World Mental Health Day!

Always be in your friends and family’s corners and support everyone who is suffering from mental health.

Let’s get this show on the road, raise awareness and end this stigma once and for all!

Every mental health condition is different, never the same, but it’s time to stand up and be counted!

If you’re raising awareness for mental health, I would love to hear your responses.

Alex Smithson

The Concept of Expression: Thomas Rodrigues

The next model I have picked to photograph for my photography series is my close friend, Thomas Rodrigues.

This photo-set is very brief as I wanted to capture some hidden emotions in this small photo-set that I felt were and were not obvious at first but would be on the second glance.

Thomas is a natural in front of the camera as he was confident, calm and collective and wasn’t afraid to express himself freely.

 

All of these photos were so good that I edited them in-house with Instagram’s Inkwell filter to Black & White. These photos are just as good in colour as they are in Black & White and I was impressed with the final result of this photo-set.

This photo-set, for me, is a remarkable improvement in the photography skills I currently have, as I’ve always intended on improving on my work every time I produce a photo-set.

Photography isn’t just about improving on what you already know, rather it’s the hunger and passion to produce the work and the attention you pay to every small detail of a photograph that really matters.

It’s not just all in the details, it’s all in the passion and whether you have a keen eye to do photography.

For me, I can say I have a keen eye in my own photography work as I produce the photography work, and I oversee the work I produce, as my photography work is me showing all of you what I can do, and the photography work that I produce myself is my own signature, as this is the work I want you to see; the reality instead of the expectation.

Also, mental health is something close to my heart, and with these photos, especially the photo-sets I produce, I intend for my work to raise awareness and give hope that you can always be yourself, you can always express yourself freely and always be open in a world that expects otherwise and there’s absolutely no shame in being open with everyone.

The captions I use on the photo-sets I produce I have made myself as I intend to explore real emotions, but also capture hidden emotions that aren’t visible at first glance but will become visible on the second or third glance.

If you feel there are any improvements I could make for next time, please comment below what you feel I could improve on for the future photo-sets I intend to produce.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

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

The Concept of Expression: Hamid Haq

The next model I have picked to photograph for my photography series is my close friend, Hamid Haq.

With it being almost a year since I last met up with Hamid, it was so good to finally meet up with him again after such a long time, and on a decent day too, as me, Hamid, and a couple of friends paid a visit to Lavender Fields, which is a beautiful place to visit if you’ve got the free time on your hands, and also the best spot for photography.

With this small photo-set, I captured a few off-guard headshots of Hamid, with two headshots where I asked him to pose based on his mood and personality. Considering he’s a natural when it comes to modelling, this gave me the chance to explore his personality through the emotions he presented.

Below are the two photographs I’ve hand-picked from this photo-set which I feel are my two best photos to show in black and white.

Hamid’s modelling presence in this photo-set, to me, is evident, because out of the 7 photos, 5 of the photographs were actually off-guard of him in the moment unaware to me taking these photos,

Hamid has that quality to model any pose because his personality is unique and his emotions shine through in these photos.

The realisation is the emotions behind the expressions he’s made, as he appears confident, but from a perspective where mental health comes in, I can see some of his real emotions even though they may not necessarily be present on the first glance, and the emotions appear to show he may be happy, but in reality, he might be feeling unhappy deep down.

This the emotion I wanted to capture where just because you see him happy or confident here doesn’t necessarily mean he could be feeling the same behind the facial expressions he has made off-guard, including the poses I asked him to make.

Mental health is often ignored, but I want to change that, and I hope that the photo-sets I’ve produced so far, including this photo-set, inspire every single one of you who may be going through a tough time that there’s always hope and light at the end of the tunnel and that you deserve to seek the best help, support and treatment where possible.

Mental health shouldn’t be ignored. It should be acknowledged and everyone should know that we are all different, not the same and that you are always free to express yourself in your own personality.

You are always free to appear how you want to appear, and if anyone judges you, they’re only judging themselves. Dress how you want to dress, be who you want to be and be yourself in a world that expects otherwise. Be yourself.

You’re unique. No one can change that.

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.

Alex Smithson

DSLR Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

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

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

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

Monthly Roundup: November 2017

The time sure did fly this month! It’s almost the end of 2017 and it only felt like it was yesterday we just started 2017 and now we’re almost ready to close 2017, and what a fantastic year it has been. I won’t lie, 2017 has been so much more of a better year and I cannot wait to venture into 2018 with fresh opportunities for my photography work, as I will be looking to expand my horizons in the world of photography whilst I work full-time, but I will be prioritising much of my time over next year on full-time work than I will on this website as I want to make sure I can gain all the skills I need and want to gain whilst I work full-time, as this will help me to be more confident in what I write, but next year onwards will be about photography, full-time work and raising awareness for Mental Health.

Without further ado, I shall now take a quick look back over the articles published over the course of this month.

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.

Thanks for such a good month everyone. I acknowledge I haven’t published as much, but I will try and find time over the last few weeks of 2017 to publish some articles, but I will definitely be publishing my photography set from my trip up to London that I produced towards the end of September before we finish 2017, I can assure you on that.

Again…thanks so much for a good month everyone, and I shall see you all in December!

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