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Summer reading list - my top picks for your reading list

Lifestyle, London life, UncategorizedTalitha McQueen

I am so excited to share my picks for your Summer reading list. This year we've booked a cottage in Cornwall and I'm really looking forward to spending long Summer evenings in the garden with a book and a glass of something lovely! I like to have a variety of books to my Summer reading list. Some that I can dip in and out of, new releases and some old favourites.

Summer reading List

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer 

The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

The Dragon Queen, by William Andrews

The Dragon Queen is the story of one of the most interesting queens in history, Queen Min. If you can get past the first few chapters set in the present day and just get lost in the historical part then you'll really enjoy this.

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan 

Manhattan Beach  is a historical novel following a girl called Anna from childhood into adulthood and a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. I'm actually almost finished this one and have really enjoyed it.

Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid 

Exit West follows two young people who meet when their country is on the brink of civil war. We follow these characters as they embark on a love affair and emerge into an uncertain future.

Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation, by Judith Mackrell

Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation a great beach read as it is made up of six stories. It's a biography of women in the 1920's and features Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald and other women.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark

This year marks 100 years since Muriel Spark was born. I've always loved The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and this year have also read some more of her work. I love her style of writing. Set in 1930's Edinburgh the story follows a teacher, Miss Jean Brodie and six of her students.

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles 

A Gentleman in Moscow is the story of a count placed under house arrest in a grand hotel. I really loved the characters in this story and Towles writing is absolutely stunning.

Summer reading list, books

84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff

84 Charing Cross Road is a delightful story first published in 1970. It brings together 20 years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used book dealer in London.

Summer reading list 2018

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Adichie

Adapted from the TEDx talk We Should All Be Feminists discusses what feminism means today.

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaids tale is dystopian novel originally published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred.

The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman

Set ten years before the His Dark Materials trilogy, the La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One (Book of Dust Series) follows 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead, his dæmon Asta, a village girl named Alice and her dæmon Ben who become the protectors of the infant Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage, after a flood.

In paris book, Paris books

In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Light, by Lauren Bastide and Jeanne Damas

In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Light  profiles twenty diverse and inspiring women - artists, activists, booksellers, and filmmakers, aged fourteen to seventy, living in tiny attic studios, grand apartments, or houseboats-are accompanied by more than 100 full-colour photographs as well as tips on secret Parisian hideaways. The French version is available to buy now with the English version due to be released on September 6 and can be pre-ordered here

Things to do in London - Hampstead Heath and Kenwood House

London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

Hampstead Heath has been on my list of places to visit for so long. We finally made the trip out there over the weekend and absolutely loved the area. It felt like we'd spent the day in the countryside despite being only a few miles from the bustle of central London. We visited Kenwood House which is located on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Kenwood House is a former stately home (a large house or mansion in the English countryside)  and dates back to the early 17th century. It is really beautiful and full of details that you won't want to miss but my absolute favourite room was the library. Scottish neoclassical architect Robert Adam built the ‘Great Room’ or library between 1767–9. The colour scheme and detail of the ceiling is truly amazing.

If you're visiting with children be sure to visit the Orangery. Here we found dressing up costumes and other activities which my children really enjoyed. You can read about family activities here.

The gardens are really beautiful too and there were plenty of flowers in bloom.

After a wander around the house, we explored the heath. It's a perfect spot on a Summer day. We sat under a huge tree and enjoyed some ice cream and dog watching. I don't think I've ever seen so many dogs in one place!

Kenwood House was a perfect starting point for us to explore Hampstead Heath. All the facilities we needed were in one spot. There is a great cafe with courtyard dining as well as some ice cream carts.

Find out more about Kenwood House here.

Kenwood House, Visit London

Kenwood House, Visit London

Kenwood House, Visit London

Hamsptead Heath

Kenwood House, Visit London

 

London Cafe - Saint Aymes - Prettiest cafe in London

Food, London lifeTalitha McQueen

Saint Aymes is a London cafe situated just north of Hyde Park. We were really keen to try this addition to the luxury retail quarter known as Connaught Village. There are so many beautiful cafes in London but sometimes the food doesn't live up to the hype on social media! I'm pleased to say that Saint Aymes definitely lives up to the hype. The business was started by sisters, Michela and Lois Wilson back in 2016. Their hand-made artisan chocolates are stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. The sisters won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and have been crowned as Virgin StartUp Ambassadors. This story alone makes me want to visit and support their gorgeous London cafe and lifestyle boutique!

Entering Saint Aymes cafe is really like stepping into a wonderland! Everything is gorgeous including luxe velvet seating and the flower wall. We visited on my daughters birthday so decided to order all the cakes!...or nearly all of them. The rainbow cake, salted caramel macaron, and unicorn biscuit were all delicious. We also enjoyed a Marie-Antoinette hot chocolate and royal mint green tea. The food was delicious and the service was great too. Definitely a cafe we will visit again.

Add this one to your London list! Opening times and location details can be found on the Saint Aymes website here.

Saint Aymes, Saint Aymes cafe, London cafe

Saint Aymes, London cafe, Saint Aymes London

Saint Aymes cafe, London cafe, Visit London

London cafe, Saint Aymes, London's prettiest cafe, Where to eat in London

 

Trooping the Colour - Things to do in London this June

London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

Trooping the Colour is a fantastic event to see if you're planning a June trip to London. It's an annual event dating back to the 17th century and is now held during the Queen's official birthday month. This year the event will be held on June 9th. Details can be found at the official website here.

It was still such a thrill to be part of the crowd around Buckingham Palace and along The Mall back in 2016. I recommend arriving early if you want a good spot. The Queen travels by carriage from Buckingham Palace down the Mall to Horse Guards Parade. There are some great photo opportunities if you're willing to put up with the crowds. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy at St James Park on the day or pick up a ready-made hamper from the lovely store Fortnum and Mason which is close to Green Park tube station.

After a few hours of waiting around, I finally saw the Queen looking absolutely elegant in her carriage. I was lucky to take a photo too! If I wasn't so short I may also have a lovely photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Instead, my lens decided to focus on a flag!

A wonderful Saturday in London and one I'll never forget.

Trooping the Colour

Visit London

Trooping the Colour - Visit London

The Queen - Visit London

Trooping the Colour - Visit London

Buckingham Palace - Visit London

Trooping the Colour - Visit London

Trooping the Colour - Visit London

Event details can be found here 

Things to do in London this week - Belgravia in Bloom

London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

Belgravia in Bloom is becoming one of my favourite weeks of the year. This week the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is being held in London. If you haven't managed to secure a ticket there is still plenty to see around London. Each year more parts of London seem to be celebrating during the week of the Chelsea Flower Show. I've covered previous years of both Chelsea in Bloom and Belgravia in Bloom. This year looks like it will be even bigger with brighter and larger installations taking over shopfronts and squares around the city. Yesterday I had a wander around Belgravia and managed to see quite a few of the installations. The theme this year is Frida Kahlo's Belgravia to coincide with the exhibition opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

My first stop was the hidden area of Eccleston Yards. Wandering down Ebury Street you could easily walk right past this spot...but don't! This vibrant area is now the home of restaurants, beauty salons, and an amazing Frida Kahlo mural that is adorned with real blooms! The artwork is by the artist Zabou with gorgeous blooms by the florist Moyses Stevens.

Belgravia in Bloom, Things to do in London

Frida's Belgravia, Frida Kahlo mural London

 

Next, I walked back into Ebury Street. 141 Ebury Street now houses 'Frida Parlour' a pop up creative space that will have some great workshops from this week until June 16. You can see the details here.

Belgravia in Blooms, things to do in London, Visit London

After spending time in the parlour I wandered up Elizabeth Street. Here you'll find each pretty shopfront decorated with blooms. Make sure you step inside the beautiful florist Moyses Stevens to see their floral ceiling. They have a wonderful collection of plants too. I particularly loved the Lemon Tree installation outside Les Senteurs.

There is a lot more to see in this area and also around Mayfair and Chelsea. Most of the installations will be up until the 26th or 27th of May. There's a map at the end of this post with Victoria Station as the starting point. Have fun!

Things to do in London, Visit London, London

Belgravia in BloomThings to do in London, Visit London, London

 

Wisteria Wanders - Breakfast in Chelsea

London lifeTalitha McQueen

Over the weekend I took a little wisteria wander around Chelsea and managed to find some really beautiful places that I wanted to share. I think we're nearing the end of the wisteria season now but May also marks the Chelsea Flower Show and a wonderful event called Chelsea in Bloom. If you visit during the time the flower show is on there is always lots to see around Chelsea especially along Kings Road and Sloane Square. I'll be heading there over the weekend and next week so will be reporting back with some photos soon! You can see photos from a previous year here. For this particular walk, we started at the Ivy Chelsea Garden on Kings Road. This restaurant is often decorated by the talented team at Early Hours Limited. The current installation is a gorgeous ombre effect and definitely worth seeing. It's also a great place brunch or breakfast and opens quite early even on the weekend. I recommend the pancakes!

After breakfast, we headed down Kings Road and did some window shopping on the way. The next stop was Wellington Square. This is a beautiful private garden with a fountain (from 1926) as the centrepiece.

Visit London, Wisteria in London

 

We walked down both sides of this square and then back onto Kings Road. Our next stop was St Leonard's Terrace. This gorgeous area is famous for its blue plaque indicating the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, once lived here. The little row of houses is really charming and I was excited to see wisteria in bloom.

Wisteria, Bram Stoker London

Along this street, you'll also find a wonderful house with a mix of wisteria and ivory coloured flowers over its entrance. This was my find of the day! If you continue along the route on the map you'll also come to Radnor Walk which has more wonderful wisteria to enjoy.

There's so much to see in Chelsea. If you explore the side streets off Kings Road you'll always find something charming to photograph. I'd love to hear about your Chelsea finds either here or on my Instagram.

Wisteria in London, Visit London

London, visit London

 

How I edit photos for Instagram - photo editing tutorial

London life, Travel, UncategorizedTalitha McQueen

Anyone who has used Instagram has probably delved into photo editing at some point. One of the questions I'm often asked is which apps I use to edit my Instagram photography. I think I've tried most of the popular apps and now have a workflow that works for most of the images I take. I think an important element of growing a following on Instagram is having your own style. That could be moody with rich, dark colours or bright and light. Some accounts stick to a certain hue so their images all look subtly pink or orange. I tend to take lots of different types of images but always edit in the same way and using the same VSCo filters. I've gone for a light and bright theme overall. Finding a personal style is key once you know which apps you prefer using.

Here's an example of a recent photograph I took and then edited for Instagram.

Wisteria in London, London in Spring

This image was taken early on a fairly bright day. The sky is overly blue, there's a large shadow across the facade, and the house doesn't look straight.

Photo editing tutorial

    1. Using Snapseed I increased the brightness, increased the structure/detail, and added some warmth.
    2.  I then imported the image into VSCO and added the A6 filter. The key to using filters is to never use the full amount. Use the slider to decrease the effect until you're happy with the look.
    3. Next, I always straighten the image using either Photoshop (mobile app version) or an app called SKRWT.
    4. After straightening I decided it needed to be brighter overall so I returned to Snapseed and added some brightness.
    5. That's it! Sometimes I will also use the following apps: Photoshop, Lightroom, A Color Story. I'll show how I use these in a follow-up post.

  • You can view my Instagram images here

    Wisteria wanders - a London in Spring itinerary

    London life, Photography, TravelTalitha McQueen

    If you're visiting London in the Springtime, you'll definitely want to photograph some of the amazing wisteria covered houses. This past weekend we ventured to Kensington in search of wisteria. This was the first weekend in May and we found plenty of wisteria in full bloom. Here's my itinerary for a morning or early evening wander. To capture the beauty I always recommend photographing when the light isn't too bright so early morning or evening works well.

    We travelled to Gloucester Road tube and walked around 6 minutes to our first destination. We started at Kynance Mews. This is my favourite mews in London and I visit every Autumn to photograph the red leaves over the magnificent arch entry. In spring the mews looks gorgeous with wisteria running long some of the mews homes. After photographing the mews we headed out onto Launceston place. This street has quite a few wisteria covered houses so we took out time wandering up and down both sides. Next stop was Canning Place the home to the most magnificent wisteria house you may ever see. We then walked towards Kensington High Street for a coffee stop. You can do this or head to the next wisteria location in Kensington Square Gardens. Look out for the house that has wisteria hanging over the footpath. This spot was amazing and I hope they don't trim the wisteria!

    After finding all these lovely places you could head over to Kensington Gardens or finish your walk and do some shopping along Kensington High Street.

    All the images below were taken along this route. There is a map at the bottom of this post which you can save. Happy wisteria wanders!

    Wistereia wanders, visit London, Spring in London, London

    Wisteria in London, where to find wisteria in London, London

    wisteria in London, London

    Wisteria in London, London in Spring

    wisteria in London

    London wisteria - Sunday morning in Marylebone

    London life, Photography, TravelTalitha McQueen

    If you're visiting London during Spring you'll definitely want to photograph some special London wisteria! Over the weekend we were on the hunt for Wisteria. There is plenty around my local area including an amazing archway within Peckham Common but we were specifically looking for Wisteria covered houses. We were up early on Sunday morning and decided to head into Marylebone. The weather wasn't great so I thought we would have some cafe options around that area as well as the fabulous and little known Wallace Collection. We took the tube to Baker Street and then headed to one of the insta famous Wisteria houses in Dorset Street. The house is only a 5-minute walk from the tube and really easy to find. It's near the corner of Dorset Street and Manchester Street. We were not disappointed. The wisteria was absolutely beautiful. The scent was amazing too!

    London wisteria, where to find wisteria in London

    After a few minutes shooting some photos and a video we decided to turn right and head towards the Wallace Collection. This museum is always on my list for people visiting London. It has an amazing collection of art and each room of this former private residence is just beautiful. Read more about the Wallace Collection in my previous post here. The museum is open from 10am - 5pm daily but check their website before your visit. Entry is free but donations are appreciated.

    Things to do in London

    After an hour wandering around the museum, we decided to head outside and explore more of Marylebone. Heading back towards Dorset Street we found our way to Chiltern Street. Home of the Chiltern Fire House and Monocle cafe. A great little street for some Instagram pics. After shooting some facades we found some seats inside Monocle and enjoyed great coffee and delicious cookies.

    London, Visit London

    Monocle Cafe, London cafe, Visit London, London itinerary

    London, visit london, London cafes

    Full route details can be found here via a Google Map

    The prettiest dining room in London - Bloom Room at P.F. Chang's Asian Table

    Food, London lifeTalitha McQueen

    There's a new flower wall in London! You'll need to be quick if you want to add this one to your Instagram gallery! P.F. Chang’s Asian Table have decorated the downstairs area of their restaurant with cherry blossoms and everything pretty including a pink tower of macarons. The Bloom Room, a beautiful floral pop-up, running until the 30th April gives diners the chance to experience Hanami – the Japanese tradition of flower viewing. Hubby and I dined there on Sunday night and it was such an experience. Who doesn't want to dine by a flower wall?! I was excited to try the special Bloom Room cocktails and dessert too. We both had the Sakura Dream cocktail, a heavenly mix of vodka, pink grapefruit juice, guava juice and lemongrass. It was absolutely delicious and of course a pretty shade of pink!

    All the food we are was just beautiful including honey chicken, lamb chops, and gyoza. The highlight for me was the orange blossom cheesecake. It was the most delicious cheesecake I've ever eaten!

    The Bloom Room is open Monday – Sunday 6.30pm until close. Tables are reservation only, guests must reference Bloom Room when booking.

    P.F. Chang’s Asian Table 10 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JA Tel. 01923 555161

    London - Bloom Room

    London restaurant, Bloom Room, P.F. Chang's Asian Table

    Bloom Room, Things to do in London

    Visit London, Bloom Room, London Restaurant

    London, things to do in London

    Bloom Room, P.F. Chang's Asian Table

    Bloom Room, London, Visit London

     

     

     

    London Exhibition 2018 - PICASSO 1932 – LOVE, FAME, TRAGEDY

    London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

    If you only see one exhibition in London this year make sure it's Picasso 1932 at the Tate Modern. Experiencing the exhibition is like looking through Picasso's private journal of the year 1932. Picasso himself said that “The work one does is a way of keeping a diary.” During 1932 whilst married to the Russian Ballet Dancer, Olga Khokhlova, Picasso was having an affair with a young woman called Marie-Thérèse. Sources state that they first met in 1927 outside Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Marie-Thérèse was seventeen at the time.

    Over 100 major works are included int he exhibition at Tate Modern. Marie-Thérèse is clearly the central subject of Picasso's work from 1932. Seeing the work in real life was fascinating. The colours used and the speed with which Picasso completed the pieces is remarkable. Olga left Picasso in 1935 when she found out Marie-Thérèse was pregnant.

    A really fascinating exhibition. The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 is on at Tate Modern until September 9 2018

    Picasso, Picasso 1932, London

     

    London is...

    London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

    [video width="1280" height="720" mp4="https://www.rubyandbjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Adobe-Spark-Video-1.mp4"][/video] London is perfectly pretty in pink. From pretty pink houses in Notting Hill to pretty pink cafes. If you're a pink lover you'll definitely want to find all these pretty places in London.

    1. Chelsea Bridge at dusk
    2. Notting Hill houses
    3. Elan Cafe Knightsbridge
    4. Peggy Porschen Cafe Belgravia
    5. Secret pink doors
    6. Hampstead houses
    7. Pretty facades on Columbia Road
    8. Sketch

    Elan Cafe - Things to do in London

    Family life, London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

    Over the weekend we visited the new Elan Cafe in Knightsbridge. I've been so looking forward to trying this cafe since stumbling upon it back in December when we were on our way to Harrods. On that day there was a huge line outside so I thought it must be good! Lucky I wasn't disappointed. Not only is this the most instagrammable cafe in London, it also has really great coffee and impeccable service. The staff brought a high chair for our baby before we'd even asked and were really attentive our entire visit. We were really happy with our coffees and the kids loved their flavoured croissants. I hear the Spanish Latte is the best so will need to head back soon to try this!

    You'll be blown away by the decor. An Instagrammers dream with marble, endless flowers, and coffee related quotes in neon. After our visit I was interested to learn who actually started such a pretty cafe. The brand was founded by Alex Miller, with the first cafe opening in Mayfair last August. This unstoppable Girl Boss then opened the Knightsbridge location in December and is also launching beauty products.

    The Knightsbridge cafe is in the perfect location if you're after a day of museum hopping or shopping. The Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and Design Museum are all a short walk. If it's a day of shopping you're after then head to Harrod's which is just up from Elan Cafe.

    Address: 239 Brompton Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 2EP

    Opening hours: Head to the website for menu and current opening hours.

    Cost: Two coffees and two large flavoured croissants approximately £16

    Elan Cafe, Visit London, Things to do in London

    London cafe, Things to do in London

    Elan cafe, pretty cafe, things to do in London

    Elan cafe, London cafe, Things to do in London

    London cafe, Elan Cafe

    Instagrammable London cafe

    Elan Cafe

    London

    Things to do in London

     

     

     

    December in London - London Musings

    London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

    Is there any city more beautiful than London in December? The answer is no! It's hard to believe that December is over. London was absolutely breathtaking this past December. The city sparkled literally everywhere with festive decorations. I had such a wonderful time capturing all the beauty. It really is the best time to visit London if you're trying to decide on a time of year! If you're planning a visit in December 2018 be sure to add the following to your list.

    Claridges: This luxury hotel in Mayfair does Christmas so well! The decorations are always beautiful but they also have a lovely festive themed afternoon tea great for adults and children.

    Kew Gardens: The event 'Christmas at Kew' is wonderful. Light installations and music create a trail through the gardens. It's an evening event so prepare for the cold. Rug up and stop for hot chocolate and mulled wine at various points along the route.

    Leadenhall Market: This gorgeous covered market looks glorious when dressed for the holidays. We visited on Christmas Eve when the stores were closed and were able to take some magical photographs. Also, visit when the stores are open for some Christmas shopping.

    Covent Garden: This was my favourite area to wander during December. The decorations are beautiful and if you explore the little laneways you'll stumble upon some cosy little cafes.

    Ice Skating: No festive visit to London would be complete without a twirl on the ice! There are a number of rinks around London but my favourite is Somerset House. In previous years it has been sponsored by the British department store Fortnum's. There is usually a pop up store on site and a lodge perfect for relaxing with a hot chocolate.

    London in December

    Kew Garden's

    Visit London

    Leadenhall Market, London in December, Visit London

     

    Christmas Markets London - Etsy Made Local

    London lifeTalitha McQueen

    The weeks really seem to be flashing by and I am in full Christmas planning mode! I'm always on the lookout for Christmas Markets in London as they are a great place to find really unique gifts. This Saturday the 2nd of December a lovely group of Etsy sellers will be hosting their Christmas Market. The market is at Tooting Tram and Social from 11am until 5pm. Earlier this month I received a beautiful box filled with items from some of the sellers who will be at the market. Each item was just beautiful and so well made. There is definitely something for everyone.

    If you can't get down to the market you can still shop these items on ETSY

    You can also visit the London Local Team Instagram Page for more info or the website

    Details: 2nd December 11am - 5pm. 46-48 Mitcham Road London SW17 9NA

    London Christmas Markets

    Etsy Sellers

    Christmas Gifts

     

     

    RHS Autumn Show - Things to do in London

    Home and decor, Home ideas, London life, UncategorizedTalitha McQueen

    The RHS Autumn Show 2017 was a celebration of Autumn beauty. The installations and flowers on display were really beautiful and have definitely inspired my own Autumn decor and gardening. I've been enjoying all the beautiful Autumn colours in London recently and was thrilled to attend the RHS Autumn Show. The show was held at the RHS Horticultural Halls close to Pimlico. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about plants and flowers that are perfect for Autumn.

    On entering the show I was struck by how beautiful Lindley Hall is. It's such a light space with gorgeous walls. All the Autumn colours added to the beauty of the building.

    My absolute highlight of the show was the incredible installation by La Famille. The beautiful installation featured a staggering 700 metres of materials collected from Wisley to create the 9-metre piece. You can see part of the installation in the second image below and more at the La Famille Instagram page. The piece was titled 'Meditation (Autumn)', and made up of the richness of colours, textures and shapes that Autumn brings.

    A lovely day out and I'll definitely be heading to more RHS shows in the future.

    RHS Autumn Show

    Autumn in London

    La Famille

    Things to do in London

    RHS Autumn Show, Things to do in London

    London

    Flowers, Autumn gardening

    Autumn flowers, RHS

    RHS Autumn Show

    RHS Autumn Show

    Autumn leaves, Things to do in London

    Details of the 2018 RHS Urban Garden Show are available here

    London Literature Festival - Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005 - 2016

    Career, London life, PhotographyTalitha McQueen

    I was so excited when I heard that Annie Leibovitz would be speaking at the London Literature Festival this year! I've admired her portrait work for many years and was really eager to hear her speak about photography. Annie Leibovitz, photography tips

    The event was on October 22nd at Southbank in London. Annie presented all the portraits which she chose to be published in her latest book, Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005 - 2016. It was fascinating to hear how quickly the book was pulled together and how originally Annie had decided the final portrait in the book would be Hillary Clinton in front of the White House. Sadly that wasn't to be! Annie talked about each of the portraits and shared insights into how or why she had shot in a certain way.

    photography advice

    The main points which really stuck out for me were real photography tips that I will definitely be keeping in mind. Here are some of my favourites:

    1. On being asked what the best advice Annie had received on photography: If you need to get closer to a subject use your legs, not the lens. I really agree with this. Using a prime lens myself has really improved my photography as I can't rely on a zoom function but actually, have to move and get into the position in order to capture the best angle.
    2. Study the work of great photographers like Brassai and Doisneau. Annie said just like writers need to read widely in order to develop their style, photographers need to view work widely.
    3. Look at your work retrospectively in order to learn, grow and move forward. Annie explained that compiling a book of her work always gives her the opportunity to do this.
    4. For portraits, Annie recommends shooting the subject in their environment. She believes that subjects and places hold their own history which adds to the story of the portrait.
    5. I found it interesting that Annie said she is all about the content not the technical. I was pleased to hear this as I really struggled with the technical aspect when first trying to learn photography. I think the best thing to do is just switch to manual mode and take photographs. In photography, it's the real world experience that is going to improve your work.

    The new book Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005 - 2016 is available here 

    Annie gave a similar talk in New York as part of Times Talks which you can view below.

    Tate Britain Impressionists in London - The EY Exhibition

    London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

    I've been eagerly anticipating the new Tate Britain Impressionists in London Exhibition. I love the work of the impressionists and was particularly interested to discover how the visiting French artists perceived London. What excites me most is the concept of creativity being reignited by relocating to a new city. Moving to a new country definitely encouraged my own creativity and love of photography. Brand new sights and sounds all add to the creative experience. The Tate exhibition brings together a collection of work that demonstrates creativity being encouraged by a change of city. The collection of work shows how a change in scenery can reinvigorate the creative spirit and bring fresh ideas to the forefront. As a London photographer, I have an obsession with light and the way it changes the look of London's architecture. In Winter the dull grey light makes many of London's icons really pop. The red of buses, letter boxes, and phone boxes add such a splash of colour during the grey days. Seeing the way the impressionists captured the changing light in London was such an inspiring experience. Monet's paintings of the Houses of Parliament capture the changing light and seasons beautifully. These were painted from the Savoy where he would work from 4pm until sunset when the Houses of Parliament were backlit. I can definitely see why he chose this time. The golden hour is my favourite time to photograph Westminster, especially lately with the gorgeous Autumn sunsets. Monet also painted during Winter, capturing the atmosphere of the fog that blanketed the city.

    I was excited by the scale of artwork on show, favourites like Monet and Pissarro. Discovering new work is always a treat. A marble sculpture by Jules Dalou of a mother rocking her baby is now one of my favourites.

    Add this one to your list if you're visiting London. There's also a wonderful Tate podcast discussing how London has inspired French artists here.

    Tate Britain Impressionists in London is open to the public from November 2017 until April 2018. See the Tate website for details here.

    The EY Exhibition Impressionists in London, Tate Britain

    Tate Britain Impressionists in London

    Tate Britain, Impressionists in London

    Pissarro, Tate Britain, The EY Exhibition Impressionists in London

    Monet, London, Tate Britain

    Monet Houses of Parliament

    Tate Britain, London gallery

    London musings - Autumn in London

    London life, TravelTalitha McQueen

    Autumn in London! Autumn is quickly becoming my favourite season in London. The vibrancy of red leaves against the pale architecture is just stunning. For the past few weeks, I have been busy running around London trying to capture some of the magical Autumn scenes. If you're planning on visiting London I really recommend the beginning of Autumn. It's a wonderful chance to enjoy everything that makes London life wonderful! Cosy cafes, wandering around museums and galleries, or long walks in one of the Royal Parks.

    Autumn in London

    Royal Parks

    Visit London

    London

    London events - Grace Coddington at Smythson

    Fashion, London lifeTalitha McQueen

    Last week I was thrilled to attend the launch of the refurbished Smythson store in London. To celebrate the opening, Smythson had organised a book signing with Micheal Roberts and Grace Coddington. The book, GingerNutz is the tale of an orangutang who becomes a fashion model. It is the sweetest story and Micheal's illustrations are stunning. It is definitely a story that can be enjoyed by both adults and children. My eight year old loved reading it and so did I! The cloth bound cover is really beautiful and it also comes packaged in a Smythson dust bag and one of their signature blue gift boxes. I think this would make a beautiful gift for Christmas.

    The book is available here via the Smythson website.

    GingerNutz, Grace Coddington, Smythson

    Grace Coddington, GingerNutz, Smythson

    GingerNutz, Grace Coddington, London

    Grace Coddington, GingerNutz

    Grace Coddington, GingerNutz

    GingerNutz, London events, Grace Coddington