The Introvert Library | branding photography | storytelling for small businesses

The journey from meeting to photographing is an important part of my process

When Alice first wrote to me asking about some branding photography, I was pretty taken by how much she gave of herself in that first email. I knew that she wanted the feel of an old and beautiful library with lots of warm wooden paneling, that she’d prefer to communicate by email rather than in person for the time being and that she was dreading her first professional photoshoot!  

Alice is The Introvert Library, which offers all sorts of resource to help introverts create lives that work for them, completely individually for them. Being one herself, a hugely creative one at that, I learned to see how amazing she is at communicating her needs, desires and almost how warrior-like she is at coming out of her safe space and into new territory to achieve what she wants in life. It’s no surprise that this is one of her talents, how she shares this process with the people she coaches.

The journey from meeting to photographing is an important part of my process, in fact possibly more important to me than that point of clicking the shutter. I know this already in my personal projects as they often span over several months, so it becomes about those stories that develop and connect along the way. This was very much the case with Alice and me.

Discovering Sessions House in Usk was like lifting our mood board from the wall and giving it life in one place

We explored possible locations between us, I got brave by asking someone I hardly knew some pretty direct and personal questions, and she got even braver by answering them. We got to a stage where it was the most natural next step to actually talk in person, by this point we knew stuff about each other that only friends know.

Discovering Sessions House in Usk was like lifting our mood board from the wall and giving it life in one place. A beautifully restored historical courthouse, connected to Usk Prison via an underground walkway. Where previously, those standing in the dock, would quite likely be escorted via a now-blocked up tunnel directly underneath.

Learning of the infamous trial which took place there of leading suffragette, Lady Rhondda, added to the spice and seemed poignant given that 2018 celebrates a 100 years of women getting the vote. Now the building hosts civil ceremonies, away days and conferences, it also has a room there which holds the largest collection of Victorian books in the country. 

We spent a morning in theatrical shafts of natural light. Conjuring up juror’s findings and hearing the judge conclude with a hammer down of certainty. Mostly it was a day spent exploring Alice’s creative vision, to enable her to honestly and uniquely share what she’s got to give others.

Photographing families in their allotments

My green fingers extend to planting modest amounts of bulbs each spring, putting some herbs into pots and mowing the lawn when it's my turn. So learning from some expert gardening families here has been a wonderful experience.

"Our allotment was an anniversary present from Duncan’s dad as he didn’t know what else to get us. Though he’s regretting it now as we’ve won first prize in the Best Allotment competition at the annual show for the last two years"

I was asked by JUNO magazine to contribute a photo feature about families and their allotments for their 50th edition. I spent time with three families and got to live a little part in their green fingered world for a day.

"Our parents and grandparents were keen gardeners, it’s something we’ve both grown up with. We kept a small vegetable patch in the back garden, but when the girls came along it competed with a trampoline, slide, ball games and the guinea pigs. So we put our name down for an allotment and within six months we were given one to do with as we wish."  George

Not only did I get to learn a few gardening tips for myself. I also learned of the best places to hide, trees to climb, the best raspberry bushes to eat from when no one's looking and discover the places where most worms and wood lice live.

"I like to read here. After I’ve done a few gardening jobs with dad, I’ll sneak off and find somewhere to sit with my book." Laura

Their allotments have become a way of life and a place to escape to. We all too often get bogged down with day-to-day routines, not seeing the end of that 'to do' list, and for new families it can be quite challenging to re-establish identities after having a baby.

"As a first time mum, it can be tough finding some time for yourself, but this has become somewhere I can do this. When Emily was tiny, I’d walk over from our house with her in the pram and would let her sleep as I quietly got on with some weeding. It’s such a peaceful place, it gives me space to think." Nickala

One day I walked into a family BBQ celebration being held in the middle of their plot on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Surrounded by lush fruit and flowers, spades put to one side and the summer house doors wide open, as sausages sizzled and the bottle corks popped. With John being a keen gardener nearly all his life, his wife Sarah, children and grandchildren are used to joining him in his allotment kingdom.

"I’ve always loved my horticulture, it’s been part of my life since I was 16. I love the great outdoors. When I’m not here, Sarah and I will often be walking the Welsh coastal path. I’m also keen on my wildlife photography, particularly birds." John

We can all get excited by the latest piece of technology and scientific breakthroughs, or saddened by some of the current global news, maybe a few of us out there are planning the next big leap into a brand new adventure? I'm sure these families, with their busy lives, are no exception. Which is why I found this photographic project so grounding. As they've gone back to, or newly discovered the simple and rewarding, yet hardworking lifestyle of gardening. And they do this, quite seamlessly, all together.

A Breastfeeding Support Group in Photographs

Being able to breastfeed my baby was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It is still, without doubt, one of my greatest achievements. Not an easy journey, there were lots of tears from me, painful moments, emotionally and physically.

But had I had the emotional and physical support of this particular group in my own breastfeeding journey? I’m certain it would have eased my self-doubt, closed that stupid ‘rule book’ and got me creative with my feeding experience.

This is not a story intending to spark debate, of what's right or wrong in the baby-feeding arena. Nor is it meant to fuel the guilt-measuring machine of how we chose to or couldn’t, for whatever reason manage to breastfeed our children. Hey, we have enough of that big jar of guilt neatly handed to us around the same time our newborns arrive don’t we? I write here merely as little celebration and reminder of my own personal journey, nothing more.

We discussed the #brelfie – the breastfeeding equivalent to the selfie!

This here is a small window right now, looking inwards to a special group of mums and their babies with their own feeding journeys. It is here we spent time discussing the #brelfie – the breastfeeding equivalent to the selfie!  We shared warrior mum ‘street feeding’ moments - the disapproving look of a cafe customer, or the well-meaning superstore worker informing you "there is a designated feeding cubicle for you in the ladies toilet.”

It's a special place where I’ve seen new mums walk through the doors over the weeks, some distraught and in tears. These same mums have left laughing, armed with new friendships and a whole list of positions to try feeding their baby in. Tips and techniques often shared by other mums themselves as well as the trained advisors. It is quite simply amazing, simple human-to-human support.

I’ve also made new friendships of my own during my time photographing this Bristol group. In fact a few of us will be meeting up again to find their favourite places to feed in – ranging from the sanctuary of the bedroom to the vibrant market place. A whole new photographic project for me, and a whole new bucket list of feeding locations for the mummas.

To call this simply a breastfeeding support group doesn't do it justice. I’ve watched mums overcome their feelings of guilt and worry to reach those vital feelings of connection and self worth around feeding their babies. It’s some of the toughest terrain you can tread as a new mother. So however you chose to feed your baby, it’s surely about the bond between you and how you grow together during those quiet connective times that counts the most.

Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group

Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group

Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support GroupBristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group honeysuckle-13