Storyteller Series: The secret side of childhood by Blacksmith Pat

Storyteller Series: The secret side of childhood by Blacksmith Pat

As a portrait photographer, I am always inspired by other photographers that have the ability to capture a portrait that is so compelling and thought provoking.  It is a rare gift to capture the essence of a person within a photograph, really touching the hearts of those that view the portrait.

I would like to introduce to you, a photographer that does this very thing, his images are so beautiful and raw. Harsh in presence, yet emotional while inviting you into a very personal space.

I have always loved his work, so it is my honour to share with you all, Patrick St-Hilaire.


PG: Paula Gardener PTSH: Pat St H

PG: Tell us about yourself and your life as a photographer. What inspired you to become a photographer.

BSP: I live in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. I’m a blacksmith, married to my best friend for 20 years now. Father of four beautiful girls. Mainly I take pictures with my girls. We work a basic idea together  and then go out into our fields or forest where we create it. Most of my photos are set up which gets my models impatient a lot of the time, hahaha. Sometimes I just grab my camera and wonder about watching my girls playing.  I started photography when I was 19. I tried to make a living back then with fashion, dance and some other stuff. I wasn’t to successful with it so after a few years (6) I decided to do something else. I met my wife and we started to travel then had kids blab la bla… then two years ago I bought an iPhone and discovered mobile photography through iPhone Art.  I was very impressed, but wasn’t satisfied with the result. I then got a camera and here we go, got my result. I’m from the dark room era so I work with black and white. I learn every thing back then in that dark room. Spend hours in it experimenting with negatives. I just try to transpose that black and white into my digital work, pretty basic. My approached is pretty artistic, I think the possibility to capture a moment and fix it to a beautiful paper was an amazing thing . So I gave it a try. 

Winter Rose

Winter Rose

PG: When I first saw your portraits I was taken back by their rawness. The harsh contrast monochrome tones, yet transparent in the story they tell. What would you say is your style of photography?

PatStHOuff that’s when it’s hard for me to be an artist, try to describe my work… I guess I’m a portraitist. I try to have that fairytale rendering, the black and white is really useful for me to capture that atmosphere.

PG: Is their a particular message you’re trying to convey to those that view your work.

PatStHIt is pretty hard to make people believe what you want  or give a direction to those who observe your work. My pictures definitively tell a story, our story (my girls and me). The reactions of the viewers fascinate me.  Taking pictures that involve  kids make people uncomfortable yet curious. When I create a reaction I then think we did it good. Don’t forget that most of the time the picture you see is created by my girls. They speak their language through that picture. I guess the secret side of childhood is something I try to achieve.

PG: I love the way your portraits tell a story, especially those of your children. Their characters are so pronounce within your photographs. What is important to you when capturing portraits.

PatStH:The secrets that nobody will never know. The eyes are the center of my pictures and the light. I’m pretty obsessed with the light, the natural light is for me the best one to work with. A cloudy day just before the rain or when the sun is just about to go to bed.


Sisters: After taking the pict of her sister Angélique told me that she really wanted one with Scarlett, together . The light in the room was beautiful and they just took that pose. I never publicised the picture. It actually created quite a discussion between a few friends. Made them react. I now decided to publicise it.

pure sunlight pat

Pure Sunlight: With this one we wanted to create a sun with Scarlett hair.

Le reveil: Angélique right after an afternoon nap. She is sitting on our couch the light was coming from behind. Natural light.

Le reveil: Angélique right after an afternoon nap. She is sitting on our couch the light was coming from behind. Natural light.

On duty: Mae-Rose just got herself a camera. She is really please. She is a very good photographer and like me she rather be behind the camera then in front of it. We had fun in the forest , can you tell ?

On duty: Mae-Rose just got herself a camera. She is really please. She is a very good photographer and like me she rather be behind the camera then in front of it. We had fun in the forest , can you tell ?

franny pat

Franny: Lily-Fae was in the poney’s field with Franny. The poneys just arrived after being boarding for the winter. She just did that move and I clic.

PG: It’s fascinating to know that your portraits of your daughters are composed by them. Stepping into the  imagination of a child’s mind is wonderful. What do they say when they see the final image, have you captured the true essence of their thoughts?

PatStHThey’re not  impress most of the time, hahaha. They appreciate the light in it. They also like the dramatic aspect of the result, they love what I do with their eyes, the editing in general, there is always a girl with me when I edit my picture. They like when people ask questions about my image and most of all they love to hold a print in their hands.

PG: You started using the iPhone, now you’ve return back the using a conventional camera. What camera and lighting set up do you use, to create that magical wonderland feel within your portraits?

PatStHI now use a mirror less camera, Fuji X-Pro1. I love working in natural light,  a cloudy day if possible. We live on a mountain so the light as something special I guess. I also take picture in the forest. When I do work indoor we have a lot of windows in our house so near a window is a nice spot. I also work with a flash sometimes. One flash is ok for me. Nothing to fancy so the model doesn’t feel to shy.



Easter Hunt

Easter Hunt

PG: Do you have any projects lined up for the future. Exhibitions etc that you might want to share with us. I would love to put this in, to sum up the article. 

PatStHNo future Projects at the moment. My blacksmithing job keep me pretty busy in the summer. I’m working on a book at the moment but that is on a back burner for now. Also putting a portfolio together and will present it in fall. Maybe an exhibit in the fall as well but nothing confirm at the moment.

Merci beaucoup Madame.

Find Pat’s Work
Flickr // Instagram

Long Live Southbank

Long Live Southbank by Paula G.

As a tourist when you visualize London, you think of mainstream iconic landmarks like The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben (St Stephen’s Tower), Buckingham Palace to name a few. There is though a place that is steep in history, culture and the embodiment of London life. A place I visit frequently, anyone who lives in London knows about the Southbank. The vast array of cafes, the National Theatre, not to mention the London Eye. If you walk along the river front you’re greeted by vendors, street acts of every kind all trying to attract the surge of tourists that frequent the area. As a Londoner I’m always amazed at what I see, I love this part of London because of its love for community living.

The riverside walk will also bring you to a special place, quite different from the other attractions. In the 1970’s the Southbank undercroft was a place of shelter for the homeless, However this partly subterranean space soon became a center for graffiti artists, skateboarders and freestyle cyclists.

Everyone and anyone who wanted to skateboard, meet other artists maybe hold events would visit the undercroft. It is a place of inspiration, bursting with the creativity of the many voices that stamp their mark on this cultural landmark. Unfortunately it is now being threatened of closure, in April 2013 the Southbank Center proposed the development of the area for commercial units. A group was formed to oppose this development, they are called Long Live Southbank. Amazingly they have the backing of the local council, the Mayor of London and many celebrities. Thousands of people have signed the petition to oppose the redevelopment of the undercroft. Here are just a few of the quotes supporting this petition.

“The skate park is the epicenter of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London. This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years. It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area – it helps to make London the great city it is.” – Boris Johnson “I urge you to please preserve the integrity of Southbank, a sanctuary for skateboarders, and an important piece of London history.” – Tony Hawk  “Southbank is the oldest surviving skateboard spot in the world and hailed as the birthplace of British skateboarding. This space has empowered generations of physical, visual and collaborative expression and informed and directed the lives of people from all walks of life. This world famous landmark and cultural icon must be preserved for future generations to flourish.” – Henry Edwards-Wood.

If you would like to pledge your support by signing the online petition here is the  link  for their campaign. Also have a look at their website ‘Long Live Southbank’ if you want to find out more plus keep up to date with their progress.


Brick Lane, Models and the iPhone 5

I have always wanted to do a model shoot on the eclectic urban streets of East London. If there was any part of London you would like to visit, I would highly recommend East London, especially the hustle and bustle of Brick Lanes Sunday market. Trust me you will not be disappointed, there is so much to see. I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to work with a very beautiful and willing model for an impromptu shoot. We made our way to Shoreditch where the streets are lined with so much culture from diverse ethnic backgrounds. I loved the way tourist intermingled with locals, no one looked out of place. Instead we all belonged, imparting our visual stamp on those we greeted. Even though we were there on casual business, no one seemed to mind us blocking the road.  Or bringing the busy Sunday streets to a halt as I framed the perfect photo of my willing and very patient model.

However the real challenge was neither the busy streets, nor the near freezing temperatures. Nope, it was carrying around my heavy, packed camera bag. Gosh I truly forgot how much I hated lugging that thing about. I am one of those people that pack everything when I go on holiday, I am that ‘just in case’ type of gal. My worse nightmare is not being properly equipped, I know I could of been more organised, preparing in my mind the kind of images I would love to capture.  However in London you can never tell what lies around the corner. Therefore the mother in me says ‘just in case’ I will bring the lot.

There I was camera bag weighing down one shoulder, together with my trusty very light and ever so handy iPhone 5 in my pocket. Armed and prepared, I started capturing images, frame after frame, pose after pose. Intrigued to fine out how my iPhone would fare against the ever so powerful, with bells and whistles on DSLR. I mimicked each shot I took with my camera, on the iPhone 5. I realized how I was looking forward to the post production of the iPhone more than the Camera. If anyone who has a DSLR knows, its not a quick process transferring the files.  Organizing them into groups, metadata, editing to say the least. Arrgghh! I am not saying I dislike the process, however filtering the best photos out of six hundred plus frames can be time consuming. I use Adobe Lightroom for all my Camera edits, which does speed things up.  While sitting on the sofa, iPad in hand, (iPhone photos transferred via iCloud). Snapseed open I can safely say the editing process was easier, quick and a lot more rewarding. I suppose I expect the Nikon to perform to a certain standard, so I am not amazed when the photos turn out crystal clear etc.  On the other hand viewing the photos I captured on the iPhone, I was extremely pleased at how well the phone handled light and focus considering how overcast and gloomy the day was. Post editing only enhanced the already, fab performance of the iPhone.

All photographs were taken with the iPhone 5 and edited on Snapseed.

Introducing Louise Fryer

Introducing Louise Fryer by Paula G

Louise Fryer is a wonderful photographer, I have admired her work for awhile now. Mainly for her versatility with how she delivers an impressive portfolio of work. Ranging from poetic self-portraits, to dreamscape views of her hometown.  I know most of those within the mobile community, will have come across her work being showcased on various Mobile Photography blogs. Likewise she has her own blog that delivers to those that follow her a direct insight into her beautiful world. What has fascinated me the most about her work, is the simplicity of it. To look at her self portraits, at first glance technically there is a lot of work put into each one. However the beauty of it is quite simple, she doesn’t try to overload the viewer with too much…. Instead you find yourself falling in love with the romantic disposition she portrays. Whilst subtly seducing your thoughts to want to know more of this person within the image. Luckily for me she’s had some time away from her busy schedule to answer a few questions. Also below are some of my favorites from her Flickr gallery.

P: Paula L: Louise Fryer

P: Tell us about yourself and your life as a photographer. What inspired you to become a photographer.

L: I first got into photography in 2009, I was fascinated in street photography, bought my first DSLR and spent a couple of years just concentrating on that. One day, I decided to just take my iPhone to shoot, it was difficult! But I got used to the challenge of thinking about how I’d get the shot. From that moment I was hooked!

P: Your style of photography is both beautiful and simple yet very personal plus intimate. How would you describe your work.

L: I have a feeling that in every creative person what is inside their heart usually comes out in some form, whether it be poetry, photography or some other medium. You have to feel it, otherwise what’s the point?

P: I’ve noticed you have a very dream collection of photographic equipment, ranging from a large DSLR to mobile devices. How do you choose what to use and why.

L: Usually when I go out somewhere to shoot, I take my Nikon and iPhone, I take some shots on both, to see what works…others I decide previously. My heart is with mobile photography, so primarily I usually try to use iPhone.

P: What advice would you give someone like myself who’s trying to embark on street photography. The do’s and don’t.

L: Really,  just get out there and find the kind of thing that interests you, with me it is the people, and it’s quite difficult to take candid portraits with a mobile device. You do get bolder in time and I believe your success is a lot down to personality…the first time someone notices that you’ve shot them, you do think ‘Oh Shit’ but to be honest, I’ve never had a really bad experience…sometimes it works just to say ‘Hi, thank you, can I email you a copy?’ Never ask to take someones photo, by that time it’s too late.

Maurice runs an antique/second hand shop in St James Road, Brighton…I asked if I could take his photo, after a chat he showed me around his shop, he had a brilliant original Biba fashion head that I had my eye on, I couldn’t knock him down so I left empty handed!

P: What would you say triggers your creative process when out taking pictures. Do you have a preset idea of what you want to capture on any given day.

L: Sometimes it’s an ideal day to go shooting but if I don’t have the right mindset I don’t see anything. My photos or artwork are very dependent on my mood.  Right now I’m really not into street photography, I just don’t feel like being out there…I’m very much into creativity, introspectively.

P: I love your work especially your self portraits, what is the emotional force behind your portraits. How would like the viewer to interpret your work.

L: There is a strong emotional influence behind my self portraits,  people often think ‘Well that looks nothing like you’…it doesn’t have to as far as I’m concerned, they are an expression, an emotion…some look exactly like me, others don’t. I have a deep fascination with making myself look very different to how I feel about myself.

I still hear your voice at night
When I turn out the light
Trying to settle down
But there is nothing I can do
‘Cause I can’t live without you
Any way at all

If you would like to view more of Louise’s work please click on the various links below:
Tumblr / Flickr / Website / Facebook / Instagram /

The Inspiration Of Mr. Penn

Paula Gardener

Provocative, intriguing, challenging and compelling are some of the words that come to mind when I think of  portrait photography.  The concept of capturing a moment in time, preserving the subject forever, is the best invention since the light bulb. As a child I loved staring endlessly at fashion catalogs and magazines. Fantasizing about who the individuals were, their lifestyle, their story. I would create a whole new world through the photographs I saw.

That is where the love of portraiture took a hold of me.

Over a number of years I have stumbled across numerous photographers that have inspired me. Through their work I have gained confidence to step out of the box and create a style of my own.

One of those many photographers is the late Irving Penn, his work has become one of the biggest influences in my portrait portfolio. I came across his photography through a Flickr page dedicated to him, obviously another fan like me. As soon as I saw his work it captivated my heart. He has a way of drawing the viewer into a personal space once hidden but now revealed through his eyes. I love the simplicity and dynamics of his studio work, the poise of his subjects. Such subtle drama but not too much that it takes away from the beauty of the image. Each individual portrait replicates the persona of the subject so well you feel you know them personally.

He inspired me to want to capture the hearts of the viewer, draw you in. Revealing just enough to make you imagine the story behind the lens. With this said I wanted to pay tribute to Mr Penn, knowing I could never replicate his beautiful portraits. I figured I would create my own representation of few. So armed with my iPhone 5 and the natural light shining through my bedroom window, I began quest. The limitations of a mobile device, that is not dedicated to photography makes this challenge even harder. However I know that with the countless photography applications available I would hopefully come close.

So without further ado I present to you firstly the beautiful works of Irving Penn’s Miles Davis portraits. Followed by a few of my portraits.

Oh and if you haven’t heard of Mr Penn, please look him up his work is amazing!

 Miles Davis by Irving Penn

 Paula Gardener

 Miles Davis by Irving Penn

 Paula Gardener

Miles Davis by Irving Penn

 Miles Davis by Irving Penn

Paula Gardener

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