Spring photo-shoots 2021

What month is this, what season? Both the pandemic and this unusually dark and cold spring have upset my mind, so much that my sense of time seems lost. And here I am, at the end of May, realising I have not posted anything since last year (I have a new writing blog, though, where I share my Italian short stories @flaviacatena.storie)! To say the truth, with the lockdown I was very restricted with the kind of photos I could take (nature still offered me some great subject), and jobs I could do, but let me share something beautiful I still had the opportunity to create a couple of months ago.

The first images you’ll see come from a fashion campaign done for Rasha Kashou Couture. Rasha is an amazing bridal designer based in Oxfordshire. All her dresses are handmade, bedspoke, and sustainable. Next are the photos taken for the talented Ewa for EKProject, a vegan, ethical jewellery brands that, as for Rasha Kashou, I very much recommend you to follow and support.

My gratitude goes to all those people who have believed in me during these months. Life is getting slowly back to normal, but all of you helped me seeing the light behind this still cloudy sky.

Rasha Kashou Couture – Model: Zahra Aliyyah, make up artist: Teryne Make up, location: Primrose hill farm

EKProject Jewellery – Models: Martha Grace, Bethan Ellis

Portraits of Bethan

I still have mixed feelings about planning and working on personal projects, being the earthquake that is shaking the world (of course the present pandemic) a threat we have not learned how to deal with yet. Because of this and because I was luckily busy with commissions, I organised very few test shoots this autumn so far. The one I am sharing with you is the first done after over a month away from the camera (excluding when I used it as a tourist in Italy), with the idea to capture portraits that could look as natural as possible. Editing was also kept at its minimum and the model was barely wearing any make up. I believe that, especially in a time like this, simplicity, honesty, even in photography, is what we need more.

Model: Bethan Ellis

Portraits at Oxford University parks – Tobi

August is here already, but despite the heat, the bright days and a closet full of linen dresses, I keep fighting against that feeling you get when missing something. And I miss summer. I need to wake up and be greeted by the sea, I need to smell orange blossoms and jasmine’s flowers, to pick some fresh sweet fruit from a tree and eat it, and get to sleep with the window open over a deserted field. The lockdown brought lot of nostalgia in my life, and photography, when I have the chance to work, helps me connect with the present, pushing the past away for a little while.

A few weeks ago, I met and photographed a lovely model based in Oxford, Tobi. We walked around Oxford University parks, and discovered a magic hidden spot I had never seen before, where tall, emerald grass was bowing to the wind, under whispering trees. Can you imagine, as I do looking at the photographs, a fairy moving from beam to beam, in a white long dress?

Model: Tobi Stevens

©2020 Flavia Catena

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Blue velvet – Portraits of Emelia

One month has passed since I did my first photo-shoot post lockdown. I was excited and worried at the same time, as working at a safe distance and yet dedicating the same amount of attention to the details seemed not as easy as it may sound. Yet, I faced the challenge and the outdoor world, certain that having someone again in front of my camera, someone to share ideas and to create with would have made the job pleasant in the end.

I had met Emelia, the lovely young lady I photographed, last winter. We went to a photography exhibition, in Oxford, and started discussing about how to collaborate (she is a great photographer as well and a writer, so we have many interests in common). At the time, I still had not bought the velvet fabric used for the shoot; after testing it first at home, I knew I wanted Emelia’s beautiful face captured in front of it. I did not know then that she had the perfect vintage dress – from the 70s – that would match its colour.

It was somehow like swimming in the sea staring at all that blue through my lens, and taking photos came to me as the most natural thing. Despite the distancing, the face mask, and some funny moments (the wind knocked down the backdrop a few times), I felt alive again and happy. I have never taken for granted what I do and what I have, but I believe I will cherish times like this even more from now on.

Model: Emelia Mac (https://www.poetryofthecity.co.uk/)

©2020 Flavia Catena

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Nature’s Symphony – Photographs in quarantine

“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

I used to photograph wild roses, butterflies and birds when I first started spending time with a camera (not really a fancy or a professional one), walking curiously around gardens and parks, in Rome. It was a happy time, that, a time of exploration, of wonder and creation. Somehow, despite the sadness and loneliness we are all experiencing now, I feel similar emotions and desires are filling my days. And infact, here I am, again, taking photos to flowers and insects, browsing among the clouds of the sky and the branches of the trees, asking the nature for a bit of her strenght and wisdom.

©2020 Flavia Catena

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Female photographers: Joceline Allen

Bodies seem trapped behind a veil; delicate young women trying to escape from the dream they move inside. Hands, faces, melancholic eyes are in and out of the frame, between lights and shadows.
I immediately fell in love with Joceline Allen’s photographs, when I found her page on Instagram, and I could not stop looking at them. My first though was: “this girl must really love what she does!”. On a daily basis, browsing around social media, I keep seeing so many works alike and images unable to instill any emotion. This is not the case with Joceline’s work. That’s why I have decided I had to meet her and include her in my series about female photographers.
And we did meet, one day in February, in the beautiful location Gunnersbury park. Joceline appeared to me as I had imagined her: kind, passioned about her work, honest, humble. We had a very long and pleasant conversation, during which Joceline told me about how she entered the photography world. She was still at school, in London, dreaming to be a fashion designer, when she moved her first steps towards this new media, and her love for it must have grown day after day so much that she decided to attend Falmouth University, in Cornwall, studying fashion photography.
Her style developed with strength during and after those years at University. Her romantic and fragile women got a voice in her images. Photography itself became a kind of therapeutic process, Joceline said, a way to deal with all the doubts, the heavy or disorientating thoughts each of us have to face while moving from youth to adulthood.
She is strongly inspired by a variety of artists among which Todd Hido, and by the theatre and film photography industry (I can see that from her dramatic use of lights) towards which she is dreaming to move one day. I really wish her dreams come true, and most of all to keep creating with passion and enthusiasm what we will recognise as the special signature of her heart.

Thanking you Joceline so much for working with me on this project, I invite you to look at her work online. Website: http://www.jocelineallen.com; Instagram: @jocelineallen.

@2020 Flavia Catena

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Portraits in Oxford and London

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.” Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers

Here are a few portraits taken at the end of last year to some beautiful and talented girls I worked with in Oxford and London, focusing on natural beauty and candid moments.

Alisa
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Odella
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Agnessa
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Silence

The world, these days, is so loud, rushed, caothic! I was thinking about it this morning, still curled up in bed, and suddely I remembered the day when I was travelling to Etna – the Sicilian volcano – with my parents, and the moment we went out of the car for a few minutes to admire the landscape. No one was around, not a human being, not an animal. Birds were not chirping as there were not trees or bushes. The silent, in that black, desert space, was so perfect, so complete, that it seemed like Earth itself has stopped spinning. I could hear my own breath like when underwater; each of my little steps was echoing. I almost feared like, by just being there, I was destroying the harmony of the place. And so, for a moment, I stopped moving, I stopped breathing, and I became part of that marvel.

I was away from the blog for very long, I know! The truth is that I have been feeling the urgent need to keep myself hidden in my own little world; I have been looking for that perfect silence both outside and inside of me. Does this feeling ever touch you as well?

Sharing now some of my most recent favourite photos, I wish you a Merry Christams and Happy New Year!

©2019 Flavia Catena

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Model: Jade Van Kooten

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Model: Dovile C.

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Model: Lauren Walker

On Renaissance and daily melancholy

“Il mio segreto è una memoria che agisce a volte per terribilità. Isolata, immobile, sul punto di scattare, sto al centro di correnti vorticose che girano a spirali in questa stanza dove i miei cento orologi sgranano battiti diversi in diversi timbri. Se alzo il capo li vedo fiammeggiare, e ad ogni tocco di fuoco corrisponde un’immagine. Sempre sono trascinata fuori di me dalla tempesta di vivere. Che cosa è il tempo, e perché deve considerarsi passato? Fino a quando viviamo esiste un solo tempo, il presente. Una forza struggente mi prende alle viscere: costruttiva o devastatrice non mi è dato di sapere; è senza regola, almeno apparente.” Rinascimento privato, Maria Bellonci

Images from last spring photo-shoot with the lovely Leonie as model and the talented Meg Wakefield as make up artist.

©2019 Flavia Catena

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On Female Photographers – Olga Gridina

I had already met Olga in person once, before seeing her again for our portrait photo-shoot, on a gorgeous summer day, in London. We had been chatting online and following each other for around a year.
I still remember Olga’s first message to me, surprisingly asking about my work as a hobbyist writer. I happily found out we both love writing stories, and you can easily see how Olga is great in doing so also with her beautiful photos.
Originally from Russia, Olga Gridina attended the University in Yekaterinburg, where she received a Master degree in Arts with a specialisation in Architecture. She worked for many years as graphic designer, in the advertising, film and game industry, travelling around the world and living in some amazing places such as Spain and New Zealand. This until she moved to London, eight years ago.
Since then, she worked as a portrait and fashion photographer creating amazing images which are featured on magazines and platforms all around the world.
Her models are both strong and beautiful creatures. Very often they are redhead girls of renaissance inspiration, who dance in the wind and become one, in beauty, with the nature. Olga is also a very talented photographer of children, and her “painting” skills become evident in some of their beautiful portraits.
She loves connecting with people, when she works; and she encourages everyone to bring their own ideas to the shoot, to be themselves and have fun. Although she reckons this industry is a very competitive one, and jealousy is often a predominant feeling among photographers, she knows how to enjoy the little spot of quiet and creativity she found in it.
Talking to Olga, you can just smile and appreciate her lovely personality. She is a generous, down to earth, lively person whose positive feelings definitively shines in the eyes of those she photographs.

I thank Olga so much for the beautiful time spent together and I invite you to follow her work on Instagram: @olgagridinaphotography and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/olgagridinaphotography.

©2019 Flavia Catena

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