Posted in Travels

My Trip to Canada 2018 – Vancouver, Whistler, Kelowna, and Banff – Part One

“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are!” – Anonymous

_C8A8998

It’s always best to start off with a quote as I am a tad a bit obsessed with finding the best quote or phrase which needs to somewhat connect with the work I produce and especially a blog post. Traveling solo was both exciting and terrifying because it’s something I never thought I would do but I tend to surprise myself a lot. It’s difficult at times to organize a holiday with friends as I have to take in consideration such as scheduling the dates, the budget and booking activities. I do love a good relaxation but I do prefer exploring various locations and capturing those adventurous moments so I can look back and remissness about my travels. Last year I decided to book a roundtrip to Canada as I have heard such wonderful things about the Canadian Rockies and of course always stumbling across the beautiful photos/vlogs online. I wasn’t too sure how I would explore Canada as I don’t know how to drive but a mate of mine suggested that I check out Topdeck travel. As soon as I booked my trip, I was super thrilled but then afterward the anxiety kicked in because I was thinking about the possibility that anything could go wrong. So many thoughts were racing, and I kept questioning whether I am ready to fly halfway around the world. The annoying thing I wish I could change about myself is self-doubt, I am way too hard on myself and tend focus way too much on the negatives. This will always be a challenge for me, but I need to remember that it’s okay to feel like that at times and stop avoiding these things as I will end up missing out.

 

I really needed some time away from the busy streets of London and try to focus on the new adventures I was about to experience. A few of my friends and family were a little worried about me traveling alone halfway across the world but I do believe it was an eye-opener. As mentioned in my past blog posts, I try to step out of my comfort zone, and growth is a big deal for me. When everything around me gets way too repetitive, I experience the occasional low moods but now I learned that if I ever feel a certain way, I need to do something about it.

 

The excitement of being able to look through the window during the flight is definitely one of the things I do enjoy as I do love capturing it on film but seeing it from the naked eye is a huge difference. There not much you can do during a 9hr flight other than listening to music, watching films or having a number of key moments to think about life in general. During most of the journey, I watched ‘Love, Simon’ (Great film!) and just reflecting on the year in general. I was definitely in a different mindset at the time because I started to question where I see myself in the next year. A lot can change in a year, especially within yourself…

Posted in Behind the Camera

Behind the Camera – Mother of Dragons: Second Attempt

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Mother of Dragons 4

After countless months of cancelations and rescheduling, we managed to finally choose a suitable date to drive up to Dorset again to continue the photo series. There were other alternatives such as to shoot at the Black Park but I had my heart was set on West Lulworth. It would have been pretty awesome to shoot the first part of series whilst it was snowing in London but the weather was unbearable and of course Julia couldn’t bare it! As it was getting a lot warmer I thought this would be the best time to continue the photoshoot, I was little worried as I checked the weather forecast and it was predicted to rain. Good thing this didn’t happen during the shoot but on the way back to London, the rain was beastly. As soon as we arrived in West Lulworth the weather seemed quite decent, it wasn’t spitting, windy or hot…just a mixture. As Julia needed to be back in London around 7ish so we could not waste any valuable time. We made our way to a spot where I first shot my self-portrait as the large rocks are so beautiful, the scenery needed to be re-captured.  Julia was wearing sandals so I wondered if it would be a struggle for her to jump over the rocks without her foot getting stuck but she managed to avoid that from happening which was a relief. I love working with Julia as she puts so much effort into these photoshoots as she brings out joy and humour. As mentioned in my previous posts I’m not so good with directing my models on how to pose, I always just say to them to just go with the flow and just have fun.

I prefer for my photoshoots to be more laidback and I don’t want to ever feel that I’m putting pressure on the people I work with as I think it’s important not to just focus on a good working relationship but also a friendship. During the moments I’m very much in the zone and I don’t always acknowledge my surroundings, by that I mean when I’m so focused on taking photos there not much for Maisie and Elisha to do. Every now and then I suggest that they could film or take photos for the behind the scenes footage but I don’t want to feel like I’m taking too much direction. I try to include them as much as possible as I am open to any suggestions and anything I could improve on. It’s always good to work as a team and bringing ideas together as it makes a huge difference. Whilst taking photos of Julia I wanted to focus more on the aspect of different angles to capture her in a different light as if she doesn’t notice that I’m even holding a camera. At the last minute I managed to find a crow decoy from an online Halloween store (only £10 which was a bargain) as I kept replaying a line which is mentioned in the TV series “Did you send the ravens?” This concept was definitely a favourite of mine as that Raven was very much lifelike and once I saw the results, the photos felt more natural as I wanted to avoid the whole idea of Julia posing with the crow. This is why I prefer capturing those effortless moments as it feels more real as if Julia was trying to whisper something to the Raven. As I named the project ‘Mother of Dragons’ I browsed online for a small dragon figure and an egg but I was trying to figure out a creative way to merge  this idea without it looking out less believable. Using the sword for most of the series fitted so well as Game of Thrones focuses on subjects such as battles, survival etc. Julia was fighting for something which I wanted the project to illustrate empowerment but mainly for women.

Mother of Dragons 7

When I’m photographing the model from different angles I sometimes don’t mind what I have to do to capture that perfect shot, even if it does involve getting mud all over my grey leggings after lying on some rocks haha. There were a lot of steep hills to climb which I didn’t mind so much because I like to go above and beyond in my photoshoots, plus it does favours for strengthening my legs.  Creating conceptual work can both be fun and frustrating as you may not be able to photograph a portrait in particular but as long as you take advantage of the space you’re using, new ideas will blossom. After that we made our way down to the Lulworth Cove where I wanted to use the props such as the dragon egg and crown. It started to get a tad bit crowded so we needed to be quick with the shots. I thought it would be cool to get Julia to stand on a stone with the shore but the water was freezing and the footpath looker rather steep so we couldn’t sadly. When I first attempted to do the self-portrait focusing on this theme I knelt down and felt the unsettling coldness, didn’t think to bring a towel. I had such a blast shooting this series with the girls as we all got on very well, we laughed and we joked and shared stories. The best way to end the shoot was to treat ourselves to some fish and chips! Overall I was very happy that we finally got to complete this series as I thought that due to having to reschedule the dates, we weren’t going to finish it but luckily we did as I couldn’t let these ideas  to waste.

Everyone else had a great time taking part in this shoot and we’re already planning to collaborate again. It was pleasure working with Julia once again as she got into character and smashed it! After looking through the photos and videos I was extremely pleased with the outcome, from viewing the footage as I could see that Julia was having way too much fun with that sword; I should have let her keep it!

Posted in Behind the Camera

Behind the Camera – Mother of Dragons: First Attempt

“Nothing burns like the cold.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Julia 1

I had to start off the blog post with the quote above as this was the best way to describe how beastly the weather was that day…haha I actually wanted to cry! Before heading off to Iceland and after weeks of planning Julia, Maisie, Elisha and I travelled up to Dorset for a photoshoot. After bing watching through all seven seasons of Game of Thrones I was inspired to shoot a conceptual series and Durdle Door was the best location to shoot it, well sort of. The last time I made a visit to Dorset was last summer and of course the weather was decent, I even tried to shoot a self-portrait GOT inspired shoot (which was hard to do especially when you all of a sudden have an audience) which was a tad difficult so I thought it would be best to be behind the camera this time round. After shooting a successful roller skating photo series with Julia I asked her if she’d be interested in collaborating again but this time the shoot involved defeating the White Walkers with a special sword; she said yes of course!  As I work full time I try my best to find the time during the weekend to brainstorm ideas of concepts and themes I would like to shoot in the near future. I have those moments where my mind goes completely blank and forget how to even plan a series. It’s a bit harder now as before I was very proactive with my photography so I always had a flood of ideas but I need to try not to force these things as they will naturally come to me.

Overthinking is my downfall as I am so overwhelmed with everything it can be a difficult challenge to come up with how I would like a portrait to look, so I tend to make my shoots more spontaneous and just go with the flow (I’m actually terrible with directing my models on how to pose). I checked the weather forecast and it was predicted that it was going to rain but I didn’t think the weather was going to be that intense. As soon as we stepped out of the car it was super windy and I could barely open my eyes. I started to worry if we could get this shoot done on time as the car park was going to be close at 4pm, due to the traffic I’m pretty sure we ended up arriving around 1ish. We had to walk down the muddy the pathway just to get to the restroom, the struggle was real and it felt like as if we were starring in a GOT episode. Poor Maisie had to wheel her suitcase through the slippery mud, the wind was strong to point I was surprised no one of us fell over. It took us roughly thirty minutes to get to the restroom for Maisie to do Julia’s hair and make-up. We were all dreading to step outside again to start shooting especially Julia having to wear a dress in the freezing cold.

I’ve never had to do a photo session in these conditions as I could barely see whether the photos were in focus or not. Julia remained professional and she did try her best as we did manage to capture a few good shots but I could literally see her suffering so I couldn’t continue any further with the shoot. It did take us three hours to get to our destination but I didn’t think it was worth continuing a shoot. At least we now know not to attempt a photoshoot near a coast during the winter; it was pretty much like a ghost town, if you feel that you have to force something just least it. Felt a bit sad afterwards as it’s been so long since I’ve done photography but at least everyone was on board to reschedule another time to continue the series. At the end of the day it’s not the end of the world anyways, we can always come back as soon winter is over. The best part about the trip was heading to the café for fish and chips!

Posted in Travels

My Trip to Iceland…

“Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting. ” – Johann Wolfgang Goethe

20180218_140627

I was overwhelmed with joy as I haven’t travelled outside the country for years and my aim this year is to visit at least five countries…now I can scratch Iceland off my bucket list. Travelling to Iceland was such a wonderful experience and I would definitely visit this spectacular country again. I see loads of photos being posted on Instagram especially Instagrammers who travel to these amazing countries and Iceland instantly caught my attention. Booking this trip was expensive but I guess you only live once and you should try to enjoy the finer things in life if you get that opportunity. Amma and I could not decide on which tours to book as they all looked incredible. The first tour we booked was to see the Northern Lights, although it’s not always guaranteed that the aurora borealis would appear but I remained hopeful. We were really indecisive on whether to choose the Golden Circle or South Shore adventure; both were 9-10 hours long so after some research we decided to go for with the South Shore. I really wanted to book the whale watching tour but very much over my budgets and I didn’t want to spend a lot on a tour if it’s not guaranteed that the whales would make an appearance.

My original plan was to book the Blue Lagoon but since we waited till the last minute it was already fully booked during mornings and afternoons. There were slots available for the evenings but I would have preferred to go during the daylight so I could take some photos and pack during the evening for our early flight the next day…Secret Lagoon it is (still awesome and much cheaper). To save money we decided look for a self-catered accommodation which was a good price just for four nights and it was the best the option as booking a hotel would have cost us £600+ per person. Thankfully our accommodation was two minutes away from our bus stop so we didn’t have to stop at the bus terminal and jump into a taxi. I browsed online to watch a few vlogs to get an insight on what it’s like to travel to Iceland and some travel tips. Most vloggers stayed in self-catered accommodations, booked tours, and a few rented cars/caravans for minimum of 2-3 days.

I did my packing at the last minute…what a surprise! Since I was only going for four days I mainly packed turtle necks and black jeans. Before the trip I had to go and purchase jeans as I only wear dresses or skirts so I didn’t know how cold and snowy the weather was going to be. As I wanted to make sure that we arrived early to the Gatwick Airport so we didn’t have to queue for check-in, we had to wait at least an hour (got there way too damn early). I was so excited to finally board the plane and of course booked my seat next to window. I wanted to vlog during this trip so I purchased the Canon M10 and megapixels are pure quality. As I packed way too much equipment in my rucksack I decided to only take the USB charger for the M10 instead but I had no idea that it was faulty. I was disappointed by this as I was so excited to vlog about my journey to Iceland so I had to mainly use my Mark II and Samsung J5 instead.

Overall, I had a splendid time in Iceland and I would highly recommend booking a trip there. I got see the enchanting black sand beach, captivating waterfalls and relax in the steamy secret lagoon. Here are some travels tips if you’re planning to head to Iceland at some point:

 

  1. Purchase food at the airport before boarding the plane if you’re booking your flight tickets with WowAir (food on the plane is pricey).
  2. If your travel buddy has fallen asleep during the flight journey make sure you bring a book or download a bunch of films/episodes using Netflix (music can’t always cure boredom).
  3. Before booking a self-catered accommodation make sure you email your host to find out what is not included (found out that there was no microwave, kitchen roll, washing up liquid and only one toilet roll left). Don’t always rely on the host to provide this for you.
  4. To save money head to the supermarket Bonus!
  5. Bring plastic containers and sandwich bags with you for long tours.
  6. Save up as much as possible as most of the food markets and souvenir shops are a tad pricey.
  7. Ask locals for help if you get lost.
  8. Double check to see if all your camera equipment is working (charge your batteries before the trip).
  9. Wear boots with grip and the ice is very slippery.

Amma Insta 2

Posted in Behind the Camera

Behind the Camera – No Limitations

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow and transform.” – Roy T. Bennett

McWilliams_Delissa_She Was Born Free.jpg

Stepping outside of my comfort zone is an area I’ve always struggled with just to avoid anything that involved change because to tell you the truth…I didn’t want to feel any form of anxiety. Along the way I started to realize that I wasn’t really growing as a person and I needed to find a way to creep out of my shell. Ever since I discovered a passion for photography I knew that I wanted to pursue it as a career at some point which did involve challenges and most importantly…growth. I like to challenge myself in every piece of project I create as I love to explore a different range of themes. Last year I brainstormed a few ideas for projects and I really wanted to produce a fashion portrait series that focused on growth, change and transformation (I sneaked in a few conceptual ideas of course).

It’s great to get away from the busy streets of as you get the chance to discover such beautiful locations outside of London. I browsed online for a location that could fit well with the theme and relatively somewhere that wasn’t too long of a drive. Alas… I stumbled across the mesmerizing Camber Sands which was indeed very sandy! I loved the setting of it as it reminded me of the Moroccan Sahara desert (on my bucket list). It was surprisingly windy and cold out there to the point it was impossible to photograph Lauren without getting sand in my eyes. I had to wrap my cardigan around my head as that was the only way I could see through the lens. As I was preparing for the shoot I completely forgot how to work a camera as I haven’t used mine for over five months. Luckily it all came back to me, it was just hidden beneath…

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Whilst shooting in these windy conditions, I noticed how well it was fitting with the concept as it brought a lot of fluidity in the shots. As we were on a schedule I wasn’t able to try out some of the ideas I brainstormed which was fine as I like to be spontaneous in my shoots and stumble across something unexpectedly. I got to use this snazzy accordion I purchased from EBay which I managed to snag for a decent price. It was my favourite part of the shoot, along with the use of bubbles of course! Overall, I had a great time collaborating with Lauren as she is such a lovely person who you can literally talk about anything with during a 2 hour car journey. I have worked with Maisie before for my conceptual Native American shoot and she did a fantastic job with the hair and make-up. I definitely wanted to collaborate with her again as she is such a wonderful artist and I get along with her so well. I don’t know what I would do without Elisha, I have known her since high school and she has been such an amazing friend throughout this creative journey. She has been so helpful and is willing wake up at 6am just to help with a photoshoot. I am very pleased with the outcome of the portraits as they turned out better than I expected.

_MG_8467

We originally planned to shoot the project at Hampstead Heath with a different model I reached out to but it didn’t exactly go according to plan. I try not dwell on these as along the way I started to realize that some areas in life are out of your control. I tend to come across a lot of obstacles throughout my photography journey, I have cried and at times I wasn’t exactly in the right mind frame. It’s very important to take a step back and to take care of your mental well-being.  I wasn’t in the greatest head space in the year 2015 due to personal reasons which contributed to me losing interest in photography and not being productive. I was very closed off during that period which I hope not experience again but I’ve learnt so much from it. At times I may experience sudden changes in my mood but it’s just something that is part of me and I have found a few solutions to improve on this.

The only advice I can give to readers out there is to never give up on your passion and even though you will come across a few bumpy roads along the way…try to stay hopeful! 🙂

Posted in 2017

My Backstory…

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”
― Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre

 

I am little obsessed with meaningful quotes that I can especially relate to, as they can draw you into to a person’s backstory. I’ve been meaning to write about my personal thoughts for some time but I wasn’t exactly sure how to introduce myself. Even right now I am struggling to write this introduction as I want to make sure everything I’m saying makes sense haha! Throughout primary school, secondary school, sixth form, university and job placements I always get asked this one question “Delissa, why are you so quiet?” I find it quite difficult to answer that as I wasn’t exactly sure myself, I pretty much got use to the idea of everyone thinking I was shy so I stuck with that label. I’ve learned along the way that growing up with that label has made quite a reserved and not being able to open up so much.

 

From my past experiences, I started to realize that staying in that comfort zone has affected me along the run…especially mentally, physically and emotionally. Even though I was known as the quiet one I use to love doing activities such as singing, dancing, swimming and writing poetry, but I can’t exactly pin point why I stopped. These interests helped me step out of my comfort zone from time to time and when I do look back now I question who and what allowed me to do so. I use to take part in talent shows and even sing at home all the time but I guess things change and so do people. I noticed that whilst growing up I tend to take an interest in something then along the way I’d lose interest and move onto something else. I never really stayed committed to anything and it makes sense to why I felt so lost during my time at university. I remember towards midway of my second year whilst studying Media Production I just lost the passion for filmmaking. It was an odd realization as I was walking up the stairs and it suddenly hit me like a tonnes of bricks and so I asked myself “What are you doing?”

Do you really see yourself becoming a filmmaker for the long run? No, I couldn’t really see a future there for myself. I think I really enjoyed studying Media in sixth form but not so much at university as I no longer had an interest in it. I noticed that this realization did eventually affect me and my grades as I hardly put much effort in my assignments. I felt stuck and as someone who overthinks everything, I thought it would be too late to switch to do a different course. Whilst in primary school and high school I wasn’t really the academic type as I was too shy to ask questions or I just lacked focus. I managed to get the grades that I needed for my A Level subjects: Applied Media, Software Development and Dance. I worked two jobs and managed to achieve the grades that I needed for university and I remember during that time I developed skin inflammation due to stress.

Along the line I started to realize that everything happens for a reason as I soon discovered a new passion for photography. I was allowed to choose a photography module during my second year and I soon started to realize that I saw myself as a Conceptual/Portrait Photographer for the long run. I was able to channel my repressed emotions into evoking imagery, especially in my self-portrait work.