December 24, 2020No Comments

Gratitude in the Time of COVID-19

We’re in a season of reflection and thanksgiving in our cultural and spiritual traditions. Yet, this has been a very different sort of year. For hundreds-of-millions around the world, 2020’s ebbs and flows have been dominated by the consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

We Can’t Breathe: When There is Little to Give Thanks For

This is the year the phrase “I can’t breathe” has echoed globally: in the intensive care units of our hospitals; through cotton facemasks in empty streets; with the dying whisper of a man with his head forced hard against the pavement; and in the angry cries of protesters demonstrating against inequalities from Hong Kong to Sudan, from Portland to Delhi. 2020 has been suffocating in its intensity - a constant stream of angry, divisive, noisy polarised politics in contrast with the deafening silence of the isolation and loneliness felt by so many ‘locked-down’ in more ways than one. We find ourselves at the bookend of a year marked more by its suffering than its celebrations. In such a year, can we really muster up the words with which to give thanks?

The past 12 months have not all been negative though. 2020 has forced a global reckoning with our shared humanity – the spread of COVID-19 itself symptomatic of the interconnected and interdependent world in which we live. We’ve been reminded that our neighbourhood stretches far beyond our own back yard. In the midst of some of the most painful situations we have also seen the emergence of a new sense of community and collaboration. So now, more than ever, I believe that not only should we embrace the season of thanksgiving, but we should clasp the practice of gratitude with all our might. After all, gratitude is not just about tacky platitudes or dinner table declarations, it is about creating a different dialogue in the world that concentrates on what is good.

Thankfulness in the Midst of Suffering

I am not a scientist, but I know that we are hardwired with the evolutionary instinct to look out for threats. It is natural to reflect on the things that trouble us. There is nothing wrong with this, but it does mean that for most of us stopping in our daily lives to give thanks is not intuitive.

In recent years, the practice of gratitude has been wrongly confused with the social media exercise of showcasing how ‘#blessed’ we all are. I am guilty as charged of this – papering over pain with inspirational quotes or pretty pictures, ‘living my best life.’ We must make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. Gratitude is a feeling, but it can also be an action. To give thanks is a conscious act, and trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen a sense of gratitude.

As my world slowed down in April following the first UK-wide lockdown, absent of my London commute and the urgency of a pre-2020 world, I started to notice things. I have sorely missed the physical connection with friends and family, but this year has also been punctuated with the things I have gained. There is a newfound sense of connection with the world around me: The scent of bonfires, the feel of dew-soaked grass under my feet, the joy of walking by the sea and hearing the waves still crashing in. I started to notice what had always been there, that which I had ignored when I was always in such a rush.  I also gained a keen sense of how strong some of my human relationships are. There are people I have not seen in person for months, but I do not feel less in their eyes, and they are not less in mine. Out of these gentle inner-epiphanies, I realised that so often, I can take life for granted. And out of that knowledge, I have naturally found words of thanksgiving pouring from my lips. 

It is the difficult times that teach us that being grateful does not mean denying negativity. Being grateful means choosing to acknowledge that even in the very darkest of moments we can gift ourselves light and positivity, even if it is just in the silence of our bedroom in our own hearts and minds. 

Though earlier in this blog I made a bit of a dig at inspirational quotes, I am a sucker for a good one and there is one that is very apt to this theme. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once wrote, “Discovering more joy does not save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak.” Similarly, finding things to be grateful for does not mean we get to escape the trials of life that bend us and form us. But both joy and gratitude, when fostered with purpose and intention, can shape the way we cope with the suffering that life inevitably brings.

Three Ways to Practice Gratitude: Advice from a Girl Still Figuring it Out

1) Name the Things that Make You Glad

I am not one of life’s list-makers – I dearly wish I was!

I have incorporated a daily practice mid-afternoon of pausing for a couple of minutes, breathing deeply, and giving thanks for at least three things. These are often the simplest of things: the taste of warm lemon meringue pie sharp on my lips, the scent of coffee brewing, the sound of seagulls overhead, the way the wind whips my hair on an Autumn day and makes me feel alive, how good the cold underside of my pillow feels when I am tired and restless. I recommend this habit to those who have read this far into this blog, and I recommend it to my future self when she returns to the bustle and hurry of London commuting.

2) Practice Thankfulness Out Loud

Not all gratitude needs to be public, but there is a place for thanking others and most of us don’t do it anywhere near often enough. COVID-19 has made us collectively more aware of our own mortality and of the vulnerabilities of others. We never know when we might lose the chance to say thank you. Let us never regret words left unsaid.

3) Let Gratitude be the Start 

When we are grateful for the food on our table it can fill us with compassion to act on behalf of our neighbour who is reliant on food banks. If we recognise and are grateful for all we have, we should, in turn, be angry about the injustice that prevents others from reaching their potential. The gift of a healthy body should ready us to use it in service of others. When we can be glad of a safe bed to sleep in, we should seek solutions for peace in the places where rest is hard to fathom. 

Gratitude is not just a gift-card greeting we disperse once a year during the holidays – it is a habit we can cultivate and get better at. The more we nurture this practice in our own lives, the more we will see other fruits blossoming. In the midst of even the hardest of years, we can speak life and light into the darkness with a grateful heart.

Image by Sophia Schorr-Kon

April 16, 2020No Comments

Mental Health Tools for Uncertain times

As the participants joined the session, Yomi greeted them by name, “Hi Cole! Hi Julia!”

In the main window clinical psychologist Dr. Kristin Tollstedt, her hair neatly pinned back, stood up and shooed her son out of the room off-camera, then returned to her desk. It was as normal as every other Zoom meeting I’ve ever been in, and yet it wasn’t.

The first story I read that morning was about Daniela Trezzi, an Italian nurse, age 34, who committed suicide after learning that she was infected by COVID-19 and might have infected others. Just hours earlier, the U.S. announced that 3.28 million people had filed for unemployment – the worst week the country’s seen since the Great Depression. Several days prior, India’s prime minister declared a 21-day lockdown, inciting a mass exodus of people willing to face contagion over starvation. No place, it seemed, was immune.

“I want to point out that we have people joining us now from Dubai, Bosnia, Italy, Pakistan, India, the U.K., the U.S., Sweden…” Yomi announced as she began the call. There were more than 50 of us in total, all tuning in for a mental health check because no one in the world was feeling normal.

“What makes this crisis so potent is the level of uncertainty,” Kristin explained after her introduction. “We don’t know the time frame, or what advice to follow. We human beings do not manage uncertainty very well.”

When Yomi invited me to join the session, I perhaps brazenly thought, “I’m doing fine. I’ll listen, but I think my mental health is pretty stable, all things considered.” Since the social distancing began, all of my big projects for the spring have been put on ice. But as a freelancer, I’m accustomed to a degree of uncertainty; I began looking into online courses. As an active investor, I’ve watched as my accounts have lost 25% of their value, but I just keep reminding myself to focus on the long-term: next year, this will be just another dip in the charts. But is that really enough in the face of this crisis? Because isn’t the real thing we all fear much bigger than our jobs and our investments? Our very lives are at stake.

Tool #1: Check in with yourself. It will help you regulate your experience

“With all of these unknowns,” Yomi asked, “How do we start to stabilize? How can we anchor ourselves?

“We want to start by normalizing our emotions,” said Kristin. “If you are struggling with anger, fear, etc., that is normal. But if you are struggling with emotions that become so intense or uncontrollable that you can’t get through your routine, try to consciously regulate them. Not in order to feel better or good, but because you won’t be able to think clearly until you turn down their intensity. When we are dis-regulated, we lose our ability to problem-solve. And if, for instance, you have lost your job, problem solving is key.”

There’s a famous scene in Game of Thrones that’s been on my mind lately, the one where Arya Stark is learning to swordfight. “You’re not here; you’re with your trouble,” her instructor scolds her. “If you’re with your trouble when the fighting happens [he knocks her down], more trouble for you!”

In order to regulate yourself, you need to know what you are feeling. Kristin introduced the Feelings Wheel as a way to pinpoint the source of your emotions. If you’re feeling inadequate or embarrassed, you’re probably scared. Sarcasm is an indication that you’re angry.

“For anxiety or stress, do something calming or soothing,” Kristin advised. “Take a nice walk. Relax on the sofa. Breathe slowly. When you breathe slowly you’re telling your brain: there’s no imminent threat. You’ll feel calmer.”

In a recently re-aired episode of This American Life, a reporter spoke with children who spent time at the Sharing Place, a grief support center for kids who have experienced death. At first the kids don’t know how to speak about death. Then, after a while, they do. They learn how to say something like, “My dad chose to end his life.” Then they head off for some playtime.

“There’s a kind of sorcery to it,” the reporter says. “Naming the dragon, so you can defeat it.”

Tool #2: Try not to enact the flight or fight response

“The fight or flight response is our collective experience right now,” Kristin continued. “It’s an illogical response that activates the nervous system in the brain to prepare us for danger, to fight aggressively or flee, or sometimes ‘play dead.’ Experiencing this on an ongoing basis can make us feel overwhelmed.”

One way to avoid initiating this response, Kristin informed the audience, is to limit how much news we consume, since so much of it is filled with emotions and fear-driven words.

“When we read reports about people passing away, or hospitals that are unable to meet people’s needs, our nervous system reads this a sign of danger. It creates excess stress hormones, which then affect sleep, and make it difficult to address anything other than what we are feeling or thinking. Our bodies have to work hard to get back into balance.”

Kristin suggested taking a conscious approach to where we’re getting our news, where we’re consuming it and how much time we’re spending on it.

The day before, I awoke with a scratchy throat and a cough. I felt a little dizzy and tired. What if I had it? About ten years ago a CAT scan revealed a spot on my lung. My doctor said not to worry, unless I developed breathing problems. I imagined my lungs filling with fluid, as I’d read happens with COVID-19.  Would the spot become a hole? Then I made some tea, ate an orange, and went outside to sit in the sun, because I read that this had a positive affect on victims of the Spanish flu.

“Don’t worry about me if I die,” my mother had told me on the phone. “I’ve lived a good life. I’m okay with it.” She has chronic, stage 4 asthma, and will be turning 70 this year. I’m fairly certain she would not survive this thing. Would I?

I sat, looking up at the sun. Was I okay with dying? I looked around our yard, at the fruit trees I hope to harvest from this summer. I thought of my husband, working on the beat-up old sailboat we bought so we can one day sail around the world. I thought about how great it would be to live to see humanity curb global warming, and maybe even have something to do with it.

No, I realized, I’m not okay with dying. But it’s not like I never knew there would be an end game. It’s just that now death appears to be following us around in a cloak with a sickle. For which, if you’re 34-year old nurse Daniela Trezzi, the stress is too much, and you throw in the towel. If you’re Ingmar Bergman, you pull out a chess set.

Tool #3: Establish a daily routine

Questions were coming in fast from the audience and Yomi passed them on to Kristin, “What advice do you have for people working at home? What are the best mental tools to use?”

The person who’d written in said that at first she’d loved working from home, and not having to change out of her sweatpants, but her situation had quickly devolved. Now she wasn’t showering.

“If you rob people of their routines, you will rob them of their mental health in two weeks,” Kristin answered. “If we lack routine, we lose coherence. Without a routine, we have to make lots of little decisions throughout the day: when to have a shower, when to eat. Those little decisions cloud our brains at a time when we need our brainpower to make bigger decisions.”

Here’s my routine: Wake up. Stare at the screen on my trading platforms. Read the investment news. Make lunch. Garden. Make dinner. Watch an episode of a cheesy old British detective drama. And, at some point, find time to call the bank to see if we can put off our mortgage payments.

Tool #4: Reach out

“What I can tell friends and family members are struggling?” Yomi asked.

“This is the time to use video chats. If you don’t speak with your family often, it’s time to increase the frequency. Have after-work calls. Reach out and hear each other’s voices. You may not be able to solve the problem they are suffering from, but you can remind them that even though they are isolated, they are not alone.”

That week my sister, who works as a speech pathologist in a nursing home, learned that their facility had a patient with COVID-19. They also needed her less, so she was having problems paying her bills. My other sister is married to an ER nurse. His hospital recently discovered someone was stealing masks from the storeroom. Is there really anyone out there who’s not struggling?

After my talk with my mother about death, I organized a family reunion over Google Hangouts. It was the first time we’d met as a family since July. We discussed sterilization practices. We exchanged the names of who’s responsible for administering each of our wills if something happens to us. We shared stories about food shortages and one sister suggested we set up a new business where you could pass a goat around the neighborhood so everyone could get milk. “You could call it “gUber” she suggested. We laughed so hard that we cried.  

Tool #5: Envision the future

Kristin fielded a dozen other questions from listeners. What should you do if you’ve lost your job? What if you have OCD? What should you do about people who are not taking it seriously? Then, with a few minutes left, she said she wanted to do an exercise.

“Close your eyes,” she instructed us. “Allow yourself to think the worried thoughts that have been on your mind: What if I get sick? What if I lose my job?”

“Then, picture yourself in ten years’ time. You are in a safe place, surrounded by friends and family. How would you like to remember getting through this crisis? What would you like to see yourself doing as a human being, as a community member, and as family member? What would you not like to see yourself doing? Allow that image to become clear in your mind’s eye. Envision yourself acting in a way that you’re prepared to stand for. Now take one, slow breath. Remember, life will continue. It just won’t be life as we know it.”

It was an upbeat note to end on, but also not exactly true. Sooner or later, life will end for us all. And that’s the real crisis we’re all facing: We cannot cheat death. When the knight in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal plays chess with Death, his goal is not to win. Like my mother, he’s okay with dying. He just wants to buy himself a little more time - time to do “one meaningful act.”      

If we get through this, if we’re granted that reprieve, will we go around throwing money at people like Mr. Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol? Or will we go back to business as usual?

One meaningful act. Will I have time for mine? Will you, for yours? Take a deep breath. Where will you be in ten years’ time? What is it that will have been worth living for? Worth fighting for?

In that scene from Game of Thrones, Arya Stark’s sword-fighting instructor gives her one other, far more quoted piece of advice. “There is only one god,” he tells her. “And his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to death: ‘Not today.'”

Download our complimentary PDF of Mental Health tools here, and continue the conversation in our Facebook Community.

Cover image by Gabi Piserchia:

August 11, 2019No Comments

Sister Stories. Stories that heal.

It came like a siren call.

At first, almost inaudible, a feeling of gentle stirring in my bones.

Then, a little louder.

The Beginning.

For every month that went by over thirty, the seductive voices got louder. There was an uncomfortable feeling that accompanied it, as if, somehow, I was lured towards somewhere unsafe. And yet, the magnetic pull to do something I couldn’t yet articulate grew stronger.

I remember the day I could finally touch and taste this yearning. I’d packed myself off to a yoga retreat in India. I was on the brink of burnout after a particularly challenging creative project. There, I found myself, age 31, joining a group of women who were forty years my senior. I had an unwitting initiation into a circle of elders. That all sounds very solemn. In truth, it involved eating and laughing until someone was in danger of rupturing something, with a bit of yoga thrown in. These women were a hoot. But as hysterical laughter echoed around the dining table, there was a more profound dynamic at play.

The Awakening.

I could feel something primal awakening within me: the desire to gather with women. Women who were not my peers, women from different stages and walks of life. There was a feeling in the room when we were together that felt akin to gathering around a campfire. We told stories of our lives, learning from one another’s experiences. This ephemeral yearning for something I couldn’t name had taken shape: I wanted to gather in community with other women and to share the simple wisdom of our experiences.

The Path.

Ten years working as a documentary filmmaker had taught me that storytelling is inherently healing. Through hearing the stories of another, we are connected to our universal humanity, learning over and over again that no matter how different our lives are on the surface, we are all fundamentally and inextricably linked. I found myself both devoted to the act of telling and consuming stories through screens and seeking an antidote to it. Gathering in the flesh felt important. The soothing experience of sitting with other women, shoulder to shoulder, “IRL” felt alien to me and yet so necessary.

A Time For Change.

After a lifetime of close friendships with men, there was something that shifted inside as I matured into womanhood and needed to talk about it. A curiosity bubbled away: what would it be like to create a storytelling space for women? Naturally shy in groups, I knew the fear of speaking aloud and hearing my voice shake. In a society driven by the need to perform and impress, it felt incredibly important to soften beyond that. To carve out spaces where the masks we wear every day to survive are permitted to drop. Where our bodies soften into the invitation to a different way of being.


As the September leaves started to turn, beckoning in autumn, I offered a simple invitation. The invitation was to come together in a women’s circle under the name ‘Sister Stories.’ The response was tremendous: it was as if an invisible magnetism was at play. A circle of cushions were laid upon the floor, a constellation of candles became our roaring fire for the evening and we moved into a ritualised form of sharing the stories we are carrying. From the whispers of old stories yearning to be spoken aloud to the present concerns on our hearts, sweet and simple words of truth were shared. There were tears, and there was laughter. As we joined together to blow out our centrepiece candle at the end of our time together, it was clear I had found the kind of coming together I didn’t know I had been yearning for, yet suddenly was essential to living.

Sister Stories was born. From humble beginnings in a London living room, it has grown into a network of 20 Circle Leaders who have also answered the call to bring these circles to their communities. Together we have stepped out to do work that feels at once so natural and yet so terrifying: there is something that feels exposing or dangerous about calling women to gather by candlelight in a manner so ritualised. This work is not new: communities have gathered in a circle for millennia. And yet in 2019, it feels it is needed more than ever. We need spaces in which sisterhood can be cultivated safely, without agenda.

The Remembrance.

When women step into circle space, we experience a remembering so deep, it can shake us to the very core of our being, as we acknowledge the ways in which we have been disconnected for so long. In transitioning from ‘the outside world’ where comparison and competition between women can be rife, it feels uncomfortable to accept the invitation to bring only yourself and an undefended heart.

The format of circle gathering is so simple. We gather without pressure or expectation without the need to perform. We weave an invisible web of compassion and connection within each unique constellation that gathers. We settle into a different kind of speaking and listening that fosters community and compassion. We make the journey from head to heart. It is coming together in the flesh. It is enjoying the pleasure of sitting shoulder to shoulder. It is trusting that when we share our own stories, space opens in another for their own truth to emerge. It is a belief that sharing can provoke quiet transformation and healing.

The individual needs the collective. These are times where collective, compassionate action is urgent. Learning to slip beneath the deafening narratives of what society expects of us as women and learning to listen to the gentle hum beneath the surface, space from which wise actions and words arise. The more spaces we can carve out to gather in primal simplicity, the more likely we are to carve out new ways of living that benefit ourselves, our communities and crucially, our planet.

Words by Gemma Brady

April 18, 2019No Comments

Meeting incredible women at the Obama Town Hall

Last week, I represented The Fem League as one of 300 young leaders invited to Berlin by the Obama Foundation. The convening was to support us as leaders in furthering our work. Yes, I met and spoke to Barack Obama. No, I didn't sing a rap song like I did when I met Jay-Z (another story).

Meeting him was, of course, a blessing but bigger than meeting him was the incredible women I met. Julia Muzon, Marie Gianniou, Delphine O, Holly-Marie Cato, Kübra Gümüsay. The list goes on. These are all women dedicated to making society better through their different fields. Please check out their work when you get a chance.

October 16, 2018No Comments

Yrsa Daley-Ward on finding the gold that glimmers

We are re-building what power structures look like in our world. We are breaking old agreements and making new ones. We are taking back the parts of us that we have abandoned due to fear, due to what society has told us. We are taking ownership. Yrsa Daley-Ward says "you may not run away from the thing that you are because it comes and comes and comes as sure as you breathe." Whilst on tour promoting her acclaimed book bone The Fem League caught up with Yrsa to discuss power, innerwork and activation. At a time when the debris of trauma surrounds us Yrsa shares insight on how to transform our trauma in to treasure. Here are the beginnings of a roadmap that The Fem League will chart with women globally.


June 28, 2018No Comments

How to Organise a Feminist Festival

Frustrated by the dearth of women included in mainstream music, arts and culture festivals? Inspired by the ‘YES’ campaign in Ireland and the #FreePeriods campaign as well as the work of countless other feminist activists enacting change? We are too. Enter the feminist festival, a unique opportunity to both showcase the work of women creators you love and raise awareness of the issues that matter to you and your sisters.

But, how on earth do you go about organising a feminist festival? We spoke to Jess from Sisterhood Festival, Raniyah from AWOMENfest and Charlotte from ASH magazine and ‘The Art of Consent’ who’ve all been there, done that and probably made their own festival branded t-shirts! Read their advice on picking a message you're passionate about, remaining true to your vision and putting together a kick-ass team.

Highlight an issue you want to address or a cause you want to celebrate

For Jess, Sisterhood festival was all about challenging Oxford’s male-dominated music scene by celebrating amazing women artists.

‘I've seen first hand how inspiring it is for women in music to have a platform. I set up an all-female funk band last year and have been blown away by the reception that we’ve received. Audiences of all genders see the power of all women onstage, and it's really empowering for us performing as well!

‘I thought it would be incredible to put on an event that showcased and celebrated the talent of many women* across Oxford - the music scene is dominated by male students, but that doesn't mean that talented female and non-binary performers don't exist.’

‘I've seen first hand how inspiring it is for women in music to have a platform.' - Jess

AWOMENfest stemmed from a desire to celebrate ‘radical softness’ as Raniyah explains, ’I think that we often forget that feminism is a loving movement and celebrates but also brings to the fore that we are all human.  AWOMENfest was a joyous celebration of all individuals however they identify, to understand complex ideas of vulnerability, solidarity, desirability and spirituality.’

'We got thinking about art as a way of creating change, bringing in artists and spoken word performers' - Charlotte 

After watching the powerful documentary ‘100 Women I Know’ at Underwire Festival, Charlotte was inspired to contact the filmmaker, Phoebe Montague, to talk about hosting an event together. That event became ‘The Art of Consent’ and featured a screening of the documentary and a launch of a book of the same name as well as a panel discussion and a series of spoken word performances.

‘I bought a ticket to this year’s Underwire Film Festival, the subject of that particular day was ‘consent’. There I saw the film 100 Women I Know by Phoebe Montague – it had a real effect on me.

‘I contacted Phoebe afterwards and asked if we could put no an event together. We got thinking about art as a way of creating change, bringing in artists and spoken word performers, as well as panellists for a discussion about consent culture.’

Be confident in your message

Once you’ve figured out what you want to say, don’t be afraid to say it and stick to it! As Jess says, ‘your cause is an amazing one, and if you believe that then other people will too!’

Charlotte was convinced that the message of the documentary, 100 Women I Know, needed to be brought to a wider audience and this belief was, in part, the springboard for ‘The Art of Consent’.

‘The film isn’t available online, but I had such a strong feeling that more people needed to see it.’

‘Know your vision. Know what you want to achieve, why you’re putting on this festival, and what you want festival-goers to take away from it.' - Raniyah 

For Raniyah, keeping site of AWOMENfest’s mission was crucial to the success of the festival.

‘Know your vision. Know what you want to achieve, why you’re putting on this festival, and what you want festival-goers to take away from it. Once you have this basic framework stick to your vision’ As long as individuals left, engaged and thinking then our mission was done.

Don’t try to go it alone

For Jess, working with a team of like-minded people saw Sisterhood event evolve into more than just a live music event.

‘As a university, Oxford is full of students wanting to get involved with great causes - and it's full of feminists!’ ‘we started off thinking it would just be live music, but it's now evolved to include a 'festival' area of arts and crafts and other stalls, and we are even producing our own zine which will be available on the night. It's been inspiring coming up with ideas with the other girls on the committee and seeing what happens. I'm especially excited for the Frida Kahlada, one of our special Inspiring Women themed cocktails!

Creating a team of ‘loving and committed’ people who understood AWOMENfest’s vision was crucial in setting the right tone for the event, as Raniyah explains. ‘With an event that is politicised by its very nature, it’s crucial to understand exactly what appeals to an audience but also have a clear vision of what would be the correct tone for the event.

‘As many ‘hands on deck’ as possible and a loving and committed team, who understand the vision and the message, can achieve anything.’

On the practical side, Charlotte suggests making Google Sheets ‘your best friend’ to make group collaborations that little bit easier.

Make your space inclusive

For Charlotte, diversity among the people working on the festival is just as important as diversity among the festival’s performers.

‘Diversity has to be key. Try to make sure everyone is represented and catered for across the board – including the people that are working as well as performing. People really do notice and it’s important.’

'Spaces for women* where they feel safe, inspired and empowered are so important.' - Jess 

Jess took inspiration from Glastonbury’s ‘Sisterhood’ stage when thinking about how to make Sisterhood Festival as inclusive as possible for women and non-binary.

‘Back in 2016, I had also been really excited to hear about Sisterhood, Glastonbury's all-female venue. Spaces for women* where they feel safe, inspired and empowered are so important. Sisterhood Festival is quite unique in the fact that not only the performers and organisers of the event are women*, but all ticket holders are as well!  It's one thing to watch all women* onstage, but this is elevated even further if you're surrounded by women* in the audience too!’

‘Diversity has to be key. Try to make sure everyone is represented and catered for across the board.' - Charlotte 

Inclusivity was, and is, a huge part of AWOMENfest and, as Raniyah explains, was one of the most rewarding aspects of organising the festival.

‘We were firmly committed to creating a space that was inclusive, welcoming and open – we wanted to create a truly “safe space” where everyone no matter their history, felt included, welcomed and catered to.’

‘We tried to treat every attendant and performer with the respect and love they deserved, including things like a trigger-warned experience (asking guests to flag up anything that they felt would be uncomfortable within a performance, and providing an area to chill and unwind should they have felt overwhelmed).’

‘One performer personally thanked me with tears in their eyes. As a non-binary individual of colour who was a sex-worker and also burlesque performer they stated that they often felt excluded by feminist events, and on our stage, they felt welcomed, celebrated and truly beautiful and that was the whole purpose of the event.’

Look for unique ways of funding

Jess reached turned to her university network to help fund Sisterhood Festival.

‘Being in a University setting, we've been really lucky as a committee to have the financial support of different Oxford University colleges, who have donated generous amounts of money to our cause. This money has ensured that all ticket proceeds can go to our three amazing charities: The Porch Day Centre, Syrian Sisters, and Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre.’

Reach out to new potential audiences

For Charlotte, one of the most rewarding parts of organising ‘The Art of Consent’ was the reaction to the event from various, diverse groups of people and their networks.

‘So many people came to us after the event to say that what we’d discussed and presented had instigated so many conversations between themselves and their friends, bringing people closer together. Male friends of my own admitted to coming away with a different perspective. I honestly think it was enlightening for everyone.’

Without wanting to toot our own horns. I think it's fair to say that The Art of Consent was thought provoking, insightful and empowering! 👏 We feel truly blessed to have had such a strong panel of informed, intelligent, honest, compassionate people who are determined in the fight for equality, change and a better society. 🌎 This isn't a woman's issue. It is a societal one. And without including men into these conversations, we are missing out on vital perspectives and opinions. 🌟 I can't thank you enough for your support of this event. Your willingness to be involved is heartwarming! Also big up to @keziajbw who stepped in last min after our moderator was unable to make it. She done a fab job! Phoebe x • Thank you to @crmphoto for the 📸 • #TheArtOfConsent #HeForShe #equality #change

A post shared by THIS IS A MOVEMENT (@100womeniknow) on

Raniyah was determined to ensure that the message behind AWOMENfest spread beyond the circles of people already engaged with the movement.

‘I think the crucial part of any feminist festival is outreach – you want to spread the idea and concept beyond those who are already interested to those who are disengaged, whilst still creating and platforming content that captures the interest of those who are already fully immersed in feminist discourse.’

Remember to build on what you’ve created

Jess wants the next Sisterhood Festival to be bigger, better and even more groundbreaking.

Originally we had imagined The Sisterhood Festival as an all-day, outdoor festival extravaganza, but after various meetings with University staff and the staff in charge of most of the green spaces in Oxford, the venue was just going to be too difficult to secure, with numerous regulations and obstacles that we couldn't quite solve. The dream would be that next year someone takes over and manages to make it even bigger!

'We really want to engage with the wonderful and supportive community that was established during the festival!' - Raniyah 

For Raniyah, sustaining the community that AWOMENfest created is a key part of building on AWOMENfest’s success.

‘I want AWOMENfest to grow, for us to continue to serve all individuals and to explore more ideas, focus on topics that affect the daily living of individuals – we really want to engage with the wonderful and supportive community that was established during the festival! Keep your eyes peeled for what we may be up to next!’

Image | Caroline Michael/@crmphoto 

May 20, 2018No Comments

How to Use Instagram to Cultivate Your Self Power

Mindlessly scrolling through aspirational images that only seem to make us feel worse about ourselves isn’t a great recipe for our self-esteem. While we can’t recommend unfollowing social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself enough, we also can’t see a future where we quit social media entirely.

Instead of going completely cold turkey on social media, we recommend filling your feed with posts from these six feminist Instagram accounts. Inspiring, thought-provoking and real; these Instagram accounts will leave you feeling uplifted rather than deflated as well as inspired to build your power-filled future.




Follow: to up your intersectional feminism game.

Currently completing a PhD in Contemporary Feminist Culture, researcher, writer and curator Maggie Matic shares her academic research on her Instagram account @maggiematic. Scroll through to find recommendations for books on gender theory, contemporary feminism and zine culture as well as bite-sized reviews from Maggie herself.

We particularly loved her review of ‘Gut Flora’, a compilation of artwork and features from the first nine issues of ‘Chapess’ zine by Synchronise Witches Press. Maggie is keen to make her research accessible to all and many of the journals or articles she references can be found in a GoogleDrive linked in her bio.



"My keloid scars developed after I had severe acne on my face, back and chest. I was prescribed tablets to clear the acne but unfortunately they turned some acne spots into keloids. Since the age of 13 I've had multiple injections and I’m now going through surgery to try and flatten the scars on my face even though keloids are known to grow back. Keloids itch and burn and cause pain on a daily basis. . . They've stopped me from living my life, wearing certain clothing and caused anxiety and depression. Sometimes people don't realise how scars/skin condition can ruin an individuals mental health. . . From the nasty comments I have received, I have now realised life's too short to care what people think. I am starting to try love my skin and to believe I am unique. This is the beginning of my journey to become free from negativity and to regain a positive mind set." -@biancahoneybeex for @sophiemayanne's ongoing #behindthescars series. #girlgaze

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Follow: to find your next photographer crush.

Multi-media company and creative agency girl gaze’s Instagram account is a one-stop shop for images of incredible women. The Glossy nominated agency’s account features shots from their campaigns with Monki, Google and Shinola. The account also showcases the work of female photographers we can’t help but ‘like’.

We loved Girlgaze’s post on #behindthescars, a project by photographer Sophie Mayanne that aims, ‘to give ordinary people a platform to embrace their bodies, their scars and the amazing stories behind them.’ For Girlgaze, showcasing the work of up and coming as well as seasoned female photographers is paramount. ‘If more women create the images we see, a more balanced perspective of the world is seen.’




Follow: to understand that it wasn't your fault and that you are loved.

The 100 Women I Know project came about when filmmaker Phoebe Montague asked 100 women about their experiences of sexual assault and violence. The documentary and book that followed featured excerpts of responses from survivors and in doing so, sparked conversations about how, as a society, we talk about sexual violence.

The project’s Instagram account builds on the work of the book and film with posts advocating self-love, sex positivity and raising awareness of what constitutes consent. In particular, we loved 100 Women I Know’s collaboration with illustrator Alice Skinner. The post features Alice’s beautiful illustration of a ‘primer on consent’ that’s also included in the last pages of the 100 Women I Know book.




Follow: to hear real talk from real women.

Gurls Talk, founded by TIME next-gen leader, model and activist Adwoa Aboah started life on Instagram as a ‘safe space for girls to share and listen without any stigma.’ While the online platform’s remit has grown to include IRL events and workshops the @gurlstalk Instagram account is still vital to the movement. It remains a place for women and girls to contribute to themed monthly conversations on issues such as mental health, sex, role models and more besides.

We particularly love Gurls Talk’s live streams which, in the past, have featured sex worker and educator Tilly Lawless, clothing and accessories designer Melody Eshani and Dr Lauren Hazzouri, Licensed Psychologist and founder of a project that aims to destigmatize women’s mental health.


The Fem League and Gurls Talk take on advancing women.



Tees are back in stock! 📷 from @crystal__alexis #fanfeature

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Follow: to fill your feed with the finest feminist apparel.

You may have spotted design initiative all_womankind’s signature bold pink and red posters all over your Pinterest feed. As you’d expect, their own Instagram feed is equally eye-catching.

The @all_womankind account features dreamy shots of their, now iconic, posters as well as their feminist pins, patches, t-shirts even temporary tattoos. We especially love the posts featuring rad women rocking their all_womankind t-shirts! Even better, the sales of all_womankind products go to organisations campaigning for women's rights and equality.



We’re constantly arguing whether women can or can’t have it all when it comes to their career and their family. Knowing she wanted to be a mother in the future, Sadie Catt couldn’t fathom managing the logistics of being a photographer while maintaining a stable home life. Searching for an answer she started reaching out to mothers who do just that. This sparked Sadie Catt's 'Mothers in Photography' series which is a meaningful reflection on work and motherhood. For the full story and interview head on over to The Fem League website (link in bio)! Also be sure to check out some of her amazing work at or her Instagram @sadiecatt ❤ #thefemleague #powerfilled #motherhoodphotography #motherhoodunplugged #worklifebalance #workingmomlife #workingmommy #womenoftheworld #workingmomproblems #womanpower #womanowned #femalephotographers #beingamom #womensupportwomen #womenatwork #powerfulwomen #womenempowerwomen #careerwomen

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Follow: to be the first to see our most power-filled content.

We can’t feature our favourite feminist Instagram accounts without mentioning @thefemleague! Follow our account to get content designed to help you live your most power-filled life - first. Scroll to find interviews with women artists, activists and photographers as well as original fiction and poetry by incredible women writers.

If you’re stuck in a rut, check out our quotes column. A selection of curated wisdom from inspiration women including Winnie Mandela, Audre Lorde and The Fem League’s founder: Yomi Abiola.

May 10, 2018No Comments

The Fem League features: Sadie Catt

We’re constantly arguing whether women can or can’t have it all when it comes to their career and their family. For women in creative professions, the demands of raising children while working unpredictable hours with little financial security can leave many asking themselves whether pursuing a creative career is worth it.

In her second year of university, Sadie Catt, a photography student at UWE Bristol, began to ask that same question. Knowing she wanted to be a mother in the future, she couldn’t fathom managing the logistics of being a photographer while maintaining a stable home life. She even considered giving up a career in photography to pursue a safer option.

Searching for an answer to her questions, she reached out to fellow photographers who were mothers. She began taking photographs of photographers in her network, first separately and then with their children. Accompanying the photos were mini-essays that arose from conversations between Sadie and her subjects about motherhood.

Sadie’s personal project evolved into a platform for female photographers to reflect on their experiences working in a creative career and having children. She now hopes it will spark further discussion on the subject from both women and men.

We talked to Sadie about the project and the conversations we need to be having about balancing work and motherhood.



Why ‘motherhood and photography’?

In the second year of my degree, I began to really worry about pursuing a career as a photographer. I began to contemplate the logistics of the job, as I knew I also wanted to become a mother in the future. I became concerned with the idea of working long, unstructured hours and having no financial security. I just couldn’t see how I’d be able to comfortably balance all this, as well as manage a stable home life and remain present as a mother. It got to the point where I was debating whether I would have to choose one over the other and give up photography for a safer option.


I asked the women to look into the lens of the camera in order to create a conversation between the subject and the viewer


To try and make sense of all this, I began to reach out to women who were already doing all the things that were scaring me. My aim at the beginning was to simply open up the topic of women having to consider the issues of motherhood when it came to choosing a career path and to hopefully gain some insight for myself.

But as the project developed I realised that the conversations I was having were so important that they needed to be shared. They are important not only for people like me, a young woman just beginning a career in the arts but also for the women I was having these conversations with. For them to reflect on what they were achieving in doing both. Ultimately, I wanted to offer a platform for this topic to be heard not only by other working mothers but everyone, male and female.


Clare Shilland, 2017

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How did you go about selecting your subjects?

I didn’t have any specifics about the type of photography my subjects worked in, or how old their children might be. As long as they were mothers and professional photographers I was happy.


Did you talk to your subjects about their experiences before you shot them? Did this influence the outcome of the shoot?

Before the first shoot for this project, I developed a format in which I knew I wanted all the shoots to go by. As this was my first editorial approach to this type of series, all shot on film, I wanted to give myself the best chance to come out of each shoot with images I knew would work together. I would only shoot two rolls of film per subject. One of just the mother and the other of the mother and children together.


I didn’t want to restrict each of the women I was meeting to one definitive box


But, before any of this, I would ask to sit down with my subject and talk about their experiences balancing motherhood and photography, which I’d record and make a transcript of later. This meant we had a chance to get to know each other over a cup of tea as I hadn't previously met any of the women I shot for this project before. It also gave the kids some time to get used to me before I asked them all to sit in front of the camera.

Talking to my subjects before photographing them had a big influence on the work. It meant we were all that bit more relaxed around each other. I was able to gauge more about them as individuals and the relationships between them as well as understand more about their opinions on the topic.



What did you ultimately want to capture in your photographs?

I wanted to depict both sides to my subjects, as industry women and then as mothers. I always aim for a degree of intimacy in portraits, which can often appear quite vulnerable. I think this along with the use of natural light ultimately contributes to a particularly honest image. I asked the women to look into the lens of the camera in order to create a conversation between the subject and the viewer, and give them the opportunity to acknowledge and respond to the topic.


I would like to think that the gender of a subject would not impact on the images, nor the importance of the concept.




Why did you choose to photograph your subjects in their homes?

Lots of different things contributed to my decisions on location. But, I always knew the photos had to be taken at the subject’s home. I never considered anywhere else. I wanted each woman’s individuality to come through in the portraits I was making and I think a lot can be said about someone by the environment they live in.


It was not just me worried about this issue and it is actually a big concern for a lot of women, particularly in creative industries.


I have also come to believe that the easiest way to make relaxed and intimate images of people is to do so in their own homes; where they are most comfortable and at ease. To a degree, it was me as the photographer going out of my comfort zone to make this project.

I also felt that considering the context these images were being made in, and the concept behind it, that capturing each subject’s home-life and the ‘nest’ they raise their children in would be the most appropriate location for me to take the photos. Of course, some of it also came down to logic. It was easiest for me to work with each family and join them in their home at a time that was best for them.


@kirstygmackay on motherhood and photography

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I was struck by this quote from one of your subjects,

‘...there’s also the danger of talking about motherhood too much; then you’re seen as a mum and not a photographer, a mum first rather than a photographer first.’

Were you conscious of this during the project?

This struck me too. I guess as I am not a mother myself I hadn’t quite considered that the change in a woman’s identity when they have a child could result in being pre-conceived as a mother before a photographer or a professional.

Talking to Kirsty Mackay opened my eyes more to this.  It made me more aware of how my work might affect opinions or create a stereotype. I didn’t want to restrict each of the women I was meeting to one definitive box. This definitely influenced decisions I was making around things such as the project's title.


It took me getting so frustrated that I had to just take action and seek out answers to my questions, along with validation for my concerns, to feel a bit more secure.



Leoni-Blue Fleming on being a mother and a photographer, 2017

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If you were to do a similar series on fatherhood and photography in what ways might it differ from your motherhood series?

I think it would be really interesting to get a male perspective on the effects of parenthood. Not only on a photographer’s creativity as an artist but their professional lives also. I have really enjoyed seeing depictions of fatherhood through recent work such as Vincent Ferrané’s Milky Way and Colin Pantall’s All Quiet on the Home Front.

But in terms of my own project, I wonder if I might struggle to make such intimate connections with professional men from an older generation. I personally relate less to fatherhood than I do to motherhood. But saying that, I would like to think that the gender of a subject would not impact on the images, nor the importance of the concept.


I know I can be guilty of romanticising it slightly in my head and of course, I have never actually experienced being a mother myself.


What did you learn from the project?

I learnt a huge amount through making this series. Not only did I gain some really valuable and reassuring insight into what my future might look like one day, I also learnt that it was not just me worried about this issue. It is actually a big concern for a lot of women, particularly in creative industries.

It’s an issue that just hadn’t ever been addressed around me. It took me getting so frustrated that I had to just take action and seek out answers to my questions, along with validation for my concerns, to feel a bit more secure. And I think that’s what gives value to the work. I want it to prompt more of this sort of conversation which would mean that other young women starting these types of careers don’t go in quite so blind and full of fear as I did.

Through this project, I got to see examples of a broad range of circumstances in which women are successfully managing their careers in photography and their roles as mothers. I want this to empower both the subject and the viewer. This taught me a lot about my own practice in photography and forced me to face a few fears along the way. It’s a project I really enjoyed making and will be something I continue for many years to come.



You’ve taken a series of photographs of your own mother, can you describe your relationship?

I did a lot of work focused on my mum a few years ago. She was very unwell and not herself for a long time as the result of a debilitating depression. The photography really helped me through it and I’m happy to say she has recovered and we are probably a lot closer now for it.

My mother is a very outspoken, knowledgeable, amazing woman. I’m sure she is a lot of the reason for my interest in maternity, she definitely inspires me.


My mother, the person she is and her own life experiences have shaped me significantly and therefore the work I make too.


What was it like photographing your own mother?

Looking back I can now see what an intense act it was when I was photographing her while she was that unwell. I wanted to make an example of just how intimate and stripped back our relationship had to be to get her through [her depression], as our roles as parent and child were almost completely reversed.

At the time we were both so preoccupied I think taking pictures didn’t really seem that scary or important compared to other things we were facing. But now I can see how significant and cathartic it really was. I sometimes question the ethics of photographing her while she was so unhappy and can still feel quite guilty about it.

But I know she was just happy I was doing something proactive to help myself, and if being the subject of my creativity was that then she would do it. I also know I was doing the right thing in not attempting to cover up or hide how hard things were. We should be honest when it comes to mental health, however uncomfortable it may be.



Has your mother influenced your photography in any way?

Definitely, as I said my mum is pretty outspoken and she has always encouraged me to express myself. Particularly in terms of my emotions and mental health or feminist opinions, two themes which are prominent throughout a lot of my work.

All of my family are very supportive and encouraging of my practice in photography. But, my relationship with my mother, the person she is and her own life experiences have shaped me significantly and therefore the work I make too.


We can all relate to knowing or experiencing motherly guidance or care from someone, whatever sex, race or age we are.




What does motherhood mean to you?

It seems that whatever focus or approach I take in my work, it can always be related back to motherhood or maternal ties. But I think I’ve still got a lot to learn about motherhood. I know I can be guilty of romanticising it slightly in my head and of course, I have never actually experienced being a mother myself.

What I do know though is that motherhood is in whatever circumstance, unconditional and everywhere. We can all relate to knowing or experiencing motherly guidance or care from someone, whatever sex, race or age we are. And I think that is why I find it such a widely relatable and powerful subject.



Words | Naomi Southwell & Sadie Catt

Images | Sadie Catt


May 3, 2018No Comments

The Fem League features: Fern Edwards Part II

Forget making weird heart shapes with your hands. Fern Edwards wants to capture the in-jokes and little quirks that make a couple’s relationship theirs. It may seem like a daunting task, but Fern’s start as a wedding photographer was no less formidable. Asked to photograph her mum and step dad’s wedding while still a student at art school, Fern’s candid, intimate photos ended up impressing more than the stilted family portraits taken by a professional photographer.

In the second instalment of our interview with Fern, we talked about what love looks like, stopping random couples in the street and being a big romantic after all.


Do your photographs represent a more modern approach to wedding photography?

I definitely think they do. Ten, fifteen, maybe more years ago the only option was to have a traditional photographer doing the dreaded, stuffy, cheesy old school way. The 'arty' photographers were definitely in the small percentage.  I feel like it has shifted almost entirely now. The 'modern' approach possibly outnumbers the more old school, traditional way.


Love is so personal. It's so subjective. We all show love and express love in different ways.


It's not just a trend to be a contemporary wedding photographer who specialises in reportage, candid style. It's not just this quirky trend that young people are doing. It's something that's very honest. At first, it was a little bit outside the box but now it makes perfect sense for everyone to do it that way.


Image of a bride and groom kissing in a shadowy candle lit room taken by Fern Edwards


What do you think has driven this shift?

I think social media might be a big influence. Going back to the days when we were all on MySpace and the very early days of Facebook. The kinds of photographs everyone was sharing were day to day shots of their mates on nights out or out and about. And, of course, the classic selfie as well.  

The kind of images we were surrounding ourselves with constantly were natural shots. We always had our crappy little digital cameras. Then, our crappy little camera phones. Now, our really amazing quality camera phones. We're documenting everything to a point where it's almost too much. I think we want that reflected in wedding images. We want to document things the way that they happened because that feels right and natural to us.


Maybe I am a big romantic after all.


And there's probably also the fact that we look at 'old style' photos and our immediate response is: 'cringe' and 'awkward'. Maybe it goes back to our memories of being a kid and going for family portraits and kneeling on a fake hay bale. Or even just having your portrait taken at school. That feeling of everyone watching you while you have your picture taken. It's so mortifying. Maybe it's subliminal. We'd rather just avoid that kind of photo at all costs.


I hated my school pictures so much.

There's nothing more awkward than being sat under a hot lamp, it's not fun no one wants that. Natural light for the win.


Image of a couple kissing in a forest surrounded by red smoke taken by Fern Edwards


I love that on your website you say that you, 'won't get couples to make weird heart shapes with their hands.' It made me think about traditional representations of love and romance. How do you think we should represent love?

It's such a hard question to answer and I'm trying to put into words.

I guess the biggest thing is just portraying it honestly because that's the only way you can. You've got to look for moments and details and frame those with your own kind of creative spin in an honest way. It's really difficult to explain.

It might not just be about what pictures you share online as well. Obviously, we like to show off our favourite shots on our Instagrams and our websites. But, if I went to a couple and asked them which were their favourite photos for all we know they might have a whole other different selection.


Romance for me isn't like roses and chocolate.


I think that love is represented in so many different ways. It might not even be immediately obvious to you the photographer. You might think you've captured something in a particular frame. But, in actuality, you're taken a photograph of someone in a way that really means something to somebody else. Love is so personal. It's so subjective. We all show love and express love in different ways. It's impossible to have a simple way of portraying that because it's an emotion, a feeling.

I sound like a massive hippie I promise I'm not!


Image of a bride and groom holding hands in front of guests taken by Fern Edwards


Are you a romantic person?

I think I am but with a massive, massive dose of cynicism. I'm always contradicting myself. I'm a very, very emotional person. But, I'll only reveal that side to certain people. That sometimes at a wedding it does get broken down. If I'm listening to a speech that's hitting me right in the feels if I feel like I need to weep a bit behind the camera I'm not going to be embarrassed. I'll pinch one of the guest's napkins and wipe that tear away.


I'm constantly aware of relationships and love, more than before


But as for romance, it's like what I was saying about love it's so different for everyone. Romance for me isn't like roses and chocolate. It's so many of the little things that are personal to me.

A nice example is that I had just turned 30 and my partner surprised me with a trip to Iceland. He knows I've always wanted to go there. I was completely taken aback. Obviously, that is a textbook romantic gesture. But the bit that made it personal and romantic for me was that he'd bought a Moleskine notebook to be my own personal trip advisor book. Inside he'd written all the suggestions he'd been given by our friends of where to go in Iceland. I had no idea he'd been talking to them about it.

That for me is an insanely romantic thing. I started weeping with happy tears I was so touched. And that for me, this little doodled notebook, that's my favourite kind of thing.

I wept like a baby. [laughter]



What does love look like to you?

Just being in this profession when I'm out and about I see other couples and I think about their relationships. Not in a creepy way! I'll see an old couple on the bus and I wonder how they met. Or I'll look at a couple hugging on the beach and I think that would make a beautiful photo. I'm constantly aware of relationships and love, more than before, the old me would have been like, 'PDA, gross' and now I'm like, 'isn't love beautiful?'.


We're always making each other laugh. We don't take life too seriously. We're just a couple of goofs.


I stopped a couple on holiday in Iceland. They were having this hug and looking at this amazing view and I took a photo of them. I went up to them after and I was like 'I just took your photo and I'm going to email it to you can you give me your email address?'. They were in their early twenties and I could tell they were well in love

It's slightly creepy but it's just the kind of things you look at now. It's the same as if you worked in the beauty profession you notice people's makeup. If you're a hairdresser you look at their hair. If you're a wedding photographer you look at relationships and couples. It’s something you're hypersensitive to. Rather than it being just a job, it's something you're always thinking about.



What would you like a photographer to capture about your relationship?

When you lose your inhibitions and you are just completely yourself. You don’t really know what you look like. I think I'd be pleasantly surprised, like, 'I didn't know my face did that when I laugh at his jokes!'.


You never should be content just existing with somebody.


I think that's actually one of the most important things about our relationship. We're always making each other laugh. We don't take life too seriously. We're just a couple of goofs. We're very pragmatic. We never have big rows or big public displays of affection, we're really chill. We've been together nearly 8 years and we're like best friends.

I think for a photograph to reflect that kind of vibe I guess, it's really hard to describe. It's easier said than done.


Image of a bride and groom walking with their dog taken by Fern Edwards


Working as a wedding photographer do you still want to get married yourself?

He knows I'm in no rush. If we were to ever get married it would be just something that makes sense rather than a complete surprise. We've been together nearly 8 years and we've lived together since 2013. It would just be a case of taking it [our relationship] to the next stage and throwing a party.

If we did choose to get married I wouldn’t even know in what manner we would. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.


Have you picked up any seasoned advice from anyone about relationships or love?

To keep that romance burning and to never lose that spark that first drew you to that person. Because, otherwise, you're coexisting and where's the joy in that?


I've always felt that every couple I've worked with radiate love to the point where I'm getting emotional


I also hear a lot of speeches about never taking each other for granted. It's so true. You never should be content just existing with somebody. You've constantly got to strive to be a better person and to just keep making that person happy but also making yourself happy.


Love + Logs + Light Dani + Jason // Just Married

A post shared by Fern Edwards | Photographer (@fernedwardsphoto) on


Are there any couples you've met that and you've thought that they were meant to be together?

I’d say that about nearly everyone I shoot. There's not been a couple where I'm thinking, 'really...? Those two...'

I've always felt that every couple I've worked with radiate love to the point where I'm getting emotional when I'm photographing them.

Maybe I am a big romantic after all.



Words | Naomi Southwell & Fern Edwards

Images | All images courtesy of Fern Edwards

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The Fem League is a global culture design and community building firm that creates inclusive cultures and communities where everyone thrives.

We leverage our proprietary framework Cultural Curiosity, community building and self-leadership programs to support organizations, communities and individuals to design intentional cultures.