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AofA People: Clare-Louise Battersby – Photographer, Graphic Designer and Web Designer


4 Minute Read

What is your name?
Clare-Louise Battersby 

Briefly sum up who you are and what motivates you 

I am a once divorced, now happily married, bipolar, 40 something, creative type with a soupçon of tech geek thrown in for good measure. 
If you have a job, what do you do for a living? 

Freelance Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Web Designer. I also do two days a week, as and when I can, in a small independent wine and spirit shop as I have a lot of wine knowledge and I like being involved in the local community in Hampton Village. I do a few hours a week as a PA for a Business Psychologist as she helps keep me sane and I also volunteer in a small locally run charity bookshop for a few hours every other week. 

How long have you been doing this? 

I’ve been a creative type for as long as I can remember, to the point where back in my day, in a school in Dorset they didn’t really know what to do with me. Photography started out as a hobby and is now an all-consuming passion for both work and play. I had a strong Marketing & PR Career – Corporate side – until my 30s then swapped to Creative Agencies and finally I realised I wanted to ‘create’ myself rather than guiding someone else to do it. 

What do you find most satisfying about your job? 

Creative autonomy and making people feel something. There is no better natural high than someone explaining to you how one of your photographs made them feel. 

Is your work primarily a means to an end ie money or the motivating force of your life? 

It used to be a means to an end and also a bit of an identity crisis. I did the ‘business side’ because I was impressionable and led to believe that was how you measured success. Now I know doing what you love is far more important than a job title, car or salary. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful husband who supports me in all my endeavours and believes in my photography. 

If you don’t work for a living, can you say why? 

I have only once in my life not worked and that was when in the space of three months I had to give up my own Marketing & PR Agency, was getting divorced and my Uncle sadly jumped in front of a train at Clapham Junction. I was diagnosed with Non-epileptic fits (trauma based) and was unable to easily and confidently walk up / down stairs or do simple things without the potential of a frightening dissociative episode. It took me more than two and a half years, a lot of demon facing, soul-searching and ‘sitting’ with myself to move past it. Fortunately, while I remember that person sadly but fondly, I no longer recognise her in my current version of me!! 
  
When you were 8, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

An Archaeologist / Geologist. Although, according to my Mum, when I was 12 I asked her what you needed to ‘solicit’. She replied “A good body and a pair of French knickers”. Obviously, I meant ’solicitor’.  

Did you get there  – and if not, are you happy/sad that you didn’t? 

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. Bipolar is a constant battle and can often creep up on you, even when you are doing everything right. But I have the management techniques, support and family support to, in the main, deal with it as best as I can.
(I’m very happy to say I have never had to solicit) 

What is your dream job

Full-time Photographer working on my own projects rather than the gigs you have to do to pay the way. I really do love it all though, to be honest.  

If UK-based, are you glad, indifferent or disappointed that the official pension age is rising?
I recently read an article about Joel Meyerowitz who is in his 80s. Most famous for his NY street photography and being the only photojournalist allowed access to Ground Zero after 9/11. He said he is doing his best work now! He also said when he started photographing he was working at an Ad Agency in NY and it became a ‘hunger unlike any he had ever known’. I’ve sort of paraphrased this above but I relate hard and hope I am still doing photography to the end of my days!!
I was also brought up to believe in finding work no matter what. If I need money I go and see the old fashioned way if people need anything doing. I’m not proud and I’ll sweep floors if I have to earn a bit extra. Fortunately, I’m not really in that position anymore.

This Modelling Agency Is Challenging Fashion Industry By Only Hiring Models Over 45, And They Look Unbelievable | Bored Panda


2 Minute Read

In our young-and-sexy obsessed society, it has become all too easy to overlook the beauty and glamour of those who are aging gracefully. So while Hollywood is busy air-brushing, botoxing and face-lifting in a vain attempt to hold back the inevitable march of time, this Russian modelling agency has decided instead to embrace the beauty of ageing in a series of gorgeous photos.

Read the full article here: This Modelling Agency Is Challenging Fashion Industry By Only Hiring Models Over 45, And They Look Unbelievable | Bored Panda

Grandmother Power | Daily Good


11 Minute Read

In the last 20 years, photojournalist Paola Gianturco has documented women’s lives in 62 countries and created five philanthropic books that celebrate and advocate for women around the world. We met over a long lunch this winter, to discuss her work and many things grandmother-related.

Read the full story here: Grandmother Power | Daily Good

How does it feel to look good naked at 61?


1 Minute Read

”OFFS why does women ‘empowerment’ always have to involve them getting their kit off?” This was one of the responses on the Wearing Wellbeing Facebook page to a call for volunteers for – “A TASTEFUL (yes they did use capital letters) nude shoot for a piece about women and body confidence”.

Why did I jump at the chance? Well, primarily it was to see if I really had embraced acceptance of my older self. Also, I reasoned it would be useful research for my project, The Invisibility Myth. What I didn’t immediately get was the wider picture. I believe there’s a need for people to see normal body-confident golden agers and younger women who are embracing their natural body changes not fighting them; the softening, the battle scars of survival and of a life lived.

Our bodies are the manifestation of any issues that we normally conceal under clothes and makeup. Strip those away, and we have to face who we really are, no hiding. For me at 61 years old, this was an important part of my personal development. Holding a mirror up to see if my acceptance of my physical is actually real now. I’m no longer that young, confident self-made woman who lost her way in her 40s under the weight of fluctuating hormones and major life changes. I’ve been on a postmenopausal rebirth since the age of 50 and am, at 61 in a place where I’ve grown into my own skin and made peace with who I was then and who I am now, even though it requires constant vigilance!

I arrive at a photographic studio in Hoxton, East London feeling a tad apprehensive. It’s not about getting naked per-se, more an in-built unease and cynicism about the media and how I will be portrayed. Although the accompanying interview for the article has been read over the phone to me and I am happy with it, I know it’s not been edited yet, so it could all go tits up – literally! I walk into the groovy reception area, where there is a beautiful young woman with vitiligo, (I later find out she is one of the models) quietly feeding her week old baby girl. Not what I was expecting to see.

Friendly young hair and makeup ladies bustle around behind flimsy curtains preening a small group of women, before they shyly shrug off their robes to pose in the white, brightly lit studio space. I go hot and panicky. In those first few minutes, I think about bolting, but pause instead to chat with a simply AMAZING looking 87 year old woman. YES 87 with spiky red and white hair carefully arranged to hide her hearing aids. She is wondering out loud whether or not to keep her flesh-coloured thong on (it would be retouched out post shoot) for the benefit of her grandchildren. I laugh, gulp, take stock, calm down and get a grip.

Before I can think too hard I take my clothes off, put a thong, fluffy robe and slippers on… and suddenly there is a pause for lunch and chat. I recognize one of the models is a lady I met on the AoA OUTageous Bus Tour. It all begins to feel so normal, in a surreal kind of way. The (male) photographer and his young assistant join us and are so affable and confidence inspiring, I feel myself starting to warm to the occasion. The only covering our bodies have under our white robes is a thin coat of shimmering skin buffing cream applied with a body mitt (yeah there was much joking about nooks, crannies and creases!).

By the time it comes for post-lunch action, we three 87, 61 and 30-year-old women have bonded and the group shots of our bodies (think Dove commercial-esque) become a hilarious, really quite touching celebratory experience rather than a daunting on. We are stripped literally and metaphorically of anything to hide behind and I feel an endorphin flood of love and respect for these strangers with whom I am engaging in such an intimate unforgettable moment.

The photographer is happy to show us some of the results as the shoot progressed – he really knew his stuff. There was one shot of me sitting on the floor, my modesty carefully arranged intact, that I had to admit was wonderful.  It remains to be seen what the finished article and photos will look like, but whatever, I stand firm that my decision to do it was right. I leave the studio with a big smile on my face, feeling euphoric and proud of myself. I believe the other women feel the same. My reward is to trot down to the 24 hour Brick Lane Bagel Bakery (oh how many times I went there after all night benders in my youth!) to scoff a lox bagel AND a wedge of cheesecake, before meeting friends for a well-earned drinkiepoos. What started as something well outside my comfort zone, ended as an adventure. I am so pleased to have felt the fear of and done anyway.

In a time when we are all going to live longer and longer, I’m now in my Golden Age and quite frankly I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks when the article comes out. I have earned the right to live out my years in as self-determining and visible way as I choose, for as long as this beautiful body of mine holds up, until I shuffle off this mortal coil. If it’s not your thing – step away and please refrain from judgment – the latter just perpetuates the myth that the only way forward is for us to be tucked away out of sight and invisible.  Ain’t happening on my watch. How about yours?

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