All that Jazz with Helen

Helen contacted me recently as she wanted to get some photographs for her new website.  The shoot was at Clwb Y Bont in Pontypridd where the first Monday of every month is reserved for jazz.  With various musicians playing a variety of instruments, everyone was just joining in.  I still wish I had learnt to play an instrument when I was younger so it was especially inspiring to see such encouragement and camaraderie amongst them.  Helen on the other hand focuses on singing, with a beautiful style and tone of voice synonymous with the jazzy vibe.  Her rendition of ‘Summertime’ was just a joy.  I could have stayed all night but with the last train beckoning I sadly had to leave.  To find out more about the club lick this link.   

Portrait Shoot with Barbara

I was recently asked by Barbara to come along and take some images of her to use for publicity purposes.  Barbara was diagnosed with MS in 2012 and is a campaigner for the awareness of the condition and disability rights.  Her book, ‘Stumbling In Flats’ was short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award in 2015 and her MA dissertation story, ‘Who Cares?’ was short-listed for the 2017 Exeter Story Prize.  With an MA in Creative Writing she continues to talk about her life in her blog as well as undertaking the massive challenge of a PHD.  It was a pleasure to meet and photograph such an inspirational woman.

A lovely Testimony from Elisa

The email I received …

‘Hi Sarah

I just downloaded my faves.  I was trying to find out if I can leave a review anywhere but couldn’t find it.  So, as an alternative, I’m sending you one via email in case you wanted to use it on your website (but also if I can leave a review somewhere do let me know!).

I contacted Sarah because I needed new portraits for professionals purposes.  Normally, I am very awkward around cameras but Sarah made me feel at ease instantly with her outgoing and warm personality.  The end result was great – I know I have several lovely and also diverse portraits I can use in my professional life.  I highly recommend her.’

…. isn’t that just the kindness thing to do, thank you Elisa it was a pleasure to meet you. x

It’s been ages …

I was very determined to keep my website up to date with all my work.  However, a little thing called an Masters degree took over my life this last year and literally became number one priority.  There are only so many plates I can keep spinning so posting my ‘news’ fell by the wayside.  I finished my studies a few weeks ago so I’ve picked up the website plate and have started to spin it once again!

Steel Remembered Exhibition at the Senedd

First World War ‘Steel Remembered’ showcases the work of a 2 year community project by Linc-Cymru Housing Association, funded by HLF Wales. It has involved researching the lives of men who are listed on the Orb Steel Works First World War Memorial, the role of the works during that time and a look at those who returned.  The event began with a talk from the organiser Suzy Bowers.  Three schools were involved and the children read the names of the fallen throughout the event.  There was a mixture of choir music and songs such as ‘A Long Way to Tipperary’ and ‘Pack up your troubles’ as the audience of 400 strong (official number) sang along – some teary eyed.  The display boards told the stories of the men who did not return, and seeing their faces on the wall as a collective really brought home the sacrifices that were made. 

I have photographed events in the Senedd many times and this was the busiest I have seen it.  There were both ITV and the BBC camera crew present, who both interviewed the family who have been reunited as a result of the project.  Staff from the Firing Line Museum were dressed as soldiers and nurses of the era and brought an array of unique artefacts to share their knowledge with the many interested participants both young and old.  Nigel Clubb from the Heritage Lottery Fund said a few words about the success of the project and Kirsty Williams AM, the cabinet secretary for education, gave details of funding for schools to commemorate WWI. 

It was a wonderful and poignant event and it was a pleasure to both photograph and be part of it.

 

Men of Steel

Personal Work for MA Studies

I am focusing on WWI for my current studies and my ‘Men of Steel’ photographic dioramas were created specifically in collaboration with the Steel Remembered project.  I met organiser Suzy whilst I was photographing a conference in Cardiff.  When everyone is eating (not good for photographs) I normally walk around the exhibition stalls.  As I am focusing on WWI I couldn’t help be drawn to their project stand.  In short the project is concerned with the 852 men from the Orb Lysaght Steelworks in Newport who went to fight in the Great War.  The project aims to research the names on the war memorial and gather stories from residents and community groups.  I am delighted to be involved and my work is currently being shown at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay until January 25th 2018.

Kidney Wales Christmas Concert

There is nothing more festive than a carol concert in one of the oldest Churches in Cardiff.  Kidney Wales’s annual festive concert featured an array of musical talent.  Performing on the evening we have the incredible soloist Al Lewis, one of Wales’ leading choirs Cor Caerdydd, The pupils of Ysgol Berllan Deg & The Performance Centre.  The place was packed to the rafters for the free event. Professor Roy J. Thomas gave a very poignant speech reflecting on the spirit of Christmas and the work of Kidney Wales.  It is an incredible organisation and was so supportive of my cousin Katy and my Auntie Jill, as they went through a live kidney transplant last year.  I am honoured to be asked to photograph their events, which are always so inspiring.  For more information on the work they do and to get involved in fundraising go to their website.

Cowbridge Music Festival 2017

I am always very excited to photograph the Cowbridge Music Festival, this was the 2nd year I was asked and I was overwhelmed by the talent.  This year, we decided that we would try to photograph some rehearsals as photographing during the ‘live’ performances is restrictive on my movements as to not distract from the performers.  This is a case of not being seen or heard, my shutter doesn’t always agree – click, click!  It was liberating to be able to move around and photograph from lots of different angles I would never be able to do normally.  This also gave me opportunity to listen to the musicians make tiny adjustments to their playing (although it sounded great to be already)!  To find out more about the event, check out their website

Chwarae Teg Awards Ceremony

I was asked by the Chwarae Teg to come along and photograph an awards ceremony recently.  The organisation’s fundamental aim is to “build a Wales where women achieve and prosper.”  It was an inspiring event with a talk from one of  The Principality’s branch manager Harriet Lewis.

On this particular occasion, participants were being awarded an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) certificate following an accredited programme.  As one of the few female event photographers, I know what it’s like to work in a predominately male occupation, however things are changing.  It is organisations such as this, and the current women’s movement, that will form and shape more equal opportunities for women in future.   

 

WI White Ribbon Campaign 2017

I was lucky enough to be re-commissioned to photograph the annual Women’s Institute White Ribbon 2017 campaign at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.  This is the third year I have covered the event and it is incredibly thought provoking.  However this year, the atmosphere was considerably changed by the sad news that active supporter of the campaign Carl Sargeant AM had taken his life the week before.  There was a sombre mood at the event and organisers ensured that he was mentioned as an ambassador to end domestic violence.  I had met him on the previous occasions I photographed the event, and he was always an active AM, talking to participants and activists and signing the pledge to not condone or be complicit to any violence against women. 

The event started with a panel discussion during the afternoon followed by guest and speakers plus a candlelit vigil in the evening.  The weather was not kind this year.  The horizontal rain and change in temperature played havoc with my poor camera, if it could talk I’m sure it would have said, “what are you doing out here, take me back in the warm and dry!”  The speakers were incredibly brave telling stories of personal experiences and the effect the murder of a sister had on the wider family.  As awful as domestic violence is to hear about, it is only by listening and being active to prevent, report and not condone it, will women and male victims, have the courage to come forward and free themselves of appalling treatment.  To find out more about this campaign go to the Women’s Institute ‘Not in My Name’ page.   

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