This post manages to combine three of my favourite things – woodland, old graves and a naked man to photograph. This photo was shot in Tower Hamlets cemetery shortly after Exhibit A and I had been to the Masculinities exhibition. We were obviously inspired because we got some fabulous images that day!
For a year that has lasted for 17 years, February seems to have come round again very quickly. I was pondering a break from February Photo Fest this year. For me, so much of it is about the camaraderie and collaboration and I wasn’t sure if it would be the same embarking on it alone. But then I gave myself a talking to. Work is dull and desk-based at the moment and this will give the worst month of winter a creative red thread that’s sorely needed at the moment.
And I realised I am not doing this alone. I have many photos to share of me and others that haven’t been seen before that bring back happy memories when I look at them. There are still many photos to share from my Distance Diaries, which was my photography project from lockdown one. During this lockdown my project is Scenes on Screens, where I am using Zoom to photograph friends and lovers in their own homes. The project is enabling me to travel far further afield than I usually would in the name of Exposing40 and I have some amazing images to share with you later in the month.
As always my month will be broken down into four themes. This week is outdoors, week two will be song titles, week three is Scenes on Screens and the final week is going to be close ups and unusual angles of bodies.
So with no further ado, let’s get going. I’m kind of beginning at an end as I’m in a cemetery. But we know how much I love to hang out taking photos amongst dead people. This one was taken last summer in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
Anyone who follows me knows just how much I love photographing in cemeteries. The crumbling headstones and roaming ivy just make the most magnificent setting for soft naked bodies. Of all of London’s Magnificent Seven Nunhead is my favourite – it is just so wild and overgrown and a photography dream. This is a shot of Maria from when she was in London a few years ago. It was nice to revisit the photos to pick out one I hadn’t used before. It was in that cemetery that I took this photo which is one of my favourite photos of my five years of blogging.
“Forests may be gorgeous but there is nothing more alive than a tree that learns to grow in a cemetery.” Andrea Gibson*
On Tuesday afternoon Exhibit A and I headed to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park to tick off another location in my mission to shoot nudes in each of the Magnificent Seven. Only one more to do now!
I really loved this cemetery. A short stroll from Mile End tube, almost as soon as you’re through the gates from the busy streets you’re into woodland that’s grown up around the old headstones. It’s not as wild as Nunhead but it’s certainly more rambling than some I’ve been to. I’ll definitely return to this one to explore more of its nooks and crannies.
We got a few different shots, more of which I’m sure will appear on one of our sites at some point, but this was my favourite. I love the contrast between the dusty path snaking out of the shot and the hard lines of the headstone and how the two elements perfectly frame his body.
*I found this quote through Google and I don’t know Andrea’s work (yet) but I think they may interest some of you. A poet and activist, their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today’s society.
Coimetrophilia; a special interest and fondness in cemeteries and graveyards (noun).
Anyone who looks at my blog regularly will know now much I love photographing in cemeteries. One of my current projects is to photograph nudes in all of London’s ‘magnificent seven‘. On Thursday I ticked the fifth (Abney in Stoke Newington) off the list with the angelic Honey.
This was by far the busiest and trickiest one to photograph in so far and we had to be very quick and opportunistic in a way that was most definitely pushing our luck. Usually for a shot like the one below we’d have pushed our way deep off the main path into a wilder patch, but here the whole of the cemetery is cut with numerous paths and the graves occupy small patches between them. For this one I was actually stood on a main path and Honey was just a couple of rows in. But she comes well prepared – knickerless, braless and with a strapless dress she could quickly pull up and down. She really is the boldest and the best!
Today I left home planning to head to some woods where I think there maybe some bluebells. But for no reason I can explain I suddenly thought: ‘I want to go to a cemetery.’
I love cemeteries. I have no idea why. I first photographed one in 1995 when I was still at university and I’ve visited many in cities around the world since. They even have their own tag on my blog! Today I went to West Norwood, one of London’s Magnificent Seven. This is the fourth I’ve shot nudes in and, of course, I now need to visit the last three.
This is day 45 of my daily lockdown photo endeavour. The days where I resent it are increasing (it’s hard coming up with new ideas to shoot solo in a two bedroom flat!) but I also love it. It’s a little thing that keeps a red thread of creativity in my lockdown experience and I value the daily contact with the recipients. The photo I actually sent them earlier had a slight edit applied – a sepia tone that suited the vine-covered mausoleum. But this is the unedited version, straight out of the camera – complete with the shadow of my glasses on my cheek!
It’s no secret that I love shooting in cemeteries. You can rummage around my site or other people’s and you’ll find many examples me and my friends of getting naked with dead people! Something I often wonder when we’re having one of these adventures is what are the stories of the people who inadvertently feature in our photos? Tonight I decided to find out and with a little bit of rudimentary research amongst free public records I started to build a picture of Albert Ede’s life.
Born in the summer of 1886, Albert was the middle child of Thomas and Sarah. The couple were married young by today’s standards – teenagers. As newlyweds they lived on Isabella Street, which for Londoners, or those who know London well, is the little street just off The Cut where you’ll find lots of restaurants under the railway arches.
Albert’s birth was registered north of the river in Clerkenwell, which may have something to do with his father’s work as a brass molder; the area was a hub for watchmakers. However, by the time of the 1901 census the family were living just five minutes walk from Isabella Street on Cornwall Road. By then Sarah was a widow and 14-year-old Albert was a messenger boy.
The 1911 census tells us the family had then moved to Lothian Road in Brixton. Albert was 24 and single. His elder brother had moved out but his three sisters were all single and living at home. That four adults in their twenties should all be single and living at home with their mother fascinates me. In the early twentieth century this was very unusual. Did Albert ever marry? Without paying for his death certificate I can’t know for sure, but the dedication on this headstone is by Sarah to her son and two years after he died she was buried with him so it seems unlikely.
Albert didn’t live long enough to participate in the 1921 census – the war records show that he died on 25th January 1917, aged 30. He was Private Ede and serving in the Army Service Corp, the branch of the army that was responsible for coordinating logistics, from transport to stationery, food to fuel. He died at home in Brixton and was buried three miles away in Nunhead Cemetery.
I would love to know how he ended up with such a grand headstone when his family’s professions and circumstances would suggest a modest income. I’d love to know what he looked like, his personality, what impact his father’s death had on him, what his relationship with his mother and siblings was like, whether he had lovers.
In a parallel universe where the internet hasn’t delivered up the basic facts of a life lived more than a hundred years ago and where we can’t see that the dedication is from a mother to a prematurely departed son, I like to think of this second photo being one of those lovers visiting their “dear Albert.” Where Maria strips naked in the cemetery to feel as close to him as possible. I wonder what he’d think about his headstone being used in this way?
I’ve been a fan of photographing cemeteries for years. Way back in winter 1995 I was out photographing a snowy cemetery as my Dad called my university landline to try and get the news to me that my Grandad had died.
My business partner knows I still frequent these places with my camera – he just doesn’t know that these days my photography more often than not includes naked people! A couple of weeks ago as a late birthday present he gave me a book about where significant people are buried in London. Knowing I had this image lined up for today’s photo I thought I’d see which ghosts haunt Kensel Green Cemetery.
Alongside one Mr WH Smith (founder of the UK’s biggest high street stationers for the non-Brits) and Harold Pinter I read about Henry Spencer Ashbee. Ashbee was a city merchant by day but was also one of the country’s most prolific collectors of erotica and an occasional author of erotic fiction and personal memoirs under various pen names. He bequeathed his entire library to the British Museum but they burnt the majority of the erotica.
Excited to find out more I hopped over to Wikipedia. I discovered a character in Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith was based on his life. But I also learnt that his daughters’ excessive education irritated him, his wife’s suffragist support angered him, and he became estranged from his gay son. How awful. How often we expect liberal views to be prevalent in all aspects of a person’s life and how disappointed we are when they aren’t. I hope that in 2018, almost 200 years after he was born, his views would have softened and he would now be championing the rights of his wife and daughters and proudly waving the rainbow flag on behalf of his son.
In the meantime, I’m delighted to present one of the fiercest supporters of rights I know, the gorgeous Honey and her hot biteable butt!
I enjoyed editing yesterday’s slightly sinister shot of @19syllables so much that I’ve decided my entire week of outside photos will be as dark and moody as possible. It’ll be a change to the usual colourful exuberance of my outdoor shots!
Today I bring you my beautiful friend Maria who is also participating in February Photofest so do check out her photos through the month – they’ll definitely be amazing. But first, take a few moments to enjoy her beautiful breasts in this image. I do hope we didn’t upset whoever is resting under this headstone!
Today my Sinful Sunday is my beautiful friend Honey, a wonderful woman whose remarkable strength I always admire.