This post is in collaboration with TOBI.
Some items worn have been gifted by TOBI.
When I met with Sarah (the incredibly talented babe behind the lens of these photographs and photography business Here’s To:), we were walking towards one of Belfast’s more popular photo locations at this time of year. In case you hadn’t noticed Belfast is a pretty small place and upon first glance, you’d be momentarily forgiven for underestimating its creative opportunities.
Originally, we had planned to meet in a different part of this particular area of Belfast and I had a completely different vision for the overall shoot. So as we approached the new location upon a last minute decision to try something new, my only request was that Sarah work her magic and make the shots look totally unique, almost unrecognisable as a location that has been shot hundreds of times over. It wasn’t because I wanted to distance myself from the work of other’s because I didn’t approve or appreciate their work. It was about making the shots our own, putting our own mark on them, accepting and appreciating the different perspectives of the wonderful creatives who had come before us but also experimenting and looking at things a little differently.
Shifting and exploring new perspectives is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s a pattern in my thinking that usually occurs during blissful summer trips spent soaking up Californian sunshine – something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about in recent weeks. There’s something about the Californian air that really clears your mind. Morning walks along the boardwalk, earphones in, podcast on, sun shining over the beach and waves washing over the sand. It’s these moments as I head towards the pier, dollars in hand ready for an iced coffee, that are truly some of my favourite. I love watching the locals and fellow holidayers going about their days, wandering through the local markets before heading to the end of the pier where the early birds gather with their fishing rods and being given the opportunity to take all of this in as an anonymous passerby. These are the moments I feel most at peace. These moments spark ideas, uncover new thoughts and approaches to everyday life I hadn’t previously considered.
In a part of the world that seems oh so vast in comparison to little old Belfast, California has an amazing ability to make you feel both incredibly small but also entirely welcome. While we’re technically tourists and do have the advantage of returning to the same spot summer after summer, I’ve never been made to feel like an outsider. We’re welcomed as locals, almost as though our time spent away from our favourite holiday destination and back in the UK was our holiday and we’re only now returning ‘home’.
Tobi allowed that little touch of ‘home’ and element of Californian life to crossover in my Belfast life (despite both being world’s apart and in more ways than one), filling the void while I count down the days before our next trip (currently 74).
It was like receiving a care package like your family used to send when you first moved away from home. Although this time with less cutesy postcards and sentimental items and more clothes – so basically, the best care package I’ve ever received (sorry, Mum).
For those that don’t know, Tobi is an online-only women’s fashion boutique based in LA. Their impressive social media fan base (we’re talking 1.5m on Facebook and 371k on Instagram) makes them no stranger to international shipping, shipping to over 150 countries including the UK and Ireland (told you Californians were welcoming).
It can be easy to get bogged down with the mundane aspects of everyday life – going to the same coffee shop, ordering the same coffee, walking the same paths and shopping in all the same stores – but when life gets predictable, don’t dwell on it. Instead try something new, shake up your perspective and broaden your horizons.
Thankfully we live in a world where the evolution of technology gives us access to most corners of the world at the touch of a button. Luckily for me and my love affair with California, it allows me to access and connect to some of the things I truly love about Californian culture, particularly when it comes to fashion, all while I’m still at home in Belfast and counting the days until I’m reunited with Californian culture IRL.
Dress – Tobi
Photos by Sarah Ellis of Here’s To: Photography
Check out her full (and fabulous) portfolio here.