|AN OLD NEW LEAF by Ellen Chamberlain|
Sometimes, I trawl through Flickr and see what I can see. I look at someone's work which I particularly like and then go on to their favourites and then find someone else and go on to their favourites and then I find a photograph that has something for me and I look up the photostream of the photographer and get an idea of what they are about. One day, not so long ago, I found the photography of Ellen in this way. I thought it was exceptionally good and I wrote and told her so. She replied the next day, saying that she had heard of my project and was pleased to be asked to partake but pointed out that she was a shy person and had never before photographed anyone she didn't know. I suggested that we could meet before the shoot to get to know each other but, when Ellen told me she lived in Nottingham, I scrubbed that idea. She asked if she could bring a friend.
The day of the shoot was very warm. I enjoyed the train journey as I always do and I nodded off from time to time. I arrived in Nottingham and met Ellen. She was very young and slightly ill at ease - her friend Nathalie stood by awkwardly. But the day slowly unravelled before us and we began our stroll through Nottingham Town Centre which could be any town centre in any English town - Primark, Top Shop, Boots, Millie's Cookies etc, etc - it is a shame when such historic towns all look the same. We headed for the Castle and stopped for me to pose for some pictures there. Then we had a drink in the oldest inn in England and we chatted but none of us were fully relaxed. Eventually, we reached a small area of grass and we sat down under some trees and I think our more relaxed body language made the difference and we began talking more meaningfully about things and making jokes. Ellen has a lovely accent - I don't know what you would call it - a Midlands accent, I suppose - she thought mine was posh. I know I have said this so many times before but the most marvellous aspect of this project is that I communicate on a certain level with people so much younger than I am, who live such different lives and yet we are brought together by this common love of Photography and what it can do. This photograph was taken as we sat on the grass and well, it is a great photograph. The leaf is the representative of the other leaves on the ground and on the trees which provided shelter from the sun and something for us to twiddle with as we talked. It always helps to have a leaf to twiddle when you are getting to know someone.
It was time to leave and so we made our way back to the station and said our goodbyes. I was very touched when Ellen said "I know this is weird but can I give you a hug?" - it was the nicest hug.
She wrote soon afterwards with a collection of photographs from the day but I knew that it would one of those taken as we all sat on the grass that I would like the best and that is how it turned out. I have turned over a new leaf - I liked the old leaf but the new leaf is better.