Totally focused on building a unique collaboration of creative style & imagery.
For those of my loyal followers who have tuned into my posts on instagram and facebook, (links below in the footer) my name used to be 'a Girl In Her Tent' and whilst I still do have my little teepee home, I now travel far more than I used to, I feel it no longer represents my brand and so I have now begun using my photography name, Toulouki.
Toulouki was the name my father wanted for me when I was born so although it's not my birth name, it's kind of stuck and it's pronounced Talookey in case you were wondering!
I am predominantly a self-portrait artist, a stylist & set designer based in the UK but travelling internationally, and occasionally I take photos of other people. This is my story.
When I was a child, I loved to draw & paint and became fascinated with the human body so I fell naturally into modelling in 2005 at the age of 19 and have worked as a freelance model ever since. In 2014 I met my partner, Simone* a photographer and art director who worked in the film & television industry for many years. A year later, after a decade of subconcsiously shaping lighting & compositional skills, I got on the other side of the camera and became obsessed with taking & retouching my own photographs, mostly of other people.
Due to an illness which saw me housebound during winter 2017 and unable to go out to shoot with others, I started reading up on how to take great self-portraits and decided to put it into practice with a weekly online photography challenge, the Dogwood photography challenge (which sadly no longer exists)
The rules weren't self-portraiture but I made this my rule to set myself a more complex task and I enjoyed the learning process so much I decided to start directing, shooting, styling & retouching all my own work.
In November 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and despite this new somewhat vexing chapter in my life, I continued to blog and document my treatment through self-portraiture. I lost all my hair and stuck absolutely everything I could find to my head, and of course I photographed it.
I've always experimented with colour, texture & interesting styling, but visiting India was the turning point and a huge sensory explosion for me - I started collecting saris, embellished offcuts and other recycled materials and decorated my own garden with them, turning little corners of it into a magical paradise. I mean, my garden is nothing special - I don't dig up the weeds or mow the lawn, in fact I'm pretty sure the lawnmower is broken, but there is always something beautiful to be created from, well, nothing.
From a bohemian bell tent with a bed, fluffy rugs, chests of drawers, lanterns & mirrors to sweeping fabrics around a gazebo over a jacuzzi, I enjoy set design as much as self-portraiture, and so the two combined.
In November 2019, I directed & hosted a photographic event, 'The Bohemian Garden' at the Hacienda studio in London. Handmade sets included a log cabin with a veranda, steps & spindles, a bohemian banquet floor table, boudoin-style bed with drapes, a hammock, a tonne of dried leaves, lanterns, candles, fireplace, props made from pampas grass, garden furniture, ivy, rose vines and so much more. Collectively Simone & I, the other models, the photographers who attended and all people involved who helped me build sets & make it happen raised over £1000 for Battersea Dogs & Cats home.
During my chemotherapy treatment the first half of 2019, I acquired and redecorated a 4-berth caravan with patio & awning into a colourful, floral haven to relax. It kept my mind occupied and has since become my art studio where I paint & make props.
Creating a hideaway is so appealing and I've always prefered to live outdoors where possible.
My other passions are recycling materials & upcycling. In a world of ongoing production of new stuff, I try to re-use what I already have or buy second hand and I absolutely love to travel. I take a camera with me everywhere I go.
Please follow my blog to keep up with my latest projects!
*My partner, Simone sometimes accompanies me as assistant on my shoots as he has much experience working on location, in studios, on film sets & making props. When working abroad, I will usually bring an assistant with me, either Simone or a second trusted assistant photographer.