The Concept of Expression: Akash DeSilva

The next model I’ve picked to photograph for my photography series is my close friend, Akash DeSilva.

As I continue to raise awareness for mental health, I also aim to inspire and give hope and to also promote positivity.

For this photo-set, just like I did with Hamid, I was able to photograph Akash in the moment, so in this case, I caught him off-guard in some of the photos, with one of the photos I took showing him completely off-guard, even if the photo might suggest he was posing when he did not.

NIKON D3300

iPhone 7

Something's Caught My Attention.
Something’s Caught My Attention.

The photo that stood out for me and created quite a lot of humour, which made Akash laugh, was the photo I uploaded to Instagram from this photo-set: “The Man With the Energy Drink”, as the caption was inspired on the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer, produced in 1665 during the Dutch Golden Age: “Girl With a Pearl Earring”.

It was actually, for me, one of my best photos, and it was received very well on Instagram, keeping in mind that I love to upload sneak previews of the best photos I hand-pick to Instagram from the photo-sets I’ve produced.

Believe it or not, Akash wasn’t posing in this photo, as he didn’t know this photo was produced until I showed him. He was completely off-guard when I took this photo, but it’s true what they say though when it comes to off-guard photographs that they often tend to be the best photographs when the subject isn’t prepared, and in this case, I photographed him with him being unaware, and that’s why this photo, for me, stands out from the rest.

The Man With the Energy Drink
The Man With the Energy Drink.

It’s good to create photos that give off happy memories, but for me, happy memories bring power to photographs, even when you don’t expect them to.

For me, mental health isn’t just close to my heart, but because it’s often something that is brushed under the carpet, I want to bring mental health to the surface by raising awareness through my photography work.

If you feel there are any improvements I can make for next time, I would love to hear your responses and if you liked this photo-set, please feel free to share this photo-set on with everyone you know.

One more thing…never suppress your real emotions, let them go and be open, and you will feel so much better knowing you don’t need to hold back how you really feel.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Sunday 17th June 2018

Device Used: iPhone 7

Monthly Roundup: May 2018

It sure was a productive month, which is surprising considering I’ve been publishing less frequently over the course of this year due to working full-time, but it’s a relief to know we’ve had the wonderful Spring weather, with the Summer weather taking effect.

It won’t be too long before it starts to get even hotter, though despite the thunderstorms following the hot and humid weather, expect this summer to be much hotter than last Summer, with even more thunder and lightning storms.

I will take a quick look back at the articles I’ve published over the course of May.

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.

Thank you so much, everyone, for such a fantastic month. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride over the last few weeks, but I’m a lot stronger now, and I’m feeling more positive now compared to how I’ve been feeling recently, but I’ll be trying to publish a little more here and there over the coming weeks considering I’ll be going on annual leave towards the end of June.

I’ll see you all in June, and again, thanks for such a fantastic month, everyone!

Alex Smithson

The Concept of Expression: Christian Aranda Montilva

The next model I have picked to photograph for this photography series is my close friend, Christian Aranda Montilva.

For this photoshoot, I wanted to capture Christian’s emotions, but with a realistic approach. In this case, I wanted to make sure I could explore his emotions from a realistic perspective that surrounds mental health.

Mental health is close to my heart considering it’s an area of life that is often overlooked, often ignored and often brushed under the carpet. I aim to make sure this photo-set and the photography series, in general, can capture the emotions of mental health where everyone may feel like they cannot open up, even if they put on an expression where they look happy, but deep down, they feel broken, depressed and worried about opening up about how they really feel in case they’re judged, targeted or even vilified for the real emotions they have underneath the image they’re expected to present, as opposed to the actual image of themselves they want to present.

Christian is a natural when it comes to pulling facial expressions, especially expressions he’s made that are completely off-guard. Most of these photos I produced of him were in the moment when he was off-guard, and even talking to him whilst photographing him at certain segments over the space of two hours gave me the chance to photograph off-guard, off-the-cuff facial expressions I wouldn’t necessarily be able to capture if I asked him to make up a facial expression.

The photo: “Hold Your Head Up High & Believe in Yourself!” stood out for me, as I was able to get Christian to recreate the iconic pose from the 1986 release of True Blue, produced by the Queen of Pop, Madonna, with the iconic photograph being produced by Herb Ritts.

The reason this photo also stood out for me is that it’s like he’s releasing negative energy and embracing the positive energy but in his own way that is unique and different to everyone else.

Hold Your Head Up High & Believe in Yourself!
Hold Your Head Up High & Believe in Yourself!

Christian is very expressive in his personality and considering he was able to be himself in how he appears free from judgment, these, for me, stood out the most in this photo-set, and I also feel this is the most expressive photo-set I’ve produced to date.

Of course, I will continue to improve the whole concept of expressions in every photograph over the course of time, as this will help me to give the photography series a better understanding, so that mental health isn’t just acknowledged, but that no one is allowed to judge someone because of the mental health condition they have.

If you feel there are any improvements I can make for next time, I would love to hear your responses and if you liked this photo-set, please feel free to share this photo-set on with everyone you know.

I want to make sure mental health is acknowledged and I hope that this photography series can raise awareness and give anyone suffering from mental health hope that you don’t need to hide your real emotions, but express them freely, as this will help you to regain your confidence and give you the best stability you want.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Monday 28th May 2018

Royalty’s Red Carpet of Flowers!

To continue the Royal Wedding Celebration, I seized the opportunity to photograph Mother Nature in her finest form whilst I was on my way home from work yesterday.

Mother Nature certainly blessed us with wonderful weather and for such a special occasion. Talk about a perfectly warm and sunny day, but yesterday was no different.

If you watched the Royal Wedding unfold yesterday, please tell me, as I would love to hear your thoughts on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry getting married yesterday.

Did you make the most of this wonderful weather? Please tell me, I would love to hear how you made the most of this wonderful, breezy, warm and sunny weather.

Alex Smithson

Mental Health Awareness Week: Be in Your Friend’s & Family’s Corners!

As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, I urge all of you to come together to support everyone and be in your friend’s corner.

Whether you, a family member or relative, or even a friend, suffer from a mental health condition, diagnosed or undiagnosed, I urge all of you to be in your friend’s and family’s corners by asking them how they are, how they’re really feeling, and if they suffer from a mental health condition or they have a mental health condition that has been left undiagnosed, help them and encourage them to open up, as they will know you support them, that you’re there for them, and that you’ll always provide them with the best support regardless of the mental health condition they may have, especially if they are or have gone through losing someone close to them.

Make sure to spread the word and raise awareness for Mental Health and know that you are not in this alone.

We will all experience moments where we feel down, lost and even broken, but it’s okay to feel that way.

Never be ashamed to open up, but always be in your friend’s corner and your family’s corners. Support one another and be there for one another, but most of all, open up.

Don’t man up for anyone, open up. Cry if you want to, let all that frustration out if you want to, but more importantly, be open with your real emotions and know that you’ll always be the stronger person even if you break down because you’ve been strong for too long.

You’ll always be strong, but one more thing.

Never prove yourself to anyone and always be yourself and always show real emotion, as you’ll feel so much better knowing you’ll never be in this alone and that mental health is to be acknowledged and that you deserve to seek the best help, support and treatment where possible.

I hope I’ve inspired you, and please tell me if you were inspired by my words, as I want you to know I will always care and always will take you as I see you and respect you for who you are, what you do and how you really feel.

Alex Smithson

Real Emotions: A True Sign of Strength.

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.

From experience of losing a family relative and two close friends of mine, I refuse to not show my real emotions as I would rather everyone know I am okay, but I’m not okay and that I’m showing real emotion rather than suppress the real emotions and bottle the emotions up.

If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to show real emotion, then show real emotion and if someone tells you to suppress your real emotions, don’t suppress your real emotions at all.

Showing your real emotions is a true sign of strength, and not a single soul can tell you otherwise.

This has taken me a lot of courage to write, and although I’m still grieving, I’m gradually getting stronger as the day goes by.

One more thing. Never suppress your real emotions, but always show your real emotions, as it’s a true sign of strength.

Alex Smithson

The Concept of Expression: Samuel Cato

Following the first photography article I did after the beginning of 2018, which featured my close friend, Wesley Baker (CDN), I have now photographed my close friend who I’ve known since secondary school, Samuel Cato.

Despite the odd spot of rain, mild warmth and a hint of sunny weather, I was able to travel to Sydenham to photograph Sam for this photography series, and I was able to get him to express himself freely as I believe in the idea of being able to express yourself free from judgment, but where he could express himself without conforming to society’s needs, beliefs and expectations, and that getting him to express himself will always be about being equal and diverse without any forms of judgment.

Below are all of the photographs I took yesterday of my close friend, Samuel Cato.

I am so pleased with the end result given that the days are getting brighter and are staying brighter for longer, as the lighting conditions improved and it was nice and sunny after a small spot of rain, but I am really blown away by the end result of these photographs. Of course, I acknowledge the photos may look grainy, but that’s because I wanted to try and capture the essence of the early Spring weather before Spring really kicks in once the Winter season ends.

If there are any improvements you feel I could make, please tell me in the comments, as your feedback will help me improve my photography skills in the future.

Also, if you enjoyed this photo-set, please share this article around with anyone you know.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: NIKKOR 18 – 55 mm Lens

Date of Photo-Set Produced: Tuesday 6th March 2018

Mental Health: Make a Difference!

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 is often ignored nowadays in the modern world, as some people actually believe it’s something that doesn’t exist.

It does exist.

No two people are the same when it comes to mental health. Everyone is different and why should those who believe mental health doesn’t exist feel like it’s okay for them to make others feel left out because they are different to everyone else?

They shouldn’t!

Mental health should be acknowledged by everyone. This doesn’t mean one person should recognise it, let alone any charities should recognise it, but the whole world has to recognise mental health and take into account that the more mental health is acknowledged, the better chances there are of help, support and treatment being provided to everyone depending on the mental health condition they were diagnosed with.

Why do so many ignore the signs of mental health?

So many people ignore the signs of mental health, not because they don’t just think it doesn’t exist, but because they believe it can be cured.

Well Hello!

It is not curable!

It can be managed, however, through the use of help, support and treatment, including support lines, websites surrounding mental health and charities that specialise in providing help and support to all those suffering from a mental health condition.

I care about mental health a lot as I have a lot of friends who suffer from mental health, or do suffer from mental health but haven’t declared it due to their fear of worrying that they may be shunned, left out or be discriminated against because they are different to everyone else. Mental health is something that is very close to my heart and I always support anyone with a mental health condition but don’t ever listen to those who say it’s curable because it’s not!

We are all different, not the same and you cannot flip two different sides of the coin and pray it can be cured. It’s incurable but manageable.

We should be making a difference by raising awareness, opening up more about mental health, and tell the naysayers that tell us to ‘man up and toughen up’ to get a life!

Let’s end this stigma once and for all!

Want to end the stigma? Let’s do this! Please tell me if you raise awareness for mental health, and if you do or don’t, that’s okay and I respect you fully, but please feel free to tell me if you are or know someone, whether it be a family member or friend who has a mental health condition who has struggled to open up or has recently opened up about how they feel. I am more than happy to hear how you felt about opening up, but I am also happy to hear about how someone you know felt about opening up and showing their real emotions.

Please feel free to refer to the Mental Health Organisations page by clicking on the link provided below this article.

Alex Smithson

https://asterisk15.wordpress.com/mental-health-organisations

The Discomforting Perceptions of Airbrushed Photographs.

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.

Every photograph I’ve produced that features any friends of mine have never been airbrushed and have never been photoshopped. Of course, I’ve edited some of my photographs by changing some of them to black and white to bring out the facial features of the subjects I photograph so that you still see an all-natural look, but I would never even dream of airbrushing any photographs I produce as I would rather you all see the subjects I photograph for what they actually look like naturally, not what society wants them to look like when airbrushed as airbrushing is not normal.

Airbrushing was the topic of conversation on today’s edition of Loose Women, as body dysmorphia is becoming worryingly common, as a vast majority of some people feel insecure about how their bodies look and they feel they should fix what makes them insecure when they shouldn’t.

Personally, I find airbrushing to be completely uncomfortable, as I would rather look at a photograph of someone famous, especially if it’s a close friend of mine that shows them completely natural with no airbrushing applied rather than look at a photograph of someone famous, especially if it’s a close friend of mine that shows noticeable airbrushing because airbrushing is a complete turn-off. It also promotes negativity for mental health, as airbrushing is another leading example of the stigma that surrounds mental health, considering mental health is only just being taken notice of after so many years of being ignored.

Airbrushing is the vanity card of the future that will alter anyone’s appearance and personally and honestly, I would rather be realistic by saying I would rather see a famous celebrity or close friend of mine all-natural rather than see constant airbrushing in photographs.

I know I’ve probably repeated myself over and over again but I will say this. Don’t ever expect to see any airbrushed photos on here as I am going all natural with my photographs so you actually see what any of my subjects actually look like rather than see any photos that are unnatural.

Mother Nature intends to stick to the all-natural realism of photography, and as for airbrushing, airbrushing is banned!

Do you find airbrushed photographs to be discomforting?

Does it make you uncomfortable knowing you’re looking at the discomforting perceptions of an airbrushed photograph as opposed to an unedited, all-natural photograph?

Do you believe airbrushing promotes negativity for Mental Health in the sense people should be made to look at a photograph that isn’t natural, but is airbrushed?

Please tell me in the comments. I would love to hear what you’ve got to say about the whole unrealistic world of airbrushing.

Alex Smithson

Make a Difference for World Mental Health Day!

Today is World Mental Health Day, so if you are someone or know someone who has a mental health condition, today is about coming together and supporting everyone regardless of what mental condition you and everyone else has or may have.

The ‘Mental Health Organisations‘ page is designed to help all those like yourself who may be suffering from Mental Health, and as this page I set up earlier this year aims to provide help, support and treatment for those who may have a mental health condition or may have a condition not connected to mental health, so if you want to reach out to someone or to a support line that will specialise in whatever kind of mental health condition or condition you may have, this page, I hope, will help you.

Let’s come together and end this stigma once and for all.

Alex Smithson