When I was a college student, my boyfriend was studying karate, and I started studying with him. He and his brother were black belts - his brother wrote the Karate Kid, based on my boyfriend's story - and we'd watch our Sensai sometime. He was tall, thin, and Japanese. We never saw him working out, not in the way we did. My boyfriend was relentless: he was like a young cat, in his prime: still a kitten in some ways, bouncing and pouncing and honing his craft, pushing himself to new heights of perfection.
Sensai, on the other hand, seemed to metaphorically lounge in the sun. Once in a while, when no one was looking, he'd stretch, do a quick move, relax again. And then, out of the blue, he'd turn into a tiger.
That memory went through my mind this week, at Somerset House. I was long past the point of enjoying 'passing the baton' onto the younger, hungrier bloggers. I was done with the circus. I'd watched something I had so enjoyed in 2009 - the anthropological aspect of street style fashion photography - become, instead, a vehicle to promote people, mainly young women, who wanted to be famous and envied for not doing anything. I was tired of people befriending me so I could be their Bailey. I'm not a Papp, and I was never getting paid. Certainly not the £1000 per photos, as claimed in Suzy Menkes' recent piece in the Times, The Circus of Fashion. And then - when bloggers you all know and sometimes love - some who acted like my closest friends - started ambushing me and stealing my gigs to get ahead, I decided, enough is enough. I've got enough friends.
And that's when I stopped coming to fashion week.
But it's funny how something comes full circle: coming back now, with the distance of time, I could watch the next generation, with their boundless energy and enthusiasm, and see myself in them. And just like the weather turned miraculously, blindingly brilliant - if cold - I felt a kind of golden something beaming down on me. I didn't shoot much 'street style' - only occasionally asking someone to pose. Like this girl, above. I didn't even get her name.
But it gives me great pleasure, I must admit, to know that I've so honed my skills that nearly every shot I got, I like. It's because I didn't shoot any of the people that seemed to want to be shot. I just - as I did in my early days - simply went for people who seemed nice.
I could post every day for a year with the shots I got in three days. So I'll take it slow. One day at a time.