The Photographers Series: Madara Freimane

A lilac summer dress, long blonde hair, porcelain skin and a sweet smile, Madara Freimane welcomed me on a warm spring day in the colourful neighbour of Notting Hill, London. We walked around Portobello Road looking for a place where to sit down and have a chat about her work, and we ended up in a lovely cozy cafe with beautiful windows facing the busy street.
Madara is a great freelance photographer and a strong, independent young woman promoting sustainability in the fashion industry through her successful platform What’s your legacy (WYL).
Originally from Latvia, she started taking photos while still living in her country. After a short period of time spent in Vienna, she then moved to London where she attended the London College of Fashion. It is during those years at University, immersing herself in a world which often shows us only its shining side, that she became aware of what’s behind the high street brands, of how clothes are produced – exploiting people and the environment – and of how depersonalising some trend can be when forcing us to buy and wear certain outfits due to their popularity.
The shining world then became dull if not even dark, and Madara decided to look more into sustainable brands whose clothes were both beautiful and ethically made, saying goodbye, with no regrets, to the high street ones.
The idea to offer other people the right tools to make their own decisions also when it comes to fashion, brought What’s your Legacy to life.
Madara now shoots for ethical brands, take videos interviewing people whose talent has been dedicated to the mission, and fill the online platform with amazing contents.
Also as a photographer, she looks for honesty and simplicity. She likes a portrait taken outdoors, with natural light; she loves working with trusted creatives and with models who are confident with their own bodies, who are guided by their personality, not by set rules. Her photos are candid, fresh and yet captivating, as the brands she works with and she promotes.
It is our responsibility, in the same way it is theirs, to make a difference, to show our unique faces and to work together for the world we value.
I thanks Madara so much for working with me on this project, and I invite you to have a look at her work at https://wylstore.com/ and to follow her on Instagram @wyl_store.
©2019 Flavia Catena
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Here below some of Madara’s photographs:
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Conversation with Female Photographers – Karolina Wisniowska

While in the process of planning my next conversation with a female photographer, my path luckily crossed with Karolinaʼs. She saw a post I had shared and she wrote me a lovely message saying she was interested in collaborating. I was very excited as I had been following Karolinaʼs work for a few months and I really liked to see her photos leaving a trace of melancholic beauty on my Instagramʼs home page. I felt we had lots of things in common, so we planned a shoot in Bristol, where she is based.
Karolina Wisniowska is an amazing photographer, originally from Poland, working on portraiture and fashion. She started experimenting with self-portrait when she was only 15, as a way to look at herself with more confident eyes, and decided to attend a photography school after graduating. She already knew she wanted art to be part of her life. After a short time in Aberdeen, it was in Bristol where she started her career. Working first as food photographer, she soon went back to her main passion which is photographing people, and she had the chance to shoot with local brands and magazines, while being also a mum of a beautiful young girl.
While chatting, seated in a nice café in the centre of Bristol, I could feel how shy, humble, but at the same time how enthusiastic Karolina is. She did not just talk about her photographs, but about all the feelings, the emotions, the connections that bring each of those photographs to life. Images are stories, she said, and here is where fashion comes. It helps developing a concept and makes an idea, even the most dreamy one, tangible.
And for a good story to work, great characters are essential. And if you look at Karolinaʼs work, you will see how naturally and beautifully she lets people talk in front of her lens. You can almost feel their nostalgia, their timid joy, their silent words. Her women are delicate and strong at the same time, elegant in a natural and simple way, the only way, I believe. This is what I enjoy when I see one of Karolinaʼs images: the beauty of reality, its authenticity.
Thanks a lot, Karolina, for sharing all that with me and for the time spent together!
Please, donʼt miss to follow Karolina Wisniowskaʼs work visiting her website http://www.karolinawisniowska.com and her Instagram @wisniovsky.
©2019 Flavia Catena
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Here below you can see some of Karolina’s beautiful photographs!
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Leonie

“We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.” E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

©2019 Flavia Catena

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In Conversation with photographer Katt Webster

Finn, a black, curious cat, jumped on the couch where I was sitting, ready to start a new conversation about fashion and photography. He smelled my face, as a way to welcome me, and then started wondering around the bright room. Katt Webster is Finn’s owner, and the second artist I decided to portrait for my new series about young women behind a camera.
Katt is a very talented photographer whose style captured me since when I first had a look at her work. The beautiful pastel colours of her images, the harmony of the poses and compositions make her pictures really captivating and pleasant to the eyes.
Katt’s adventure with photography started when she was 16, and she was living in a small village in the surrounding of Oxford. Some fine art and photography courses make her interest in the field grow (one of her teacher was interestingly Norman Parkinson’s nephew!), and she began experimenting with shooting fashion, something that had fascinated her since she was a teenager. She then moved to London and worked for some time as social-media manager before becoming a full time freelance photographer.
Photography can be definitively a difficult path to walk on, sometimes, Katt reckons, but those around you really make the difference. She feels lucky to collaborate and work with emerging designers, brands and creatives. Although a certain luck of communication and the difficulty – sometimes also as a woman – to be recognised and supported can be draining, meeting new people, people to share a passion and an inspiration with, and doing something different everyday make her feel free. And freedom is what gives every artist a reason to live with their art!
We had just finished talking about this when Katt introduced me to Teddy, her youngest adopted cat, only one month, that I decided to photograph with her. Of course, we included also Finn in the session, and had what every creative should have when working: a lot of fun!

I thank Katt very much for her time and for what she shared with me about herself and her work. Do not miss to have a look at her website: https://www.kattwebster.co.uk/, and follow her on Instagram: @kattwebsterphoto. Here below you’ll see also a selection of her beautiful portraits!

©2019 Flavia Catena

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Katt Webster’s photos:

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Beate – A Christmas photo-shoot

“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.” In Memoriam A. H. H., Alfred, Lord Tennyson

A Christmas photo-shoot done in collaboration with Bianca Elgar, with the beautiful Beate Howitt.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Paula

These are the last portraits I have taken at the end of the summer with the talented and sweet Paula (have a look at her beautiful Instagram @paula_agnes_art). We met in London and walked around Little Venice, which I found so similar to some areas of Oxford that I regularly explore. The weather was still nice and we enjoyed looking at the trees reflected on the water and at the boats where dreaming people live like in small dolls’ houses. It was such a lovely way to spend a morning outdoors!

©2018 Flavia Catena

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Mao and Kalissi

“Before a Cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend,
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream;
And you might now and then supply
Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste —
He’s sure to have his personal taste.
(I know a Cat, who makes a habit
Of eating nothing else but rabbit,
And when he’s finished, licks his paws
So’s not to waste the onion sauce.)
A Cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
And so in time you reach your aim,
And finally call him by his name.” T.S. Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Curious, sweet, adorable, Mao and Kalissi (one is a siamese/ragdoll cat, and the other one a bengal) are some of the most friendly cats I have met while working on this project so far. It was lovely to spend some time with them and her mum Manna, and I believe these photos below speak for themselves about how we enjoyed each others company!

©2018 Flavia Catena

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Big cat and Little cat

“If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of suble air.” Doris Lessing, On Cats

 

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Today I am happy to introduce you to these beauties: Big cat and Little cat (but they are called in many other different ways!). Harriet, the lady they love so much and from whom they are loved, rescued them years ago – they were living in very bad conditions with their previous owner – and gave them a beautiful home with a garden, in Oxford. Here I got the chance to meet the two, and to watch them happily sunbathing, playing behind the bushes and licking their lips waiting for dinner to be served. Such amazing animals are a joy for the eyes and the heart!

©2018 Flavia Catena

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Love come from rescued cats – Margot, Jerry and Monty

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?”, wrote Charles Dickens, and I truly believe it is hard to find something more special than an affectionate cat. Especially rescued cats can share so much love with their owners that you can feel it as soon as you meet them.
This happened also last week, when I visited Kelly and her two beautiful furry children, Margot and Jerry. They have been together for ten years now, and the three have a very special way to communicate to one another. While Margot is curious but a bit cautious, Jerry is more independent and definitively not interested in photography! It was lovely to see them play and at some point fight – in a gentle funny way – together, and follow their human mum even with a simple look, as to say: “we are waiting for you!”.
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Monty is an adorable twelve years old cat that Karen lovingly took from the street after he was abandoned from his previous owners. He is a very shy but gentle cat, with beautiful yellow eyes and a total black fur. He loves his human mum very much and he makes this clear kissing her and spending almost his entire day by her side. Unfortunately he was not confident enough in front of the camera to show me his unique way to say: “I love you!”. After all, precious things must be kept a bit secret to remain special.
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A huge thanks to Kelly and Karen to share with me these sweet moments!
©2018 Flavia Catena