Month: October 2015

Elena Shumilova’s Dream


Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

In spring 2012,  Russian architect and mother Elena Shumilova got her first DSLR camera, and by Christmas the same year she became a renowned photographer. In early 2014 her name was all over the internet, and by the end of the year she had been featured in media worldwide. Her story is nothing short of magic.

I saw Elena’s photographs on Flickr in April 2013 and fell in love with them. Back then I had almost zero chance of ever meeting her. I could only dream.

Like in a fairy tale, my dreams came true. Elena Shumilova and Brendan Diver ( Photos From Ireland) hosted her first ever European photography workshop in a beautiful village of Ballyliffin, Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal. I had enrolled for the workshop to have the time of my life. Here is my first post if you missed it.

elena shumilova workshop

The luckiest part of it was that I had been helping Elena with interpreting – very little, in fact, since she has good conversational English, but because of this interpreting I had the opportunity to talk with her and to know her as a person.

Elena’s beautiful face radiates that kind of inner peace, you immediately know that she would never pass judgment, never envy, fight, or hate. She is down to earth, caring, intelligent, focused and mature.

Elena says that the famous dog was never photogenic and she almost gave up on him. Then, one day, the photograph ‘just happened’.

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Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Inspiration is crucial, and it should be limitless. Don’t start if you are not inspired. No technical skill will make your viewer empathize with your work. Only the soul and emotional pulse of your photograph matters.

My advice – it is not necessary to look for inspiration in faraway places. Rather, look deep within yourself, your home, your backyard, familiar view from your window. People often get bored with their familiar surroundings and want to leave them for something more exciting, even if it is only in their dreams. I think that it is very important to retain the thrill and fondness for your surroundings, and at the same time focus your eyes and your mind on creating an aesthetically perfect story during both shooting and editing’ – Elena Shumilova

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

When should we look for inspiration?  Elena suggests that we should look for inspiration even when we feel down, when we are going through the difficult times in our life. It is when we can be most creative.

‘Shoot when the season isn’t ‘beautiful’ in traditional sense, when the trees aren’t golden anymore, their branches stripped of leaves; overcast skies, dirty melting snow, puddles of slush and mud; withered, colorless grass. Wind, snow, rain – everything can look attractive and make a great photograph. Beauty isn’t only about sunshine, lush green grass and blooming flowers.’ – Elena Shumilova

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Elena rarely takes full face shots.  She believes that your body  expresses emotion  better than your face. Poses and gestures are the best story tellers.


Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Elena Shumilova’s Photography Workshop was run under the motto Turn Your Dream into Pictures. These words reveal the core of Elena’s exceptional standing as an artist. It was a great experience to see her work; to see how her vision had planted seeds of creativity in her students.

elena shumilova

elena shumilova

Below, two of Elena’s images from the photo shoot in Inishowen.

elena shumilova

elena shumilova

Images courtesy of Elena Shumilova

What is Elena’s personal dream? She wants to make a film. Best of luck with that, Elena! Thank you for these three days of magic and inspiration!

You can see and purchase Elena Shumilova’s artwork here.

More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Back to the North: Inishowen


It is ten years since my last visit to Inishowen Peninsula. Last summer I was close, and you can read about that trip in my  Dark Hedges, Giant Causeway and Rope bridge blogs. This time I had different plans, none of which worked out. Well, except for the main reason why I went to Inishowen, so let’s call it a business trip then – a magic business trip, to be precise 🙂  I will share the details next week after going through my photographs galore,  but in this blog  I just want to share a sad song that mentions Inishowen, because yes, I am very sad,  and I want to go back.

The lyrics:

You maidens of beauty, I’m a swain that’s forlorning,

I carelessly wandered away from my home,

I am off by the moonlight and day break of morning,

I am found in the mountains of dark Inishowen.

I strayed  a place that they called sweet Clonmany

In search of a fair maid who I might adore,

But a maiden for to love me I could not find any

From Meendoran bridge to the Gap at Mamore.

Adieu to the place where I once had a sweetheart,

But now she has left me no wonder I mourn,

When I think of that sweet spot the haunt of that fair one

I pine for her absence in dark Inishowen.

Oh it’s distance divides us in dreams I caress her

For I was as happy as if I was at home,

When I speak to that vision that it bids me compress her

To a bosom that’s pining in dark Inishowen.

I am now sad and lonely since I left her dear dwelling

To repine on that sweet spot I shall never see more,

For I’m off by the wild beach where the salt seas are swelling

From Tullagh’s black rocks to the gap at Mamore.

And now I am stationed in the county Fermanagh,

And I left my wee darling with her parents at home,

If I ever return it will be to marry,

And to wed my wee darling in dark Inishowen.


Inishowen is not actually dark. The opening image is the view from my hotel window in Ballyliffin, Co Donegal, taken at the sunrise, and this one is another early morning view I captured when driving along the shores of Trawbreaga Bay, not far away from Malin.  I drove through ” sweet Clonmany” too, but took no photographs ( failed plans as I already said…).

The last image is of water. Not just ordinary water, but the water of Pollan Bay…


This is all for now. More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

SPRAOI – twenty three years in the streets!

spraoi 2015

Twenty three years!  Well, not every day, but once a year, in August. In this blog I will cover just 1/100 of all the theatrical and musical events, just a small fragment of the festive fun so that you plan your next visit to Waterford on August Bank holiday weekend.

Spraoi [spree] is a Festival of international street Theater and Music which takes place  in the city of Waterford, Ireland, since 1992.  Spraoi means play in Gaelic.

In the opening image you see an evil monster hold a human. It happened on the last night of Spraoi this summer, but the beginning of the festival was quite innocent. Sort of.

nun ruth

This is Musical Nun Ruth, a no-nunsense Sister, and a favorite of all, children and grownups.  I followed her for an hour and took many photographs.

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Sister Ruth wins hearts with her hilarious antics and charming personality.

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nun ruth

nun ruth

These three ladies are not impressed..


… but young children are excited  – she is very different from the nuns they know.

nun ruth

Tenth Avenue Band was another favorite.  They performed at Spraoi a couple of years ago, and it was delightful to see them again.


I cannot tell you how I love the band!

tenth avenue

Open air tango with Tango Waterford… Another fascinating experience, tales of passion, jealousy and envy! Watching the spectators was fun.  They pretended that they didn’t really care, but the said envy was written all over their face.  I should have enrolled for a class ten years ago myself, when it wasn’t too late…


Watching is not always fun. Look at these children waiting in the queue. The longest three minutes in their lives.


Grandma and her Grandson, the owners of identical, gorgeous hair, also waiting for somebody. A brass band is playing on their right, but they look in different direction.


A man is reading old ads displayed in the butcher’s window while waiting for his wife.


Unknown individual is reading today’s paper, waiting to clock out and go home, finally.


A dog is also waiting when it is time to go home. He has no idea that his owners are watching clowns. Or may be he knows?


Young gypsy girl from  Romania, with a scarred face and tired eyes, wants to go home too, but her parents wouldn’t be happy if she left. It is a festival time after all.


I have many photographs from Spraoi Parade taken over the years, but this year it was my first parade when I took only three pictures. One of them you have already seen – A monster and a human. Theme for this year was Evolution, and the monster was supposed to be a product of evolution or something like that.  Two photographs below were taken before the parade turned to The Quay. Raining or not, the street was packed.



I hope you read the link about the history of Spraoi. It will help you to understand why all these people were standing in the heavy rain, and why the others, in amazing costumes that took a year to make were walking through the city center, some of them with very little clothes.  It is just love.

Thank you for catching a glimpse of Spraoi with me.  Tomorrow early in the morning I am off for a few days, and this trip will hopefully feed my blog until Christmas 🙂 I am not sure about the internet connection, and apologize if I won’t be able to return your visits to my blog. I promise to catch up when I am back with something interesting to share.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Irrelevant story

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Having a real summer ( I use the term loosely) in July here in Ireland is something of fiction. Some people live here all their life still waiting for their first summer. This year they finally have got it, but in October.

Last Friday afternoon, a couple of hours before the sunset, I went for a walk around beautiful Tramore Bay & Backstrand, enjoying unusual weather, soft light, and tiny wildlife. I don’t have a real macro lens and have to manual-focus my trusted 70-200, but it is how I like it.

At home, I picked up some images, resized them, added them to the draft of my new post, and started thinking about a story to match.

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My thoughts drifted away… The story I am sharing is not relevant to the pictures I have selected, but …  may be it is?

Sometimes we have dreams so vivid that they can be quite disturbing. When it happens, we either maniacally want to know the meaning of the dream, or to erase it from our memory. It is only a bad dream, right?

In winter 1985, shortly after my father’s death, I had a terrifying dream that woke me up breathless. I saw a man with long arms that reached down below his knees. The man was dressed in some sort of rags, and stood at the edge of the forest. He did nothing, just stared at me – not blankly but as if considering something. This stare followed me for months.

The same year, in early autumn, I took my mother and my three years old daughter for a spin. The weather was sunny, chilly  and dry, and the air was filled with that bitter-sweet scent of fallen leaves and sadness.

We drove through an unfamiliar forest, but it looked friendly and we decided to stop and walk, and pick some berries. On our way through the forest we didn’t see any farmhouses, or any sign of human presence, so we felt quite safe. Our car was parked just behind the trees. I laid a blanked on the soft moss for my daughter to play on, and my mom and I walked around with our mugs in our hands picking lingonberries.

After half an hour our mugs were almost full, and I sent my mom and my daughter to the car to start packing so that we could leave soon, and I would stay another five minutes to fill up my mug. I didn’t see them, just heard their voices. The mug was finally full, I stood up and there he was. The man from my nightmare.

Our eyes met. He stood there exactly as I remembered him – dressed in some dirty, shapeless gown, and with his arms hung down way below his knees.  His hands were empty and it scared me the most: people are not walking that deep in the forest with their hands empty. He stared at me, and I could not read his stare.

I knew I was going to die, but there was my child, and I had to act quickly. All my instincts came to my rescue. I gave him a blank, uninterested look, slowly turned my back to him, and slowly started walking away. The only thought pulsing in my brain was ‘… don’t run… don’t scream…’ I called the first male name that came in my mind, and added ‘ I am coming!’ I kept walking; I expected being hit from behind at any moment. When I was at some distance, I finally looked back. He was no longer there. Gone. And then I ran.

My daughter was already in the car. I yelled to my mother to get in, fell in the car seat and locked all the doors. My heart was pounding with terror. With shaking hands I started the car and took off still expecting him to jump out of the bushes somewhere along the road. Yet, he was gone for good.

I have never been nowhere near that place again. What was that dream? Who was the man? How long had he been watching me? I will never know.

After the photo session with the spiders and caterpillars, I walked to the strand. The tide was out, but the sand was still wet and reflected the skyline.


The sun was already low, but the cloudless sky wouldn’t make any dramatic sunset pictures.  I sat on the rocks staring at the distant water.

I love shooting into the sun. Dream and reality are somewhat mixed in this kind of pictures.

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Thank you for listening to my story! Please share your ideas – I still feel like I need some explanation.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a great weekend!

Big birds, little birds

birds of prey

I have already posted four bird-related stories from Saltee Islands, and a River Suir bird story, and here is another one. I love birds and never miss a chance to take a picture and listen to what they say. This conversation was overheard ( or may be just dreamed up? ) in Mayfield Birds of Prey falconry, Co Waterford, Ireland. I don’t know what it is about. Just some gossip, I guess. We are all guilty 😉 So, here they are: Sadie, Banin, Peanut, Muffin, Bailey, Izzy, Holly and Boo.

-Did you hear that?

birds of prey

-Uh oh…

birds of prey

-Aaaaaaah! Trouble!

birds of prey

-I heard nothing!

birds of prey

-Oh really?

birds of prey

-I always knew…

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-“A little bird told me”, huh?

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-I heard nothing!!!


-Oh come on, it is OK.

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-But …

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-And what?

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-You can’t be serious…

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-Who cares?

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-Yes, who?

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-I. Heard. Nothing.

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-Are you kidding me?

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-I don’t want to know anything!

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-Or do I already know something?…

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-Everyone knows! 

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-Well, at this point…

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-I’d better be going…

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birds of prey

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you click on the images to see these sweet faces better.

When you travel Ireland, visit Mayfield Birds of Prey. This experience is not to be missed. Willie and Bridget  will let you handle and fly these noble  birds, and tell you amazing stories about them. Pure love – it is all I can tell about their work . Please “like” their Facebook page, and book a visit for yourself and your family, or make it an educational birthday trip.

Two more photographs of my favorite, Peanut, the Asian wood owl. He is molting – his eyelids will be all feathered soon.

birds of prey

birds of prey

May all creatures  be loved and respected, and live long and happy.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!