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

Mindfulness.

Meaning of Mindfulness:

– The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
– A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness in the present is often a certain aspect of our everyday lives that can help us to develop and grow, whilst we also get a sense of understanding. In this case, our sense of understanding would need to rely on the life experiences we have gone through.

For example, if you lost something that was of sentimental value to you or you lost someone close to you, whether it was a piece of jewellery or even a photograph, or if you lost a family relative, family friend or a friend you knew either from school or college, especially work, your sense of understanding would require being aware of what you as a person may be going through, as opposed to what others go through.

I’ve learned to be more mindful now than I was last year, as I have been able to not only be open to everyone, but opening up about what I have or may be going through was a big step, as it was a small step for me, but is one giant leap over leaps and bounds to mindfulness.

To show mindfulness is to experience life, but to show mindfulness means you can open up to others, but in doing so, you become stronger and more confident than you were before.

Mindfulness is powerful, and if used correctly, can help you get the best support possible, but can also help you to get to the best places in life.

If you are someone or you know someone who has been through that stage in their life and has experienced a sense of mindfulness that has helped you or someone you know to get back on track, please tell me. I would love to hear your story.

Alex Smithson

The Concept of Expression / Oli Regan

Following on from when I photographed my close friends, Saviyon Thomas & Shaquille Roachford, I am 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.

The serious impression and the modelling approach that Oli has taken to make sure the photographs I have produced look visually eye-catching are out of this world. Whilst I remember, keep an eye out for Oli on the latest EE advert that’s been on TV recently. You don’t want to miss it. To spot him, wait for Stormzy‘s song: “Big for Your Boots“, taken from his album, Gang Signs & Prayer, to come on after Kevin Bacon finishes with the word: “INCOMING!” and you should see Oli on the left-hand-side of the screen skanking to Stormzy’s record. It’s a bloody good advert and you will not be disappointed.

Below are the photos I’ve produced of my close friend, Oli Regan.

I am pleased with the way these photographs turned out, but I won’t lie to you, naming each photograph based on the expression and emotion is quite hard, and the photography work I produced when I was at Croydon College is living proof that naming each photo based on the expression and emotion is harder than it looks.

What I will need to improve on is angling the camera when I photograph any subject, so that rather than photograph the subject the way I would usually photograph them, I would need to put the camera up higher, but with the camera angled down a little so that there is little to no head-space on the portrait photographs. These photographs I have produced are really good as they capture the expressions and emotions I wanted Oli to make, but I will be making sure to improve on certain photography-based areas I may or may not be so good

These photographs I have produced are really good as they capture the expressions and emotions I wanted Oli to make, but I will be making sure to improve on certain photography-based areas I may or may not be so good at so that this gives me a better chance next time.

Other than that, I am actually pleased with the overall outcome from these photographs.

These photos will be in my E-Folio so please make sure to check my E-Folio as I will be updating the E-Folio as often as I can.

If you like these photographs I have produced of my close friend, the mental health awareness campaigner and actor, Oli Regan, please leave your comments below. I would love to hear your response and if there are any further improvements I can make for next time, please let me know. I am open to criticism as this will help me to improve the photographs I take for next time.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Mental Health / The Negative Stigma & How it Affects Everyone (feat. Oli Regan)

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.

What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is where a person may possibly have a condition that affects their psychological and well-being in the emotional sense.

For instance, there are so many recognised Mental Health conditions that affect more or less everyone, in this case, this can be Anxiety, Depression, Post-Natal Depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and even Bipolar.

There are so many recognised Mental Health conditions around that with the correct help, support and treatment available, can help anyone suffering from Mental Health to control the type of Mental Health condition they suffer from.

Is Mental Health Often Ignored?

In the real world, Mental Health is often ignored, which is why the stigma attached to Mental Health all too often creates a negative spiral that sees governments and organisations making little to no effort to provide funding for help, support, treatment and even medical supplies for those who need it the most.

The Mental Health Foundation highlighted that each year, more than 6,000 suicides occur in the UK & Ireland as a result of a lack of funding for Mental Health, with more than 55,000 suicides occurring in the European Union.

The suicide rate for Mental Health sufferers is dangerously high, because again, there is a lack of funding which means that Mental Health sufferers aren’t being provided the help, support and treatment that they need, which ultimately puts any Mental Health sufferer at risk of committing suicide.

Is Social Media Responsible for Creating Problems in Mental Health Sufferers?

The harsh reality is that social media is responsible for creating problems in Mental Health sufferers, because not a day goes by where I am on Facebook & Twitter where I don’t see a positive comment being made about someone who suffers from Mental Health.

I am disgusted by the large number of those on social media who feel it’s okay to make those suffering from Mental Health feel insecure about their appearance, how they act towards others, including what they look like.

Social media is connected to the negative stigma in the personal sense, because when it is not used properly, anyone can make abusive comments about others and that can effectively have a negative impact on the person suffering from that specific Mental Health condition.

Oli Regan’s Experiences With Mental Health

Oli Regan, who is an aspiring actor and ambassador for Time to Change, was just one of many Mental Health sufferers who had struggled to open up about his feelings of loneliness and isolation, both of which he experienced for so many years, which was brought on by bipolar and anxiety, which led him to contemplate suicide, and in some circumstances, he attempted to commit suicide.

Of course, Oli’s experiences with Mental Health affected his wellbeing, and he mentioned in an article he did with TheLADBible as part of the UOKM8? Campaign that: “I just felt weak. Like I wasn’t a real man, I felt like I was missing something. I felt lonely. Completely isolated.

Oli’s experiences with Mental Health enabled him to raise awareness and to give all those who suffer from Mental Health their voice and to make sure that if you’re a Mental Health sufferer, then it’s good to open up and talk about your experiences with Mental Health and how they affect you.

My Experiences With Anxiety

For me, and this is personal to my wellbeing, although I haven’t officially been diagnosed with having a Mental Health condition, I am not ashamed to admit I suffer from Anxiety.

Of course, I often feared that if I opened up to everyone about how I really feel that I would be targeted just for being the man I am in speaking up about how I really feel.

At school, if I cried, I was bullied and all too often, if I spoke to someone in confidence about how I was really feeling, I would be targeted just for being honest and open about how I really felt emotionally.

I often tend to bottle my emotions up but it’s only recently that I did suffer from some anxiety attacks that were brought on by personal problems and heartbreak which caused me to have a panic attack and also break down in tears.

Since that first panic attack and since I broke down in tears during those anxiety attacks, I have been able to open up to everyone and I feel a lot more confident talking to someone about how I really feel, and it gives me peace of mind knowing I can turn to a counsellor and everyone else for support. I am a lot stronger now than I was before and a lot more confident as well as I can speak up a lot more and not be afraid to speak my mind and say how I really feel.

This is the first time ever that I have actually admitted to all of you I suffer from Anxiety and this took a lot of guts for me to open up on my own experiences with Anxiety in general.

Conclusion

I personally feel that the negative stigma attached to Mental Health needs to disappear permanently and that Mental Health should never be ignored.

Governments and organisations should make all the effort possible to put their funding into help, support and treatment for any Mental Health sufferers and to make sure that every Mental Health sufferer gets the help, support and treatment that they need.

One more thing, it’s about time we all open up and say to everyone exactly how we feel, and in a society and any society that tells you to ‘man up’, all societies need to get a grip and realise that Mental Health doesn’t just exist for a reason, but that it exists because we are all born differently and never the same.

If you are a Mental Health Sufferer and you have just one or many of the recognised Mental Health conditions as well as the Mental Health Conditions mentioned here, then please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your response.

Alex Smithson

Recommended Article Worth Looking At (Please Read): Lad Opens Up About Battle With Bipolar And Anxiety And His Attempted Suicide