New Beginnings - Portrait Photography

Photos by me
Words Tasha

I remember the first time shaving my head in 2019. I needed a change. I understood that ‘a real change’ takes time so the only thing immediately accessible to myself at that moment was getting rid of my hair. A friend asked “…Are you OK?!!?”!.. I was and I wasn’t but right then I felt renewed. Reset. Liberated.

I remember stroking my head and being transported into a memory a newborn baby, soothed, comforted by the skin on skin contact I was giving myself. Like the gentle love that parents give their newborn child, delicate but firm holding, loving bodies sharing a connection. There’s something utterly powerful about physical touch.

Hair becomes very much a part of our mammalian visual identity. When it’s not there are we still the person we were before? 🤔

Or do we lose our powers like Sampson in the greek/bible stories?💇🏻‍♀️🙆‍♂️

Or does a greater power lie within?✨

I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals, touch, timelines, connections and what they do for us as individuals, collectives, communities, and tribes. A lot of our own rituals and group celebrations have been lost this year to the pandemic but then a number more have been started.

A Month In India - Travel Photographer Manchester

Travel photography from a month I spent in India. Flying from Manchester my journey began in Mumbai and then continued south to Goa. From there I stopped off in Hampi, Mysore, Kerala, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur and back to Mumbai.

Touchdown in Mumbai

I can vividly remember the taxi ride from the airport, the overwhelming level of activity, the smell of polluted warmth and the incessant sound of vehicle horns. Downtown Colaba was my destination, I’m not going to lie I felt completely out of my depth when my taxi driver turfed me out several streets from my destination, you can plead all you want it seems. It turned out to be only a short walk to my hostel through the crowded narrow markets of Colaba Causeway. 

From the City to the Beach

The next part of our journey meant taking a flight to Goa to spend time on the coast between Palolem and Patnem beach. Right up until the point a taxi driver stole my travel companions wallet outside the airport I’d been sad to leave Mumbai. Our apparent ‘celebrity’ around the city had made asking strangers for their portrait a little easier as we would typically get approached first for a selfie by many of the Indian tourists. I was amazed by the demand from people to have their photo taken with a westerner and on more than one occasion found the experience totally bizarre and overwhelming.

I wasn’t really prepared for the contrast between Mumbai and our destination in Goa, it was really quite peaceful and genuinely relaxing. The tiny quiet bay we were staying in felt like our own altogether. The journey over to Palolem beach from our accommodation was a truly memorable route that took us across paths and rocks until we landed on the beach. We arrived to find a full-scale cricket match going on as the sunset, I loitered for some time waiting to make a catch to no avail. Regrettably, we overindulged that evening in cocktails and beers so the following day was spent gingerly sipping coconut water in a cafe trying to find accommodation that was close to the train station to take us off to Hampi. 

The First Train to Alien Landscapes

After relocating to a much less picturesque part of Goa in order to make our early morning journey to the train station much easier we boarded the first train of our trip. Bound for Hospet our sleeper class carriage was a flurry of activity. People jostled for position and sellers, hawking their wares walked up and down the packed carriages. I’d managed to land the window seat so much of my journey was spent watching the passing countryside, I also caught my first glimpse of a group of India’s 50 or so million monkeys. How it had taken over a week I had no idea. Hampi had been one destination that I was really looking forward too and after a fairly long but straightforward journey from Goa, we arrived at Hospet station with Hampi only a short ride away. Having already experienced the sometimes frightening standard of driving on India’s roads on several taxi/car journeys, oddly there was something about getting into a tuk tuk - a small, noisy, underpowered three wheeled vehicle in most cases with no seatbelts or doors - and setting off into the chaos that brought out the excitable child in me and this journey from Hospet to Hampi was no exception. The landscape steadily began to change as we approached the ancient village of Hampi, with it’s signature granite boulders growing larger and larger as we get nearer. The best single word I can use to describe this UNESCO world heritage site is otherworldy. It’s a boulder, temple and monument strewn landscape that covers over 16 sq miles. The surviving remains of a defeated Hindu kingdom that was once one of wealthiest places on earth. 

Scotland & The Islands (Some Of) - Documentary Photographer Manchester

Documentary photography of a Summer journey around north-west Scotland and the Islands of Skye, Eigg & Arran. I’ve seen so little of Scotland so this was a really eye-opening experience. Our first destination was the Island of Skye. Our route there involved a Loch Lomond pit stop for a quick dip and swim out to the island, narrowly avoiding the passenger ferry of course :) The scenery north of Loch Lomond along the A82 is some the most striking I’ve honestly ever seen. I’ve never been that much of a landscape photographer - I’m still not, but I’m getting better - but this was the start of me stopping the van every quarter of a mile to try my hand, thankfully Scotland’s roads are littered with lay bys for us tourists and our cameras. 

Midges Midges Midges

I hadn’t realised and even if I’d received prior warning nothing would have prepared me for the midges, on Skye in particular too. I learnt that applying repellent after they’ve already got a taste for your flesh doesn’t work and sitting outside whilst midges swarm and land on you is what I would imagine heroin withdrawal might be like. On one midge free day, we managed to walk up to a beautiful tarn from the Glenbrittle campsite with emerald green water and views down onto the coastline of Loch Brittle, plenty more opportunity to hone my landscape photography skills there.

Ancient Rocks and Ancient Games

Other Skye highlights would include a (midge free) sunset walk up to Old Man of Stor and the highland games in Portree. The cooler weather and intermittent rain meant we had the old man to ourselves. There was an eerie silence up amongst the ancient pinnacles of rock and the feeling you might get ambushed. 

Skye’s annual highland games take place on an outcrop of land known as the lump. The setting is honestly like something out of a fantasy film. There’s a circular area of cut grass in the centre and a raised area that encircles nearly all of the central game area where spectators sit & stand. Apparently, people come from all around the globe to watch several international competitors mostly chuck/throw a range of heavy objects across a field, I have to admit it’s pretty entertaining. There were many characters and unusual happenings to photograph here, I even saw famous documentary photographer Martin Parr there with his camera documenting the goings on.

Testing Them Sea Legs

The next stop after Skye was back to the mainland to a village of the west coast called Arisaig where we took a small passenger ferry to the Isle of Eigg. After disregarding my partner’s advice to keep a firm eye on the horizon whilst on the boat and instead reviewing images on my camera, I felt pretty nauseous for the hour long crossing. I perked up a little when a passenger’s dog began to wee whilst wagging it’s tail sending it all over a family of blissfully unaware passengers. 

With a population of around 130 people, Eigg is considerably smaller than Skye and considering its model for sustainability, self-sufficiency and community it’s quite a bit more interesting too. My partner had visited the previous year and befriended Dean one of the locals, like most of the islanders I met Dean was very friendly, really knowledgable and had some of the best stories going. We were without our van so we spent a night in our tent, we got upgraded to a vacant house belonging to a friend of Dean’s who was off the island for our second and third nights stay. Result! The house was in the neighbouring glen of Cleadale. The view from the surrounding hills into the glen were some of the most memorable of the trip. There’s an alluring sense of lawlessness to the Island of Eigg, throw in some beautiful landscape and welcoming locals and you’ve got yourself a winning island combination. I was really reluctant to leave and look forward to returning someday soon. 

Little Scotland

Upon returning to the mainland we set off towards the Isle of Arran this time taking a larger less nauseating ferry. Highlights on Arran had to be a trip up Goat Fell although I nearly didn’t make it up there after running out of energy, I was saved by a couple of dried figs. The ridgeline is really stunning with plenty of rocks to clamber your way along. 


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