|NEVER LET ME GO by Tanya Simpson|
"Who is this 'Rockstar Vanity' chick on Flickr?'' I thought. No I didn't because it was on Deviant Art that I first came across Tanya's exciting images. I sent her my usual email and instantly I received a very brief reply saying something like ''Call me when you're next in Edinburgh" - well, at least it was a Yes. But then she wrote again saying that my email had come at a very opportune time because she had just embarked on a new personal project photographing men which was something she loved to do but didn't tend to do very often in the course of work. She was aiming for very honest portraits, reflecting the subject's personality and emotions rather than those of the photographer. This was in January 2012 and by June, I was beginning to make plans for my second photographic trip to Edinburgh by which time Tanya had come up with an idea for the shoot.
''I've had an idea but it's probably a bit weird and if you're not up for it, I totally understand. How do you feel about being in the sea (the shallow bit at the edge!) in your clothes? I've always found the sea to be a great source of comfort and frequently have dreams about being able to breathe underwater, being totally free in the ocean where it feels huge but safe and beautiful. In these dreams, the sea is usually an escape from something painful, difficult or frightening.
I've been listening a lot to Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine which makes me cry just about every time I hear it. A friend pointed out recently that it's most likely about suicide, but it's never taken my thoughts in that direction. I guess my mind isn't as dark a place as people tend to assume :-) It's always made me think of retribution and ultimate freedom through surrender and release, facing the unknown with strength and a sense of enlightenment.
There's a beach about 10 minutes drive from where I live and we could park right next to it. I was thinking clothed (possibly a suit, or smart trousers and a dress shirt) because it's visually striking and unexpected. A naked person in the sea isn't that unusual but someone walking into the sea fully clothed is about so much more than going for a swim. There's a sense of a baptism about it too, which I like. I'm not Christian but I always like that imagery of letting go and being set free by water. It'll not be massively cold in July either, which is good :-)
What do you reckon?''
Is the Pope catholic??! Of course, I was up for it!
On the day in question (18th July 2012), I met Claudine Quinn and Lucy Kendra for a cup of tea and a meringue the size of a football in a cafe near what is known as the Pubic Triangle and Tanya duly arrived at the appointed time to collect me in her motor car. I have to say that, from the moment I got into the passenger seat and never having met her before, I got on with her swimmingly. She is a charming woman whom has had to put up with a load of shit due to her M.E. but she has a lovely attitude to life in general and to her life in particular and, not only that, she's a bloody good photographer.
We drove to Portobello Beach and the tide was almost in which was perfect. It was a clear day with a bit of cloud and so I duly walked into the sea with my suit on and walked out again. Tanya said that she had got some great shots. Mr Wise Guy then suggested that he swim in the water with his suit on and he duly removed all his remaining belongings from the top pockets of the jacket and strode in again and flopped about like an olympic swimmer or as close as he could make it. All was well until I reached the shore and felt a desperate buzzing from the breast pocket of my shirt - I had forgotten my mobile phone! It died on that beach but amazingly, the Sim card survived. We tried some more shots without the shirt and jacket on but stopped short of nudity because there was a bit of an audience after all of the above.
I asked Tanya if I could take a photograph of her and she said NO!! in no uncertain terms. So, readers, I'm afraid that I cannot show you what she looked like but I can tell you. She looks like an angel with piercings all round her lovely open face. She is the prettiest person and that is accentuated by the huge amount of beauty within. She is the nicest of people and very gentle and warm and has a sense of humour to match. And she loves photography. I would love to work with her again and who knows......? Until then, enjoy these superb photographs and, if you want to see more of them and about my July trip to Edinburgh, there is a film on You Tube.
Thank you, Tanya x.