Portraits, stories and anecdotes from an English Photographer in Chicago
Author: Chicago Stories a blog by Abigail Zoe Martin
I am a photographer, blogger, mother and ardent communicator. I think the problems of the world are all right in front of us but we need to start talking and stop arguing and then we can access them. We are all in this together. My ingredients for a thoroughly good life - integrity, kindness, compassion, empathy, tree hugging, bee saving, humour (loads of that please), books, communication and being able to listen plus good food and exercise and an excellent group of friends.
My website is: www.abigailzoemartin.com
I think my blog is in need of a gorgeous, opulent and voluptuous photograph to see in the new year so here it is. This is the delightful, Carina Shero, Founder of the plus size burlesque group, The Femme FATales. I loved doing this shoot for my show, Chicago Lights- we had a lot of fun as she’s very creative.
Here she is, in her own words, in an excerpt from my coffee table book, which is released this Tuesday.
You can’t go to Target and buy confidence and self love – there’s no handbook for it, it’s something that you have to find for yourself and no one can hand it to you.
Imagine there’s this wall in our mind, that is made up of restrictions that society has placed upon it – things like “I can’t show my body in a bikini at the beach”, “I’m too fat to have sex with the lights on”, “I’m not pretty enough to be desirable” and so on.
However, once people see my photos, in which I exude sensuality and confidence and am not at all hiding that I am fat – it starts forming cracks in that wall.
The more representation people see of people being unapologetic about what society deems as undesirable – the more cracks form and the more their own perception of themselves changes.
It will be gradual at first, from – “I have no worth because I am too much of this or not enough of that and I hate my body because of such and such” – to finally breaking large holes out of that wall and realizing: “Holy crap – I actually do have worth regardless of what societal beauty standards say! …maybe I’m even perfect.”
Because in reality, beauty standards are all made up and no one person can ever be what everyone likes and it is not our purpose in life to cater to what society thinks we should look like.
It is the most liberating experience getting to choose how you perceive yourself and choosing to love yourself.
Goodbye to my father Christopher Martin Zakheim, who died on Christmas Day 2018.
Hello to a show that was life changing for me. Hello to a book I had dreamed of for twenty years.
A trip to the dentist in February gave me a rare mouth condition which troubles me daily BUT after endless research I discovered loads of vitamins that helped me and loads of others. I’ve tried to turn every difficult situation into a positive but sometimes life can be gruelling.
My father’s death was too dreadful from brain cancer but instead of dwelling on that, I’d like to celebrate what a character he was. He wasn’t normal or conventional- ever. He was charming and only walked his own path. He never complained and certainly never explained! Ever! I hope I can be that brave. He used to rock up to my boarding school in a shirt unbuttoned to the waist (1970s!) and skin tight jeans. No other father looked like him. The matrons would be staring out of the window to witness his approach, which even then I knew was funny, if slightly embarrassing- for them! He paid my school fees with cash that he had tucked down his sock- he was a true antiques dealer of the old school kind.
Once he got over his 1970s look, he grew into one of the best dressed men I ever met and one of the few men who could actually were velvet and look slick. Brocade waistcoats, perfect cufflinks, brogues – these were the mainstays of his wardrobe. He always loved a character and attracted them wherever we went, especially in his Russian Art Gallery in London’s West End. He would have loved my show as it was packed with extraordinary people.
He was a bit of a rockstar – a mischief maker and a maverick. He got things wrong as he had me at 23, so he was really just a boy, but by his third marriage he had started to work out this thing we call life. I called him at least three times a week to waffle on and on and on (and I can really talk) and he never minded. He loathed FaceTime and would listen but direct the camera to the cat. He said the wrong thing quite often (!) but it could be very funny.
I don’t think that for the rest of my life on planet Earth I will ever meet anyone like him.
Goodbye 2018. No more words about you. Let’s see what 2019 brings.
Film 🎥 by Gunnar Curry shot on Friday 16 November at the Zhou B Art Center for the opening night of my audio/visual show, “Chicago Lights”. Performers featured in this mini film include Theatre Director and actor, Anthony Moseley, Cabaret star the Duchess Darling Shear and Vocal Performance Artist, Kiara Lanier.
The wonderful Candace Jordan, Chicago Tribune Social columnist, ex-playboy centrefold and sparkling human who radiates warmth and sunshine wherever she goes, just wrote this gorgeous piece for her blog which summed up the opening night of my show. It includes photos from the opening night and really captures what it was all about!
How long has she been walking; she’s lost track of time. She can feel the gravel crunch beneath her shoes, the pain of the blisters as they rub and bleed on her heels. Faded curtains blow slowly in the breeze in the house up ahead. The heat is stifling, the front door ajar. She enters, wipes the grimy sweat from her neck, breath ragged.
Music plays faintly from another part of the house. “Is anyone home?” – no response. Flies buzz in the corner over some left overs. All she needs is a glass of water and to use the phone. She takes another step … a floorboard creaks and she feels a creeping sensation in the pit of her stomach. …tbc
Ok, so here we go… after waking up to a number of texts and messages telling me that the link I posted previously doesn’t work in the UK or Europe, I managed to screen shot each page and here is the actual article as it appears in the Chicago Tribune today! Hooray! We are all so global!