interview

Interview: Laura Babb on Wedding Photography, SNAP Festival, and Analysing Your Own Work

12:00 pm


Photographers are some of my favourite people to interview, perhaps because personally I completely lack the skills they have, however much I try! Today I chatted to Laura Babb about her wedding and event photography, the festival she founded to help others develop their skills, and how to look at your own work from a different angle. I'd really recommend you take a look at her work on her website; you never know when you'll need a photographer!

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Laura! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, will you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Laura Babb:
I'm Laura but my friends call me Babb. I'm a photographer and I also run alternative training events for wedding and lifestyle photographers, including SNAP Photography Festival which is a week of glamping, workshops, seminars, activities and parties. I live in Bath and when I'm not photographing weddings I love to travel. 

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your photography in three words, what would they be?

Laura Babb:
Colourful
Quirky 
Documentary


Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into photography? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Laura Babb:
I bought my first proper camera in 2008 on a bit of a whim and I decided to take an evening class in photography. I spent weekends on photowalks and took my camera almost everywhere with me and a while later a friend asked me to photograph their wedding. I decided to do it as properly as I could and I bought books, planned the day to the best of my ability, and I hired in the equipment I needed to do a the best job I could. I really loved photographing that first wedding and decided that I wanted to find a way to be a photographer full time. 

Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your photographs?

Laura Babb:
Weirdly, no. It's weird because I have pretty low self esteem but it's never really impacted on me sharing my work. I have regular periods of classic creative self-doubt but that's never really stopped me putting my work out into the world. I am not sure why but I am grateful as it's allowed me to promote my business pretty hard, even when I was very new and still had a lot to learn!


Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Laura Babb:
I still love shooting weddings and I love working with diverse couples. That's been theme that I have tried to carry over into other aspects of my work, like SNAP for example. This year we had a big focus on topics around diversity, including marketing to diverse clients, inclusive language, non-gendered posing etc and it's really important to me to be able to bring those discussions to the mainstream wedding industry. SNAP does make me feel incredibly proud - the community is really special - but so does the wedding work I am able to create for my couples.

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which photographers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Laura Babb:
Emma Case has been someone that's inspired me at every step of my journey. I have always followed her work and I love the authenticity of it, but more recently she's launched the I Do Community which is a place where members of the online community can give their time, skill, and profile to raise funds and create awareness for various projects and causes. Her motivation is massively inspiring. Outside of the wedding industry I love photographers who create work that's raw, like Nan Goldin and Darcy Padilla


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Laura Babb:
In theory my working practices are shockingly bad. I often work from bed and some weeks I don't leave the house for a few days at a time... I do manage to get shit done though. I use Trello as my to-do list and regularly prioritise tasks. I also have short, medium, and long term aims.  My other thing is complete silence. I can't listen to music while I work, as I lose concentration. Regular cups of tea help too.

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively? 

Laura Babb:
Keep creating and critically analyse your own work. I've been working with a mentor this year to get feedback on areas that I can improve and that's really helped when I have felt stuck. Also creating something where there's no pressure. Creating something without the intention of it being good, just for the pleasure of it, can be very liberating. 

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Laura Babb:
I love to travel and when I'm not doing that I like to spend a whole day on my couch watching Netflix. Because I travel a lot (which sounds glamorous, but actually involves groundhog day moments in the same M4 service station!) I really love just doing nothing when I'm home. 

Magic & Musings:
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

Laura Babb:
I have a customer management system that deals with my accounting, invoicing and customer workflow and then I use Trello as previously mentioned to stay organised with general business stuff.


Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in a medium other than photography? Is this something you would consider in the future?

Laura Babb:
You know, I haven't. I feel a bit scarred by the art classes I took at school and prior to finding photography I always assumed that I wasn't in any way creative. I would definitely consider trying something new and different for fun. 

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a photographer?

Laura Babb:
Nothing, really. Every mistake I have made has informed my journey and I wouldn't actually change anything. I guess knowing more about the business side of things would have been useful early on and I would have loved to have found more of a community in those early days. 

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Laura Babb:
My poor, neglected Kindle... I miss my old commute to a day job because I always had time to read. I don't read enough now but I did recently read the 5th Wave series by Rick Yancy. Brilliant if you like dystopian teen fiction! I also just read The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, which was brilliant. 

Magic & Musings:
Dystopian teen fiction are the words I like to hear!
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Laura Babb:
You can find me at www.babbphoto.com and also www.snapphotofestival.com and my Instagram is @bisforbabb

I have a busy wedding season ahead and several events this year but outside of that I am looking to shoot more 'Artist at Work' portraits, so if anyone wants to collaborate get in touch!

--

Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.

review

Have a hygge week with Hoogly Tea!*

9:00 am


* This post was kindly sponsored by the lovely folks at Hoogly Tea! All opinions are, as always, my own. *

Surely you've all heard of 'hygge' by now? There's books about it, blogs dedicated to it, and furniture companies trying hard to forge their own version of it. In short, it's a sort of cosiness and comfort that promotes wellbeing and that sense of home, derived from aspects of Danish culture. It involves soft blankets and pillows, warm roaring fires, hot drinks with friends, maybe some board games, and calming music. It's very natural-feeling, with wood features, warm glowing lights, and that cosiness that only autumn and winter can bring.

Hoogly Tea ('hoogly' being the pronunciation of the Danish word 'hyggelig', the adjective for 'hygge') is a brand that's inspired by the 'hygge' lifestyle and feeling, aiming to bring comfort, warmth, and that feeling of happiness and contentment all year round. Its founder, Tina, is from Denmark, and now runs Hoogly out of Brighton, creating exciting blends using luxury natural ingredients. I've been lucky enough to try some of their signature blends, as you all know I adore tea, and I thought I would show you all how to bring a little bit of 'hygge' into your day-to-day with these marvelous blends...

--

Sunday - On Sunday I didn't have any solid plans except my driving lesson, which means I need to be ready to hop into that car at 9am (on a Sunday!!!). My first tea pick was Apple Strudel, which by the name alone creates a feeling of wintery warmth, even in the height of July. This blend wasn't too overpowering in the sweetness, as I was concerned about for a dessert-flavoured tea, and got me ready for the day. A good start!

Monday - First day of the work week, and I needed a bit of a pep, so I reached for Chill Out Mint. I'm a huge mint tea fan, so I'm always excited to try out a new one. This one was a great combination of both peppermint and spearmint, with eucalyptus and pine needles. The steam from this one felt like it was opening up my sinuses and got me breathing clearly before I even had a sip! It was nice to try a mint tea that wasn't just peppermint or your regular garden mint leaves. A definite winner.

Tuesday - I had Tuesday off of work and spent a lot of the day tip-tapping on my computer. I thought I would give Baked Apple Chai a go, which tasted like a revved-up, smokey version of Apple Strudel. Chai is one of my favourite teas, and this one didn't let me down as there wasn't the overpowering sweetness you usually get with a coffee shop Chai.

Wednesday - English Breakfast tea is always a winner for me. Hoogly's blend masquerades as your regular black tea, but surprises you with a little smokey kick at the end. This was my first double tea test day as I cracked into the big box of Rhubarb and Vanilla, also known as my now go-to herbal tea. This one is an absolute gamechanger (which I had previously tried in loose-leaf form in one of my teatourist boxes), and at the time I'm writing I've nearly finished the whole box. It's sweet, but has the subtle tartness of rhubarb and hibiscus which you can amp-up if you brew it for longer. It's so so very good and would be my #1 recommendation from Hoogly.

Thursday - More Rhubarb and Vanilla, obviously. In the morning I tried Jasmine Dawn, a soft and inoffensive green tea blend made from Chinese jasmine green tea, rose petals, and cumin seeds! I think this is a good morning go-to as it is quite a delicate wake-up, rather than a kick up the behind like you get from a coffee. In the evening I went for the Vanilla Chai. There's something about the Chai spice blend that can't help but be 'hygge':  ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves. I can smell Christmas on the horizon. Another lovely blend that doesn't depend on a sweetness or a sugary kick because the natural flavours alone do the job of creating a strong and memorable taste.

Sunday - Thanks to a busy end-of-the-week, I didn't get to try and more blends (except ploughing through those Rhubarb and Vanillas) until Sunday, when I had managed to get ill. For a comforting treat, I reached for the Marzipan tea, which smells exactly like you'd expect. Hoogly have managed to perfectly capture that marzipan flavour, and the tea itself looks absolutely gorgeous. You can see all the wonderful ingredients that go into each blend through their fine-mesh teabags, some scattered with dried fruits, and others with actual flowers.

Monday - A new week, a new blend. Lemon & Ginger is a bright yellow blend when brewed, and exactly what you need to wake up your brain on a groggy morning. The smell of lemongrass actually filled my room which this one, and I immediately felt reinvigorated. To finish off my 'hygge' tea journey, I enjoyed a mid-morning Green Tea. It was simple, and exactly what I come to expect from a green tea...relaxing. I was back in the zone.

--

Hoogly Tea blends range between £4-5 for a box of fifteen teabags, or you can mix and match four Teapods (each containing five bags) for £8, which is a great way to decide which ones are your favourites. My recommendations to start with would be (obviously) Rhubarb & Vanilla, Chill Out Mint, and Vanilla Chai. They also sell a lot of their blends as loose-leaf packs, if that's more your style. There are so many other great flavours in their range I'm eager to try (Around the Fire and Spiced Orange!) , so it looks like I'll be placing my own order very, very soon...

--

You can learn more about Hoogly Tea via their website, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter.

reading

Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

12:00 pm


Hold on to your hats. I'm in love with another series.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one for lovers of complex characters with deeply-explored backstories, contemporary science fiction that deals with time-and-space travel, and a universe and its inhabitants that you can feel completely at home with.

In the first volume of Becky Chambers' Wayfarers series, we're introduced to Rosemary, the new clerk for the ship The Wayfarer and its eclectic crew, in a universe where Earth is a far-off memory, and people are travelling via interstellar tunnels. Rosemary herself is from Mars, and harbouring some personal secrets she'd rather leave behind.

Aboard the ship we have an adorable AI (Lovelace), two energetic techs (Kizzy and Jenks), a strong and sassy pilot (Sissix), a grumbly scientist (Corbin), the mysterious navigator (Ohan), a captain always striving for something more (Ashby), and the lovable doctor-cum-chef (Dr Cook). They all have different backgrounds, covering different species from different planets, and that's the number one thing this book does best. The diversity of the crew is something to be marveled at, and really is the driving force of this novel. Rosemary serves as the perfect protagonist, aware of her own biases as she meets new friends, and comments to herself when she finds an assumption or judgement being made. One example is that she never assumes the gender of any of the new species she meets, using the gender neutral term 'xe' in such a casual way that it doesn't seem like anything but the norm. Another is that other characters are from completely different species' to the ones she's used to, so they naturally have very different ways of doing things, for example 'coupling' (mating), which Sissix does in a much more open, and unashamed way than Rosemary is used to. Through the book we experience her thoughts on this and how her attitude towards this changes as she realises her way of living is not the only one, and looks toward everything with such acceptance and openness. It really is such a refreshing perspective to read.

Although the novel does have a clear storyline (The Wayfarer is a tunneling vessel and is called upon to create a tunnel between two parts of space, one previously separated from the rest of the universe not just by distance, but also by their controversial beliefs and attitude), we spend the majority of the time learning about these characters and witnessing their interactions. It's like being introduced to a new family, and I came away from this book desperately missing the world I'd been welcomed in to, and the characters that inhabit it. 

I saw someone post on Goodreads that re-reading this book for them was like coming home and had become a comfort read. I think I can now safely say the exact same thing.

interview

Interview: Emma Orland on Photography, Everyday Inspirations, and Being Your Own Worst Critic

12:00 pm



One of the great things about living in a world where it's so easy to be online is the discovery of young talent, with platforms constantly available for teenagers to share their work when they're still learning, rather than waiting for gallery space or the validation of 'grown-ups'. Today I'm chatting with Emma Orland, a 16-year-old upcoming high school junior with a passion for simple, saturated photography. You'll find all of her links down below of how to discover more of her work, and you can follow her wonderful journey so far...

--

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Emma! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, will you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Emma Orland:
My name is Emma Orland and I am a 16-year-old photographer and filmmaker based in New York City. I attend an arts high school with a focus in film and media and am an upcoming junior. I have been actively working as a photographer for 3 years now and have shot for various publications and outlets, both online and print-based. Since then I have grown further in my photography “career” and have branched from music photography to event photography, and portraiture as well. 

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your photography in three words, what would they be?

Emma Orland:
Oh my, this is definitely hard. I put my work down a lot, but I would have to say, “saturated”, “strange”, and “simple”


Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into photography? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Emma Orland:
I first got into photography as a notion many, many moons ago. I was probably 7 and my dad and grandpa would let me use their DSLRs so I could play around with them -- obviously nothing good came about from these. Though, as I aged, my skills progressed and I was eventually taught by my grandpa how to shoot on and develop film, and just showed me the world in a whole new way. I wasn’t officially trained until freshman year of high school when my film teacher had started us out with photography -- which allowed me to expand my prior knowledge and get more technical and deeper into the subject. 

Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your photographs?

Emma Orland:
Definitely, definitely. To this day I constantly put down my work and berate it. Regardless of the amount of compliments I get on my work, I find myself staring at photos until I no longer believe they are good, alhough I usually post them anyway and grow to love them again. It was only once I began doing everything in manual (for digital) and developing my own film (for analog photography) that I felt comfortable sharing it since it was something I felt proud of because I had complete control over its outcome.

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Emma Orland:
I find that with every new shoot I do I tend to like them more. So, in light of that, my favorite project would have to be one of my two most recents -- one I did with my friend, Sophie, in my apartment where we utilized fairy lights, color gels, as well as simply natural lighting, or on the 4th of July I brought my camera to the fireworks and took some portraits of my girlfriend, Suzy, in front of them, and I just love the way they turned out.


Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which photographers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Emma Orland:
When I feel uninspired I find myself often looking at Savana Ogburn’s photos since I find it incredible how she takes ordinary situations and makes them extraordinary, Lauren Tepfer’s because I love the way she can make anything look like another world, and Hannah Diamond’s because she makes everything she touches into something more precious than gold. And even though this person isn’t a female nor someone who is well known, my biggest inspiration for my art would definitely be my grandpa because he just introduced me to everything and gave me the courage and knowledge I needed in order to be where I am now.

Magic & Musings:
That's so, so lovely to hear.
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to?

Emma Orland:
I definitely find myself being productive in the weirdest places and at the weirdest times. I most frequently find my best ideas while sitting at a desk in school, desperately trying to pass the time, and really just going through my thoughts and experiences to find ways to express them creatively. I definitely look within lyrics and books for a word or a phrase that will spark an idea for a shoot or a video.

Magic & Musings:
I can relate to that a lot. I once got a whole idea for a short story by looking at an album cover!
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Emma Orland:
When I’m stuck in a rut creatively I always revert to this video. because it will always get ideas flowing and somehow is able to make me feel so good and all around inspired.

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Emma Orland:
Even when I’m not working, I definitely am subconsciously working. I am always looking at situations thinking 'How could I make this into something more? Something beautiful, or intricate, or something just out of the blue'. Even something as simple as going to the store gets me thinking 'This would be a great location for a shoot.' Though I very much enjoy listening to music and watching TV/movies when I can, I can’t even say photography feels like work, so I tend to drift towards that in my free time.


Magic & Musings:
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

Emma Orland:
I wouldn’t say I have any tools to remain organized, though I have recently begun making “moodboards” of a sort where I will, in a sense, draft a shoot, or an idea I have and reference it when I plan on acting on the idea. Additionally, whenever an idea comes to mind, I will always go straight to the notes in my phone and will write it down, and when I want to shoot but have no ideas, I will go back to them and grow the ideas further.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in a medium other than photography? Is this something you would consider in the future?

Emma Orland:
I currently would consider myself an aspiring artist in two forms: photography and film. I would love to branch out and expand my knowledge and skills in another medium, I just don’t know what that would be.

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a photographer?

Emma Orland:
I wish someone had told me that it was okay to not like your photos, even if everyone else does. You are your own worst critic and very few, if any, people are zooming into the individual pixels of your photos examining them for flaws. By putting something out there, people are already impressed because we all know how scary making yourself and your art vulnerable is.

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Emma Orland:
I just recently reread The Bell Jar for the first time in a while and I was reminded just how much I love it. As for movies, one of my favorite films, that I have seen too many times, is definitely Heathers because it just has some of the most iconic lines in the dialog and is such a distinct storyline that is generally incredible.


Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Emma Orland:
I am currently working on co-curating an art show with my friend Caro called “Sonder” which will be taking place in Brooklyn in early September - for information on this, check our website: sonderexhibition.com. Secondly, I am currently in communication with adolescent.net and will hopefully be working with them in the near future as well! Further than this I have yet to know what the future holds for me, and yet I am extremely excited for what it might be. My work can be found at emmaorland.com and I can be found at @emma.orland on Instagram.