Valentine’s Day 2017

Valentines Day. What a load of shit. Chocolates, flowers, cards, teddy bears. Waste of time. Waste of money.

Just kidding.

… Okay, mostly kidding.


I’ve never really been a huge fan of V-Day, and that’s not coming from someone who is single and bitter at the world. I’m not. I just find it all a bit forced. I mean, as a couple, you have your anniversary to celebrate. If you’re married, theres the day you met, your fist date, your engagement day and your wedding day. So why all this V-Day nonsense on top of all that?

I don’t care how in love you are or how well you know someone, your ideas of what to get your other half have got to be maxed out when you add Valentines Day into the mix as well.

Everyone is showing off what they received as if that in some way validates their relationship, rather than simply being with the person who bought them all the useless junk in the first place. Especially now with social media and everyone fighting for the approval of their peers or strangers they’ve never met through likes and comments.

Madness.

Huge cards, bouquets of flowers so big that they make you sneeze if you even think about it, so much chocolate you’re at risk of being diagnosed with type II diabetes in your early twenties. And all this not long after Christmas. It all gets a bit out of hand if you ask me.

That is, until like me, you start to think bout Valentines Day as a way of celebrating the concept of love, rather than this bizarre, ego boosting shit fest. You don’t have to be in a relationship to experience or celebrate love. You have parents, children, siblings, friends, co-workers, pets… You have love for many people in your life. Even single people can celebrate V-Day.

For the last three years, my Valentine has without a doubt been Yorick. My bunny. I love him more than anything else (sorry Matthew).

I also always make sure that I take time to wish a ‘Happy Valentines Day’ to a few of my close friends. I want to make sure they know that they’re special to me.

They’re important.

I love them.

So it makes sense for me to let them know they’re on my mind on a day where we are all gathering around to celebrate love.

And then there is the thing we all shy away from. Self love. You can’t fully love others unless you fully love, accept and care for yourself. That’s the hardest love to give.

So I made sure to show love to myself on Valentines Day too. I did a lovely self-love yoga practice and meditation to let myself know that I’m important. I’m there for myself. That probably sounds a little silly to everyone who isn’t into that kind of lifestyle, but I wanted to mention it, because it’s important. I think so, anyway.


Valentines Day… It doesn’t have to be about couples and all that lovey-dovey nonsense. It can be about your friends. About yourself. And of course, our pets. Because honestly, animals are the best people we know. Unconditional love.


On that note (and there are some images coming, I promise), I wanted to share my favourite quote about love. In the spirit of things, you know?

Chick flick alert: Love, Actually.

One of my favourite movies ever. It’s about love. Not everyone ends up with a ‘happy ever after’ in the film. But everyone’s okay. Everyone’s alive. Everyone has love in one form or another.

That’s life.

It’s not always picture perfect.

But it’s ours.

That’s what Valentine’s Day means to me, anyway.


So here’s the quote:

(Hugh Grant, by the way! *swoon*)

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.


So here are some of the pictures I ended up with from a little session in my home studio set up on V-Day. Doing something that I love. Modelling. And photography. Okay, two things that I love.

I bought a couple of little props and just went for it.

I won’t say anything about each image like I usually do.

I’ll just let you have a look through, see what you think.

Some shots appear twice as they’ve been edited a little differently. I think they look cool side by side.


Love

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Classical

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Chocolate and Wine

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Heart

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I hope you enjoyed looking through those. I had fun shooting and editing them!

Just because you can’t take life too seriously, I’m gonna end this post with a few outtakes. Me, stuffing my face with chocolate. Classy.

Peace and love. Namaste.


 

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation” – Oscar Wilde

This is me writing the blog post that I don’t have to write. I got other people to write it for me. I was going to write something, but then I thought, why write something myself when I can get other people to write it for me? Okay, so I’m kidding, obviously (everyone knows I love to witter on about nothing in particular!)

But I did think it would be cool to ask people I’ve worked with to choose their favourite image of me.

So I did.

I contacted some of my favourite togs and requested that they pick their favourite image of me.

One they’ve taken.

A few of them got back to me with an image and a little something to say.

*I’ve decided to order these images in order in which I met each photographer (not necessarily, the order in which the photograph were taken as a few people I’ve worked with on many occasions!)*

So here we go, I’m taking a back seat on this one.


Paul Smith (Cellar Door Images)

https://www.facebook.com/cellardoorimagesuk/

https://www.instagram.com/thecellardooruk/

Misuzu

The image I’ve chosen of Misuzu comes from our very first shoot in March 2015. She’d very graciously stepped in at the last minute to fill a cancellation I’d had and I wasn’t really sure how well the session would turn out. I needn’t have been worried as she completely blew me away with her posing skills and her ability to emote on demand. I wanted a Peter Lindbergh feeling to this set and Misuzu was able to provide that slightly vulnerable and yet completely connected to the camera look that such a shot demands. I love the natural light, the shabby backdrop, the £3 charity shop outfit and the texture in the floor and chair. Exactly my sort of image and Misuzu is a vital component in it.

I love this image too. Clearly a favourite since it is the main picture on my website. One of my very first paid shoots… Just as I was figuring out that modelling could really be my job! I have several favourites with Paul, but I think this one will always be up there.

Here is a link to a fantastic set we did that was published on the NIF Magazine website: http://nifmagazine.com/warehouse-times-paul-smith/


Phil Lonergan

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My favourite image created with Misuzu is the light sabre triptych. The concept of this image had been in my head for months and I had really struggled to find the right model to do it justice. This was the first time I had worked with Misuzu and she made it so easy to get the images I wanted. The shot was captured using a light sabre in a totally darkened room, a 15 second exposure with an off camera flash on the final pose. I did some final editing using Photoshop and Lightroom. We didn’t just take a picture we created a fantastic image.

This was a fun shoot. Lots of playing around, experimenting and giggling. One of my favourite shots from this shoot was a more classic art nude shot, but with the light sabre in there as a prop!


Stephen Plant

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This photo is from my first shoot of many with Misuzu. Not only taken in Spring bust also you might say in the ‘spring’ of our seasons working together. Misuzu’s natural beauty, grace, elegance and poise even though she was fairly new to modelling impressed me so much, not to mention her character and personality- and many shoots later still does. We have co-created so many memorable and beautiful images together bur this one always appears in my mind first.

Whenever me and Steve shoot together, it always a fun shoot. Not only because we get on so well, but because I learn so much about nature each time (fungi, insects etc) and get a nice day out in the countryside with his glamourous assistant Mickey (his beautiful canine companion).


Buzz

http://www.fujixphotography.co.uk

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When I was asked a while ago by Misuzu, to pick my favourite image that I’d taken of her during our shoots, I had no idea how tricky such seemingly easy question could be. We’ve shot together in my lounge, in a hotel room and at the side of lake. During the shoots we’ve managed to shoot some very different looks, using natural light and a variety of strobes. I have never come away from a shoot with Misuzu feeling anything other than delighted. On getting the images from the camera onto the big screen of the computer that delight usually only increases to something like elation.

I generally tend to “see” in black and white and the setting on my camera are such that I can take black and white jpegs straight out of the camera and to Social Media with no post production. Once I have the RAW images downloaded onto the big screen I refine the images using Silver Efex Pro. Maybe it’s just me but the world always looks better in stunning shades of monochrome.

I have at least one image from each of my shoots with Misuzu printed out and displayed somewhere, and I initially thought that one of these might be “my favourite”. However, on looking through the images from our shoots together I finally decided on one from our “Beauty and the Beast” set. We’d been working up by the lake at Joel Hicks Studio and already had a great set of images taken on the jetty. In search of something a little different we wandered away from the lake and came a across an excavator and dump truck. As usual, with Misuzu I suggest something that involves danger, a ridiculous prop or something just plain stupid. Misuzu gives me a hard look, then smiles and happily goes along. It pretty much always works out and we manage to produce something really nice. On this occasion she had to traverse a patch of long unkempt grass and climb onto the tracks of a large dirty excavator whilst maintaining some degree of dignity and ultimately being somewhat, mostly, completely naked. Whilst Misuzu negotiated the aforementioned assault course, I busied myself with modestly setting up camera and pleaded with her to “be careful”. As usual, despite the midges, the spiders, the lack of clothes and the hard uncomfortable steel tracks, Misuzu managed to pose as gracefully as ever and without any complaints.

The contrast of gentle beauty and grace against the waiting power and energy of the excavator are things that bring me back to this image time and again.

I don’t think I have anything more to say. Buzz covered it all. Pretty much. Totally. I’ll just move on…


Derwood Pamphilon

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I was inspired to photograph Misuzu in this setting to show her elegant shaping in the huge space of this disused industrial location. I love the symmetry and elegance it portrays. This is one of many fabulous images that we shot together and my firm favourite.

It was so much fun to shoot in this location. It was funny because my feet were black from the dirty floor by the time we had finished! I love my job!


Michael Szabo

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I love this image because the outfit choice (orange dress, sunglasses and hair style), along with the shape of Misuzu’s body and the tones of her skin. It was a tricky shot to take due to the composition consisting of very light and dark areas, but the Nikon managed to capture it perfectly.

(F2, 1/200, ISO100)

I always love what Michael does with the shots from the shoots we do together. I’m particularly fond of his photoshop work but I have to agree that this one is one of my favourites too, despite the fact that it has had very little done to it!


Misuzu Photography

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Of course, I had to add a favourite of mine thats mine. Does that even make sense? Anyway, I love this picture because it’s quirky, dark, creepy and weird.

How do I manage to quote myself on my own website? *cough* narcissist *cough*


That’s all folks! Don’t forget that I have a mailing list, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr! Follow, share, like, love, whatever!


 

November.

I haven’t completely disappeared and I’ve still been modelling, but my online presence has sort of diminished. I had a very busy November!


I was a NaNoWriMo participant this year. If you don’t know what that means, it means I wrote a novel last month! Yes, a novel. The way NaNo works is, you write at least 1,667 words every day in November to stay on target for hitting a 50,000 word count.

I wrote something every single day in November, finishing with a word count of 54,155. I wrote a novel that has been inside me for nearly a decade. It’s a story I’ve been wanting to bring into the world for a long time and to know that I finally did it is… Well, it’s amazing.

To anyone who has ever taken part in NaNo, whether you hit your goal or not, well done for doing it. It’s a really daunting task, but I was lucky… My story wrote itself for the most part. There were points where I wasn’t sure that it was actually me directing my characters’ actions, rather they were choosing their own adventure! Sitting down and writing a novel is a great experience and I think it’s something everyone should try at some point.

I now have a first draft of something that I can work on for the foreseeable future to get it up to a standard whereby I might actually want someone else to read it…


During November, I also completed a 30 day yoga programme by Yoga With Adriene called Empower. It was a lot of fun and physically challenging, but I completed that too.

I love yoga because it gives me time to myself to reflect and quieten my mind. The Empower programme wasn’t like that, it was more of an intense work out. It was tough and I like a challenge, thoroughly enjoying my 30 days of it. That said,  I’m happy to get back to the slower, self-love, reflective, mind-body awareness, soothing yoga for the most part (maybe a little of the more intense stuff mixed in here and there!).

Again, something else I challenged myself to and succeeded. Adriene is doing (as she does every year) a programme that runs throughout January, and if anyone is interested in doing this with me, it would be great! It’s always more fun when you can share the experience with someone else. I’m quite looking forward to it.


The last thing I wanted to talk about (and probably the most important bit!) is… *drum roll please* I’ve started working behind the lens as well as in front of it. Just for fun, not for work, but even so, it will help my modelling work immensely if I understand the process from both sides.

I had a DSLR when I was 21 but I didn’t dare to take it off automatic: it confused the hell out of me and I really struggled to get my head around how photography actually works. I figured it’s best for me to stick to the side of the lens I know how to rock, right?

But recently, I have been experimenting and I’ve found that I’ve actually taken some pictures that I not only like, but love.


In November of last year, I worked with a photographer when I was touring Gloucester. He showed me some of the sites because he had worked in the city centre for a long time. I got some pictures while we were wandering around… Then later on, he taught me how to take pictures at night with a long exposure. He explained how the aperture changes what the lights end up looking like on your final image. It was the first time that phrases like ISO, F-number and shutter speed had any meaning to me. Before, it all just went straight over my head and I couldn’t understand it. Here are some images of Gloucester towards the end of last year.


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It was another six months or so after then that  I started to look at my camera more seriously again. I did a location shoot with another photographer friend and then afterwards, I took some pictures with my camera. I picked up a bit more advice there and got some fantastic pictures in the beautiful woodland location we were in (it helps when the person taking you is extremely knowledgeable in all things nature and spotted some great things to photograph that most people miss!)


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My Dad helped me to transform my front room into a little studio space. It was partially so I could try out some ideas I had and partially to have somewhere to shoot if the weather is cold or rainy, so shoots don’t have to be cancelled or postponed.

Wy Dad taught me how to set up all of the lights properly, then I had a go at some studio photography in the comfort of my own home. I started to photograph my pets in there and got some images that I’m rather proud of! Turns out, the modelling gene runs in the family: my fur-babies are superstars!


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I spent a few days in Wales with my Dad earlier this month (yes, I know it’s not wise to go to Wales in December… It’s wet!) He helped me to understand the technical side to getting some amazing landscape images. I got some pictures of the beach and of the fog coming down the mountains.


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Personally, I’m really proud of the pictures I’ve taken so I hope you like some of them too. I’m aware they aren’t perfect (learning curve, right?) but I’ve created something that I like and that’s what’s important to me. I’ve learnt that my style is very dark, I seem to prefer darker images and that I favour high contrast too. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but I’d love to hear what you think either way.


I often think about how fortunate I am to have met the people I have and to have been given the opportunities I’ve been given. Especially around this time of year. I’m very lucky to have been helped and supported by many family members and friends. I was always encouraged to be creative as a child and I never grew out of it. That’s probably how I ended up becoming a model, because I get paid to be creative. I’m really going to put more effort into my photography from now on. I have a studio in my front room and family/friends who know lots about photography. What excuse do I have not to?


I want to take a moment to wish everyone who reads this (and everyone who doesn’t) an amazing Christmas and New Year. Have fun, stay safe and make sure 2016 goes out on a positive note and start 2017 without anything from this year holding us back.

Namaste.


I now have a studio that I can put up in my front room. If you’re not a photographer then ignore this, but if you are and might be interested in booking me in this space, here is a list of the stuff that’s in there and a link to the PurplePort casting call:

  • A white background that can be backlit (it works really well, I’ve had a play around with it!). It turns around to be a black background and has a green screen cover with a bit that trails on the floor.
  • Four studio lights (two for the back ground, two for the model with soft boxes)
  • Barn door
  • Coloured gels
  • Honeycomb
  • Snoot
  • Tri-flector and stand
  • A frame and clips for hanging your own backdrops from (I’m hoping to get a black and a white one of those soon too)
  • Sekonic light meter to help with set up.
  • Full set of triggers.
  • I will be getting speed lights soon too and I have a soft box for them already.

Expect to see more work from me in this space from both sides of the lens (it won’t all be bunny pictures, I promise!)


 

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection – Gautama Buddha

This post isn’t modelling related (sorry). Remember my recent post about the carnival? I started that one off with an intention for my next trip around the sun. More posts, more of me. So here we go.


I finally started a daily yoga practice 90 days ago today!!! This post is in celebration of that and is the story about how I started. No modelling images here, I’m afraid. Just my ramblings and thoughts!


I’d been meaning to start doing yoga for over 3 years. I’d owned a yoga mat for over a year. Despite this, I still hadn’t actually started doing yoga… Because… Well… I had no clue where to start! I don’t drive and there weren’t any classes near to me. I didn’t want to just buy random work out DVDs and stuff, because you never know what you’re getting. Also, I was worried in case I didn’t hit the poses right and hurt myself. So I just ended up not doing it at all.

Then, I was having coffee with my big sister. I was saying about wanting to start yoga. She recommended a yoga youtube channel called Yoga With Adriene. I took a look when I got home and found something called 30 Day Yoga Camp. In this camp, there is a video for 30 consecutive days. Each video consists of a work out and a mantra to focus on, every day for 30 days.

This happened on the 1st June. June is a 30 day month. So I rolled out my yoga mat (after shaking off the dust!) and started. After that first day, I did the relevant yoga camp video every morning, first thing after I woke up. I took a picture every day. I used an app called Rhonna to add text to each image, stating the mantra. I posted each picture on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.

I completed Yoga Camp. Since then, I do yoga every morning and every evening. Yoga is the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up, and last thing I do at night, just before I go to bed. Often, I do some yoga during the day too. I can’t get across in words how much yoga practice has helped me. Specifically, the way Adriene teaches it. The idea of being kind to yourself, kind to your body, honouring what level you’re working at every day, being grateful for who you are and just a general sense of self love and appreciation.

I wish I’d started practicing yoga  earlier! Well, that’s not true, actually. In a way, I wish I’d started earlier, but mostly, I think I discovered the magical world of yoga at just the right time. The right time for me. I was in the right place for it to imprint upon me. It was as it was supposed to be.

It is because of the amazing experience I had, that I wanted to share my 30 days with you. I want to share each of the mantras and what they mean to me. This is a very personal thing for me, but the process of writing them down and putting them out there reminded me to stay true to myself, to stay open and honest about who I am and how I’m feeling. I hope that by writing this and putting my experience into words, I can inspire someone else, the way Adriene inspired me!

“Find what feels good” – Adriene Mishler


Day 1: I Accept

I accept myself as I am today. It’s okay to express self-love. It’s not vanity, it’s taking care of yourself. Show up for yourself and you’ll find it easier to show up for others. I accept.

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 Day 2: I Create

I create time for myself and my yoga practice. I create a space where I can be free to focus on my practice. After doing yoga for a little while, this time and space I created became habit and part of who I am.

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Day 3: I Embrace

I embrace change. When I was doing yoga camp, I was achey from the second practice. So I had to work hard to embrace the aches, because it meant there was a positive change for my body happening. Embrace happiness. Embrace your true self.

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Day 4: I Awaken

I awaken my body and mind. I now do yoga every morning, but on day 4, it was the first time I woke up early and did yoga. It was a habit that stuck since then!

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Day 5: I am Alive

I am alive. What more can I say about this mantra that those three words themselves don’t already say? I am alive. I’m grateful to be alive. Enjoy it.

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Day 6: I Am Supported

Day 6 was abs day. The mantra helped me through this tough practice, because it was all about feeling supported by your yoga mat and finding inner physical strength (core strength) to help guide you. I am supported by my own body. I am supported by the people around me. I am supported by the earth.

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Day 7: I Am Capable

I am capable of a lot more than I think I am. I always thought I really suck at anything to do with balance. I surprised myself on day 7. I was good at a balancing practice! I am capable of seeing a tough yoga practice through to the end, therefore, I am capable to face challenges life throws at me.

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Day 8: I Choose

I choose to do yoga everyday. I choose to strive for healthy body and mind. This is my choice, and I’m proud to have stuck with it!

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Day 9: I Am Bold

I am bold. There isn’t much else to say here. Be bold. Be you.

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Day 10: I Am Present

I am present. Yoga is great for keeping your mind present and focused. When I’m physically on my mat, I find it easier to keep my mind there too.

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 Day 11: I Release

I release the tension in my body, and in my mind. I have learnt to let go of things that are no longer serving me and learnt to relax more, physically.

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Day 12: I Trust

I trust myself. I trust the yoga practice. I trust Adriene to always have my back (she has on many occasions!)

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 Day 13: I Deserve

When I originally posted this on my Instagram page, I wrote quite a lot more than for the other days. I’ll just write the same thing here:

“Today’s mantra got me thinking less about myself and more about people in general. What does everybody deserve? Everybody deserves to be able to love themselves, body and mind. Everything in the media and advertising seems to work on our insecurities and make us feel like we are missing something or aren’t as good as we can be. We all DESERVE to be able to accept ourselves fully, as we are in this moment. Love yourself, because you are you. Love your body, because it’s the only one you’ve got. Love your mind, because you are unique. That’s what we all deserve.” – Misuzu

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 Day 14: I Go With The Flow

I go with the flow and can learn to let go and just roll with what’s happening. You can’t control everything that happens, so just let it flow and allow yourself to be carried along with it.

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Day 15: I Am Open

I am open to transformation and change. I am open to all possibilities. When you allow yourself to remain open to possibility, you never know what good things might come your way!

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Day 16: I Enjoy

I enjoy practicing yoga. I enjoy the journey and I enjoy taking that time for myself. I enjoy looking at how far I’ve come in such as short space of time.

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Day 17: I Am Focused

I am focused. During practice, you focus on your breath and let that guide you through your movements.

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Day 18: I Surrender

Another mantra where I’ll just quote what I originally wrote:

“I struggled with today’s mantra. The practice was awesome, but the mantra just didn’t seem to resonate with me at all. What am I supposed to be surrendering to? Then something kind of ironic happened. I realised that I didn’t have to force a mantra to resonate with me or to make sense right away… There’s nothing wrong with that! So I realised, I’d surrendered the need to always understand. I’d surrendered to the mantra by realising I didn’t have to force it. Cool, huh?” – Misuzu

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Day 19: I Respect

I respect myself and I respect my body. I respect the yoga practice.

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Day 20: I Am Worthy

I am worthy of the positive changes that yoga practice brings for my body and mind. I am worthy of self-love and love from others.

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Day 21: I Believe

I believe in myself and my own ability. I believe in the possibilities that practicing yoga brings.

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Day 22: I Surround Myself

I surround myself with positivity. Positive thoughts, positive energy and positive people.

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Day 23: I Am Secure

I am secure in my body and mind.

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Day 24: I Am In Control

I am in control of my own body and my own yoga practice.I choose to practice yoga every day. I am the only person who is in control of that.

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Day 25: I Am Strong

I am strong. I have a strong, determined mind and my body is getting stronger with more practice.

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 Day 26: I Attract

I attract a place of calm and stillness on my mat. Only I can make this place a sanctuary, and I have attracted positive energy to my mat.

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Day 27: I Am Grateful

I am grateful for the positive changes that practicing yoga has bought me. I am grateful to everyone who supported and/or encouraged me during my journey through the 30 days. I am grateful for Adriene, I could not have asked for a better teacher.

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 Day 28: I Celebrate

I celebrate my progress. At this point, I was four weeks in and already, yoga had become part of my day and part of my identity. I also took this time to celebrate all of the people who helped me to get this far, and I celebrated myself for getting this far.

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Day 29: I Love ❤

I love myself. I love my body. I love the people who have been there for me. I have loved my yoga journey!

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Day 30!

“I did it!! Congratulations to me, I’m so proud of myself right now. Day 30 is choose your own mantra. I spent a little time thinking about this… I was tempted to go for ‘I am victorious’… But I changed my mind… I’m going to come back around to the mantras that have aided me this past month. Starting at: ‘I accept’. These past 30 days have flown by… And I’ve changed and grown so much in that time, on and off my mat. So here goes:

I accept myself fully. I create a space on my mat and time for myself. I embrace the yoga practice with open arms. I am truly alive! I feel supported by my friends and they have helped me to see that I am capable of being successful. I choose to be bold. In my practice, I have been working on being present. As I release myself into the practice, body and mind, I learnt to truly trust in it. I deserve to feel great. In this 30 days, I have learnt to just go with the flow and sink in to my practice. I have remained open to the positive changes and enjoyed my time. I stayed focused, surrendered to the practice and formed a higher level of respect for myself in my body and mind. I am worthy of this change and I am worthy of positivity. I believe that if I surround myself with this positive energy, I can be the best version of myself. I am secure and I am in control: I am the only one responsible for myself and my health. I am a strong person. I attract good things and remain grateful for what I have. Today, I celebrate my victory and I love myself, fully. I accept.

Thank you @adrienelouise … You have changed me. I’m a better, happier, healthier person than I was 30 days ago. You have taught me that self love is important. Peace and love. Namaste!” – Misuzu

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So there we go. Thirty days of mantra and yoga. If you’re curious about starting a yoga practice, or if you’re just looking for something a little different in your work out, I fully recommend Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Camp. It’s great for body and mind. Try it. I’d love to hear anybody else’s experiences with yoga!

If anyone is interested in subscribing to Adriene’s members site, if you use the link below, I get a free month for recommending you, which is cool. I do fully recommend the Yoga With Adriene members site, there is so much on there, there really is something for everybody and it is all done with such positivity.

https://yogawithadriene.vhx.tv/?campaign=YWAR-2430119

If anyone is still reading this and is interested in meditation, there is a great app called Simple Habit. Five minutes a day is all you need to do to feel the benefits. I really recommend it if you’re looking to start meditating or prefer guided meditation. Anyone can meditate. Give it a try with the link below. If you use the code DMMKC then you can get a free two week trial:

https://www.simplehabitapp.com/

That’s all from me for today. Any questions or comments are all appreciated. Thank you for reading. Namaste.

World Photography Day!


Hello! This is just a quick post in honour of World Photography Day!


I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of my favourite images with you all. These aren’t necessarily the best images I have, but they are all ones that I love because they’re a bit different. I have chosen images that are all black and white (I definitely have a preference for the monochrome!). I really hope you love them as much as I do.


Before I show you these few images, I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone I’ve worked with. Thats photographers, studio owners and make-up artists. I’m very lucky to have worked with some amazing and talented people, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this as my job. I’m very grateful to you all.

I’m also very grateful to all of the people who support my work by sharing and commenting and liking. As an artist (yes, I am an artist, I just use my body instead of paint, or whatever!), it’s always good to know that your work is appreciated by people who aren’t in the same business as you. It makes it all worth while. Thank you 🙂


As today is all about the photography, I’m literally just going to post my chosen images below and not ramble on about them as I usually do. Today, the images speak for themselves.

Photography is a powerful form of art. It captures a moment in time and freezes it forever. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. I hope you enjoy these images.


1

©Joan Blease


2

©Kevin Lightyear


3

©Duncan Stafford Photography


4

©Mark Pendlebury


Misuzu

©John Gould


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

©Peter Crips


Misuzu

©Paul Smith


Misuzu

©John Gould


Thank you for taking the time to read this, have a beautiful day ❤


 

Carnival of Shadows

Hello everyone!

Long time since I last posted. That’s going to change. This post is a little different from things that have come before. I’m setting a new intention for my work. I’m going to be putting a lot more of myself into my website and blog posts.

I’m going to write about my thoughts and feelings. I’m going to talk about things I love, things I find interesting, things that scare me, things I’ve done, things I want to do and things I read, watch or learn.

This way, the pictures I post might make a bit more sense and be a bit more interesting. Or, you’ll just scroll past all the drivel, straight to the pictures. That’s fine too. I won’t be offended.


So here we go. The focus of this post is around an idea of a carnival. When I say carnival, I’m taking the definition to mean a travelling funfair or circus.

Often in works of fiction, I think carnivals are depicted as being a bit creepy or sinister. For example, I really really don’t like clowns. They’ve always freaked me out, I’m getting shudders just writing the word. They aren’t suppose to be like this, are they? Clowns are supposed to be happy and jolly, making people laugh with simple tricks. Right? Right??

So why did we turn them into blood-stained, axe wielding maniacs? (Thanks Stephen King, you really ruined it for us there!) This more macabre take on a carnival is the theme around this set of images. Before we delve into the pictures themselves, I’d like to venture into this topic a little more. I’d like to talk about something that may seem a little off-topic, but I promise, this is what made the images what they were. So just stay with me.


I’ve always had this fascination with Freak Shows. Not in the exploitive sense, where in the past, disabled, disadvantaged or otherwise ‘odd’ people were shoved in cages for ‘us normal people’ to pay money to oggle at. I’m not talking about those times where these poor humans were abused and exploited.

I’m talking about the sort of carnival or travelling circus which is made up of the people society has shunned. The people we didn’t want around us. The people we didn’t want to look at. Simply because they looked different. The people who found each other and banded together, to come back into our society to entertain us.

What I’m talking about is the beauty to be found in an amazing array of humans of varied appearances, with unique abilities or skills. A carnival on their terms, not the terms of some money-hungry sadist.

There are a few works of fiction I would like to mention here, to highlight what I mean and explain where this fascination came from. Hopefully to also explain how it relates to the set of images. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations!


When I was in school, one of the first novels we read as a class was a book called Cirque Du Freak, by Darren Shan. Cirque Du Freak is the first book in a series of 12, written for children (obviously). It’s about a boy who becomes a vampire’s assistant as a trade for an antidote to save his best friend who was bitten by the poisonous spider he stole from the vampire at the freak show *breathe*. Sounds great, right? The point is, this is book was probably the start of a lifelong addiction to horror and the macabre. This is where it all started, thanks to Mr Carter (my English teacher at the time!)

The thing I loved most about the book was the people in the Cirque Du Freak, the people with amazing abilities and very unique looks. The ones that stick out in my mind the most are: Mr Tall (the owner, who was… well, very tall), Evra Von (snake boy, covered in scales), Rhemus Twobellies (an overweight man who can eat anything), Truska (a lady who can grow and ‘un-grow’ a beard), Cormac Limbs (who can cut off any body part and have it grow back) and so many more magical and interesting characters.

The premise of the book is that these people have been gathered together, saved from persecution by Mr Tall. He gives them all a safe place to be, away from the society that had hurt them. Suddenly, this notion of a ‘freak show’ doesn’t seem so bad. These people have found a home, a place where they fit in. A place where they can be truly themselves without reservation. Isn’t that what we all want?


“The con men put these poor people – who were no different to you or me, except in looks – on display and called them freaks. They charged the public to stare at them, and invited them to laugh and tease. They treated the so-called ‘freaks’ like animals.”

Darren Shan, Cirque Du Freak


So, last year when I was watching through the TV series American Horror Story, I got very excited to find out that season 4 was called: American Horror Story: Freak Show. I knew I’d love it before I’d even watched the first episode.

In this, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, there is a character called Elsa Mars who collects, what she calls her ‘monsters’. She doesn’t mean this in a derogatory way, it’s set in the 50s when things weren’t as politically correct as they are now. Elsa loves the people who travel in the carnival with her. She protects them from the hostile outside world, makes sure that everything within the show runs smoothly, they all have food, shelter and companionship. She gives them all a place of sanctuary in which they can feel safe and not have to hide who they truly are. Unconditional acceptance. Beautiful.

From a girl with two heads, to a guy with ‘lobster claws’ for hands. Everyone found a place, safe from the scrutiny and judgement of the outside world.


“No matinees. No, people don’t come to see freaks in the heat of the day, they come in the evening, when the darkness moves in and speaks of mystery, the unknown. When logic loosens its vice grip and the imagination comes out to play. Night allows the stars to shine and we come alive. No, daytime is for kiddie shows, clowns and Kewpie dolls. Maybe that’s what you’re used to, but you’re in a real freak show now, my freak show.”

Elsa Mars, American Horror Story: Freak Show.


Keep in mind, that these two things are simply works of fiction that I enjoyed. I think it goes beyond a fascination with the bizarre and more towards an appreciation of the differences between us all, the amazing things human beings can accomplish and the amount of love that can be found to counteract the darkness in the world (if you know where to look). I’m nearly done, I promise.


At the time of the shoot, I was half way through an amazing book called Carnival of Shadows, by R. J. Ellory. I’d like to quickly mention how this book came into my life, at risk of making this post wayyy longer than it needed to be! It’s my birthday on the 31st July (you get extra nerd points if you know which fictional character I share my birthday with!) and i’ll be 25 (I know, right. I don’t look a day over 20!).

One of my presents, I’ve already had (because it was a subscription to a monthly box) was called ‘a book and a brew‘. Thank you Matthew! Every month, you get sent a hardback book and a speciality tea through the post! Brilliant idea if you ask me! Anyway, this was one of my presents, and I was allowed to have it early (lucky for me, they ship in the middle of the month!). Obviously I began to read it as soon as I’d finished the book I was reading when it came, and it is this that was on my mind when I turned up for my shoot with Michael Szabo on the 24th July 2016.

In Carnival of Shadows, set in the late 1950s, an FBI agent in America is sent to investigate an apparent murder on the site of a touring carnival. In this carnival, apart form a dwarf who can read minds, a magician with seven fingers on each hand and a set of quintuplets, most of the carnival members didn’t look so different, unlike the previous works I’ve talked about. This made it no less fascinating to me as there was a hint of supernatural magic surrounding the carnival folk and they were still ostracised by society. This carnival was more of the weird and wonderful, optical illusion, fortune telling, popcorn, candy floss, fair ground rides carnival. Like the images you will see shortly. There was still that sense of community away from society with these people. They weren’t accepted by society and all had rather sad back stories until they found and joined the carnival. This is what interested me. Anyway, onto some pictures, yes?


“The sounds and smells of the carnival came up to meet him as Travis parked his car and started down the edges of the field. He had seen the lights and heard the calliope music within a quarter of a mile of the place, and along the edges of the road it seemed that all of Seneca Falls and a half a dozen towns beyond had made plans to be there.”

R. J. Ellory, Carnival of Shadows.


The day of the shoot! The shoot took place in a building that was a nursing home before it was abandoned.

Before the shoot, Michael asked me if I would like him to bring certain items, which included a mask. It was a black bunny mask. Anyone who’s worked with me or has seen my work, knows I love those weird shots. Of course, I said, ‘hell yes, bring it!’Another message asking me if I thought balloons might be a good idea for a separate shot. Again, I said yes. It’s always great to have lots of stuff to play around with, and you never know what’s going to work. So I packed my modelling case full of clothes, and we drove to Standon.

When we got there, we decided to start with the mask. I was rooting through my case to find some clothing that would go with it. Then, inspiration struck me… I just had to convince Michael that it would work!

I’d laid eyes on my bridesmaids dress from when my sister got married. This dress has featured in my modelling work a lot. It’s an amazing dress, burgundy with two long straps that you can wrap around the top half of the body in any way you like to create a different look every time.

Party dress, bunny mask, balloons, abandoned location. I could be a crazy carnival girl, anonymous, ghost, haunting. I explained to Michael that I think this will work and explained where my inspiration had come from. He said we should give it a go. I’m so glad we did because these images are up there in my favourite ever!


Finally, some pictures! I’m normally a strict  “save the best ’till last” kinda girl, but this is too good to save. So I’ll show you my favourite image from the set first, and end up with my second favourite! Here it is: creepy, macabre, crazy, carnival girl in her derelict dwelling. I love everything about this. The pose I was pulling, the general colour and tone of the whole image, the darkness of it all. the way the light is hitting the dress and my skin. Then topped off with the smoke all around. Michael Szabo really nailed it on this one 😉

11

But what’s a crazy carnival girl, without her minions of death? “Come to me, my pretties and let’s dance with death!” (I apologise, I’m trying so hard to not be weird, but it just doesn’t work! I don’t even know what I’m saying any more…)

9

Just look at the room. Even the peeling, mouldy wallpaper worked for the theme! It also remains rather timeless too.

2

This image reminds me of someone at the end of the night, who is the last one left. “Who’s going to walk me home?”

3

A close-up!! Well, closer than the others anyway. I love the tone of the colours on this one.

8

For me, there’s something about the hands on the face of this next image. Is it innocence or confusion? “Who am I? Am I real? Where am I? What year is this?”

5

There’s so much going on in this image. An apparition, cut throat, blood stains, mythical smoke, debris. I love it so much.

1

And finally, my second favourite of the carnival set… Just a fantastic image, the colours, the definition, the way the light is hitting my body and the chair, the pose… Just wow! I love it!

6


So, the post is not over yet. We have another one of Misuzu’s crazy ideas… I tend to get a little carried away sometimes, especially working with someone else who’s very creative. I had a weird idea of holding the balloons and mimicking giving them to someone. Then it would look like a sort of crazy Alice in Wonderland sort of thing.

As Michael rightly pointed out, it would be hard for someone looking at the image to understand what was going on. It wasn’t until later, when I was in a different outfit, I pointed out that we had sort of missed a trick. If I’d have thought of it, we could have set up a tripod and done a composite. However, all was not lost. When you’re shooting with someone who is awesome in PhotoShop, there are always options. And sometimes, they come out even better than you’d expected! I’m not sure how Michael pulled this one off, but he managed to get carnival Misuzu to give ghostly space girl Misuzu a balloon. I was blown away when I saw this one! It was 100% more awesome than what I had in my head!

10


For a little bit of context, this is what I mean when I say space girl Misuzu. I’m not sure why, but I just felt like some sexy alien from another planet or someone from the future.

4

And of course, the crows came back for a little while to play with the girl from another time and place.

13


Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this. If you made it all the way through until the end, then I salute you! I’d love to hear what your thoughts are! Feel free to comment!

Special thanks to Michael Szabo for all of his amazing work editing these fantastic images. And of course for all the technical stuff I don’t really understand that happens on the shoot as well. F-stops or whatever. You were fantastic to work with and I can’t tell you how happy I am with these pictures!


One last image before I finally shut up! I just thought this was too good not to share! Peace, everyone!

12

Same studio, same model, different results!

On the 3rd December last year, I did a shoot with Pete Cripps at Tip Top Photography Studio in Birmingham. I was in the same place again on the 22nd February this year with Lightyear.

 

 

It always amazes me, working with creative people. I was pretty much the same person on both shoots. The studio was pretty much the same. However, the results were just so vastly different. Different people have different ideas, they see different potential in different areas of the studio, or have different thoughts about what you as a model can do. So here goes… Same studio. Same model. Take a look at these images…

 

To start… FASHION. Now, just so you know, these two sets of images were taken in exactly the same place in the studio. There was a different backdrop up and the outfits I have on are vastly different styles. Also, the photographers both set up the lighting differently too.

 

 

The first two images are Pete’s. We were going for more of a ‘grunge’ or alternative style with the ripped shirt. We had a lot of fun shooting while I was pulling the shirt around trying to make different shapes with it. The third image is Lightyear’s. When we were in the studio, we found an empty cable reel to use as a prop. The emotion and the mood in the two sets of images is completely different. The former is a fun, light hearted mood and the latter has a more serious, emotive tone to it.

 

Next, PORTRAITS. Every photographer has their own preferred way of taking portraits and they form their own views of how portraiture should be done. In my opinion, there isn’t a right or wrong way. I’ve seen loads of fantastic portraits that follow the rules, but conversely, I’ve seen loads of fantastic portraits that break the rules. Being creative and working with your model to get their best picture is what I think gets great results.

 

I’m constantly being told different things by different photographers when shooting portraiture. Chin up, chin down, look towards the camera just with your eyes, turn your face towards the camera, sit straight on, sit at an angle, stand for the portrait, cross your arms, hands on your hips, squint your eyes a little, open your eyes more, strain your neck a little, relax your neck a little, lean forwards….. It goes on and on. I like to see portraits of myself by different photographers because everyone’s own unique way of doing it interests me!

 

 

The first image here is Lightyear’s portrait of me and the second two are Pete’s. Lightyear has a lower key image with more shadows, making it darker and moodier, with me almost being lost in the background. Some people don’t like models to look out of the corner of their eyes as it makes ‘too much white’ on show. I think it works here, however. It fits in with the facial expression and the hand gesture. The second two images are higher key and are much brighter, not to mention how much different I look depending on how I have my hair!! The colour image by Pete has a similar pensive look to Lightyear’s portrait, and is also looking away from the camera… But look at how drastically different the two images are due to the way the lighting has been set up, the way they’ve been edited!

 

And now… LINGERIE! I like shooting lingerie. Well, to be honest, there’s not really anything I don’t like shooting, but lingerie makes me feel glamorous for a little while (which is great as in real life, I’m pretty clumsy, giggly and prefer to be comfy!)

 

 

The images on the top row are Pete’s and the images on the bottom row are Lightyear’s. Weirdly enough, it is the same set of lingerie in all of the images… And the same chair was used from the studio both times. As I’m writing this, I’ve noticed that both of Lightyear’s images are also topless… That was PURELY coincidental! The main difference between these two sets of images is how the photographers have chosen to edit them. Pete chose an almost sepia tone for one of the lingerie images which I love because it makes it seem like a sort of vintage image, almost lost in time. The way Lightyear edited the black and white topless shot is interesting too as it has an almost ethereal glow it to… And very much a modern style. I love them both, for totally different reasons… Same studio, same model, (same lingerie, even) but totally different images that have come from the depths of the respective photographer’s imaginations.

 

I wanted these images in this post but wasn’t really sure how to link them to each other… So the theme for these ones is ‘random white material stuff’… It’s as good a theme as any. Let’s just forget about it and move on, looking at these lovely images!

 

 

Pete’s image (the middle one) is a very lovely image (I especially like the way it’s been edited around the edges) and gives off a feeling of innocence because of the white lingerie. Lightyear’s images, however, are completely different. We were shooting the abstract. It was a lot of fun and there was much giggling as I tried to move around inside the giant sock of white material! I love the images that came as a result of all of this giggling, especially the last one. The lighting really nailed it 😉

 

In the studio space, Pete and I did a few images based around an item of clothing I had… It wasn’t bought along as a prop or clothes to model in… It was just what I was wearing at the time but we thought it would make some good images… So we had a play around…

 

 

The black cardigan I was wearing looked good for some bum shots (as well as other images) as it was lightweight and hung off my arms in just the right way. We had some more fun pulling it around like the fashion images at the beginning… Then obviously, there were more bum shots to be had with another shirt that’s good to be pulled around!

 

Lightyear and I did something completely different with our time. We played around with fans and throwing material! (Of course, we bought the reel back into it too…)

 

 

The first image was us trying out a particular method of throwing the material… It was the best shot of the throwing I think… I love the perfect backwards ‘S’ shape made by my body, continued on by the material. The other two images are also great, especially the one that is topless as the way the material is caught in the air is just fantastic! The last image reminds me very much of those music boxes you get where when you open it up, a lady ballerina pops up and starts to spin around…

 

Finally onto… ART NUDE. It’s my favourite thing to shoot (anyone who’s read my blog posts before will know this). So I hope you enjoy some of these images as much as I enjoyed shooting them. First, Pete’s:

 

 

The first two images, I like together as it’s almost like the front and back of the same pose. It isn’t when you look closely at them as the arms aren’t quite right and the head is looking to a different direction, but I felt they should be displayed next to each other (Maybe that’s an idea for another shoot!) The final image has an air of confidence about it, almost regal. This contrasts with the middle three images as in these, the face is hidden, turned away or shadowed. These tell a different tale. Although the editing style, lighting and pose are all very similar, the simplicity of lighting on the face and arm positions can completely change the story an image tells.

 

Now let’s take a look at Lightyears art nude images of me!

 

 

First there are two sort of body scape images, focussing only on the body with little face showing, providing anonymity. Both of these images are fantastically lit and the way the shadows and highlights pick out the curves of the body is wonderful. Getting images like this right is hard and Lightyear did a great job on these two. I think the choice to make them black and white makes the images more powerful too.

 

grande locale di stoccaggio in disuso

 

This final image is a composite. Remember the reel from the beginning? Art nude, reel, image of derelict location… Add them all together… Sorted 😉

 

My favourite images from each shoot are below… Just incase anyone wanted to know 😉

 

Thanks for reading this till the end. Feel free to comment on what you like or contact me via any of my social media, or drop me an email to toniamisuzu@icloud.com!

Facebook: Misuzu

Twitter: @misuzu_solo

Instagram: @misuzu_solo

Tumblr: @misuzumodel

You can find more of Pete’s work on his website and on PurplePort.

You can find more Lightyear’s work on Twitter and on PurplePort.