My father’s body wasn’t even cold in the hospital body, but I ran up to the car, grabbed my camera, came back to the Intensive care unit and started taking a few `forensic’ photos of his torn ear, head injury – all through my tearful and blurry eyes! That was one cold hour past midnight back in January 1990. And here I am, on a Summer’s day in June 2018. What’s that got to do with Sophie? Well, the common thread.. is Photography! And she’s very well, energised and happy that her photo’s going viral all over new sites around the world this morning, following our visit to Stonehenge yesterday – in case you were worried for her!
Sophie first attended one of my Woodland Witches & Pagan ceremony- back in Autumn 2017. She had glitter make up on her cheeks and a new agey jacket. But that’s not what caught my attention (well that did catch my eyes). I was asking for volunteers form the attendees to take on a ritual role of the Goddess, and Sophie stepped forward. Now normally only experienced or regular attendees volunteer.. so I was surprised, but she looked every bit like she could carry the beautiful and maiden Goddess Persephone who gets abducted by the Dark Lord Pluto/ Hades and taken to underworld.. So I accepted her offer.. And my friend Aaron took on the role of Hades! The ritual went well, and their roles – symbolic – and directed and coached by me – went well too.
Since then, Sophie has attended many of our woodland ceremonies & socials, hung out with us, gone camping with us to Glastonbury, day trip to Hasting and sea side, and more recently (yesterday) an ver night drive out trip to Summer Solstice at Stonehenge and then Avebury. She’s become a good magical friend of mine.. (and still remains awesomely beautiful like a Goddess!)
For me, Photography is not a hobby..!!
As the opening paragraph will have told you.. `taking photos’ is a serious `interest’ of mine.. capturing real life moments and characters of people on photo – as I do that ..be it my father who had just died, or a sun set, or a Maypole Dance …or a mermaid like Sophie after a ceremony !) Why ? because life is precious, moments are magical and once past ..can never be lived again, and I have insecurities about loosing people that are dear to me. So I snap away.. moment after moment.. trying to hold of to them all, lest I forget! I have done since I was a little boy. (Now am almost a 49 yr old middle-aged man!)
That said, one of my growing gripes / disappointments / irritations in modern times – is that of my creativity being hijacked or worse `stolen’ .
I see moments …character.. beauty .. life..death.. and all inbetween.. and capture it.. Or compose it creatively and artistically. If it’s people – friends – I direct them (be it a video production or a photoshoot). Then I shoot the picture. So it infuriates me, when someone standing next to me – swoops in – without so much as a polite request – and takes the shots that I line up and the people that I direct. This happens a lot now.
On the one hand, I am happy for the person whose photos are being taken. They are being `seen’ and their moment being recognised and captured. But unlike me who honours, respects and uses it to empower people, others often seem to just steal a moment.. and that person’s soul! They don’t seem to give acknowledgement or thanks to the subject at hand. They don’t seem to celebrate them. They don’t seem to offer them anything in return as a kind gesture.
This I realise happens a lot in the cut-throat world of Photography, Journalism, media, movie and celebrity culture we now live in. If someone is in public eye, they are fair game? Is that it? Is that right?
Of course some of my other friends who swoop into copy or steal a shot that I line up or direct ..aren’t all like that. They are part of my world, my friendship groups and my spiritual communities. When they do too much that swoop & shot, I do hit back with a joke.. (or in the case of one friend, I actually did throw a light punch at his stomach ..with a smile on my face! We hugged it out afterwards.. but I needed to make the point, and words were not sinking that message!)
Ever since a Hindu priest threw a bucket of water in my direction at a Temple chariot festival 2 years ago, and that blessed water splashing all over my camera, my equipment has not been its full self. The view screen doesn’t work, and video image stabilizer malfunctions. Currently I don’t have enough finances to buy the next gen DSLR. So I make do with a wounded camera…
Well, half the time, I don’t even carry it.. because that’s not my work! My work is Priesthood, and as a Magical /Pagan events Organiser and Teacher. I can’t organise an event, take care of all the related matters, and support, nurture and empower the people ..attendees.. if am clutching on to a camera. So moments come and go..and others capture it.. and sometimes I take out my mobile phone and catch a part of it. (well, effectively, I conjure the Event and others capture it.. Put it the media way, I make the News and others report it!)
I say I don’t worry about this.. but writing this blog indicates that I do! In so much as if my artistry and creativity and Art directions are being used by other people, they should do the decent and honourable thing- of either paying me a proper fee – especially if they used such a shot and sold it to papers…and that got used by many news sites all over the world!
Sophie was just walking away when I called her to stand by that stone, to put her head on that stone, to not look at camera, but look at the Sun, and to close her eyes. That was my work…capturing a moment of my friend ..to give it back to my friend. But the thief who stole that over my shoulder has sold his shot, and earned some money off my creativity ..and my friend.
Does that seem right to you?
There are two upshots to this whole experience. 1. Sophie is feeling happy that her photos and her rune & glitter make up creativity – yes that’s her own magical creativity and her face ..is seen all over the world. (How long before she gets a modelling contract?! Yeah!) 2. I finally realise the value of my own Artistic talents…and it’s time I put my Photography services forward.
I’ll leave you with the exclusive shot of Sophie (test shoot) as an Antlered Goddess!!
Author Teacher Ritual Magician (and Photographer!)
London Woodland Witches – Outdoor pagan Rituals (meetup)
Quantumligh Photography & Videos by Mani Navasothy (facebook page) –