just need to reach out and snatch them, every so often, and hold them close by to my heart. I guess the camera is just the way I know how to do that.
So, last week, we were enjoying the beautiful spring weather at their great-grandfather’s house in London. His unkempt garden had a rich crop of fine looking daisys, so my seven year old asked me to help her make a daisy chain, since she didn’t know how. I thought, Oh my goodness I can’t believe you don’t know how? It seems like something every seven year old girl should *just* know how to do. And then I realised, how would she know if no-one showed her? So I did. And we had fun picking the strongest, tallest specimens. I took pictures, and then after a while on her request I put the camera away, and we carried on until the sun got too warm and we went off to find some shade.
There may be some kind of tenuous connection in all of that, between daisy chains, life, family and instructions, or lack of. But it’s a bit hazy. And I’ve never really been one for tying up the lose threads into a perfect bow. I’m happy to leave some questions unanswered, and accept that sometimes problems cannot be neatly solved, like algebra. Life is a bit like hair, really (those of you who are female and/or have daughters will appreciate this) – no matter how hard you try to create the perfect style and tie it up all neatly, after a while some tendrils will always work their way lose. And really, in the end, it doesn’t matter at all.
Edited to say: I intended to post this over a month ago, just after the Easter holidays, and somehow it never made it past ‘draft’ version. So apologies for the delay! I’m so jealous of that sunshine now as I type with my thick fleecy socks on, and a hot water bottle in my lap!
© images and words by Emily Hughes, 2015
Posted on April 5, 2015
Happy Easter everyone!
Oh, and WordPress tells me that today is my 3 year blogging anniversary, so happy anniversary to me! 🙂
I’m looking forward to a day of eating and relaxing with my family. This adorable photograph is an old one of Alex’s, which I turned into a greeting card last year for Easter.
Hope you’re all enjoying the bank holiday!
© image by Alex Hughes, 2012
Posted on March 11, 2015
So, I’ve been running a lot lately, which (partly) explains my sporadic posting. I’m not really a runner. I have set myself a lot of goals in my life, but never physical ones. Physical exercise is not really my thing, and it’s making me pretty exhausted a lot of the time. Still, even though it is hard, tiring, sometimes quite monotonous, and there’s the whole thing of fitting it in to your already packed schedule, there is a strange compulsion in me to run at this stage of my life. I can honestly say I never really felt like running much before. I used to be one of those people who looked on at those red-faced joggers with pity. But now, as I approach the end of my 3rd decade, I am one of them. I get it. It feels like something I absolutely must do.
I like the way it makes me feel. Aside from the health benefits, I like the way my body finds a gentle bobbing rhythm, and when you hit that sweet spot it sometimes becomes something quite effortless. I like the fact that I can pretend like I’m running away, but then I always come back home (and usually in a better mood). I like that running gives me space to listen, to think, and process. I like feeling my heart pump harder and louder. I like that it makes me sweat. I like having run; the way my legs feel tight and fizzy (and that post-run shower feels oh so good). I like that my children and husband cheerfully wave me off with pride every Sunday morning. I like my muddy, slightly battered running shoes – I feel every hard-earned mile in their soles.
I will never understand though, why some days it feels like I’m wafting along on a gentle breeze, admiring the scenery and smiling serenely at dog walkers, whilst on others my face is a scowl of concentration, I can’t smile for puffing, and my feet seem to jar with the pavement. On those days every single kilometre I chase is a hard slog. I have been surprised too about how many emotions are stirred up when I run. Sometimes I find myself crying.
In April I shall be attempting to run the London Marathon. A thought which fills me with terror and excitement in equal measure. I hope I shall continue to run after that, if I feel the need.
But for now, onwards, and forwards feels like a good direction to be going in.
Edited to say: I shall be running in support of The Lily Foundation, a charity which funds research into mitochondrial disease; a metabolic disorder for which there is no cure. If you are interested to learn more about mitochondrial disease and how mitochondria affect our body please watch this informative video.
© words and images Emily Hughes, 2015
Posted on January 3, 2015
A one-off commission I created for a special surf-loving couple of the Welsh coastline near Bridgend. I overlaid textures from the rocks and cliffs nearby to give a feel of the local landscape.
© images and words Emily Hughes, 2015
Posted on December 28, 2014
There is a quiet sort of grace in the gentle ebb and flow of the world around us; the sparse, sinewed kink of flowers against a stone wall; the comforting swell of a hilltop on a mountain walk; the twist of the dying roses’ sepal artfully languishing in an old glass beer bottle of a busy café. Even the merest ripple in a lake on a still day; the dense, deft weave of wild forest grasses, or the willowy elegence of noiseless pine trees [how many years have they stood, poised and calm as the wisest of shaman, hushed, mighty and knowing as we rush around like crazed ants at their feet, lost in the dark. They watch us bump into each other beneath them and curse and move on as they sigh and shake their noble emerald heads above in the clouds]. These are the things which quicken my heart and steady my breath. When so many big things are happening. Things I don’t understand; things which cannot be understood. I look for the quiet things.
I wrote this post a few months ago, before I lost my way with blogging, and life [temporarily – it’s good to be back. I’ve missed it more than I can say]. I still find it relevant now; perhaps even more so given I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on
[in relation to my life, and my practice]
[a word which emerged from these thoughts]
It’s heartening to know, coming back to my blog now to find this post, that I might have been on the right track.
Time to get back to it.
© images and content Emily Hughes, 2014