“Let there be no scales to weigh your un-known treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.”
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Last spring, I drove down south with Melody to visit this breathtaking place - the Seven Sisters cliffs. Best two and a half hour drive ever. If you're ever traveling to London, you should definitely think about seeing the chalk cliffs.
Being surrounded by nature as far as the eye can see, with little trace of human presence, is without a doubt one of the most incredible sensations I've ever felt. We were really lucky that it was a quiet day and we got the entire beach to ourselves. It's exciting and makes your heart flutter, but at the same time instills tranquility in your soul. It's a reminder that harmony exists in this universe. It's a reminder that I am a small, ephemeral fixture on this land. And even smaller are my problems.
Looking out into the sea, I realise that it has no beginning, no end. Boundless. Despite the chaos of crashes and sprays of salt, it is inherently serene. Each flowing body of water is somehow connected to one another, and they connect the rest of the world. Like the unfathomable depth of the oceans, the potential each and every one of us hold inside ourselves knows no bounds.
Whatever we seek without, can be unearthed within.
Shot at Seven Sisters Country Park, Sussex.
Editorial content here on the blog has been lacking as of late, which is why I'm thrilled to finally be able to share these images from my latest shoot with everyone. After a long time working with similar themes and concepts, I wanted to try out new ideas and create something a little different to my usual aesthetic. It's a subtle change, but baby steps, right? I tend to feel comfortable repeating similar styles or ideas when it comes to photography, and it's good too to have your own signature, but it's when you step out of your comfort zone that you really grow and learn more about yourself.
Over the last couple of months I've been proactively exploring new magazines, websites, photographers and artists, in order to expand my views not only on fashion (which can be very luxury-oriented and pretentious a lot of the time) but also on culture, society and our current generation as a whole. Now I'm not saying that I've done a complete 360° in my photographs to reflect all of this - far from that. I'm still at a stage of processing all the information and making connections. I'm still learning and how to incorporate and reflect them through fashion photography.
For this set of photos, I've reverted to my old practice of being a one-man-crew on set. I enjoy collaborating with other people, like stylists and make-up artists, but I felt like this shoot needed some form of intimacy. I wanted it to feel like a whisper. Although you can't see what it's like on set, the mood and vibes are still somewhat evident in the photos. The inspiration for this story comes from the idea of leaving a soirée in the early hours of the morning. Rather than feeling melancholic that the party is over, our muse continues to dance and be filled with life, choosing to begin a new day.
Sorry to break this to you, kids - contrary to popular belief, no matter how blessed you may be in the genetics department, modeling isn't just about good looks. Ok, maybe it is a little bit, and you may land a commercial or editorial job here and there, but is that all you want? If you plan to be in the game for the long run, if you really want to be remembered as a person and not just as a living mannequin, what you need is personality. Repeat after me, kids. It permeates through the lens and shines off the pages of a glossy magazine. Or a computer screen. Or most probably from a smartphone if you're living in 2016.
Personality is exactly what Layla here has - and not in a loud, boisterous, "look-at-me" sense. She's soft-spoken and she's quirky, but she isn't afraid to strike up a conversation and put her best foot forward. She's got that 90's laidback, IDGAF attitude, but without coming off as pretentious. In fact, she was eager to learn. Layla possesses a strangeness and charm that's both infectious and intoxicating. And guess what? This particularly humid morning was the first time Layla was on the set of a shoot. For someone to make such an impression on their maiden journey into the world of modelling, the future looks hella bright for her.
Between stressing out over shifting gears on uphill roads and getting lost from our over-dependence on technology, it's a miracle Melody and I made it to Sussex and back in one piece. The agenda for the day was to gawk at one of the most glorious natural landscapes in England - the Seven Sisters Cliffs. And to create some beautiful imagery. It was a success on both counts. Lots of oohs and aahs were involved.
This little road trip was a timely reminder to always follow your heart. When you do what you love, you will love what you do. Cheesy, eh? But it's so true. As with any kind of plan, even when things don't necessarily go wrong, we somehow end up face to face with some kind of obstacle. And there were many itty bitty hurdles we had to jump across that day. But when I finally got home late that night, exhausted in bed, I just smiled to myself. I was happy. I wasn't thinking about the difficulties we faced. I was thinking about our accomplishments, about the breathtaking sights we saw, about how much I enjoy taking photos.
When you're investing effort into something you're passionate about, something you love, it makes it all that much easier to focus on the positive, rather than the negative. In turn, you'll be welcoming more positivity into your life. Instead of complaining, you'll feel grateful and #blessed. I'm no expert, but I think that's how we should all live our lives - happy. Is that too much to ask for?