Martha – Natural beauty portraits

“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.” Henry David Thoreau

It was all about natural beauty, soft light raining from a dark cloudy sky, and relaxed and interesting conversations, the photo-shoot done with the beautiful Martha. And now that I look at the images again, and share them with you, I like to believe that I perhaps managed to capture what’s inside all our hearts, in this still difficult year: a bit of hope. Do you agree?

Model: Martha Grace @marthagracesc

©2020 Flavia Catena

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

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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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 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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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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Spring is here! Elizabeth’s portraits

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” Rainer Maria Rilke

A selection of photos from a test shoot done in March with the lovely Elizabeth, a Canadian model who was in London for LindenStaub’s agency. We explored Holland Park whose trees and plants were showing their best colours and flowers with the arrival of the spring!

©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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Hanna – Dancing in the light

I had the pleasure to work with Hanna Lyn Hughes again a few weeks ago, in Oxford. She is a very talented dancer and an amazing person and we spent a few great hours playing around a small black backdrop, some beautiful light, and a couple of dresses from Bianca Elgar’s collection (www.biancaelgar.com) and personal wardrobe. Happy with the result of our shoot, I’ll share these photos with you. Any favourites? Feel free to comment, and follow Hanna’s work on her Instagram: @hannalynhughes.

©2019 Flavia Catena

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