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Soothing Photography Competition and Impressionistic Photos

Creating impressions with the use of ICM (intentional camera movements) has been for a long time one of my favourite camera techniques. It’s what I start with when I go to a photoshoot or what I end up doing just because I like it so much. I find these photos very soulful and very satisfying and I’d like to encourage you to take similar shots for deeper breathing and deeper connection with nature. I took these photos while I was in Poland during Autumn. Perhaps there are still some autumnal shots that you’d like to submit to out Soothing Photography Competition? See through your phone or your folders, I am sure there is something that you would like to share with others. Go to www.tgiuk.org to submit your entry.

P.S. It’s La Befana today – the Feast of The Three Wise Men. In Italy, an old Lady arrives in the middle of the night and leaves small presents in the socks for children. Have your socks been filled today too?

P.S. 2 If you don’t want to submit anything, just have a pleasant stroll through the photographs and vote. You have as many as 10 votes to spread around.

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‘But you have a family!’ – On Photography, Competition, Trauma, Change and Performance 

I like to improve. To do better and be better. I love coaches, teachers and mental health professionals. I like to advance. But in the last two years I wasn’t full of pick-me-up stories myself. I was the opposite (that’s a long story to be told at a different opportunity). Partially, it was because I started thinking that it’s not OK to want to be better, that it’s not OK to learn and that it’s not OK to want to be a good player, that it’s not OK to get stronger. Where has that mentality emerged? When has this started to develop? 

But I want to get better and be better. Surely, that is not wrong. 

I’ll be honest this post is a reaction to a small quarrel I had with a friend last night. The conflict was again about photography and being a mum.

‘You have a job.’

‘You have a family.’

‘You have pets.’ 

‘You don’t have strength or stamina to be a photographer. It’s a an exhausting job, a demanding job.’

And as usually I backed off. I turned into a small girl who just wants to hide and quietly write and read in the corner. ‘Remain invisible’ – the scolded girl heard. 

I just want to be a writer. I always said I want to use photography in my work. I don’t need to be a professional photographer. 

And then I cringed at my own words and thought to myself: Right, Alicja. There’s work to do here. You are losing your yards here. You lost. You lost against your friends. 

Sod it, I thought to myself. I am going to be a professional photographer and a writer and a bloody damn good coach, because I will and I am sorry I am not going to allow people around me to destroy the culture of confidence that I am trying to build. I have been on the bottom, I have learnt my lesson and touching the bloody pit made me want to learn and listen. Truth, to listen somewhat selectively, but in the past I was listening selectively too – to the negative and I ended up taking anti-depressants. Look, I am not talking out of order here. There is a lot of research that suggests that societies who tell the stories of courage and strong leadership qualities are more likely to overcome their traumas that they encountered. Now it’s not the time for negativity but for wise choices and for seeing what is possible rather than what isn’t. 

These reads make me think that it is possible:

I have three great books at home that inspire me. One of them is entitled: ‘One Hundred Reasons to Hope’ and these are stories of incredible people that Captain Sir Tom Moore spoke to on Zoom call or met during lockdown easing. The book contains also other stories of people who brought hope and relief to others. The book cherishes hope and to a large extent redefined my memories of lockdown, added a new and much needed dimension and made me look differently at statistics too. Do you know that more than 15 000 retired health professionals came back to help in the NHS because of the Covid crisis and the vaccine was brought to us in just nine months, while it usually takes 10 to 15 years to make a vaccine. The book is full of hopeful stories that would certainly set a good tone to your day and make you and your children happier. 

Trauma keeps us small, keeps us tight, makes us freeze, flight and fight; makes us stuck in our usual responses, but what does the opposite? This has been my question and my therapy. Of course there is a process to it. Of course, there is a lot. I’ll be explaining this process here later in a different post, but just stay with me. Pay attention to what releases an incredible body language in you? What makes you want to jump out of bed and dance or move forward? What makes you want to recover or push forward? In another book that I wanted to recommend here and that I love to work with, Dan Abrahams, a sport psychologist, introduces a coaching model for developing world class players and he talks a lot about the importance of voice and messages that are sent to players. He writes: ‘Too many of your players will chip and chisel away at their self-belief. They probably spend their days breaking self-belief rather than building it. Players can’t build enough self-belief.’ It’s not always winning that builds that confidence but mindset and intensity of training. It’s the insistence of the coach, Abrahams says, ‘that helps things go beyond the intellectual and into the emotional. It helps players feel what it’s like to focus..” Be there for them. Give them attention. 

So my conclusion here is I cannot have enough self-belief. This is impossible. The problem with low self-belief is always the same. I end up doing everything late and I end up being the last one to implement changes… ‘A late adopter’, as people in business as well as the author of the third book that I wanted to recommend, Atul Gawande in A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, writes. If we always catching up, we do not see the inadequacies in our practice but, as Gawande asserts “a doctor must not let that happen-nor should anyone who takes on risk and responsibility in society”. Gawande writes something else too that touches me to the core. He says: “The notion that human caring, the effort to do better for people, might make a difference can seem hopelessly naive. But it isn’t.”

And let me stay here for a while and ponder this thought. 

Photography and art have been helping people for a long time. My own experience showed me how healing and healthy-out-of-your-shell body language emerged because I picked up a camera or because someone else picked it up. Dan Abrahams talks in his book about ‘building an inner catalogue of pictures that can drive the mentality and mindset of the players’. He means it metaphorically – I mean it literally too.

I believe it is my task to help people develop their catalogues of supportive images, of images that they can reach for when they need to, because we cannot have too much self-belief and will to contribute to the society. We can always do with some more. 

As for my friend, I think he played devil’s advocate for a reason. Now I can see even more meaning in the 52 frames portrait project that I am about to start. Just like Captain Sir Tom Moore, I want to share inspiring portraits of people and tell their stories. I also believe in photography for wellbeing. There is strength and recovery in both.

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Multilingualism, Photography and Family Communication

It’s not easy to raise children in today’s highly pressured environment, let alone to grow their language skills steadily in multiple languages when they are just growing up so quickly and find themselves under pressure too: to achieve and to perform. I bet you often find yourselves tired and lost for words or you simply wonder how to guide the conversation in a way that is nourishing for your child’s development and relaxing for you.

I have plenty of solutions for you to implement.

If you would like to expand your skills of questioning and conversations over photographs, join me in a free workshop and be a part of my first focus group.

The workshop will take place on the 15th of January 2022.

To join the webinar, simply subscribe below with your email address:

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Featured

December Newsletter

A winning entry in the Rolls-Royce Photographic Society Contest won by Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

I’ve been sitting here for a couple of hours trying to write this newsletter. Truth be told, I have never written a newsletter before and reaching out to people is not a common practice of mine, albeit I would like to make it regular and I hope you will find this newsletter not only informative but also enjoyable. 

I am writing to you because you know me in some capacity or other, be it as a language teacher, a photographer, a writer, a coach or a volunteer, or a blogger and communicating from multiple sites and positions has become quite cumbersome for me and I feel it’s time to integrate them in one place and reach you from a new platform. You you do not wish to receive these emails, just email me back.

Over the last year, I have been trying to create A Credible Dreamer – my aim was to show that a migrant mother can reach her dreams in the UK, be it artistic, linguistic or entrepreneurial. I feel the year was an interchangeable stretch of ups and collapses, voiced needs and voiceless screams, burnt opportunities and soothing wins. But the story progresses, and A Credible Dreamer as a start-up emerges from overwhelming dystopian circumstances to a soothing and creative reality. 

These are the things that you may expect in the future from me:

  • photography
  • guidance on creative projects
  • creative workshops that strengthen mental health and resilience
  • coaching and mentoring opportunities
  • lessons on photography and family communication
  • competitions, community, growing together
  • courses
  • wall art

But in order to serve people’s needs well, I would like to invite you to take part in any of these focus groups:

  1. Photography and Family Communication (Zoom only)
  2. Photography and Mental Strength (Zoom or In-Person) 
  3. Portrait – Outdoor and Studio (In-Person) 
  4. Creativity Coaching (Zoom or In-Person)
  5. Small and Large Photography Projects
  6. Experimental Photographic Methods.

The aim of these focus groups is to check and find out how well I can anticipate and reach your needs. The focus groups will involve interviews online and a practical taster session followed by feedback. I would like from 8 to 10 people per group and I would greatly appreciate your support. If you happy to participate, just email: info@acredibledreamer.com text me on Facebook or Instagram, or call me on (0044) 01332 769 335. The focus groups will be taking place at different parts of the year, and I will launch them as soon as a group of 10 forms. You will be informed by email about the timings, and dates, etc. Each group will need a day. 

On another note. 

Together In The UK and A Credible Dreamer launched a Soothing Photography Competition. You can submit your entry here (http://tgiuk.org/). The competition will be judged by three distinguished photographers: Stewart Wall, the Regional RPS organiser for East Middlands and First Chair of the new Distinction Photo- books Distinction, who specializes in lengthy documentary and street photography and has been working as a press photographer, Alex Benyon who is a mental health advocate and a wedding photographer as well as Rehmat Rayatt, a photographer, filmmaker and a Yoga teacher. There are great prizes to win, among them family photoshoots, photobooks as well as photography workshops and courses, so do join us.

Exhibition

November was dedicated to mental health and I made a photographic display, 7 pictures stationed on large wooden easels placed on the bridge, at Derby train station. Two pieces of my work are displayed below. I was very moved by an incredibly welcoming attitude from the workers of Network Rail and special support of Paul Mobbs the manager at the train station. When one is a mum, looking after one’s mental health is very difficult, but to soothe our children we must learn to soothe ourselves. We must share our struggles to lift ourselves up daily to love and responsibility. I felt I had to close my memories in the frames in order to offload a little bit and create more space for joy. Sometimes it’s the only way to remain sane, that is why I invite you to take part in the focus group on photography and mental strength and enjoy the benefits of framing and re framing our thoughts and pasts. I was also very happy to present my poem ‘And When I will be Weak’ at Derby Train Station on Remembrance Day and contribute two pieces of art work to the Poppy Appeal.

As a photographer I draw a lot of inspiration from children stories and illustrations, and I will be going live with Iza from Czytamy po polsku (We are reading in Polish) on Friday, 17th December, at 9:30 to talk about books and illustrations.

Next will I will be also interviewing Alex Benyon and the video will go live soon.

And the final note, we have just finished our first Coaching and Photography pilot and I was working with the wonderful Leyla Deshkevich and here is her snapshot of her Photography and Coaching package. If you would like to book one for yourself, just get in touch. The package is currently priced at £349.00 and involves 6 coaching sessions plus an outdoor photoshoot.

Stay tuned.

Keep well and stay safe.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Alicja

Portrait, Purple, ICM

Modern portrait. My work. In the photograph Leyla @lili_rose_tulips Purple is a colour of maturity. It calls me a lot recently. It asks for attention. It makes me happy because it tells me that my inner adult wants to find it’s voice. Maybe a wise strong woman.. It also calls for cooperation, preparation and courageous communication. All these things that we need a lot of in life. Adult skills.

Lighter shades of purple tend to soothe that is why we are often encouraged to decorate our houses with this colour. Is there anything purple that soothes you? Submit your photo entry at www.tgiuk.org and win a photoshoot or photographic courses.

I took this photo in Oxford while visiting Botanic Garden with a group of fellow female photographers from SheClicks. I think Oxford Botanic Garden would be very surprised to see how their flowers can complement a portrait, don’t you think?

Any questions? Email me on: info@acredibledreamer.com

Have a great Sunday.


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