Friends. Photography. Adventure.

The Making of The Great Exhibitionist

I enjoyed writing the story of my escapades with @Fdotleonora in New York Public Library and the ‘making of…’ theme carried through to Whitechapel Smile. People seemed to enjoy reading these little insights so I will continue sharing the fun of Exposing 40’s collaborations…
I’d had my eye on taking a picture in my local park since last summer. As I took breaks from my desk, or cut through it on the way to the pool, I would eye up its nooks and crannies – stone archways, wooded areas, an ancient maze with its escape gate, DINOSAURS! I actually had it in mind as a location for a friend whose picture I enjoy taking occasionally. I probably banged on about it a bit too much, not being very mindful of the fact that however lacking in inhibition someone is, getting up at 6am to take all their kit off in a London park might not be their cup of tea.
It turns out it’s mine.
Sunday’s photo has been on my list since before I even set up this blog, a recce shot snapped and the words written way back in early February when I was still fresh from the adrenalin rush of my ‘tits in Tiertgarten’ photo. Mid-February round a pub table and Exposing 40 was born; that night I asked my friends to take the photograph. Ever since, we’ve been waiting for a suitably sunny morning to coincide with the weekend when the runners and dog walkers would not be out quite as early as in the week.
Or so we thought.
Striding towards the park, shortly after 6.30, clutching plastic beakers of tea, it’s hard to ignore the number of people out and about. “There won’t be as many in the park,” I muse out loud, aware that I am trying to reassure myself more than make conversation. We’re bleary-eyed but excited. Three of us had chatted energetically the night before about our own personal responses to this project and the thoughts and feelings it’s throwing up as we more keenly think about our own self-image and relationship with our bodies. Ideas were born for future photographs. For me and for them.
Into the park and down to the arches. A jogger passes. We glance at each other. “What are you doing? Go back to bed you fool!” says L, not loudly enough for him to hear. I start to strip off, grabbing the sarong I have brought in case a quick cover-up is called for. My back is to the park so I don’t really have a clue what’s going on behind me. I trust my friends completely.
M: “raise your arm,” “arch your back,” “turn a bit towards me,” “stick out your chest.”
L: “you’ve got about ten seconds,” “that dog walker is staring,” “Ok, STOP. NOW!”
I feel far calmer than I thought I would. The sun feels warm. I am enjoying myself.
ShadowArchways done we start to explore other ideas. M decides the park is getting too busy and the giant rhododendron bush is a bit too scrubby for me to walk across the grass and disappear into it as she planned. Then we inadvertently interrupt a drugs deal while scrabbling round an overgrown terrace. Enough. Time’s up.
We walk towards the spot where we plan to have fizz and pastries. We chuckle at a bloke doing self-conscious lunges in a flat cap. Then we look ahead and see the sun shining perfectly on the stonework ahead.
“You’ve got to do it,” says M.
I do.
Flat-capped-lunging-man can’t stop staring.
That photo will follow in a few weeks. In the meantime I give you another arches shot. I was going to post this alongside Sunday’s image because we decided we liked them equally but somehow when posted together they detracted from each other. Did I make the right choice on Sunday or do you prefer this one?
*we now have a black and white version too!



  1. Charlie

    I think I prefer the one you used for your sinful sunday, it has a greater sense of space and risk to take the shot. ? Can’t wait to see the other pictures you took.

  2. mariasibylla

    I love hearing how you took your photos! I agree with Charlie, the sense of space in the original photo is breathtaking. I think it was the right choice to separate them, even though I absolutely love the crisp shadow of your body in this photo. Thanks so much for sharing your process and more photos!!

  3. Velvet Rose

    Definitely prefer the Sinful Sunday shot. As Charlie says there is a greater sense of space.
    Love to read about the background to the shoot and that you interrupted a drugs deal had me chuckling!
    Velvet x

  4. F Dot Leonora

    i am not sure which i love more, your photos…or the stories behind them! i really love this series of photos too…hard to describe which is better. each one reveals something a little different and spectacular…

  5. Modesty Ablaze (@ablazingmodesty)

    Wonderful hearing about your early morning adventure . . . and seeing this picture as well.
    AND, of course, also look forward to seeing the “you’ve got to do it” shot!!!
    Xxx – K

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