So, yesterday I had an email from Demotix, the online news agency to which I have submitted a few stories. It was an automated message that a story of mine is "becoming popular" because the page had been viewed 1000 times. Now, ruling out that about 50 of those are me viewing it to see how many people have viewed it, etc, etc, that's still quite satisfying.
Anyway, the story in question was of a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London, as part of the One Billion Rising day of action for women's rights around the world on Valentine's Day this February. In fact, there were so many eminent speakers at the demo that I split the story in two: the on-stage speakers are in another story, which has only racked up 187 views.
Quite a difference!
All the off-stage shots are in the more popular story, such as a candid portrait of the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper with a very jaunty Union Jack brolly. And also, perhaps most significantly, of the singer Skin, formerly of Skunk Anansie, with her American wife, Christiana Wyly.
Now, living in London you quite often see famous people going about their business. Professor Brian Cox outside a corner shop. Gabriel Byrne at a cafe table. But I have never ever ever whipped out my camera or phone and taken a shot. Never. I just don't want to intrude into someone's life. So why did I do it this time? I had turned away from the stage to do a wide shot of the crowd cheering the speakers and spotted Skin there. She was due on stage about half an hour later and was part of the event. Her sound check had blasted her amazing voice across Trafalgar Square and stopped many passers-by who had no idea what the event was. So it seemed that Skin standing in the crowd listening to all the activist speakers -- some famous, some not -- was a public act of support. She was not hiding away being a prima donna; she was part of the demo and she was cheering with the rest of the crowd.
I hesitated and caught Skin's eye. She had spotted me and though she didn't quite nod at me, she clearly knew I was going to take a photo and was obviously comfortable with it. After I'd taken a couple of shots, Christiana Wyly noticed me too and purposefully snuggled up closer, looking very proud of her partner.
I'm impressed with them both. Rich and famous, they stood in the rain on a cold London winter's day and listen to serious speeches about women's rights. I will never be a paparazzo but clearly, just having dipped my toe into celebrity waters, the interest is there and the page views reflect it in stark numbers. As of this minute, its celebrities 1016: feminists 187. Its a good thing some celebrities are feminists too!
I'm just going through some pictures I took in Ukraine in 2006. I was blessed with good weather and found Kiev (aka Kyiv if you're local) to be a beautiful, peaceful city packed with amazing historical architecture. Clearly timing is all! I'm so sad to hear of the troubles there. But to give some historical context, my notes for this photo are that it shows the "flying buttresses of the church of St Michael's Monastery (reconstructed in 2001 after the original, dating to 1108 was torn down by the Soviets in 1936)." So the fact that I found Ukraine independent and peaceful seems increasingly like a historical fluke.
Well, here it finally is, the new website. My previous website was a certifiable antique in internet terms -- 15 years old! Did the internet even exist then? Yes, but not with mass broadband so its nice to say farewell to tiny low-res images and show off more of my work.
Its been an interesting trawl through my archive of images. Just choosing the pictures took far longer than actually constructing the website (I used weebly.com which made it wonderfully easy) and I've realised how many of my favourite images come from Finland -- must go back there again when I get the chance.
Returning to work after time out raising the children is a bit of a shock but now I feel ready to go and am going to be seeking out more commissions and concentrating more on portraits. Wish me luck!
Anna Watson: photographer, parent, juggler