Seraphina is one of those people you meet who makes you smile from the off. I had walked into a fast food chain in London which had music playing and Seraphina was behind the counter having a little move to the music. I commented that it was nice to see someone so happy and she gave me a big smile. Fast forward several weeks and I'd been to that restaurant a few more times and exchanged hellos a few more times, so as I was leaving on this penultimate occasion I said "see you next time" to which she replied "I'm leaving to go travelling in South America for a while". This kind of stopped me in my tracks as I had thought I'd like to make a portrait of her but hadn't actually asked. It was never more true that the iron should be struck while hot and so I related that I would love to photograph her if there was time before she left. "Yes" was the answer and she scribbled her No on a customer feed back form and said to get in touch.
Skip forward a few days and I was meeting Seraphina in a cafe in Camden Town. I remember the day well because it was the day of an all out strike by the staff of London Underground. I managed to get an overground train to Euston and walk. Seraphina had to get busses which were caught up in the increased traffic of a strike day which made her quite late. I had a few coffees while I relaxed in a big comfy sofa.
When the London Transport gods finally delivered Seraphina to Camden the weather had taken a turn from sunshine to showers. Plans for a wander around Regents Park were dismissed. The cafe had a vaulted glass roof so there was still plenty of light and we had an impromptu shoot right there.
I'd brought two cameras with me. My Canon 5D3 with a 50 f1.2 lens and my Hasselblad 503CW with 80 f2.8 lens and some rolls of Fuji 400H film. The Canon was for the portrait and the Hasselblad for fun. In the end both cameras got equal use as the Hasselblad became a prop for Seraphina as well as taking some lovely photos in itself.
I should mention that Seraphina and I chatted for ages before I even took a camera out of my bag. I guess I kind of expected her to be the sort of girl you meet in a restaurant who wanted to go travelling. You know, a sociology or marketing diploma and wants to travel the well worn Thailand/Australia route. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that at all. I dropped out of college and never had the courage to travel. Kind of regrets, but I'm me and working on being the best me I can be. Still, it is my bad to have prejudged and pigeon holed her. My thoughts for our meeting were that we would chat banality and take some photos. But I was enthralled by her. A degree in philosophy with a side qualification in cosmology. A deep understanding of mathematics and a love of language, a writer of poetry and prose and a chanteuse too. I was more than a little envious that she'd visited the Large Hadron Collider as part of her studies. My intellect falls far short of her level but it was wonderful to meet someone with so many similar curiosities and excitement for science.
On to the pictures. The square ones were taken with the Hasselblad and the rest with the Canon. This is why I love photography. Because it connects me to people and I get to capture a little something of them with the extension to my mind and eye: A camera.
Keywords: 503CW, Canon, Cosmology, Film Camera, Film Photography, Fuji 400H, Hasselblad, London, Philosophy, Seraphina
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