Posted by: Admin | June 12, 2013

QUICK – BOOKMARK ME!

Just a quick heads-up – my domain name, http://www.project-50.net, is about to expire, so if you have me bookmarked under that url, please take a moment now to change it to http://www.project5o.wordpress.com (the zero in this url is actually the letter “o”) To be on the safe side, in case I disappear completely (!), please make a note of my other blog, http://www.joblackwell.co.uk as if the worst happens, I will post updates on that site.

Why haven’t I taken steps to renew the url in time? Mainly because I’ve been dithering about how to take the project forward now it is 3 years old, and am considering changing its name. I know, I know – I should have done it before now! And don’t worry – I’m not intending to go away. I have a plan for next year that needs some refining before I start talking about it. And I really do need to optimise the blog properly to reach more people, which means self-hosting etc. Meanwhile, please do make a note of the above urls and thanks for bearing with me! Jo x

Posted by: Admin | June 15, 2013

Humans of New York

I thought you might like to see this huge and rather wonderful photo project by New Yorker, Brandon Stanton, “Humans of New York” which, in his words, aims to capture “New York City, one street portrait at a time.” The format is that he publishes one photograph a day of strangers he encounters in the streets of New York, together with a short commentary.

The scale of the project takes my breath away, and what he produces is fascinating. Tip: Don’t bother with some of the asinine comments posted on some of the images on Facebook (some folk use any excuse to air their prejudices/general ignorance). All of human life is there, sometimes alarming, mostly uplifting. It makes me smile when it pops up daily in Facebook feed, which can’t be a bad thing, can it? 808k Facebook followers of his page seem to agree – enjoy!

https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork

The website can be found here: http://www.humansofnewyork.com

And below, Brandon Stanton expands on his work in a Tedx talk. Fascinating stuff.

Posted by: Admin | June 12, 2013

On Spontaneity

One thing I’ve noticed about my peers is that many of us lose the ability to act on the spur of the moments as we get older. Obviously, sometimes it isn’t possible – we have jobs, commitments, appointments. We have responsibilities and act sensibly. And yet…and yet… am I alone in yearning for the freedom to swerve? To change plans at the last minute, to step outside of the daily routine, to seize the day? I am without doubt a restless soul: a free spirit who chose to anchor herself to home and hearth for the greater good, for better for worse. Nevertheless, I never say “no” if a “yes” is even remotely possible.

Which is how I come to be embarking, with just 48 hours notice, on a road trip to the far North of Scotland. No reason, no agenda, just that a friend messaged me and invited me along. Besides, I have itchy feet. So far, I’ve packed my cameras, but not my clothes.I’ve completed the work I was going to tackle over 5 days in 2 (hence posting this near midnight). I have no idea where I’m actually going.

I have a vague sense that dropping everything on the spur of the moment should take a little more organisation than this. Maybe I’ve forgotten something. Yet I can’t think of anything I could have forgotten that would cause the world to pause. I’m ready to go with the flow – and, for me, it’s a really comfortable place to be!

Jo Blackwell Photography

Riding off into the sunset ;-)

Posted by: Admin | June 1, 2013

Life music

Good morning, good evening – wherever you are, I hope it’s a good day for you! Today I am driving north in a large white van (which Husband of my Heart keeps warning me is “very long”) to help son no 1 move house. We have helpers aged 6, 3 & almost 2 today, so I’m staying over until Tuesday ;-)

So today I’m offering you a little musical treat from Billy Lockett. As you’ll know if you’re a regular, Billy has been staying with us for a little while. Son no 2 has been working with him (spot Dan at the end of the video – in a suit!)

Singer-songwriter, Bill, is so close to “making it” and these self-penned words are becoming very pertinent for him. This song is the single from his new EP, Pathways, which is available to buy on the iTunes store. Enjoy!

Posted by: Admin | May 25, 2013

Turn the other cheek

I am a compulsive keeper of notebooks. “To do” lists, ideas, sketches, doodles, a window into my mind. Sometimes I look through them with a view to throwing them out. Occasionally, I find a poem what I wrote (that’s not bad grammar, btw, that’s Eric and Ernie – reference for British 50 somethings!). This one makes me sad.

I wish you well

If you cut me I will bleed
If you hit me I will bruise
Wounds heal
Bruises fade
But your hate is with you always
*
You will not see me crying
You will not make me hate you
Your damage
Causes pain
I see the despair in your eyes
*
You lack the courage to break free
You fail to rise above your past
My eyes are clear
My heart is open
And I choose to fill it with love
*
JB
Posted by: Admin | May 18, 2013

The Saturday Interview 40 – Caroline

Commercial Photography Northampton“When you reach 50 you know that time is running out. It’s make or break – why on earth would you want to slow down?” asks Caroline when we sit down together. The philosophy of work hard, play hard has always been central in her life, right from when she first started in banking, straight from school.

“My husband worked for the same bank and we took every opportunity, moving around the country as required to make the most of our careers.” Caroline’s career took her to the City where she began to specialise in advising female clients.

“I started a new company with colleagues which was later taken over by a national company.” As soon as she was legally able, Caroline started up again as an independent, forming Anstee & Co in 2012. “It would have been easy to stay with the larger company,” she admits, “but I’m not ready to slow down yet.”

The opportunity to mould and train the next generation is important to Caroline, both within her own business and in her work as a tutor in personal finance at a University. She also revels in the freedom to offer a wide range of services for her clients. How does she do it all and what keeps her motivated?

“The church has been a constant in my life,” she reflects, it keeps me grounded and I like the familiarity. I like to help people and I like to be busy, at work and socially.” She is very clear about what she wants in the future. “I want to earn enough over the next 10 years to be able to fund my projects and give to the causes dear to me.”

I leave in awe of her laser-like focus and in no doubt that with her work ethic and drive Caroline will see everything she sets out to achieve come to fruition.

Business head shots NorthamptonNorthamptonshire business headshots photography

Posted by: Admin | May 11, 2013

Words of Wisdom – Morgan Freeman

TURN OFF THE NEWS.......</p><br /><p>Morgan Freeman's brilliant take on what happened yesterday :</p><br /><p> "You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here's why.</p><br /><p> It's because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed<br /><br /> people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he'll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.</p><br /><p> CNN's article says that if the body count "holds up", this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer's face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer's identity? None that I've seen yet. Because they don't sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you've just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.</p><br /><p> You can help by forgetting you ever read this man's name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news."
TURN OFF THE NEWS
Actor, Morgan Freeman’s take on how US society can counter the scourge of mass shootings (applies in other areas, both geographic and subject matter I think, do you?)

“You want to know why [this continues to happen]. This may sound cynical, but here’s why. It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody. CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

Posted by: Admin | May 4, 2013

Give a little, get a lot

One of the things that really strikes me when interviewing for the book and this blog is the urge we all get when we pass the half century to “give back”. Sometimes it’s obvious how to do so – mentoring a younger colleague, volunteering at a care home – other times it’s hard to know how best to use one’s limited time or resources to fulfil that need and maximise the effect one can have.

I use my camera when I can, and am delighted to be able to support the efforts of two lovely ladies, Sara and Catherine, to fund-raise for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Both have children who suffer from this life-limiting condition and have raised over £30,000 between them to help fund vital research. Last Saturday, they subjected themselves to a public head shaving –  I’ve written more about this on my photography blog and hope that you will take the time to click on over. Maybe even choose to connect with me there too? There will be more images posted in the coming weeks.

Following the very public event, I invited Catherine and Sara to my home studio to be treated to a make-up and photo shoot session, with the aim of creating some beautiful portraits that might help the CF Trust to raise the profile of their work. I think you will agree, they look beautiful sans hair. As Roald Dahl said: “Think beautiful thoughts and they will shine out of your face like sunbeams.” Despite the worry, the sleepless nights and the relentless need to raise funds to support vital research which could potentially save the lives of their children, Sara and Catherine emanate sunbeams. I feel privileged to be able to help in this small way.

Portrait Photography Northamptonshire

The Razor Girls

If you would like to find out more about Cystic Fibrosis and/or make a donation to Sara and Catherine’s fundraiser, please click for their Virgin Money Giving Page

A video of the event can be found on YouTube

Posted by: Admin | April 27, 2013

The Saturday Interview 39 – Carole

Portrait Photography London Carole got in touch because she saw a comment I wrote on a blog by an Evening Standard journalist who was turning 50.

“I was going to contact her,” she wrote, “but then saw your comment and realised it was you I needed to contact as on my ‘life board’ I have the words I want a picture of myself that I love.”

Carole came to me initially as a client, but after reading her letter, I knew I wanted her to be part of this project. You see, Carole is someone who believes in making things happen. She says it’s down to discovering The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which, she explains, “tells you not to think about things will happen, just believe they will.” Personally, I believe that when someone truly believes in the “bounty of the Universe”, they naturally become more receptive to opportunity and take action that creates change. But that’s my personal opinion, and however it “works”, it has certainly worked for Carole!

“I think that maybe there’s a positive side to a mid-life crisis, or whatever happens to you when you hit the “age wall”, but I have become compelled to act like a human sponge and soak up as much of life’s experiences as I can before I take my last breath.”

A self employed IT consultant, Carole is happy in her career and with her friends, but has been less “lucky” in love. But whilst she admits she’d like to meet someone special, she’s certainly not sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring!

“I have ballroom dancing lessons, I sing in a choir (and would like to sing professionally), am learning to play piano, I go to the gym, see my mother in Portugal regularly, go out with my girlfriends…” she also travels extensively and is interested in so many things, we spent a wonderful day together.

I’m glad to say that Carole was happy with the images we made together and I am so proud to have helped her to tick another item off her list. And I look forward to seeing her again as she works her way through her ‘life board’!

Portrait Photographer Northampton

Portrait Photography London

Friends in the City

Posted by: Admin | April 25, 2013

50 Facing 50

50 interviews and portraits of 50 inspiring people. Some have struggled with the concept of turning 50. Most have taken life by the horns and given it a good shake! Be inspired…

“…I love the book!  I have ordered 2 but will get more – great birthday presents for my friends on their 50th!” Caroline

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