Blog moved

Hey guys, just a quick update that I've moved the blog, which you'll be able to find at http://www.helenalapetite.com/blog/ now.
This site will stay around of course, so you can go through old posts if you're looking for something.
I think this is a good time to go through my archives as well, and edit + republish some of my old posts, which you might not have come across yet but would find helpful.
Let me know if there's anything you'd really love to read about! Thank you for your continuing support and for reading, I appreciate it a lot! :)


New Site + Workshop announced

I'm seriously SO HAPPY to share some great news with you - my new portfolio is up. After what feels like two years or more of wanting to update my website, I finally managed to get it up. I went with Squarespace in the end (yes, I'd recommend them!), and am working on integrating the blog into the new site soon as well. For now there are still a few things to change, but I decided to just go live with it now.

Also, there's a complete new workshop coming up in July - it will be a two day workshop focusing on teaching you all the photography basics from scratch in a way that's easy to understand. I want you to be able to get to know your camera and improve your photos even if you're a beginner. I'll also teach you how to create great images that work well on social media, and that can get you the most out of your online marketing. Images play such an important role in marketing, and especially with so many blogs around you want to stand out through the content you create and the photos you put up on your blog. They represent your brand after all.
The two days will be filled with fun, meeting new people, and creating amazing content for your blog or website that you can use straight away.
If you want to find out more head over to the site and book your spot. I'd love to meet you, and teach you everything I know.


Blueberry, Lemon & Almond Cake

You might have seen some similar pictures on Instagram quite a while ago - now I finally got around to editing all the pictures of the cake I made back then. I feel a bit sorry to say that I didn’t actually come up with the recipe, but adapted this one right here.
I’m happy to tell you that it tasted amazing, though! It was quite filling (lots of almonds), but SO good!

Anyway, here’s my adapted recipe - go ahead and make it! :)

Cake4 cups (400 g) ground almonds
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (120 ml) rapeseed oil
1/2 cup (120 ml) honey or maple syrup
2 small organic lemons
3 large eggs (replace with chia seeds* if you are vegan)
2 cups (300 g) blueberries (save half for topping)

Glazing1 cup/240 ml (250 g) Greek yogurt, drained (use vegan cream cheese if you are vegan)
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Combine ground almonds, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside. Heat oil and honey in a sauce pan on very low heat until combined. Grate the zest from the 2 lemons and add it to the honey/oil batter. Divide them in half and squeeze the juice from three of the halves into the mixture, saving one half for the glazing. Add the batter to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and then fold them into the batter together with 1 cup of the blueberries. Stir gently around with a wooden spoon until combined. Grease a 8-inch spring form cake tin, and add the batter to it.

Bake for about 40-50 minutes (depending on size of the pan and oven), or until golden on the outside and baked all way through (you can cover the cake with tin foil during the last 15 minutes of the baking time, if it starts looking burned). Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing the sides. Meanwhile, start making the glazing. Drain yogurt in a milk cloth or coffee filter for about 10 minutes. This is to make the yogurt less runny. Discard the water and combine the thick yogurt with honey vanilla extract and the juice from the remaining lemon half. Leave to chill in the fridge. When the cake has cooled completely, cover it with glazing, top with the remaining blueberries and serve. You could also just serve the cake with blueberries and yogurt on the side.

* You can replace three eggs with 3 tbsp chia seeds and 9 tbsp water that you combine and let sit for 15 minutes.


P.S. Just a reminder that the private view of my exhibition is tomorrow, if you’re in London and want to come. Would love to see you!


What 3 years of photojournalism have taught me / Part 3

This is the last part of a short series of reflective posts on my last three years. I hope you guys enjoyed the first and second part and got something out of it. Do let me know your thoughts and feedback, it’d be great to hear.

As I said last time, I want to go a bit deeper into creating photo essays today. My last year at uni pretty much consisted of writing my dissertation and working on my final major project - a complete and in-depth photo essay.
I documented Zippos Circus, and got access to both behind the scenes and the main show (for more info on the upcoming exhibition scroll down).

Now, I don’t want you to feel like photo essays have to be huge and are something that only ‘professional’ photographers can work on. It’s simply about telling a story and can relate to any kind of photography. It doesn’t have to be focused on social or environmental issues either. Photo essays can be fun and short and sweet if you want it that way. Sure, you’ll feel great when you produce a long-term project that you put a lot of effort into, but the basics of a photo essay can be applied to any kind of photographic work - and I believe that keeping the structure of a photo essay in mind when producing a series of photos can really add value and strength to your work.

So, how do you go about creating a photo essay?

First, ask yourself what you want to document, what story you want to tell. Try to be specific, and really focus on a particular point you want to make. And don’t worry, it’s not set in stone, you’re still flexible and can change your chosen story later if you find that it doesn’t work.

Next, do some research or at least brainstorm some ideas of what kind of photos you’d like to get. This will help you to get the idea clear in your head, and make it easier for you when you actually start shooting. Also, you’ll be able to explain what you want to do to the person you are working with/you’re taking photos of.

Then start shooting. Brainstorming and planning and all that can be fun, but you’ve got to do the work. You have to get started to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Look critically at your photos, and get some outside feedback. Think about your chosen story again and the point you want to make, and evaluate how well your photos communicate that story. What photos do you still need? What is missing? What doesn’t work?

Then go shooting again. And again. And again. Keep repeating that process until you’ve got a complete set of photos which tell your story in a simple and clear way.

Finally, organise your pictures. What order do they go in, which structure tells the story best? Again, make sure you get some feedback and other people’s thoughts, going through the editing process on your own can be frustrating, and you most likely won’t be able to get the most out of your photos and create the best photo essay possible.

And to finish, please tell me what story you want to work on, no matter how big or small - I’d really love to hear! :)

By the way - if you want to get the chance to look at a lot of different versions of photo essays and see how different stories are being told through photos, come visit our final year exhibition at the London College of Communication between 2-7 June at Elephant & Castle. The show is open from 10am - 5pm every day (except for 7th June 10am - 4pm, and late night opening on 3rd June).
Would be great to see you there!


Invitation to Exhibition

Some of you might already know - as part of finishing my course, we’re having an exhibition at the beginning of June, our final show. If you’re in London I hope you can make it - I’d love to see you there!
Below are the details:

Private View: Thursday 5th June 2014, 6-9 pm

Exhibition open: 2nd – 7th June 2014, 10am - 5pm (except for 7th June 10am - 4pm and late night opening on 3rd June)

Location: London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle, London, SE1 6SB

You can see a sneak preview of our work right here.
There will also be other courses exhibiting during the same time, e.g. BA Photography.


What 3 years of photojournalism have taught me / Part 2

Thank you all for your lovely feedback on the first part of this short series. I love hearing your thoughts, so please do keep sharing.
I also enjoy sharing my experience over the last three years with you, and hope it will inspire and motivate some of you to get more into photography.
So, here are a few more things I’ve learnt through taking the Photojournalism course:

During my second year we worked on two exciting collaborative projects: the uni newspaper (Arts London News), which is published once a week, and a magazine we created from scratch. I worked as the picture editor on the newspaper, which was such a challenging, busy, and exciting time. I remember feeling like it was the busiest time of my life so far. Anyway, working as the picture editor taught me a lot about working with people, managing and organising time, and being assertive while staying friendly and calm. If you can get a chance to take on a leadership role in any kind of creative area, you should take the opportunity. This isn’t necessarily related to photography, but of course I also learnt a lot about selecting and editing pictures, and working very quickly and efficiently - a skill photographers definitely need, if we don’t want to spend hours and hours editing pictures.
As I just mentioned, we also created magazines in small groups. This project taught me so much about working in a team, staying calm and collaborative, while keeping up a productive working spirit. I personally love working with others, it keeps me motivated and the accountability pushes me to work hard and get things done. But we all know, that’s not the case for everyone - so being able to work with all kinds of different personality types can be a real challenge, but also a great learning experience. Again, not specifically photography related, but collaborating with others will help you grow your social skills, which you’ll definitely need as a photographer in any situation. All those skills come in handy every time you work with a client.

Another project I worked on during my second year was creating a photo essay. I haven’t talked about photo essays much before, but it’s one of the most challenging and exciting photo projects to work on if you invest enough time and energy into it. For the photo essay during the second year at uni I photographed a farmer - it definitely was time-consuming and hard, but again I’ve learnt so much from it: getting access and finding the time that works for both people involved, running around and keeping up with whatever your subject is up to, keeping your frame clean and composing the photo in a nice way, looking out for interesting details, and at the same time keeping annoying things out of the image, selecting the best pictures, remembering what you still need a photo of and getting that picture, editing all the images and putting them in an order that tells a story…
This is just a brief summary of what’s involved in a photo essay. I’ll talk more about it in the next (and last) part of this series.

For now I want to encourage you to think of a project that you might want to work on yourself. No matter whether that’s telling a story about something you’re interested in and working on a photo essay, or creating a magazine on a topic that you’re passionate about. It doesn’t always have to be ‘official’ - why not look for people to collaborate with, and just do something for fun? You’ll definitely learn a lot from it.

What are some projects and ideas you’ve always wanted to work on? I’d love to hear!


What 3 years of photojournalism have taught me / Part 1

Images through Instagram

A few days ago I handed in my final major project. Now I’m officially done with uni, apart from our upcoming exhibition in June and graduation in July. This got me thinking about the last three years, what I’ve learnt and what I could pass on to you that you might get value out of.

To start with, let me quickly clarify and distinguish between photojournalism and documentary photography (which my course both involves). I often see people, especially in the wedding photography industry, talk about their style as photojournalistic - what they really mean is documentary. Photojournalism is, simply said, press photography. I captures news events, and other short-term situations, whereas documentary photography is about long-term projects, telling a story, and getting to know a subject over a period of time. Both photojournalism and documentary photography document something, which is why photojournalism is part of documentary photography, but documentary photography isn’t photojournalism.

Another important and most basic thing I’ve learnt is that you need to know your craft - the basics of photography. You need to know your camera, how to use it in manual mode, and everything else it can do. It’s also important to work with different visual techniques, such as composition, and get to a point where you feel comfortable taking pictures. This seems to be so simple and obvious, but is easy to overlook. You might feel like jumping ahead to the next step of figuring out a personal style, finding a specific area of photography to focus on, or making money with photography. But that would be like building a house without a base.

Now you need to get out there and practise. It’s the only way to learn the basics and improve. One thing that my photojournalism course made me realise, which made a huge difference, is to not just photograph pretty flowers and butterflies, but to get out there into the world and photograph the hard stuff. I went to protests, news events, film premieres, and more protests. And that might not sound like much fun to you - sure, it might not be, but it can be. I definitely don’t want to be a press photographer now, but I had a whole lot of fun taking photos at protests and really getting in there. Photographing demonstrations is exciting, exhilarating, and fun if you go with friends or other photographers. And it’s been a huge learning curve for me. I seriously believe that without going to protests and other events, I wouldn’t have learnt what I know now even half as fast. If you want to improve quickly, do something challenging!

Also get feedback on your photos. We had regular crits at uni, where everyone showed their photos of what they had worked on over the weekend or the last week. We talked about the positive and negative aspects, and provided helpful and constructive feedback. It’s important to share your work and to get others’ opinions on it, even if it might be tough. Not knowing where you are at or where you’re going will make it hard to know the areas that you have to improve in - and if you don’t know that, it’s hard to improve and become great at photography.

I hope this information has been helpful to start with - there is a lot more that I want to share with you, but I hope you do use these few simple but important points to get started with if you want to become a better photographer.
Let me know if you have any questions, or can relate to any of the points I made.


Brainstorm with me

I’m back. Thank you all so much for your patience, and most of all for your kind words, tips, and encouragement! It really means a lot, and I appreciate all of your support!!

Now, I’ve also had a bit of time to think about where I’m taking this blog and where my life is going in general. I’m about to graduate, and have got lots of thoughts and ideas on what to do next. I want to share some of those ideas with you today, and would love to hear your thoughts.

While I love photography, I’ve been interested in psychology for a long time now. The more time passes, the more I seem to be drawn towards topics like psychology in business, perception, branding, body language, marketing, presentation, the subconscious mind. I love understanding how the human mind works, and applying this knowledge to creative business situations. I love presenting something in a meaningful way, analysing situations and people, and thinking on a deeper/subconscious level.
I’ve been taking a lot of branding, presentation and body language courses over the last couple of years, and have watched many videos about the human mind, and how our subconsciousness works and influences situations.
I can’t quite find a general or summarising word for all these things, and haven’t managed to bring it all together yet. I would love to work in this area, and have just been brainstorming ways of how to put it into words and make it more tangible.

I also want to quickly talk about personality types, which relates to what I just mentioned as well. There are loads of personality tests out there, and I believe that most of them provide interesting insights. I wouldn’t call any of them ‘the one and only’ personality test, I think they all have downsides and benefits, but I believe that combined they can give you a pretty good picture of yourself. Let’s quickly talk about the Myers Briggs Test: I’m an ENFP. You can read more about it here and here. If you want to take the test, I’d love to hear what your type is as well.
ENFPs have a hard time focusing - I can tell you that ;) We love coming up with ideas, get all enthusiastic and excited about a project until the next one comes up. And the next one. And so on. While I think I managed pretty well to keep this blog focused on photography, there have been A LOT of ideas coming and going in my head over the years.
I’m mentioning this, because apart from my interest in psychology which I talked about before, I’ve been considering going deeper into food photography and making a baking book. This idea’s been floating around in my head for a long time now as well, but I’ve pushed it away every now and then when new new ideas came up. And then there’s another big idea I’ve got, based around NGOs and business. Well, more on that some other time.

I thought I’d share my what’s going on inside of my mind - I want to be completely open and honest with you, and of course I’m hoping to hear your thoughts and insights as well. Let’s have fun and do some brainstorming. :)