Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Summer Tales Part 2 - The Wild West

The next part of our journey was very exciting! We were heading to Lee Vining, a little town situated next to Mono Lake, just North of Yosemite. We had a long drive ahead of us that we hoped to do in one day, and on the way we wanted to stop at Lake Tahoe. The drive was supposed to look something like this:


However, unfortunately as we were headed towards Lake Tahoe, we ended up driving towards a road block and got very close to some very large forest fires. We heard on the radio that they had been raging for a few days and covered a huge area, something like 17,000 acres. We were redirected and lost a bit of time; we had planned to visit the ghost town, Bodie later that afternoon but didn't have time.

We did see Lake Tahoe in the distance, but that's as close as we got....

We did however have time to stop for a bit of vintage shopping. We crossed over the State line into Nevada just after we were redirected, and ended up stopping in a town as we passed by a huge antique mall. Well, getting out of the car at this point was the first time we felt the full effect of the heat, and boy was it hot?!! The lady in the antique mall said that it was unusually hot for the time of year and that they were having a heat wave. When we had been out towards the coast it hat been warm, but not particularly hot, and even quite chilly in the evenings. But here it was almost 30 degrees hotter, which is a very strange feeling when you've just driven for a few hours in a car, in the same country!


Huge ANTIQUES sign. Yes please!



We picked up a few goodies including a lovely 40s blouse with 'Willows Hotel' embroidered on the back, a California charm bracelet, some 40s Sailor pants and a bunch of vintage photos, including some of an actor dressed as Superman, and Clark Kent!

We hopped back into the amazingly air- conditioned Dodge and headed to Lee Vining. What a picturesque little town greeted us! We were delighted with our digs for the night, The Yosemite Gateway Motel which overlooked Mono Lake, we even had a friendly cat that kept coming into our room and purring outside the door. We ate at the local grill and had the best night sleep after our journey!

Skipping through Lee Vining in my Willows Hotel blouse

The next morning after a stack of pancakes at Nicely's Restaurant, we drove back to Bodie, because we didn't want to miss it. We knew we had a long drive ahead of us again, but we would have regretted it totally if we had skipped it. We gave ourselves just over an hour to look around, but it was so worth it!!

Breakfast. What the hell is that white stuff? Certainly isn't butter as I know it!! First I thought it was ice cream and got a nasty shock

View behind the hotel of lake Mono 

Hanson took photos around Bodie on his Hasselblad, and they are such beautiful images:



Bodie is was a gold prospecting town that had its heyday in around 1880 when there were up to 7,000 residents living in 2,000 properties, but by 1910 this had dropped to 698 residents. Most people had  followed the boom to other prosperous mining towns. Even though people still lived there, it was first labelled as a ghost town in 1915, and by 1920 there were just 120 recorded residents. In 1932 a fire destroyed much of the downtown district, and by 1943 there were just 3 people left in Bodie, including the caretaker. Bodie is a real Wild West ghost town, and you can read about tales, of murder, gambling and prostitution. One young girl famously wrote in her diary 'Goodbye God, we are going to Bodie'








Oh yes, worth mentioning because it's funny - there is a 3 mile gravel track that leads you into Bodie, and all along the road these tiny creatures kept flinging themselves in front of the car, or scurrying across at speed forcing us to slam on the brakes! I'm still not entirely sure what they were, possibly chipmunks? But they were very cute, and obviously had some kind of death wish!

Next stop - Death Valley!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Summer Tales Part 1

Hello!

I hope your Summer/Winter (wherever you may be)  has been as wonderful as mine.

In June, we flew out to Sunny California to photograph the wedding of two special people that we are delighted to call our friends, in the beautiful Sonoma County region surrounding the Russian River . What a magical place!


We didn't really know what to expect but as we hadn't done too much research into the area we were staying, as our heads were sort of focussed on the hard work aspect of photographing a wedding, the day itself and planning a big trip! But we couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.

The teeny tiny town of Duncan's Mills had its boom time in the Victorian era when two brothers set up their logging business there. Unfortunately most of the town was flattened in the great earthquake of 1906, but what remains and what has flourished there since, in Duncan's Mills and the nearby towns is a happy, sleepy, friendly atmosphere of life by the waters of the beautiful Russian River. We especially loved Guerneville and the quaint little Monte Rio with its wonderful sign 'Welcome to Monte Rio, Vacation Wonderland'.

As an English girl, born and bred in dirty old London town, although it sounds such a cliché; this side of America really is like a film to me. Being in the great big, beautiful outdoors gave me such a sense of space, freedom and complete awe at nature, that I have only experienced  before on our last visit to the States in 2013.






We spent 4 days in this area, exploring, spending time with wonderful friends, and photographing the *most* incredible and beautiful wedding I'm sure we are ever likely too. The day after the wedding our pals took us to the Town of Bodega where Hitchcock's The Birds was filmed and then went to the BEST seafood restaurant, which I believe was called Tony's (?). I have a really bad iphone pic of it which is too crappy to share, but the clever GPS on the phone tells me that Tony's is on Petaluma. Oh man, what I wouldn't do for a bowl of that clam chowder now



Running from all the imaginary birds

When we left the area and our pals, (although he wouldn't like to admit it) we both had a little tear in our eye, but we were excited for the BIG adventure to come, and I'll be back soon to tell you all about it.....

Monday, 27 April 2015

Picture a wedding

Are you getting married soon and seeking a wedding photographer?


If you follow my social media channels you may already be aware of this fact, but sometimes when I'm not doing my day job in the museum, I photograph weddings with my partner Hanson.

We started Mid Century Weddings as an off-shoot to Hanson's other photography freelance work, because we both felt it was something creative and fun that we would love to get involved with.

Hanson's main inspirations for all his photography work come from mid-Century photojournalism and the images from the lenses of celebrated LIFE Magazine photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, to name but a few. So that's the approach we like to take, discreet and laid back, not directing the day or the action in any way, but letting the events happen and making sure we are in the right place at the right time to capture the memories.

We have been lucky enough to photograph some beautiful weddings so far and met some wonderful and welcoming couples who have invited us to be part of their special day.

I will not lie, photographing weddings is hard work! But its extremely gratifying, and I like to think that we do a good job too! Here's a selection of the lovely couples that we've had the pleasure of photographing
















So that question I posed at the beginning - are you getting married soon and looking for a photographer? If you are, then we have a special offer for you, just because you read this! This is what our package includes:

Full day of photography starting from your desired time. This could be the 'getting ready' shots with the bride or groom in the morning, or we'll just meet you at the ceremony venue. We will shoot the full day and normally finish after the first dance when everyone’s getting a little squiffy!
 
Hanson as the main photographer and Jeni as 2nd shooter 
 
 Roughly 250-300 digital images provided via an online image sharing service for you to download.
 
Images are provided in a mix of black and white and colour. This is dependent on Hanson’s editing and experience understanding which images look better in each colour way. If you want any particular images in black and white or colour after you have received them they can be provided at no extra cost
 
Images will be ready 4-6 weeks after your wedding
 
Normal Price: £1000
 
Yesterday Girl Reader Offer: £850
 
If you like what you see here and you want to know more then please drop us an email at info@hansonleatherby.com and tell us that you saw the offer on the blog. We are always delighted to meet for a consultation first to chat through your plans and expectations for your wedding photography, and of course - to see if you like us!
 

www.midcenturyweddings.com
 
 
Note - if your wedding is outside London we charge an additional cost for petrol which will be calculated by an online fuel calculator

Monday, 2 March 2015

Fashion on the Ration

On the 5th of March, IWM London opens a brand new, (and very exciting!) exhibition - Fashion on the Ration


If you collect or wear vintage clothing from the 40s and 50s, then you will be well aware of the value that the little CC41 label can add. Fashion on the Ration explores the history behind the Utility scheme and the effect it had on the British public. Themes explored include how people adapted to austerity measures and the results of their ingenuity in tough times, the introduction of uniform for the massses, new 'functional fashion' styles, and how this all surprisingly allowed fashion to flourish in the most pleasing of ways.

©IWM

 The exhibition brings together 300 exhibits including clothing, accessories, photographs and film, official documents and publications, artworks, wartime letters, interviews and ephemera, some of which have never been on display before, Fashion on the Ration presents a sense of what life was like on the home front for men and women during wartime Britain. 


Fashion on the Ration is divided into 6 sections and here's a little bit about what you can expect to see in each section:

Into Uniform looks at the effect of the sudden swathes of uniform clad guys and gals seen on the streets of Britain, what the most and least popular styles were; so the darlings of the armed forces in the RAF aka 'Brylcreem Boys' and the jealousies of the boys of the Army, and how military uniform came to influence civilian clothing


Functional Fashion explores the influence of wartime measures on everyday life such as siren suits, blackout buttons and gas mask handbags


Luminous flowers to wear in the blackout - just one of the ways that functional fashion had commercial value
©IWM


Beauty as Duty, one of my favourite wartime sayings, looks at the way in which so many women felt it their job to maintain their personal appearance as a small part to play in boosting morale on the home front. This section also explores the lengths women were forced to go to to do so in the face of shortages of cosmetics and the introduction of politics in the women's daily routine such as slogan printed headscarfs and advertising campaigns such as 'lips in uniform'


One of the beautifully decorated propaganda scarfs that can be seen in the exhibition
©IWM


Rationing and Make do and Mend Shortages of fabrics and rationing of clothing meant that people were forced to make clothes last longer by mending, knitting and transforming old clothing. This section uses the great example of a men's suit, adapted and changed into a women's skirt suit. The introduction of rationing in 1941 changed the nation's shopping habits and forced people to be more creative with their wardrobes

©IWM

Utility Clothing Although CC41 has now become extremely collectable amongst vintage enthusiasts, during the war the idea of 'Utility' clothing was not greeted with such enthusiasm. This section of the exhibition has a beautiful and somewhat surprising collection of colourful clothing all made to Utility regulations, and explores what that actually meant for clothing manufacturers at the time. 


Peace and a new look? This section looks at how the end of the war impacted upon fashion, and considers the long-term impact. On display will be a ‘VE’ print dress worn by the comedienne Jenny Hayes to celebrate the end of the war - which I am very excited about, and an example of the ubiquitous demob-suit, issued to men leaving the military services. In 1947, the launch of Christian Dior’s ostentatious ‘New Look’ shook the fashion world desperate for something new after years of pared down wartime fashion.


Sneak peek!!

Here's the surprise - not so much of a surpise if you know me - I work at IWM London, so you maybe that makes me a bit biased. At the time of writing this, I havent actually seen the finished exhibition yet, so only have the press release to go on and the information from my passionate and hard working colleagues! However, even if I didnt work there I would be as equally excited about this and think its a great time to have such an exhibition on in London. As some of you may know, not long after this opens, across town in South Kensington, the V&A also have the much anticipated Alexander McQueen exhibition opening. I think its wonderful to see two of London's leading museums have 2 major fashion exhibitions at the same time - one depicting an important and influential name in modern British fashion, and one looking back at an incredibly important time in British fashion history, and making us reflect on the influence that the style of the time has on our fashion industry now.






There is also book to accompany the exhibition - Fashion on the Ration by Julie Summers. This gives a thoughtful and in depth look into the main themes of the exhibition. Its on sale here for a special exhibition price.


Tickets to Fashion on the Ration are £10 and there are concession prices to - you can book them here

The museum's cafe are also running a group package where you can book tickets to the exhibition and enjoy an afternoon tea. Tickets available here


One last thing you might enjoy! If you follow Imperial War Museums on Twitter they are running a lovely campaign user the hashtag #whatmyfamilywore where you can share photos of your family in the 1940s. There are some wonderful pictures that have already been shared!


If you do go and visit the exhibition, please let me know what you thought - and if you see me in the museum, be sure to say a cheery hello! ;-)




Saturday, 21 February 2015

She's wearing my dress!

A while ago I stumbled upon this picture of Magda Gabor wearing this pretty dress. It's a bad quality image and I've scoured the internet trying to find another version of it to no avail. As soon as I saw the picture I gasped 'that's my dress!' Well.... I have what I believe, is exactly the same dress. I so wish the picture of Magda was in colour so I could see if it matches exactly! 


Here's me in the dress, snapped a couple of months ago at Christmas. Don't you just love it when that happens in the vintage world? Its up there with finding an old advert for an item of clothing you own or seeing someone you know online on the other side of the world has an identical item of vintage as you.




I bought mine about 5 years ago from Beyond Retro on Cheshire Street for £75.00. Red velvet Anne Fogarty's don't seem to be particularly rare, as I've seen a few in different styles before. A quick internet search brought up these below, however she is still a sought after vintage designer who was known for making great quality clothing at affordable prices.


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Anyone else had a similar experience with discovering an item of clothing in an old photograph matching something that you own?