I met Mina & Chris this week after chatting with Mina for a couple of months, so when she welcomed me into her home it felt like meeting a friend. While Mina and I chatted, Chris was on a flight home after a work-week abroad. He told me later that day that he first met Mina in an airport and, having followed her on Instagram for a couple of months, I had learned that the two of them spend a lot of time flying the globe together.
After having re-scheduled this shoot a couple of times due to the typically unpredictable British weather, we were lucky to hit upon a dry day. Although temperatures were high, I was gutted to see it was predicted to be a heavily overcast day. However as you'll see, the sun made a glorious appearance half way through the shoot, bringing with it some magic to help the photos 'pop'!
It was such a fun afternoon filled with laughter, stories, flowering bushes and climbers and lots of dancing...mainly by Chris...some ballroom, mostly Irish. Keep scrolling to see his hidden talents revealed...the man has skills!
During our chats prior to their shoot, Mina mentioned that they'd like to visit a tank in Bermondsey, just a short walk from their flat. I was instantly intrigued - a tank? In London?! - and as I read more about it I couldn't wait to photograph them there.
Abandoned since 1995, "Stompie" the Mandela Way T-34 Tank is 'a strange war relic that is the product not of a national conflict, but of a fight between a businessman and city planners'. Every six weeks or so Stompie gets a fresh coat of paint, usually portraying some kind of political message, but mostly artists use the opportunity to send the simple but powerful message of love and peace.
After making friends with Stompie, we hopped in an Uber to catch the last of the blooms in Ruskin Park. Mina revealed she had actually driven not one, but multiple tanks during a 'tank driving experience' day last year, and that one tank actually had air con. Our Uber driver, a charismatic middle aged Bolivian man dressed in a sharp grey suit, told us that there hadn't been air con in the tank he spent months living in during his time in the armed forces in Bolivia. "It was 40 degrees outside but 60 degrees inside, the smell was pretty bad!". We chatted away as he found us a path through traffic jams. Mina & Chris spoke about their upcoming wedding in Hong Kong at the end of this year and he shared about his divorce and the difficult times he had been through.
"It's all about friendship, make sure you are friends first. When everything else falls away, that friendship will withstand...if you work on the friendship you will survive anything."
Pretty sage advice I reckon.
After saying our goodbyes we walked through Ruskin Park and headed straight for the wisteria-adorned walk way, one of my favourite spots to visit, and the summer sun broke through the clouds just as we arrived.
The dusky pink flowers turned into pastel violet as we moved through the walk way, and I fell a little bit in love with it all. The hazy sun, the fading blooms and of course Mina & Chris. Both looking sharp and both just being themselves and loving each other in their own unique way.
As I mentioned earlier on, Chris's dancing definitely got us both laughing - I mean, check out these impressive moves that shocked and awed his audience of two! A sneak preview of wedding day celebrations perhaps?! I really, really hope so. I can't not smile when I look at these...
We then took a walk over to what I think are some stunning Weigelas and Spurge laurels but I am absolutely terrible at identifying plants and flowers! (Any budding horticulturists out there? Leave a comment if you can identify any of these stunning blooms!) I have to say a special thank you to Chris & Mina for climbing into the bushes and for trusting me every step of the way during this shoot. Sometimes you just have to go with it and take a chance to get the best results!
I loved how clear it was that Chris and Mina share something special. They are both such independent, strong individuals and do not necessarily need each other, but they have chosen each other, and that is truly beautiful.
Ruskin Park is one of my favourite places to shoot in London and I think you can see why! It's named after poet and writer John Ruskin who lived near the park with his wife Effie. He was a major champion of diverse green spaces as well as of the Arts and Crafts movement. If you love a bit of melancholic pondering, his poetry is for you.
Our final shoot-spot of the day was the gorgeous bandstand located at the centre of the park. I have seen this bandstand in the rain, snow and sunshine and it always looks beautiful. Especially since its mini refurb a little while ago.
The park, its natural and man made surprises and thought-out layout inspires me as a photographer and I can imagine it inspiring artists of all kinds too. This place has a creative and vibrant history and it holds a special place in my heart as I was born in the hospital that overlooks the park, along with two of my sisters.
If you write or paint, perhaps consider spending a few hours there and see where it takes you. It has inspired many, one of note being photographer Colin Prime who used the park as the backdrop for Pink Floyd's first official photoshoot in 1967. Some of those shots are brilliant and well worth a look at, even if you're not a fan of the band.
And there we have it. It was so hard to narrow it down to just a handful of images from this shoot, although looking at other blogs I have included rather a lot in comparison! Well done if you've made it this far!
I can't wait to hear all about Chris & Mina's wedding day and to see where life takes them. They have shared so many amazing adventures together already but still have their eyes set on places to visit. I wish you both every happiness in your future together!
Until next time,