Lodestars Anthology feature
I was thrilled to be featured in the fabulous Lodestars Anthology Wales edition (available to buy on their website) which came out in December.
This is what they wrote:
Vivacious and personal are words that spring to mind when describing Billie Charity’s marvellous photography. More than mere imagery, her works introduce us to an array of fascinating characters who are full of verve yet at ease with the lens, a testament to Billie’s ability to capture life’s honesty.
Her photographic creativity has been nurtured since childhood. “My father was a fashion photographer and my mother has always been very creative with an incredible eye, as was my late-brother Stan … So I grew up with cameras everywhere, being asked to stand in ‘incredible light’, all the time being enthused and excited by photography.”
It didn’t take long for Billie to discover that carrying a camera was also a unique way to strike up a conversation. “I remember very clearly a day in 2006 when I was in a pub with a friend … I saw a man sitting in an old wooden chair, smoking and drinking a pint. To my friend’s horror, I approached him and asked if I could take his photo. He was bemused but agreed … From that day I felt a whole new and exciting portraiture world opening up to me - strangers!”
Avid and artistic, it wasn’t until she returned to Hay-on-Wye, her childhood home, that Billie’s passion became an award-winning profession, which saw her travel far and wide to capture candid moments with an array of subjects, including Gurkhas, moth specialists and models. Closer to home, she’s been just as prolific, taking thousands of photos of Hay-on-Wye locals, some of which appear in her book, People of Hay. “Hay is packed full of writers, photographers, artists, musicians. It’s a fantastic place to live. People are drawn here from all over by the landscape, the river, the bookshops, the festival … I love the people I meet through photography and the interactions I have on the street. When I stop people to ask if I can photograph them, they’re often genuinely baffled but always seem flattered. Many chat to me for a long time about their life … I love that the camera gives me a way to meet people who I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet - total strangers, colourful characters, famous people.”
When it comes to choosing her subjects, Billie is drawn to a person’s ‘vibe’ - to how they interact with their environment - and knows instantly if she spots someone she wants to snap. This proved true with her ‘Women in Farming’ series, which saw her celebrate a group of hard-working yet often unseen women, with the resulting images exhibited at the Royal Welsh Show. Her latest venture, part of her post lockdown recovery, has led Billie back to the Welsh seaside. “The way people have appreciated beaches has been different this year after the craziness of the lockdown. Things might have changed permanently, but the beaches themselves are the same as ever, which I find very reassuring.”
The Welsh landscape is a delight for any artist, but for Billie, Wales is exceptional and its beauty close to her heart. “I love the unpretentiousness of it - the sometimes bleak and rainy Welsh towns, the stunning landscape … Some of my favourite places in Wales are along the south coast - Barry Island, Porthcawl and Swansea … But these amazing landscapes alone don’t inspire photos, it has to be the right combination of people, colours and backgrounds.”
Billie’s work is a joy. Ever-evolving and ever-truthful, she encourages budding photographers to ask for help, visit exhibitions and most importantly, keep taking photos.