Dancing with the mythical toddler of joy.

When I am sad, and let us face it- I have been sad A LOT this year I like to do things to cheer myself up.

By the way, this was supposed to be a video blog before I bottled it.

Of course, everyone has different things that make them happy, I am by no means suggesting that the lunatic things I choose to busy myself doing will in anyway work for you but they sure as hell work for me.

1) Buy Music. Buy Vinyl.. all the vinyl. Download tracks you really shouldn’t but like anyway. Do it now. Binge on the music. Become an itunes whore. ahhhh. Booty dance to unsuitable songs about penis size like this:

Thank you Nelly. Thank you dirty bass.

EDIT: nelly appears to be channelling me in this video, Grey hoodie, nerd glasses, side parting… Drum N bass outtro… no.. oh.

2) Booty dancing in general. But only in the privacy of my own home- when I was a student we used to frequent a club called “The Level” which was wall to wall hip hop booty shaking, so I am still partial to a butt jiggle, always makes me grin.

3) Peeling off nail polish. My own.

4) Mind altering substances (may be a joke)

5) Ebaying for Kiss merch.

6) Saying (in a loud voice at things that are v uncool) “Thats SICK, BRAH”- something my friend J and I have taken to a whole other level. See also “GORDON’S ALIIIIVEEEE!” when ordering Gin. Never gets old. Take that in joke and run with it!

7) Eating citrus fruit (this is actually a scientific thing folks) 

8) Eyeliner. I have no valid reason why this makes me happy, it just does. The greater the trauma, the thicker the liner.. m kay?

9) That stupid drama exercise we used to do where you let out a deep, booming laugh “HA HA HAH.. it works, try it!

10) Take some photos. Unless its a real job in which case you need to be serious and do a good job, otherwise let’s all Instagram the shit out of our day.

11) Watch Red Dwarf or Father Ted, say the dialogue out loud.

12) Dance with “the mythical toddler of joy”

Now the last point needs some explanation, if nothing more than to avoid weird comparisons to such phrases as “choke the chicken” etc etc. The aforementioned phrase is actually derived from the moment at a wedding (as brilliantly observed by Peter Kay) where someone is left dancing with an imaginary small-person. This has always stuck with me and there are some songs where you just HAVE to do it to (such as REM, Shiny Happy People). Guaranteed laughs. If not, seek booze.

Dancing with the mythical toddler of joy.

Do you see? How the wind in your hair now feels differently.


I am too exhausted for self portraits these days. But I am undoubtedly a changed person.

I thought that when I came back to blog a few months down the line I would have to shamefully admit how nothing was going right, that I still had a broken heart and that I was still so down I could die. I thought this would be a difficult post to write, hell I have thought about ways I can make sense of everything that has happened to me the last 8 week or so, if I am even obliged to give an answer to the question “What happened to Mizzban?” all of it makes my brain hurt. But the answer I find myself giving is not the one I imagined back then.

When I fall over I pick myself up again, we have to. Falling over when there are very few people to catch you is a huge risk because the consequence of you not getting up again is too scary a prospect to contemplate. As it happens, I threw myself into my work. I say “threw” I literally ran, arms flailing and screaming “GAAAAAAAAH” into a big squishy object labelled “work”. And holy crap, it paid off… all the while I was procrastinating and worrying about not being good enough/someone laughing at me/ not being able to do it I didn’t notice all the people quietly waiting to book me.

And it has been difficult, it has been tough and scary and uncertain and there was a week where I didn’t eat anything because nobody paid me. But on the whole it has been liberating and cool and awesome and scary-brilliant. There have been some amazing projects I am lucky enough to be involved in, some of which can’t be talked about here but one of which was announced officially at the weekend. I am going to be shooting the RM Wives 2012 Calendar in July.. me 12 lovely Wives and Girlfriends of the Marines and my camera. Oh, and if I get my way… some props!

The problems are still there, they keep coming in a steady stream, just as they do to all of us. I still don’t feel as able to resume normal service and I know I have worried a lot of people by going quiet.

But hey, you know… work, it’s *Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah* work.

Whilst this might be the best thing I ever did, I don’t advocate it to everyone. I managed to get pretty sick along the way and have learnt to listen to my body, that stopping and slowing down is not a weakness or a failure and that saying “No” is NOT the end of the world. Saying no enabled me to say yes to bigger and better things. I even picked up a guitar for the first time in ages.

Things DO look different from this far down the line. Distance people, distance.

Do you see? How the wind in your hair now feels differently.

She who laughs last, laughs loudest.


Some Shots from last week.

After the busiest week on record I am back in Bristol with a mountain of editing to work on. Here are some shots from the weekend I wanted to share, mostly because they make me grin. I am simultaneously working on a huge project which I can’t share the results of right now, but which is VERY EXCITING INDEED.



I no longer have gastric flu!


A x

She who laughs last, laughs loudest.

Where I’ve been.

It is a fact of life that your body just won’t accept any undue stress you may put on it. Push it to its limits, expect it to perform excellently at all times and sooner or later it will just refuse. Usually when you need it to be most on form.
This week two things have happened to me, a two day photoshoot taking in five locations around London….. And gastric flu.

Anyone who has had gastric flu, or this terrible bug that is going round will know that the latter is not conducive to intercity travel. Or indeed anything that requires moving, for that matter. The bug literally renders you immobile. On day one, I couldn’t leave my bed for a full 24 hrs. Bolstered by the power I’ve medication I somehow made it to London to complete the job, a really exciting one that involved shooting people in five different areas of the city and taking in some amazing locations.

20120518-094805.jpg I have learnt there is nothing to complain about when you are privileged to be doing what you want in life.. And so somehow I managed to do it, cold sweats and all. I can’t share any images until the project goes to print but I had a great time and met some amazing people. I just hope I didn’t give them my bug!

Where I’ve been.

Learning to Smile- the skill of the Photographer.


Outtakes whilst waiting to take some fun corporate shots this week.

“Abi, you are so funny” my friend said to me the other day, after I had told a (sadly real and very true story). Funny, is of course entirely subjective. I am aware that I have a good sense of humour but as far as attempting to get laughs, that is something I am sure I do not consciously attempt. If people “get” what makes me tick then yes, it’s funny.. the thing I just drew attention to. But me personally? naaaah.

As I throw myself into more and more photo shoots I am increasingly aware of the need to be an engaging human. Whilst a photo shoot is not an opportunity to test out your stand-up material, it is at times often down to you, your personality and your camera. If the people you are shooting feel uncomfortable then you are almost certainly going to get forced, uncomfortable photos. This is usually why the first 20 or so shots I usually take are never as good as say, the last 20. I think the relationship you build with the client is an important one, having your photo taken requires you to be somewhat giving of yourself and also put a degree of trust into the person capturing it.

I very nearly used the word “capture” in relation to a photograph. gah.

Whilst I don’t subscribe to the opinion that I am “funny” I do acknowledge that yes, a lot of funny things happen to me. Not enough to pen a “laugh-a-minute” biography but still, amusing within the context of a fairly unremarkable life. I LOVE to laugh. I adore pun-based humour and silly, detailed, protracted ongoing jokes- some of which I am still stringing out 10 years down the line with some friends. Humour comes naturally to me, and I often use it to diffuse my low moods.

Sometimes things suck the life out of you and the desire to laugh diminishes along with your sex drive, appetite and sense of “get up and go”. That is truly a tradgedy, laughter is the one thing that binds us, makes us feel good, identify likeminded people and view things positively. Without it, life would be just a series of insurmountable trials.

Asked during my recent bout of self-loathing, a friend asked me what I was good at. At the time, I didn’t feel especially good at anything, such is the case when your self worth is residing in guttersville. I had been feeling that having a lot to say for myself was a bad thing, something to be ashamed of and that I should just paint myself (and my many, many words) into a beige coloured corner and wait for the dust to settle. About a week later he asked me the same question.. I blinked at him. He laughed (because I look like an Owl when I blink) and in a very small voice I answered “I dunno”.

“Well Shabs, you are very good at making people feel comfortable” he said and sat back in his chair, challenging me to argue. I did more blinking….

“You are, you are one of the few people who can get a laugh out of somebody within the first 5 mins of meeting them, that’s a skill, man!” (He is very cool, he calls people man, even when they are girls)

What I should probably leave out of this is that the reason I make people laugh is largely due to the fact that I don’t seem to have an off switch. I have developed this thing where I just… talk, talk about anything. In the context of photography it really seems to work well for me. The above shots, taken this week whilst waiting around to take some corporat portraits, are classic reminders of this skill during those times when I don’t feel I have anything to contribute. I must always remember that making people feel relaxed enough to let go and laugh is as valuable a skill as any.

Learning to Smile- the skill of the Photographer.