So there's this girl... Her name's Kristina. I like her a lot. You may recognise her from a few of my pictures. Somehow, proving that miracles exist, she's now my girlfriend. Let me tell you the story...
I first saw her at the Green Park Gathering, surrounded by dozens of photographers, in a pretty white dress offered up by the amazing photographer Brooke Shaden, whom were all there to meet. I remember being quiet and offering no direction, as my voice was drowned out by some more assertive and visionary photographers anyway. So instead, I found my favourite angles and started shooting as Kristina posed in the dry August grass, and twirled and skipped all over the place. I was hooked on her, but forced myself away to shoot a few other models, before I inevitably found Kristina back in front of my lens. Once the big group photo was taken and everyone was high on inspiration as they chatted, networked and exchanged business cards, I found a chance to talk to her. I remember her beautifully unique accent surprising me, and reeling me in further. As soon as I found out she was Russian, my mind went flying to remember any of the few words I'd learnt a few years ago. You know, so I could impress her. After exchanging emails and Facebook's', she, Ana, Simon, Rachel and I headed in search of drinks...before finding ourselves in a gorgeous dessert shop near Picadilly Circus. She joined me in getting some cake, and we talked for a while before we all ran to our respective trains.
After enthusiastically assuring her she could come, we met again at Let's Get Creative in Cannock a couple of weeks later. It was difficult to tear myself away from laughing and shooting with her. We climbed trees, poured talcum powder over each other and produced some stunning images. And oh my, she made the best pancakes. This girl was just amazing! I had spent the morning trying to wake up, get inspired, and get over my self-doubt in the presence of so many awesome photographers...but as soon as I had Kristina in front of my lens, bam, I was back. She has that effect of me. She motivates. She inspires. When it was my turn to model topless, I made sure she saw. I tell you, seeing the shock on her face when I spoke Russian to her just before we parted ways, was brilliant.
After Cannock, we were talking daily. I'd developed a bit of a crush. We'd already created some beautiful pictures, and were keen to explore London in pursuit of more. So on the 13th September, we met at Green Park pretty much where we first met, and set off on our epic tour of the capital.
As the sun beat through the clouds, we strolled through Green and Hyde Park. We found ourselves at the Royal Academy of Art for the British Art Fair, for which I had two invitations (very graciously sent through from GQ). I hoped this would impress her, and make me seem more cultured. It seemed to work. We took our time through the exhibits, breathing in the atmosphere and inspiration, and occasionally recoiling once we saw some of the attached prices. Who knows, I may survive as an artist after all. By the time we had walked through the entire exhibition, we were already planning our lives as artists. I was starting to feel different - not hunger, I knew I felt that - but just absolutely happy.
We found a gorgeous bistro serving steak and chicken in Kensington, so settled down for some lunch. I tell you what, it doesn't get much better than steak frites on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in London, sat across the table from a beautiful girl. Except you can hold the french mustard... That stuff was eye-wateringly hot!
I've been craving cobbles lately. Well, any kind of character and history really. I don't see a lot of it living in the concrete jungle that is Milton Keynes. But we stumbled across a perfectly quaint side street, and I went nuts. A simple iPhone snap to remember the location, quickly...and inevitably turned into 20 minutes of portraits and twirls in her long blue coat. I'm not sure who looked crazier. Kristina twirling around over and over again, or me, lying in the middle of the road and on the cobbles to try and get the angles I wanted.
We made our way through the beautiful boroughs, and found ourselves at the Tower of London. The sea of 888,246 red metal poppies was a truly stunning... and humbling sight. I couldn't help stopping to take a moment and think about what it meant. We soon ended up next to the Thames admiring the view and taking some selfies, as any good tourist. On the way back from St Katharine's Docks, of course I had her posing in the middle of the road as we crossed it. I hope she realises just how appreciative I am of her putting up with my incessant picture taking!
The sunset was spectacular as we crossed Tower Bridge. Pinks and purples filled every corner of the sky. It was a perfect moment - one we had both been afraid to make the first move during, we later found out. I remember standing there, wishing I could kiss her, but terrified I'd screw up the rest of an otherwise amazing day. Oh how wrong I was. We did get a damn cute selfie out of it though.
We made our way to the Shard as I'd never seen it up close. She was insistent on giving me the best tour of London. Damn it's huge. We rested our weary feet in the nearby Starbucks - she, with a chai latte, and me, with enough chocolate to overdose the Easter Bunny. Our day of shooting was essentially over. But the night was only just beginning, and we still had one more place to visit.
Shoreditch would be our final destination. Yet another slice of London I had yet to experience. The art (some would call it graffiti I guess) covering the walls of Brick Lane was fantastically inspiring. I love the eclecticness, the passion. We walked the length, and ended up in a great little Mojito bar. We wiled away the evening sharing a pitcher and attempting salsa in the small space of the bar. My two left feet from university still prevail. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. Kristina just blew my mind. I remember looking at my watch far too often, dreading the time I would have to leave to catch the last train home. Einstein got it right.
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.” - Albert Einstein
Our laugh and-creativity-overloaded day ended all too soon, as we journeyed back to Euston Station. As we sat on the floor against one of the pillars, I looked at her. As a way of overcoming my childhood shyness, I sometimes find myself throwing myself into situations before I realise I'm doing it. Before I knew it, I had asked her out. What was I saying?! One half of my mind was in complete denial, wondering why I ever thought I had a shot with such an incredible girl. I mean dude, pull yourself together. The other half just kept saying my life's mantra...
If you want it, go get it.
I soon got my answer in the best way imaginable.
We left London feeling on top of the world, and our fingers intertwined. I had explored London, soaked up some culture, devoured a steak, captured some wonderful pictures, developed even greater passion, inspiration and drive to follow my heart... and finally shared a kiss with the most beautiful girl I've ever met.
We've spent every weekend together since. She's helped me move out of my flat, back to my parents house. I've proudly watched her become a British Citizen, arriving with 30 seconds to spare. I've finally visited and photographed around Kew Gardens with her and her amazing friends, all of whom are utterly inspiring too. She's given me the drive, the ambition, and the belief to take myself seriously in my photography. That kick up the arse I've needed (not literally). I'm even learning Russian again. I can't thank her enough already.
So there's this girl...
She's моя маленькая.