The Concept of Expression: Patrick Connolly

Kicking off 2019 with a bang, the next subject I have photographed for the photography series, this photo-set being the first for 2019, is my close friend, Patrick Connolly.

As these photos were taken on New Year’s Eve given I was at a New Year’s Eve Party to ring in 2019, these photos were taken in low-light conditions, and with surprising results, these photos came out better than I expected.

A fraction of some of these photographs were normal headshots, while some of the photographs were off-guard facial expressions Patrick made that he probably wouldn’t necessarily make if this involved him looking directly at the camera. It’s often the off-guard photographs that are the best photos.

I hand-picked three of the photos from this photo-set to upload to Instagram beforehand and they’ve gone down a storm after I changed them to black and white with surprising results!

I’m pleased with how these photos turned out and I’m quite amazed that the low-lighting with the flash on compensated the photos in such a way that they stand out really well.

If there’s any improvements I could make, please let me know as your feedback will really help me to improve on the photo-sets I produce in the future.

Alex Smithson

2018: A Year in Review

2018 has been an incredible year! Despite some ups and downs along the way, this year has been so much better. It’s been, to be honest, one of the most eye-opening years of my life as I’ve faced a lot of challenges, developed a better skill set whilst going from my first job to my third and fourth jobs after quitting self-employment, and then opening up about my own mental health after a lot of courage of speaking openly about it.

Losing one of my close friends also taught me a lot that we should always value and cherish the time we have as it will never come around again and it’s wise to make every second count.

Closing 2018 in style, here is the year in review!

January 2018

1.1.2018 – 2018 kicked off with a bang, and I mentioned I would publish now and then due to the fact I’m working full-time, meaning articles will be published less frequently so I can prioritise my time more on my job over writing and publishing articles.

10.1.2018 – On every magazine cover or newspaper you’ve read, you may notice there’s been the odd airbrushing or two on all of the magazine and newspaper covers of someone famous you know. “The Discomforting Perceptions of Airbrushed Photographs” aimed to get the point over clearly and concisely as an episode of the talk show, Loose Women, aired before this article went out as the Loose Women talked about airbrushing on photographs considering body dysmorphia is becoming worryingly common, considering a vast majority of some people feel insecure about how they look and appear, and that they feel they should fix what makes them insecure when they shouldn’t.

20.1.2018 – Far too often, mental health is often shunned to one side by many of those who believe it doesn’t exist. Some see it as an excuse to make anyone who suffers from mental health feel like they cannot prove their worth because they’re different to everyone else. “Mental Health: Make a Difference” allowed me to lay down on the line my realistic views and I refused to hold back my real emotions and views and I felt so much better to speak up in confidence about it considering mental health is something that’s very close to my heart and that I always support anyone suffering from a mental health condition.

31.1.2018 – Kicking off the first photography article of the year, I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to photograph my close friend, Wesley Baker. With his work being featured in and Croydon, with one of his most notable pieces of artwork being the centrepiece of Croydon Flyover of the hit cartoon, Astro Boy, Wesley’s CDNZine and CDNStore Instagram accounts boom with artistic values and energy, and I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to photograph him. To see the full article, click here.

February 2018

1.2.2018 – February started off with a bang with the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games being just around the corner, meanwhile, February was set to be a very busy and exciting month ahead.

2.2.2018 Justin Timberlake released his first album in five years, Man of the Woods, to the world and with a completely different and unique sound that captured the old-school nostalgia whilst reminding us all of how far he has come since his breakthrough début album, Justified.

19.2.2018 P!NK‘s record: “What About Us” inspired me to write the article with the same song title as I wanted to cast a light on the world and how the whole world has seen for itself the unrest, violence and hatred that’s been talked about on the news, but that it hurts to see that no one can get on.

28.2.2018 – Despite the travel chaos on the 24th February due to a tree that fell on the line, leaving me and some passengers stranded at Sanderstead Station, I enjoyed my trip up to Oxted & Hurst Green and seized the opportunity to photograph Oxted Station and The Oxted Inn.

March 2018

1.3.2018 – March got off to a freezing cold start as the Beast from the East impacted the United Kingdom, with Storm Emma impacting the United Kingdom almost immediately after the first ounce of snowfall.

3.3.2018 – Storm Emma impacted the United Kingdom as the Beast from the East reached its end, but the wintry weather didn’t disappear fast enough, and as such, fell on the day I finished my shift to go on annual leave for a week. “Brrrrrr…It’s a Winter Wonderland!” gave me the opportunity to take a snapshot of the winter weather whilst I waited to get the bus home considering I finished earlier than the original time my shift usually ends as my place of work closed early due to the torrential snowstorm.

8.3.2018 – Following the first photography article I published after the start of 2018, which featured my close friend, Wesley Baker (CDN), I photographed my close friend who I’ve known since secondary school, Samuel Cato.

13.3.2018 – Art and colour are full of beautiful abstracts, but it’s the abstraction of abstract art that makes art unique and interesting. “Beautiful Abstraction.” allowed me to talk in more detail about the vibrancy art brings, as well as the time and effort someone has taken to make that art piece a masterpiece.

17.3.2018 – The United Kingdom woke up to a sudden blanketing of snow and as “Snowfall Saturday” suggests, you can probably tell I didn’t expect to wake up to the snow considering the weather was nice, sunny and warm the day before.

18.3.2018 – On Snowdrop Sunday, the Beast from the East decided to blanket the United Kingdom with more snow and freezing cold temperatures.

19.3.2018 Manic Monday sure made the start of the week manic and full of chaos considering anyone like myself getting into work would be a challenge because the roads were a little icy, while the pavements were more or less clear of the snowfall. Manic Monday, which was a record by The Bangles, written by the late music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, was what inspired me to write this article with the same name.

22.3.2018 – Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st March were wonderful days to visit Oxford Street, as the scenery was absolutely beautiful, and considering that it was nice and sunny, I seized the opportunity to photograph the landscape all of yesterday, but one of the stores that grabbed my interest the most was the Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store.

The smell of the store as I walked in hit me straight away and it was so welcoming, it smelt like Starburst as I walked into the store, and the fact it spanned three floors full of bath bombs, make-up and even skin care products that smelt so nice meant I was able to produce a really good set of photographs.

They even provided me with a free sample of one of their products after they allowed me to dissolve one of their bath bombs in their sink and as a random act of kindness from one of their members of staff who was intrigued by the photos I showed them yesterday, they gave me a free bath bomb, which made my day so much happier. If you missed the photo-set I produced, click on “The Lush Life of Oxford Street!

After producing the photo-set of my visit to Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store, I photographed my close friend, Mikey Andrews, and considering the photo-set of Oxford Street was my best work to date, the photo-set of Mikey Andrews for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” was also my best work to date considering I was able to produce both photo-sets with much less noise in the photos, which is a first in quite some time considering a few of the photo-sets I’ve produced have been noisy and somewhat grainy.

My trip to Oxford Street ended on a perfect note as I bumped into the Olympic Diver, Tom Daley, and the Oscar-Winning Actor, Dustin Lance Black. If you missed the photo-set I produced featuring my close friend, Mikey Andrews, click here.

April 2018

1.4.2018 – As the next few weeks were set to be very busy, this meant I wouldn’t publish as much due to work, but that I would try to find the time now and then over the course of April to see if I could publish some articles when the free time becomes available.

On the same day, I officially published a new landing page for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” as I wanted to make sure the photography series gets its own designated page.

5.4.2018 – After much hype, anticipation, rumours and a social media storm that sparked frenzy about the iconic roast master following the success of Activision’s reboot of the bestselling original Crash Bandicoot trilogy with Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro the Dragon finally marked his comeback in Spyro Reignited Trilogy, which, just like the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, comes with fully remastered versions of all three of the original Spyro games originally produced by Insomniac Games.

6.4.2018 – Since the start of 2018, the rise in knife crime has worsened, as it was revealed that more than 50 lives were lost, with most of the stabbings taking place in the space of the week commencing Monday 2nd April 2018.

14.4.2018 – It was an emotional rollercoaster, and I was away for a whole week as I paid my respects to a close friend of mine of two years who passed away on the 6th April. I chose to not publish anything for a week as I needed to come to terms with losing my close friend suddenly, but also so that I could process the news better. I paid tribute to my close friend by publishing a tribute that featured a photograph I produced of the moon with inspiration from Bruno Mars‘ ballad, Talking to the Moon.

15.4.2018 – Societies nowadays, especially now, expect you to suppress your real emotions to build an image of emotions that they expect of you. In this case, you put on a face where you look happy to everyone else, and that you are made to look like you can make it alone, but deep down, you feel broken, torn up inside, and you feel the true pain where you have been forced to suppress your real emotions because societies want you to look strong, when in reality, you are strong, but they feel the need to nitpick and make you feel like you’re weak for showing the real emotions you were born with.

21.4.2018 – Whilst on my way to work, I couldn’t resist seizing the opportunity to photograph mother nature in her finest form.

29.4.2018 – A week before, the United Kingdom baked in hot and muggy weather, with temperatures soaring to nearly 30°c.

May 2018

1.5.2018 – May was set to be a much busier month considering I would be working and completing work-related documents, which meant I wouldn’t be able to use some of the free time to publish articles, apart from the fact I would be able to publish articles here and there when I could find some of the free time.

4.5.2018 – We had the lovely sunny weather and I marked the occasion with inspiration from Star Wars, as I photographed Mother Nature in her most wonderful form on the way to work.

It sure was a wonderful day, as Mother Nature was Blushing Pink in the wonderful, sunny Spring weather.

6.5.2018 – The weather continued to be wonderful as ever as Mother Nature showed off the Gracious Greenery of Spring, which gave me an opportunity to photograph the natural landscapes whilst I was on my way to work and on the way home from work.

8.5.2018 – I made the most of the Bank Holiday with the wonderful weather, as I seized the opportunity to photograph some more plants and flowers whilst I was on the way to see Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1, whilst experimenting with the exposure of the photographs I produced.

17.5.2018 – Mental Health Awareness Week gave me the chance to urge all of you to come together to support everyone and to also be in your friend’s corner.

19.5.2018 – Nature was certainly Tickled Pink with the wonderful, yet breezy and sunny weather.

This day was special considering Prince Harry & Meghan Markle got married at Windsor Castle, meanwhile, Mother Nature was wonderful to let this day be special by going all out with the sunny weather and the beautiful royal purple flowers.

20.5.2018 – Continuing the Royal Wedding Celebration, Mother Nature let Royalty lay her red carpet of flowers to celebrate Meghan & Harry on their royal marriage.

She also made sure everything was a Silky Spring for this occasion considering I discovered a silky-looking plant that looked like a four-leaf clover symbolising luck in disguise.

Nature was bliss, however, as the Royal Weekend ended on a high and positive note, as she beamed vibrant colours, not to mention that she created a blissful atmosphere that was tranquil.

21.5.2018 – Mother Nature blossomed in Peaceful Purple during the remarkable and peaceful Royal Weekend.

The lightning was so electrifying on this gloomy Spring day that it almost knocked my internet out, as it did try to rain, with the sudden bolt of lightning explaining why my internet connection was almost knocked out.

22.5.2018 – Nature blossomed beautifully in her Mellow Yellow form and in all her glory.

24.5.2018 – Mother Nature glistened green, and it was safe to say she was making the most of the sunny weather as she blossomed and beamed with bursts of greenery.

She also managed to burst with Vivid Vibrancy, as there was a breeze in the air to make the mood of Spring feel like home.

Not only that, but she presented a Bokeh of Flowers, which proved to be a sight for sore eyes…literally!

Mother Nature even went as far as to bare her soul by creating a relaxing atmosphere that even settled me, with a hint of the breeze to set the mood to be just right.

25.5.2018 – The weather was on and off when I was on my way to work, but the weather didn’t stop Mother Nature from blossoming her beautiful side as she already blossomed beauty, with an elegance about her that was exquisite and definitive.

26.5.2018 – It was a Tropical Spring, as it was mostly sunny and warm, with a tropical feeling that lingered in the air.

There was a Sultry Summer spell before the big lightning storm that was expected to impact the United Kingdom, which was safe to say for Mother Nature, as she was ready to make us aware that a huge storm was coming!

It was shocking, as the United Kingdom did, in fact, witness a massive thunderstorm with nothing but torrential downpours after a couple of weeks of hot, humid and muggy weather, but it proved Mother Nature was ready to let rip one heck of a powerful, yet tropical storm.

27.5.2018 – Mother Nature was Beautifully Radiant, as a photo I took on Friday 18th May proved why she was so vibrant and beautiful.

28.5.2018 – Despite the ‘Mother of All Thunderstorms’ battering the United Kingdom, it was safe to say that the Sweltering Sunny Spell of hot Summer weather officially arrived.

31.5.2018 – The model I photographed for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression”, on Monday 28th May 2018, was my close friend, Christian Aranda Montilva, as I continue to aim to raise awareness for mental health.

June 2018

1.6.2018 – June was set to be a whole lot busier considering I would be doing two early morning shifts, with my annual leave holiday coming up at the end of the month.

It certainly was a joyful start to June, as the weather was wonderful despite the start of the month being hot and humid.

It was rare to find a beautiful begonia plant during the Summer season, as it’s a plant I hardly see around nowadays.

2.6.2018 – There was a dazzling daisy and a generous geranium around, but it was good to see nature in full bloom.

3.6.2018 – A beautiful and sunkissed sunrise lit up the rest of the day, while the fragments of Summer began to shine through, and what topped it all off was the valley of the lilies.

5.6.2018 – Calmer Camellia! They come and go and they give off a calm and relaxing feeling, putting your mind at ease, but holy hollyhock! It was warm.

6.6.2018 – Mother Nature celebrated 5 remarkable years as I started this website on the 6th June 2013, and I remember publishing my first ever amount of photography work during the Summer season, with the photography work being produced on the then Samsung ST200F Camera I used to use.

What marked the occasion on a special note was when I spotted a cheeky Cherokee plant that had blossomed so early just days prior to the 5-Year Anniversary of Mother Nature. Ending the celebration on a high note, Mother Nature put her buttercup in the air to show the world some love, whilst showing the same love back.

7.6.2018 – There was a precious primrose in sight, but because it’s a plant that I’ve not seen much of, I was fascinated as to whether it was a rare plant. The weather, however, was wonderful, but it was good to make the most of the warm weather, especially considering the sun was out.

8.6.2018 – I saw red as the rose was a sight for sore eyes!

10.6.2018 – It was a happy halcyon and serene summer for the daisies I found, but the dainty dandelion stood out in its full glory for the warm and sunny weather. I saw an adorable azalea plant which, to me, was quite rare to see it blossom so early in the morning when there was no one out with everywhere being so quiet and peaceful. There were leaves of green as I was on my way home from work following the last early morning shift I completed ahead of going on annual leave.

12.6.2018 – Mother Nature certainly had a spindled heart, and her spindled heart was worth witnessing!

13.6.2018 – Mother Nature blossomed her Magic Mallow!

15.6.2018 – A luxurious lily blossomed so beautifully!

16.6.2018 – I marked a milestone as I celebrated turning 20 years old, which was surreal and was also perfect timing considering I was officially on annual leave for two weeks.

Whilst on the way home from a friend’s house after a perfect day out, oh boy! Sweet Carolina sure did blossom on such a perfect day!

18.6.2018 – Mother Nature had a case of the Hebe Jebes!

19.6.2018 – Following a visit to Mayfield Lavender Farm, the next model I photographed for my mental health-inspired photography series was my close friend, Hamid Haq.

21.6.2018 – The Summer Solstice officially arrived! The weather was beautiful and breezy!

22.6.2018 – Following my visit to Mayfield Lavender Farm on Sunday 17th June 2018, the next model I picked to photograph for my photography series was my close friend, Akash DeSilva.

27.6.2018 – The ligustrum plant sure was lively!

28.6.2018 – There was a wild, wild rose in sight, meanwhile, there was a bush of lovely lavender!

29.6.2018 – There was a mild milkweed in sight which allowed Mother Nature to blossom her true colours!

Also, coming up to exactly one year to the day the best-selling trilogy was released, the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, which featured two additional levels, Stormy Ascent (previously unfinished and unreleased on the original PlayStation) and Future Tense (drawing inspiration from the cut ‘Waterfall Level’ that never made it into the final release of the original Crash Bandicoot from the original Crash PS1 Trilogy), was re-released on all platforms (XBOX One, Nintendo Switch and Steam).

July 2018

1.7.2018 – Things were set to get a lot busier considering I would be back at work following two weeks of annual leave, with the weather expecting to be hotter with mild rain and potential thunderstorms.

I also marked the occasion by changing Mother Nature’s theme from Karuna to Lovecraft, whilst also publishing a reworked and improved version of the cube so that the logo and website would stay true to nature’s roots that maintain her beautiful and vibrant personality.

2.7.2018 – Almost one year after we lost the late TV legend, Bruce Forsyth, who passed away on the 18th August 2017, I paid tribute by saying Nice to See You, To See You, Spruce!

3.7.2018 – The UK beamed in a hot, humid and surprising shade of scarlet as a result of the extreme heatwave, meanwhile, it was good to Hydrate Your Hydrangeas whilst basking in the hot and humid sunny Summer weather.

6.7.2018 – The Hypericum plant was most definitely hyperactive, though even nature was mystified by the presence of the Mysterious Mossrose!

7.7.2018 – Imagine a World of Lavender putting your mind at ease.

8.7.2018 – Oklahoma turned orange as the Oklahoma plant proved to be the case whilst the UK baked in the extreme heatwave, meanwhile, there was a Happy Hazelnut that blossomed thanks to the hot weather.

9.7.2018 – The weather was absolutely hot and humid. Talk about a Sultry Summer but the hot weather certainly took the biscuit! However, there was a beautiful silhouette of sunshine which filled the air with peace, but Venus was serious about when she said she would blossom.

13.7.2018 – Nature was feeling rosy!

15.7.2018 – Mother Nature was at her Finest! I even witnessed her True Grit!

16.7.2018 – The breeze of Summer finally beckoned!

18.7.2018 – Mother Nature was at the Longan Short of It!

22.7.2018 – I witnessed a Spirea spiralling in Mother Nature’s roots, though it felt so good to have witnessed Mother Nature’s Summer Roots! She did surprise us with her Magical Marigold, so that was a bonus!

23.7.2018 – The UK witnessed the hottest day of 2018, and it was like it was Mediterranean Monday as I defied the weather warnings to photograph Mother Nature at her most spiritual whilst I was on the way home from work.

24.7.2018 – The extreme heatwave of Summer 2018 was suntastic, despite a lot of greenery being scorched due to the intensely sultry weather.

25.7.2018 – It felt so good to soak in the Rays of Summer Sunshine, despite the weather being intensely humid and sultry.

28.7.2018 – The weather for Friday 24th July was absolutely frantic, not to mention being boiling hot! She finally unleashed her voluptuous violet and made it rain for the UK with an almighty bang!

August 2018

1.8.2018 – The time sure flew much faster this year, making it impossible to keep up with the element of time nowadays. As the extreme heatwave was expected to last until the end of August, it was safe to say the UK would expect to have some potential thunderstorms in sight, though the sunscreen would still be in use until the Autumnal weather would arrive.

2.8.2018 – Nature released her droplets of goodness in a bid to keep you going and hydrated even during the best and worst of heatwaves.

3.8.2018 – Mother Nature was bleeding crimson because of the extreme heatwave.

10.8.2018 – Forking Hell! It sure was a forking thunderbolt! What a forking liberty!

15.8.2018 – After a successful which saw the infamous blue hedgehog return to Green Hill Zone on the 15th August 2017, Sonic Mania got the physical release treatment with the definitive retail release, Sonic Mania Plus.

16.8.2018 – The Queen of Pop, Madonna, celebrated an iconic landmark as she turned 60, but following the birthday celebrations, the world mourned the passing of the undisputed and legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin was and always will be a Natural Woman who defined what it means to be the Queen of Soul.

19.8.2018 – I captured nature in the Midst of Summer in style by using the app, A Color Story, to bring out the colour in the photo and to also make the photo pop.

30.8.2018 – Monday 27th August was rippling pink and it was quite the vibrant day indeed.

September 2018

1.9.2018 – The time flew much faster this year than I initially anticipated, but as we head into Autumn, the autumn/winter jackets would be coming out as soon as the temperatures start to dip below 10°.

5.9.2018 – Ahead of the Autumnal cold weather, I was lucky to witness Nature’s Glow!

10.9.2018 – I was lucky to witness Nature’s Early Autumnal Blossom, meanwhile, the sky was the limit for London bearing in mind I was on a long journey as it was a wonderful sight to see that London looked so peaceful first thing in the morning, though I couldn’t resist capturing a photograph of The Shard By Dusk whilst I waited for my last train to arrive to get me home.

11.9.2018 –  Mother Nature showed off her Autumnal Grittiness, whilst the whole of the United Kingdom stood in solidarity on the day that changed the entire world forever.

14.9.2018 – London is always beautiful, and the weather was enough proof that London was in high spirits.

16.9.2018 – The next model I picked to photograph for my photography series was my close friend, Thomas Rodrigues. The photo-set was very brief as I aimed to capture some hidden emotions that I felt were and were not obvious at first but would be on the second glance.

17.9.2018 – Following Apple’s “Gather Round” event on Wednesday 12th September, iOS 12, along with watchOS 5, were finally released after a few months of extensive beta testing.

23.9.2018 – Marking the end of the Summer weather, Mother Nature embraced The Last Glow of Summer with her Autumnal Bloomers!

October 2018

1.10.2018 – I found it hard to believe that we were almost at the end of this year, though time flies when you’re working hard and having fun.

2.10.2018 – The Autumnal Glow of Nature is precious and beautiful!

3.10.2018 – As the flurry of falling leaves continued to fall until the start of Winter, it was no surprise Autumn would come and go quicker than we would imagine.

4.10.2018 – After attending a workshop for my apprenticeship, I was stranded at London’s Charing Cross!

5.10.2018 – There was a blushing rose which proved nature is expressive and would always show her true colours!

6.10.2018 – I witnessed Aztec Marigold at its Finest!

7.10.2018 – As we were set to expect more gloomy days ahead with the weather constantly changing as we head towards the Winter Season, the sense of a gloomy day starts the gloomy days of cloudy weather with chances of heavy rain with colder weather on the way.

8.10.2018 – Nature embraced her purple heart, which is good considering it was nice and sunny.

9.10.2018 – It was a surprise to see nature was blooming late! Still, it was better late than never.

10.10.2018 – It was so good to witness the autumnal sun whilst mother nature made the most of keeping the United Kingdom warm.

As it was World Mental Health Day, I advised you all that you should always be in your friends and family’s corners and support everyone who is suffering from mental health.

The heights of Shoreditch were absolutely beautiful, especially with what would be the last of the warm weather as the Autumn Season goes at full speed into Winter!

11.10.2018 – It was such a beautiful and sunny day in Shoreditch and it felt so good to make the most of the warm weather whilst it lasted!

15.10.2018 – It was a misty start to the week following the weekend’s thunderstorms but it was hard to think it’s nearly Winter and Autumn had only just begun!

20.10.2018 – After almost a year of working full-time, I officially secured another full-time job and the new job was up in Shoreditch, Central London!

26.10.2018 – It felt so good to start my new job as a Self-Employed Sales & Customer Service Brand Ambassador and I couldn’t resist seizing the opportunity to photograph the bright and busy landscape of Shoreditch.

To celebrate a perfect first day in the new job, Mother Nature embraced the world with her Autumnal Raindrops!

27.10.2018 – The Dusty Millers were in full swing with Autumn as Mother Nature blossomed her true colours ahead of the Winter Season as we head towards the end of 2018.

28.10.2018 – Whilst in Shoreditch on my first day in my new job, I couldn’t resist seizing the opportunity to photograph one of the many artistic murals as I walked out of the station.

November 2018

1.11.2018 – November kicked off with an almighty bang with firework night being just around the corner, and with the thick coats, scarves and gloves coming out for Autumn, Autumn was in full swing as we headed towards Winter and towards the end of the year.

2.11.2018 – The Shard is a beautiful building at night, especially from London Bridge Train Station.

3.11.2018 – It was chilly in Chiswick but it was a beautiful sight to behold, especially as the sun set over the landscape!

6.11.2018 – Whilst on the way to Bermondsey, I couldn’t resist capturing Shoreditch High Street at its finest!

13.11.2018 – The landscape around Essex was absolutely exquisite!

26.11.2018 – If you ever go to Shoreditch and it’s busy and full of traffic, get your “A” game on!

27.11.2018 – Imagine the chances of seeing love in a lot of murals! Both murals inspired around PopEye captured that heartwarming feeling!

28.11.2018 – As Christmas is a time to celebrate, Centrale Croydon wished you all a Happy Christmas just in time for the festive season!

December 2018

1.12.2018 – To celebrate the start of December, Mother Nature got a small makeover just in time for the festive season!

10.12.2018 – The next subject I photographed for my photography series, The Concept of Expression, was my close friend, Oriane Rose Beech.

13.12.2018 – Almost two weeks after leaving my full-time self-employed job, I secured myself two part-time jobs midway through the previous week.

15.12.2018 – After 20 years, a lot of hype and anticipation, our favourite purple blaze runner, Spyro the Dragon, finally returned in the remastered Spyro Reignited Trilogy that consisted of full remakes of the first three games, Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage (EU Version: Gateway to Glimmer) and Spyro: Year of the Dragon.

18.12.2018 – In time for the 20th Anniversary, following Activision Blizzard’s successful remasters of the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot officially returns to the racing track in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled on the 21st June 2019.

20.12.2018 – After a long time of writing about something personal to me, I finally opened up about my mental health as I suffer from anxiety and mild depression.

It took a lot of courage, but opening up about how I really feel lifted a weight off my shoulders that I carried for so long and I’m so much more open with everyone about mental health as it’s something close to my heart.

24.12.2018 – The design of Ravensbourne University gave off a psychedelic approach!

25.12.2018 – Wishing you all a Happy Christmas!

29.12.2018 – The world lost a comedy giant and legend, as Dame June Whitfield sadly passed away on the 28th December 2018. Remembering an Absolutely Fabulous actress full of humour in Last of the Summer Wine and an absolute joy to watch on TV growing up.

30.12.2018 – HMV holds a special place in my heart as their stores always were a part of my childhood, and even when advancing into adulthood, I couldn’t help but immerse myself in the music every time I walked into their stores.

What a year! It’s been one heck of a year, despite the ups and downs but it’s been much better than the last. I’ve got a lot of new content coming in the new year and I’ll be photographing more models in the new year for the photography series so keep your eyes peeled! I’ve got a lot of things planned for 2019 so watch this space!

Until then, 2018 officially closes in style and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and hope 2019 brings you joy, happiness and everything positive you could possibly ask for.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: December 2018

What a year it has been! There have been ups and downs over the course of 2018 but it’s been one heck of a good year!

For one last time, I will be taking a quick look back at the articles published over the course of December.

1.12.2018 – To celebrate the start of December, Mother Nature got a small makeover just in time for the festive season!

10.12.2018 – The next subject I photographed for my photography series, The Concept of Expression, was my close friend, Oriane Rose Beech.

13.12.2018 – Almost two weeks after leaving my full-time self-employed job, I secured myself two part-time jobs midway through the previous week.

15.12.2018 – After 20 years, a lot of hype and anticipation, our favourite purple blaze runner, Spyro the Dragon, finally returned in the remastered Spyro Reignited Trilogy that consisted of full remakes of the first three games, Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage (EU Version: Gateway to Glimmer) and Spyro: Year of the Dragon.

18.12.2018 – In time for the 20th Anniversary, following Activision Blizzard’s successful remasters of the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot officially returns to the racing track in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled on the 21st June 2019.

20.12.2018 – After a long time of writing about something personal to me, I finally opened up about my mental health as I suffer from anxiety and mild depression.

It took a lot of courage, but opening up about how I really feel lifted a weight off my shoulders that I carried for so long and I’m so much more open with everyone about mental health as it’s something close to my heart.

24.12.2018 – The design of Ravensbourne University gave off a psychedelic approach!

25.12.2018 – Wishing you all a Happy Christmas!

30.12.2018 – HMV holds a special place in my heart as their stores always were a part of my childhood, and even when advancing into adulthood, I couldn’t help but immerse myself in the music every time I walked into their stores.

This monthly roundup brings 2018 to a remarkable close. Please check back soon for 2018: A Year in Review.

Thank you for such a wonderful year!

Alex Smithson

ANXIETY

It is a mental health condition which, like every mental health condition, is often brushed under the carpet and ignored.

If you’re reading this, imagine feeling like you’re carrying the whole world on your shoulders one day as opposed to the next.

Some days, you may feel happy and in a good mood. Other days, you’ll feel anxious, unhappy and depressed.

I raise awareness for mental health as it is close to my heart, and I aim to help everyone going through a similar experience.

I was officially diagnosed with anxiety on the 9th June 2017 after going through a horrific experience at college in 2016 and then losing a friend of mine a few months later, among other personal reasons closer to home.

By suppressing the real emotions I had at the time, I felt more anxious and almost disconnected myself from reality.

Although I have my family and friends who are the best support networks whom I can turn to for support, I felt lost and alone in myself.

I held back my real emotions for so long that it took for me to finally break down and come to terms with loss and grief.

Mentally, I was at ease once I opened up and showed real emotion as it was a release of emotions I once suppressed.

Even now, my mental health sometimes makes me feel happy on some days, but other days, I might feel down even when I don’t want to.

In my first job which I quit after securing myself the self-employed job I left right at the end of November, the stress of the first job I was in got to a stage where I eventually realised that my mental health was suffering and I needed to do something about it.

I started looking around for jobs around the middle of May because the strain of working in a job in retail took its toll on my mental wellbeing and I was affected by the job on an emotional level.

Even the pressure of working in a full-time self-employed job got too much, because, at times, I felt down as I knew I made as best of an effort as I gave being self-employed a try and it didn’t work out.

The support network in my second job was wonderful as everyone supported me as I was honest and open about my mental health.

I would never want to suppress my mental health and then have my mental health affect me eventually.

Although I’m now in a good place where I’m in two part-time jobs that provide me all the support I need, both emotionally and financially, I still, at times, feel down from the way my first job made me feel both emotionally and mentally.

I’m not going to sugarcoat how I really feel. Anxiety with mild bouts of depression is horrible. It’s like carrying the whole world on your shoulders and you feel like the whole world is weighing you down and leaving you unable to speak up.

There have actually been occasions where I have had panic attacks and it’s horrible. Once you’ve had a panic attack, you’ll never forget it.

It takes courage to open up and say how you really feel, and to be honest, my experience of living with anxiety and mild depression hasn’t been all that great given I have the odd down day now and then, but it gives me comfort to accept that even though I’m not okay at times, I know I’m not alone and I can speak openly more about how I really feel.

It’s taken a lot of courage for me to open up and be entirely honest with you all about my anxiety and mild depression and it feels like a weight has lifted now I’ve opened up.

If you are someone or you know someone who is suffering from mental health, please tell me your experiences with mental health as I want to hear your experiences and how opening up about how you really feel changed your perspective on life and how you feel now you’ve opened up about your mental health.

Again, it feels like a weight has now been lifted off my shoulders now I’ve opened up and been honest about my mental health and to be honest, I want this to encourage positive change and I want this to give you the courage to open up about your mental health like it did for me.

Alex Smithson

I Secured Myself Two Part-Time Jobs!

Almost two weeks after I left my full-time self employed job, I’m pleased to say that I secured myself two part-time jobs midway through last week.

One is a customer assistant job which I’m excited to start on following the induction which went well yesterday and on Saturday, while the other part-time job allows me to book shifts, which is ideal for the days I have off work, but it means I’ll be able to use some more free time to do my thing and keep busy at what I want to do in my free time.

I applied to over 10 jobs and got two part-time jobs. The customer assistant position is local to where I live which is a bonus and I get a few more days off to spend more quality time at home and also to go out and about and make use of the free time.

The other position isn’t local but surrounds the London areas and it means I can earn additional income. I’m so excited about both positions and cannot wait to start them both.

This also means I may be able to publish a bit more than I used to which is a bonus, though that can depend on whether I become busy or not.

I wanted to let you all know of the good news as soon as I could.

Alex Smithson

Welcome to December!

Welcome to December! It’s hard to believe it’s the last 4 weeks of the year and the time has flown! I hadn’t anticipated for the time to fly so fast, but it’s been a whirlwind of a year.

As 2018 closes its doors for good at the end of the month, it’s hardly surprising that this year has been the busiest year on record.

Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing to apply for more jobs, but I will be doing the best I can to try and get some articles / photo moments / reviews in if I can, but I hope you all wrap up warm over the next few weeks and enjoy the Christmas festive season now it’s finally here!

Mother Nature gets a small makeover just in time for the festive season! 

Also, today is World AIDS Day, so if you are someone or know someone who is going through the life-threatening disease, please make sure to raise awareness and make a positive difference for anyone who may be HIV+, as it’s time the world made a difference. Know Your Status!

Until then, Welcome to December!

Alex Smithson

2017: A Year in Review

What a year it has been! It only felt like it was yesterday we started this year and now we are right at the very end of 2017. It’s been a fantastic year considering that so much good has happened, but this year has been an emotional rollercoaster in itself considering we lost quite a lot of famous celebrities this year, but also because of the terrorist attacks that took place over the course of this year. To all the loved ones who lost celebrities this year, including the loved ones of those who were killed in the terrorist attacks over the course of this year, always know I support you even when times get tough, but always know you have all the rights in the world to open up and show real emotions. It will help you get all the support you need and know that you will always have the best support network behind you.

To close 2017 on a high note, it’s now time to draw the final curtain on 2017 by taking a look back on the year in review.

January 2017

1.1.2017 – Kicking off 2017 with a bang, I welcomed you all to January on Mother Nature. As 2017 officially opened its doors and began with high spirits, I mentioned that 2017 will be a year of looking forward to the future and not back. As I finally decided to break the tradition with Spotify, I decided to do away with “The Mix of…” playlist and replace it with “Alex’s Mix” as I was getting bored of constantly replacing playlists every year, and I mentioned that “Alex’s Mix” would remain a permanent fixture on this website from this day onwards.

10.1.2017 – As it was exactly one year to the day since the Thin White DukeDavid Bowie, passed away at the age of 69 from liver cancer, I had made sure to pay my full respects to the Starman by drawing David Bowie, also because the 8th January 2017 would have marked his 70th birthday. Blackstar, which was David Bowie’s 25th and last ever studio album, which was released on his 69th birthday, was classed as “…a parting gift,” to his fans.

18.1.2017 – As I wanted to kick 2017 off with a bang, I decided to revisit the photographic collection I took on the 15th December 2016 by publishing a more up-to-date collection titled: “CROYDON / REVISITED”, which would revisit Croydon with more of a positive approach, given that there was some lovely weather in my first few weeks back at Croydon College.

On the same day I published this photography article that revisited Croydon, I published another photography collection, titled: “NIGHTLIFE IN BECKENHAM”, which followed my close friend’s birthday party the week before. I mentioned that Nightlife in Beckenham was absolutely tranquil and so peaceful, and the quietness of Beckenham gave me goosebumps as it was pin-drop silent, even though it is usually busy during the daylight hours. I kept in mind there were some blind spots in and around Beckenham so I did make sure to keep myself aware of everything around me so that I could make sure that I was safe.

24.1.2017 – Mental Health is not a laughing matter, especially considering that the negative stigma is attached to anyone who suffers from Mental Health, but when social media gets involved, it does everything to exploit mental health in such a negative way that you can’t help but feel disgusted at the level of negativity that makes your blood boil. I worked with the famous actor, Oli Regan, on this article as I wanted to raise awareness and join forces with him to end the negative stigma against Mental Health, and I also mentioned in this article that I had set up a page on Mother Nature called: “Mental Health Organisations“, given that I wanted to do my bit to help end the stigma against Mental Health, even though I don’t suffer from Mental Health myself. I published this article as a way of highlighting the negative stigma against Mental Health and that I wanted to help end the stigma, given that I previously worked with Oli Regan on the article: “Are Autism & Mental Health Overlooked? (Parental Guidance is Advised)”.

27.1.2017 – As part of my Self-Directed Project, I travelled to Kelsey Park to snap a collection of photographs given that my Self-Directed Project focuses around Nature. For this Self-Directed Project, I researched 5 different nature photographers; Ansel Adams, David Muench, John Shaw, Art Wolfe & Joel Sartore. As it was three years since I last visited Kelsey Park, I wanted to make sure to showcase how much my photography skills had improved over the course of time. This photography collection was created on the 24th January 2017 and published on this day (to reduce confusion).

29.1.2017 – As I joined forces with more than a million people who signed the petition to block Donald Trump’s State Visit to the United Kingdom, I published a small article with the link to the petition. I also published this article as I highlighted that I am entitled to a freedom of speech and also my own human rights, given that Equality & Diversity always matter in this world, and that all women are entitled to the same type of freedom as men and that they shouldn’t be controlled, shouldn’t be forced and shouldn’t be objectified just for being themselves. I also mentioned that if all of us men can have freedom, then all women can have the same freedom as all of us men.

February 2017

1.2.2017 – As this month was set to be just as busy as January, I welcomed all of you to February on Mother Nature. I mentioned that this month would be a lot busier considering I had a Maths mock exam just around the corner, but also because I would be making sure to get out more and make use of the free time I have on my days off to photograph nature-based places for my Self-Directed Curiosity Project.

Also, in a surprise announcement, Beyoncé announced to the world that she was pregnant with twins. Her last pregnancy came in 2011 when she was pregnant with her first child, Blue Ivy Carter, who she gave birth to on the 7th January 2012.

2.2.2017 – As the hashtag, #TIMETOTALK, was officially trending on Twitter, Oli Regan asked me to write this article as this day was Time to Talk Day, in which anyone suffering from Mental Health can speak up about their Mental Health, as well as to how they feel the negative stigma affects and negatively impacts them and anyone else suffering from any kind of Mental Health condition. Oli Regan also appeared live on BBC Two at 9:30 AM and again at 10:30 AM on the Victoria Derbyshire Show. He would also go on to talk about Mental Health on BBC Newsbeat at 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM, including how suffering from Mental Health affected him over the course of his life.

3.2.2017 – Continuing on from my first set of photographs that I took previously at Kelsey Park, I headed to Dulwich Park on the 31st January 2017 to photograph the scenery and also some ducks and birds. I saw some Mallards and Parakeets whilst I was there, including some squirrels, though to tell you the truth, some of the squirrels I came across looked bigger than their usual size, so I did make sure to walk very slowly to photograph them and I was pleased with the end result that I achieved from this photographic collection.

5.2.2017 – Following on from my visit to Dulwich Park, I decided to visit Beddington Park on the 1st February 2017 to photograph some of the scenery, and I also photographed some of the gravestones, given the names on some or most of the gravestones consisted of people who may have died a few years earlier, including those that may have died up to more than 100 years ago.

7.2.2017 – As I wanted to set the tone of this article, I recommended Madonna’s True Blue record to soothe the soul, as this article was titled as Relaxation. I mentioned that after a relaxing day, despite doing the mock exam for GCSE Maths the day before, I mentioned that I wasn’t stressed, which was a first for me in a long time considering that I’ve been so focused on the coursework lately.

17.2.2017 – Just a few months after we all witnessed the marsupial make his comeback, it was officially announced that Crash Bandicoot would be coming back to PlayStation on the 30th June. I mentioned I would be pre-ordering the Crash Bandicoot N⋅Sane Trilogy, and the release date of the trilogy comes exactly two weeks after I mark my 19th birthday.

19.2.2017 – As it was almost a year since we lost the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, who passed away on the 21st April 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the iconic music legend by drawing for this sixth artistic interpretation. This drawing was the first Artistic Interpretation for 2017 and I wanted to make sure that Prince Rogers Nelson would be the first musician I would draw for 2017.

24.2.2017 – After months of rumours and speculation, Cheryl officially announced she was pregnant! This news came at the perfect time and it was only a few weeks before that Beyoncé announced her pregnancy with twins to the world. February was most certainly shaping up to be a fun-filled and heartwarming month.

25.2.2017 – Following hot on the heels of my previous Artistic Interpretation which was based on the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, I worked and completed my 7th Artistic Interpretation which focused on the Destiny’s Child musician and solo hit-maker, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

Also on this day, the world lost a face of the film world. Bill Paxton, best known for appearing in Apollo 13, Titanic & Twister, sadly passed away at the age of 61 after complications following surgery.

March 2017

1.3.2017 – Welcoming all of you to March on Mother Nature, I mentioned that I decided to go retro with the article image and did it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017(now officially titled ‘Sonic Forces’) would be released over the next few months. I also mentioned that the next few weeks would be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project was just around the corner.

3.3.2017 –  After a three-year break from music, and after his hotly anticipated second studio album became the most streamed album on Spotify and other music services, Ed Sheeran is back with his third studio album, ÷. Shape of You really sets the tone of his latest album, because it has a unique vibe that really sets the mood you want to experience when listening to this album. I mentioned that ÷ is the first ever vinyl record I have owned and that I felt so honoured to go retro for the first time and it was an absolute honour to review Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Deluxe) album.

8.3.2017 – As this day marked International Women’s Day, I wanted to make sure all women across the world get to celebrate being the women they are and to always be themselves. I also mentioned that all women deserve equality, diversity, respect, compassion, care and love regardless of skin colour, sexuality, gender, culture, religion and place of origin and that it’s right for all of us, including myself to celebrate all women as part of International Women’s Day.

15.3.2017 –  Let’s face it. We’ve all seen for ourselves the negative stigma that has become attached to Mental Health. The negative stigma has all too often put a strain on all governments and organisations, with Mental Health sufferers having to experience the harsh reality that they may end up not being allowed to access the help, support and treatment they need. Writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my anxiety, and although I am not officially diagnosed, I do suffer from Anxiety, and writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my Anxiety, as well as to how I have been able to manage and keep my Anxiety under control.

20.3.2017 – It was an absolute honour for me to share with you, my review of Oli Regan’s recently released début album, My Diary of Pain. I talked about how the rawness of Oli’s voice on this album really stands out, as he spoke from the heart, the mind and the soul about how he really feels. If you get a chance, please do listen to his album, My Diary of Pain, it is so good!

22.3.2017 – 24.3.2017 – No articles were published as I released an open statement on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 in light of the horrific terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, in which 3 victims died, including the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

25.3.2017 –  After months of rumours and speculation that she was pregnant, Cheryl & Liam officially announced a few weeks before that they were expecting their first child together. It became official that Cheryl & Liam officially welcomed their first ever child together!

Also, on this day, I asked you all if you were ready for the clocks to go forward, considering that the time went quicker than expected and that it had only felt like it was yesterday we had just put the clocks back one hour, which proves and rings true even to this day that time sure does fly.

26.3.2017 – As this day marked Mother’s Day, I wished all mothers around the world a Happy Mother’s Day and hoped that all mothers had their Mother’s Day filled with love, happiness, joy, respect, compassion and care.

28.3.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project for the last year of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College, I was asked to produce a 6 minute and 40 second presentation on a time-keeping tool called Pecha Kucha, which is the Japanese term for Chit-Chat.

Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for Chit-Chat, is where you produce 20 slides that have to be exactly 20 seconds each. For every slide, you would need to explain in 20 seconds for each slide a brief run-down of the kind of work you are going to produce, regardless of whether it is project-based or not. The 20 slides would have to consist of one or more short sentences you can talk about within 20 seconds, including any work you have currently produced to date.

As my Pecha Kucha presentation focused solely on Facial Expressionism, I mentioned that I would research certain photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and any other photographer that specialises in Facial Expressionism; the field of work I want to produce.

29.3.2017 –  In the last few years, the police numbers have gone down due to cuts that have been made to save our government money, our money of which is supposed to be used to keep our police officers on the streets. On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, exactly one year to the day of the devastating attacks that took place in Brussels, which saw 35 people killed (32 victims, 3 perpetrators), with more than 300 people injured, a terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, where 5 people were killed as a result, one of which was the terrorist, while the other was a police officer who was stabbed and sadly died as a result of his injuries.

31.3.2017 – I published two photographic articles that focused on Croydon, considering that I seized the opportunity to photograph Croydon while the lovely weather lasts. The weather has been absolutely peaceful lately and it was good to see that the weather was finally looking up and that it was most certainly shaping up to make the two-week holiday as relaxing and as peaceful as ever!

April 2017

1.4.2017 – Welcoming you all to April on Mother Nature, I mentioned that this month would set to be just as relaxing and as peaceful as March, but that it would also be set to be quite the busy month for me, considering I would need to travel to places up in London that I can photograph, including heading to certain galleries in London to further my research and development for the Facial Expressionism Final Major Project that I’ve been working on.

7.4.2017 – The Blossoming Feels of Spring highlighted how wonderful this day was because it was nice and sunny, the temperature was just right. and I had ceased the opportunity to photograph some parts of my garden. I experimented with the ISO frequently to see which ISO setting suited the lighting conditions the best.

8.4.2017 – Nature is Beautiful proved that even Mother Nature herself continued to amaze us and because there was a small breeze in the air with the lovely sunny weather on this day, it was safe to say that this weather was beautiful and that Mother Nature is also beautiful.

9.4.2017 – Inspire to be Positive was my way of inspiring others and to promote positivity, equality and diversity towards everyone, and that we should all drown out negativity and inequality.

11.4.2017 – This day marked the beginning of a new chapter for Windows 10. As Windows Vista officially ended extended support on this day, the Windows 10 Creators Update was officially released. I gave a full run-down on the features I came across in the Creators Update considering that I made the jump to the Windows 10 Creators Update a week early ahead of this day’s official release and mentioned that another major Windows Update was set to be released in the coming months.

15.4.2017 – As it was four years since I last visited Battersea Park, it was safe to say that not a lot had changed since my last visit. During the course of my time that I revisited Battersea Park, I produced a large photographic collection that consisted of my journey to Battersea Park, including perspective photographs that I took throughout certain areas of Battersea Park itself, even though two dogs had caught two of the tennis balls me and my family were using when we played cricket on the large field, which were eventually knackered after a few whacks with the cricket bat.

21.4.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project, I did research on the photographers that influenced me in the photography work I wanted to produce, considering that my Final Major Project is based on Facial Expressionism. The first photographer I researched for my Final Major Project was Fazal Sheikh, as his work aimed to document and even personalise the power of portraiture whilst bringing the displaced parts of the world, including its own people, into focus.

23.4.2017 – Continuing on from the first photographer I researched for my Final Major Project, the second photographer I chose to research was Irving Penn, as he was an American photographer who was best known for his portrait, still life and fashion photography collections, and his photography career consisted of work he produced with the top fashion magazine company, VOGUE, including Clinique and Issey Miyake.

24.4.2017 – Following on from the research I did so far for my Final Major Project, I started to develop my photography skills further, and the first subject I photographed for my Final Major Project was my good friend, Jonathan McCartney. As Fazal Sheikh & Irving Penn’s photography work inspired me in the development of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, I experimented with a white backdrop on the first set of photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan and acknowledged that some of the emotions might not connect to some of the photographs depending on which way the first headshot photographs were viewed. I also experimented further with the same photographs by converting the photographs into words with the app, WordFoto.

25.4.2017 – Following on from the first set of headshot photographs I took of my good friend, Jonathan McCartney, I presented to you the second headshot photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan, but this time, with a black backdrop, which I must say actually worked much better compared to a white backdrop, and the black backdrop was an idea a close friend of mine suggested to me after he critiqued the Headshot #1 photographs I took of Jonathan. These headshot photographs not only improved my photography skills, but it made a lot of sense to use a black backdrop in these photographs, including any other photographs that I would produce. I made sure to experiment carefully with these photographs by editing them in WordFoto and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) so that they could retain the facial expressions I asked Jonathan to make, as these headshot photographs would tie in with my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, including the research I did so far on the Facial Expressionism photographers, Fazal Sheikh and Irving Penn.

28.4.2017 – Continuing on from the first and second photographer I researched for my Final Major Project, the third photographer I chose to research was Thomas Ruff. Thomas Ruff is a German photographer who lives and also works in Düsseldorf in Germany. As he shares a photography studio with other German photographers, such as Andreas Gursky, Axel Hütte and Laurenz Berges on Düsseldorf’s Hansaalee, the photography studio itself formerly comprised of a municipal electricity station, which was converted between the course of 1998 and 2000 by the architects, Herzog & de Meuron, who are part of Tate Modern fame, with an updated basement gallery that was completed in 2011.

29.4.2017 – Following on from the research I did so far on the photographers, Fazal SheikhIrving Penn and Thomas Ruff, the second subject I chose to photograph for my Final Major Project was Steven Geer. For the Headshot #3 photographs, just like I did with the Headshot #2 photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan McCartney, I had made sure to use the black backdrop again, so that the facial expressions I would get Steven to do wouldn’t just have a real sense of depth, but that the expressions that Steven would make would capture a real sense of emotion. I experimented very carefully with the photographs as these photographs would build on the research I did so far on the 3 facial expressionist photographers; Fazal Sheikh, Irving Penn & Thomas Ruff.

30.4.2017 – Following on from the research I did so far on the photographers, Fazal SheikhIrving Penn and Thomas Ruff, the third subject I am honoured to have photographed for my Final Major Project was the famous actor and Mental Health Awareness Campaigner, Oli Regan. For the headshot photographs I took of Oli, I experimented with a black backdrop so that the facial expressions I asked Oli to make would give the emotion from the facial expressions he made more emphasis and more depth. After I photographed Oli with the black backdrop, I then opted to try out a red backdrop, so that I could capture some of the facial expressions again, but this time, I wanted to try and photograph Oli like as if I photographed him for a magazine cover photoshoot.

May 2017

1.5.2017 – Welcoming you all to May on Mother Nature, I mentioned that May was set to be one of the busiest months for me considering I had a lot of revision and coursework to, and I also went on to mention that the next few weeks would be full of a lot of hard work and dedication.

7.5.2017 – As this day marked the end of such a fantastic weekend, considering I went out and partied the night before at my friend’s house, I seized the opportunity to photograph BOXPARK before heading home after staying at my friend’s house for the night.

11.5.2017 – I continued the Headshot photographic collection I was developing for my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project by photographing my close friend, Leonardo Mouza, for Headshot #5. This headshot photography collection came after I photographed the famous actor and Mental Health Awareness Campaigner, Oli Regan.

15.5.2017 – I continued the research phase of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project by picking August Sander as the fourth photographer I would research and I included Harvard Referencing as Harvard Referencing is essential for my coursework.

16.5.2017 – Headshot #6 continued on from Headshot #5, as I photographed Leonardo Mouza for my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, along with his close friend, Terrence Mathew. The photographs I produced for Headshot #6 involved photographing both Leonardo and Terrence in the walkway outside Croydon College.

18.5.2017 – For Headshot #7, I photographed my close friend, Mhamad Rauf, but just like before, I photographed Mhamad in the walkway outside Croydon College, and also did some modelling headshots whilst the etched graffiti walls were present.

20.5.2017 – My good friend, Miles Khan, launched his website, and his website contains work he has produced of his multi-coloured pills, which he has been advertising on Instagram. I also detailed the pill designs that Miles Khan has produced so that you can choose from a wide array of choices of the type of pill design you want to purchase.

Also, on this day, I drew the research stage of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project to a remarkable close, as the fifth and final photographer I chose to research for my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project was David Bailey.

22.5.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project, Headshot #8 followed on from Headshot #7, which focused on the subject, Mhamad Rauf, as I photographed my close friend, Kasra Soltani, for my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project. I used the walkway again outside Croydon College to create an entirely different approach to the facial expressions I wanted Kasra to make by getting him to do those facial expressions I asked him to make in the way he does those facial expressions naturally.

Also, on this day, I notified all of you in advance of the General Election on Thursday 8th June 2017 that you had until 11:59 PM on this day to register to vote so that you could vote for your choice of government, including getting the chance to get your voice heard on Thursday 8th June 2017.

24.5.2017 – I continued on from Headshot #8 by photographing my close friend, Kasra Soltani, again for Headshot #9 of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, but instead, just like with the subjects I photographed earlier on in the Final Major Project, I used a black backdrop to bring out the emphasis in the facial expressions I asked Kasra to make.

26.5.2017 – Headshot #10 brought my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, as I photographed my close friend, Kasra Soltani, for my Final Major Project. As Headshot #10 was the final collection of photographs I had produced for my Final Major Project, I did make sure to adjust the lighting so that the lighting could accommodate for better focus on Kasra so that each expression he has made would connect to the photography work I have already produced.

30.5.2017 – As I prepared to end my Final Major Project, which I mentioned would come to a close on Monday 5th June 2017, I produced Contact Sheets for my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project which I would stick into my sketchbook once they were printed. All of the Contact Sheets I produced would feature all of the photography work I have produced throughout the duration of my own Facial Expressionism Final Major Project work, which would feature my photographed subjects; Jonathan McCartney, Steven Geer, Oli Regan, Leonardo Mouza, Terrence Mathew, Mhamad Rauf & Kasra Soltani.

Also, on this day, I mentioned to all of you that after a lot of hype, anticipation and a lot of excitement, Sonic Mania would officially grace our screens on the 15th August. I also mentioned that this news couldn’t have come at a better time, as 2017 would mark 26 years since Sonic the Hedgehog graced our screens.

June 2017

1.6.2017 – Welcoming all of you to June on Mother Nature, I mentioned that the weather was set to get warmer and humid considering we had lovely weather in the weeks leading up to the beginning of June. I also mentioned that I was preparing to finish my final year at Croydon College as all of my Final Major Project coursework, which solely focused on Facial Expressionism, was due on Monday 5th June 2017.

6.6.2017 – I released an open statement that followed the horrific terrorist attacks that took place down London Bridge & Borough Market, and I even did make sure to lay it all down on the line how I really felt about why I felt the foreign aid budget should be cut, though I paid tribute to the victims in the open statement by letting all those who were affected know that my heart, thoughts, prayers and condolences went out to all those who were affected by these sadistic terrorist attacks.

26.6.2017 – As I was able to meet my deadline with all of my coursework backed up to some hard drives, I did a massive clear-out on my laptop. I needed to get that much-needed storage space back as my laptop was being cluttered with all of the coursework I’ve done over the course of the entire year.

30.6.2017 – After 21 years, Crash Bandicoot marked his return to PlayStation in the Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy. I mentioned how it was ironic that I mentioned in an article on the 9th July 2015 that it would be nice to see the trilogy being remastered, with mine and everyone’s prayers finally being answered on the 13th June 2016, just before my 18th birthday, that the Crash Bandicoot trilogy was being remastered and would be released for the PlayStation 4. This day was perfect and it was finally a relief to see Crash Bandicoot make a remarkable comeback to PlayStation.

July 2017

1.7.2017 – Welcoming you all to July on Mother Nature, I described that the weather was expected to be getting much hotter and more humid, whilst also mentioning that I would be looking around for jobs considering that my time at Croydon College had almost reached the end.

14.7.2017 – This day officially marked the end. My education came to a remarkable close as I finished my final year at Croydon College. The end result from my final year of the two-year UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course was that I passed with my final grade being a Pass.

25.7.2017 – After hearing about the beautifully artistic mural that the artist, Bareface, had produced of the late music legend, Amy Winehouse, who sadly passed away at the age of 27 on the 23rd July 2011, on the Croydon Advertiser, I just could not resist seizing the opportunity to photograph the mural.

31.7.2017 – Would you find it hard to believe that it was exactly 21 years ago since Crash Bandicoot graced our screens? Remember the days where you would jump over obstacles, smash through boxes and tackle side-scrolling levels? Well, those days are finally back! As the Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy is back to true form, with all three of the original Crash Bandicoot games completely remastered from scratch.

Well, those days are finally back! As the Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy is back to true form, with all three of the original Crash Bandicoot games completely remastered from scratch.

Also, to kick off my own photography series, titled: “The Concept of Expression”, I photographed two close friends of mine as I mentioned I would be intending to explore the concept of expression, as well as to how a facial expression can alter or change the mood of a photograph. In this case, the two close friends I photographed for my own photography series were Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford.

August 2017

1.8.2017 – Welcoming all of you to August, I mentioned that the next few weeks were set to be peaceful, but also a little busy, as I had my next batch of photographs on the way very soon, which would feature a certain someone who is a very close friend of mine.

2.8.2017 – “Should We Change at the Expense of Others?” was my way of getting all of you to see the way I see things from a personal perspective, considering that changing ourselves at the expense of others would mean we would put ourselves in a position where we’re made to change ourselves in order to be socially acceptable to everyone else.

9.8.2017 – A few weeks prior to writing the article: “Croydon Murals Defaced Beyond Recognition”, I spoke about the beautifully exquisite Amy Winehouse: “Tears Dry On Their Own” mural, which was produced by the artist, Bareface, in conjunction with and as commissioned by the RISE Gallery.

I published this article, because on Saturday 5th August 2017, me and two close friends of mine paid a visit to Katharine Street because we wanted to find out if the mural of Amy Winehouse was still in the same finished state it was when I photographed it just a few weeks before.

Sadly, on closer inspection, I was devastated to discover that not only had the mural been defaced, but a grey block and teardrop were drawn just below her eye, with some graffiti etched onto the back of Bareface’s clothing, which ultimately destroyed Bareface’s true work of art.

15.8.2017 – It was a long time coming! Sonic Mania finally arrived and officially marked a nostalgic return to form with the help of Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, PagodaWest Games, Lola Shiraishi & Headcannon!

Reliving 26 years of some of the most iconic levels from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic CD and Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Mania revisited Green Hill Zone with an easter egg of an old landscape that was ditched from the final release of Sonic the Hedgehog, with the zip-line being re-introduced, and a lost level which was meant to appear in the original Sonic games but never got used finally came to Sonic Mania, and that was Mirage Saloon Zone. Studiopolis Zone, which is an all-new level, officially débuted in Sonic Mania with a city-like landscape that made it feel a little like Stardust Speedway, Casino Nights and Carnival Night Zone mixed in.

22.8.2017 – Following on from when I photographed my close friends, Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford, I was honoured to have been given the opportunity to photograph my close friend, the actor and mental health awareness campaigner, Oli Regan, again, but this time for my photography series: “The Concept of Expression”.

As I look to explore the concept of expression in the subjects I photograph, photographing Oli gave me the chance to explore his personality, regardless of the angle, but more importantly, as body language is a consistent boundary for the subject’s facial expression, photographing Oli again gave me the chance to explore his personality through these photo headshots, as well as his persona, so in this case, because he’s an actor, he puts on a serious face, which makes the photos interesting, considering that being serious really makes him stand out.

September 2017

1.9.2017 – As I welcomed you all to September, I mentioned that this month was set to be just as busy as the last, as I mentioned I wouldn’t be publishing as often as I used to, considering that I would prioritise my time effectively around looking for jobs.

18.9.2017 – ‘The Harsh Reality of Social Media (Parental Guidance is Advised)’ was my way of expressing my own realistic views on how social media has changed the way we communicate with one another, as opposed to how negatively used social media can be, given that social media is often used by some or most people to criticise and judge those online without them even having the bottle to say their comments to that person’s face.

25.9.2017 – ‘My Personal Note to Reality’ was my way of finally being open to everyone about where I stand, and that I would treat everyone equally and diversely, but that I would refuse to tolerate, let alone mix with the judgmental type that are in-equal and lack diversity for others.

On the same day, I published an article, called: “Mindfulness”, in which I would give a short but straightforward run-down about how mindfulness can be helpful to certain aspects of our everyday lives, based on the life experiences that we are or may have already been through.

26.9.2017 – ‘Camden’ was an article I wanted to share with you all, as I had paid a visit to Camden a few weeks prior to writing the article, given that Camden is a wonderful and friendly place, which is home to the late music legend, Amy Winehouse.

29.9.2017 – ‘Should We Listen to the Non-Believers?’ was my way of describing how the non-believers were and always would be the bad people who would spread poison wherever they go, intentionally bringing others down when they don’t deserve it.

On the same day, I published a small but quick-fire article in which I announced I had decided to put publishing my photography work on hold, given that my laptop was sent off to be repaired after the Audio Enhancements tab wouldn’t work whilst headphones were connected, but that I would publish the photography work I wasn’t able to publish at a later stage. I also mentioned that I finally passed GCSE English after three years and that I no longer have to do GCSE English, which is the best result I wanted.

October 2017

1.10.2017 – Welcoming you to October on Mother Nature, I mentioned that October was set to be just as busy as the last considering I was looking around for jobs, which meant I wouldn’t be publishing as much as I used to.

10.10.2017 – As this day marked World Mental Health Day, I wanted to raise awareness by telling you to make a difference, so that if you are or know someone who has a mental health condition, this day was about coming together and supporting everyone regardless of what mental health condition you and everyone else has or may have.

13.10.2017 – It’s been five years since The Truth About Love, but P!NK is back with a bang! Beautiful Trauma is the hotly anticipated album of the year and it’s no surprise to see P!NK bless us with such good music. In case you missed it, to read my review of P!NK’s album, Beautiful Trauma, click here.

16.10.2017 – This day was strange, to say the least, and for a good reason too. The sky was all yellow as a result of a sand and dust storm. This was due to Hurricane Ophelia leading a destructive path of its own, considering that the United Kingdom is no stranger to this kind of weather.

26.10.2017 – “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” was my way of telling all of you that it’s okay that you’re not okay, that you should never keep your emotions inside and open up to everyone, and that you’ll begin to notice that you’re much stronger than before.

30.10.2017 – After months of job-hunting and a lot of hard work, I finally secured myself a full-time job! This day was the best highlight of my year alongside passing my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course with a Pass, as well as passing GCSE English with a C.

31.10.2017 – As Halloween Night finally arrived, everyone got into the spirit of dressing up to look like some characters from films or TV Shows, even with some going to such effort to dress up like the zombies from The Walking Dead, but what about the films? Well, to get into the Halloween spirit, I recommended up to almost 50 horror films for all of you if you wanted to put some fright in your ghoul for Halloween.

November 2017

1.11.2017 – Welcoming you all to November, I mentioned that November was set to get a whole lot busier for me considering I was about to embark on my first ever full-time job considering I finished my education for good in July, which meant I wouldn’t be free mostly as I would be putting myself first to earn from my full-time job whilst I learn and re-take Maths.

Also, on this day, ahead of the 3rd November release of Apple’s hotly anticipated tenth anniversary iPhone, the iPhone X (officially pronounced 10), I published a wallpaper pack that would consist of some wallpapers with Mother Nature’s cube, with a further set of wallpapers that would all be the same colours, just without Mother Nature’s cube.

2.11.2017 – As I use this product on a regular basis to make sure the style of my hair always stays as trendy as possible, I wrote a review on L’Oréal’s Matt & Messy Putty and I recommended this hair product to all of you considering it would give your hair that roughed up natural look, which would make your hair look as natural as possible whilst keeping the hairstyle you have in check.

6.11.2017 – Fireworks are used now and then when it comes to a special occasion; a party, or even during Bonfire Night and on New Year’s Day, but why is firework safety important? Well, the article I wrote: “Firework Safety: Why it’s Important” would allow me to air my views and reasons for why I believe that firework safety is important. I also highlighted considering I take your health and safety seriously and wanted you to stay as protected as possible by asking you to stay safe and wrap up warm, and that your health and safety are both important, and that no one, and I mean no one, is allowed to compromise that.

December 2017

1.12.2017 – Welcoming all of you to December, I mentioned it was hard to believe that we finally reached the last month of 2017. I also mentioned that time flew so fast, but that 2017 was a fun year and a better one too.

15.12.2017 – Living our lives outside the comfort zone means there are new challenges that can help us to prosper and succeed if we work hard, and writing this article: “Living Life Outside the Comfort Zone: What Was it Like for You?” was my way of expressing what life was like after I started living it outside the comfort zone considering I had completed my first month of working full-time in my first ever full-time job, and then I asked all of you what it was like for you the moment you started to live life outside the comfort zone.

28.12.2017 – Going back to the drawing board with the photographs I previously produced that featured my close friends, Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford, I produced some more photographs that followed on from when I photographed my close friend, the actor and mental health awareness campaigner, Oli Regan, of Saviyon & Shaquille. Considering this was an updated collection of the photographs I produced that featured both Saviyon & Shaquille previously, I had made sure that the updated photo-set would have that cut and thrust appeal about them by going beyond the expression, in which I would explore their personalities a little more in-depth.

I also published another photography collection on this day, but this time consisting of my trip up to London on the 26th September 2017, which was a wonderful day considering it was breezy, warm and sunny.

It is finally time to close the doors on 2017, and on a highly positive note too. Thank you so much, everyone, for such a fantastic, wonderful, emotional, joyful and positive year. This year was special and was also an interesting year too, but it will always be one of the best years of my life, and also one of the most eye-opening years of my life too.

See you in 2018!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: December 2017

How about that? It’s hard to think it’s finally New Year’s Eve. Where has the time gone?

These last few weeks of 2017 sure flew! It’s crazy when you consider how fun this year has been, but it’s good to end 2017 knowing so much good has happened this year. Of course, let’s not forget some months of the year were bad due to the terrorist attacks, but my heart goes out to every single person who has passed away this year, whether it’s from being a victim of a terrorist attack or whether it’s anyone famous or not, but always know I am thinking of you and everyone you know and also, always know I will always provide support to you if you ever feel you cannot open up. Never be ashamed to open up, opening up will always be a good way of helping you get back on track, so always know I’ll support all of you.

Without further ado, it’s time to take a final look back at the last few articles published over the course of December, in fact, the last few articles published for this year.

1.12.2017 – Welcoming all of you to December, I mentioned it was hard to believe that we finally reached the last month of 2017. I also mentioned that time flew so fast, but that 2017 was a fun year and a better one too.

15.12.2017 – Living our lives outside the comfort zone means there are new challenges that can help us to prosper and succeed if we work hard, and writing this article: “Living Life Outside the Comfort Zone: What Was it Like for You?” was my way of expressing what life was like after I started living it outside the comfort zone considering I had completed my first month of working full-time in my first ever full-time job, and then I asked all of you what it was like for you the moment you started to live life outside the comfort zone.

28.12.2017 – Going back to the drawing board with the photographs I previously produced that featured my close friends, Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford, I produced some more photographs that followed on from when I photographed my close friend, the actor and mental health awareness campaigner, Oli Regan, of Saviyon & Shaquille. Considering this was an updated collection of the photographs I produced that featured both Saviyon & Shaquille previously, I had made sure that the updated photo-set would have that cut and thrust appeal about them by going beyond the expression, in which I would explore their personalities a little more in-depth.

I also published another photography collection on this day, but this time consisting of my trip up to London on the 26th September 2017, which was a wonderful day considering it was breezy, warm and sunny.

It’s the end of the monthly roundup for December, and also the final monthly roundup of the year and I’m pleased to say I can bring this final monthly roundup to a remarkable close.

Thank you so much, everyone, for such a fantastic 2017, and although we have lost quite a lot of people this year, let’s all take a moment to remember everyone we lost and always value the fact we need to value our time and make the most of the valuable time we all have on this mortal coil we call Planet Earth.

Again, thank you so much, everyone, for such a fantastic 2017, and I shall see you all in 2018. Have a wonderful and Happy New Year and stay safe and wrap up warm. 2018 will be the best year of our lives, and I’m so sure of it. See you in 2018!

Alex Smithson

A Wonderful, Breezy & Sunny Day Out in London.

It was the perfect time for me to travel up to London on the 26th September as the weather was lovely, the scenery was beautiful and on a clear day like this, it was wonderful.

Whilst I was up in London, I used the opportunity wisely to photograph certain areas of London; Borough Market was beautiful, but so was the landscape. To tell you the truth, it’s not the first time I’ve been up to London on my own as I went up to London just a few short weeks before when I was planning my route to get to Camden, which I must say is also beautiful, but the fact that it was nice and sunny gave me the perfect opportunity to seize the moment by photographing certain areas of the landscape, whilst also photographing the Shard.

Honestly, London is absolutely beautiful on a sunny day, and the 26th September was the perfect example of how sunny days should be; warm, breezy, bright and beautiful and that’s why I had a wonderful, breezy and sunny day out in London.

I experimented with the low-light features on my Nikon D3300 DSLR to see how the landscapes and portraits would appear in certain situations if it was light or dark, as this helped me to visualise the landscape differently as if it was daylight one minute and sunset the next.

Below is the full collection of photographs I produced whilst I was up in London.

It was absolutely wonderful, but busy when I went up to London towards the end of September and I was glad to have seized the opportunity to visit London at the peak of Summer.

If you ever get a chance to visit London and Borough Market in the Spring and Summer months, I suggest you do because London and Borough Market are beautiful places, and you’d be crazy to not seize the opportunity to visit London and Borough Market.

If you enjoyed my photography collection of my visit to London and Borough Market, please tell me in the comments. I would love to hear your responses.

Alex Smithson