Vincent Starr Photography_On Set

I’m very excited to introduce you to Vincent Starr today. This top photographer has had a successful career capturing elite sports people including premiership footballers, rugby players and Team GB athletes. He has even worked with Annie Leibovitz on a shoot with David Beckham in Milan.

I met Vince earlier this year at a motivating HIIT workshop with Kim Ingleby; he photographed the event, while the class was put through Kim’s high intensity workout. I was inspired by Vince’s energy and outlook on life. He certainly has a lot of knowledge to share and passion for helping others.

Opening to yoga and meditation, his direction is changing to involve more photography and videoing of yoga retreats and workshops. When we spoke over the phone, Vince was out connecting to nature and enjoying the English countryside with his black Labrador, Harpo.

Let’s meet this talented man. Welcome Vince.

You have been a professional photographer now for 15 years. What was the most challenging part about starting when you first went out freelance?

I completed my Degree in Photography, Film and Video at the University of Westminster, and then moved to Spain to learn another language as well as get into a studio and gain experience from other photographers.

After a year I went freelance and started assisting a couple of photographers who shot sports campaigns for the likes of Adidas and Pepsi etc. all over Europe, which was quite exciting. After five years I moved back to London to get stuck into building up a career as a sports photographer.

Going freelance was a bit daunting because you feel like you’re going to lose your regular pay packet, but that’s just the first leap you have to take. You have to trust that you’ll get more work and be better paid. It went quiet for the first month, then it worked out okay and I was earning more money straight away.

You know you can do it. Within you is the opportunity, so trust yourself and just go for it.

Vincent Starr Photography_Footballer Michael Essien

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You know you can do it. Within you is the opportunity, so trust yourself and just go for it.

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What are three of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt since running your own business?

My life’s changed a lot in the last two to three years where I’ve got more into yoga and looking at the rhythm of life as a whole, not just the day-to-day.

I shoot more yoga and lifestyle photography too now as well, which is really interesting. Career path wise you realise you have to look within yourself to see who you are, what you’re good at and where you can excel instead of relentlessly attacking everything and hoping it comes off.

So three things I’ve learnt, especially recently;

1. Mindfulness. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is being more mindful of your thoughts and actions. The more clear you are with these, the more the Universe gets an understanding of those vibrations and gives it back/returns them to you.

If I walk around with my career, stressed because I haven’t got as much work as I want, in a way, I’m telling the Universe that’s what I want. I’m giving out those signals like I want to be stressed and not have much work. You’re projecting that and creating that reality. So thinking a more positive version of that would be much more beneficial.

The Universe is giving you everything you want every second of the day. Almost like you step out of your body and you are the whole Universe looking back at a small tiny version of yourself and trying to help it (and it’s generally confused).

We have to be clear and exact with our actions, energy, mind, thoughts and emotions as these things are us telling the Universe what we want and who we are. We can’t sit down for an hour and plan what we want and expect that to happen. It’s all day, every day that our vibration is being felt.

2. Success doesn’t exist. Sometimes it feels like the desire for being successful isn’t natural, almost like its created in us from an early age through school and education. You can be successful just by planting a flower, or by smiling at someone in the street. It doesn’t have to be in the business world or to visually exist in the shape of an object (car, clothes, gadgets).

Survival of the fittest, dog eat dog, gotta fight to survive; being a success feels like the wrong attitude to have in life. Almost like everything is running out and we have to scrabble around to get a piece. “There is enough of everything for everyone” feels like a more true, natural way of living. If you live and believe there is abundance on the planet of everything, then you have a completely different mindset and you’re a lot less stressed too.

3. The work I get doesn’t prove who I am. I’ve changed the way I think from just hanging on for the next big shoot, as if it defines me. As if I’m not complete until I have a big shoot. I’ve given up being hungry for those big shoots because it doesn’t define me as a person.

Every day I wake up, I’m a complete, perfect human being. I don’t need any other external thing to to make me happy or to prove I exist. Believing this gives me back control of my life and my feelings.

Vincent Starr Photography_Yoga Pose

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The biggest thing I’ve learnt is being more mindful of your thoughts and actions. The more clear you are with these, the more the Universe gets an understanding of those vibrations and gives it back/returns them to you.

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Who inspires you and why?

People that help other people.

I think our brains tie us up in knots and it’s sharing knowledge that unties those knots, enlightens us and helps us all on the path to happier everyday lives. Those kinds of people inspire me and that’s more where I’d like to drive my career these days.

Sure, ages ago it was world famous photographers that inspired me, but I would beat myself up that I’m not as successful as them (yet) and I found that unhealthy. Also in a way I was hijacking their dream. Copying their dream and fighting for their dream. Externalising my happiness into something that’s already been done and not being happy until I got a similar version of it for myself.

I’m 39 years old and the second half of my life is going to be all about open mindedness and unlimited possibilities. Using my photography as a vehicle to move my life around and not as something that limits or contains me.

I’m not as stressed about getting big advertising shoots anymore – I mean they’re awesome fun. I love the buzz of big lighting set ups and that’s always what I’ve wanted to do as a photographer, but the more I learn about myself and this creative path I am on, the more I think maybe there’s something more I should be focusing my creativity on.

As you take this thought further you realise you’re putting a lot of your energy into the possibility of getting advertising shoots, with email marketing campaigns, phone calls, trying to set up meetings, portfolio drop offs etc. etc. Then when you do get a job, those images make people want to buy more products for them to be happy, which is creating a synthetic, false version of the world and happiness. Also making you unhappy until you get the work. So you step back from that and see the very strange bigger picture for what it really is.

It’s not real. It’s not natural. I’m not helping people on the planet be happy. I’m contributing to a system that makes people happy only when they’ve bought something. I guess that feels wrong. I should be re-connecting people to the natural, real world and to themselves. As a creative isn’t that my responsibility?

It’s always good to question things. Stop and think. See things in a different light. Even everything we’ve just spoken about isn’t written in stone. It’s just a thought process, some ideas. Some wrong, some right. Advertising seems to be convincing people they need something outside themselves. I guess it’s really irresponsible, but it’s also the way the western world is wired; consume, consume, consume.

Vincent Starr Photography_Jo Running

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I think our brains tie us up in knots and it’s sharing knowledge that unties those knots, enlightens us and helps us all on the path to happier everyday lives.

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What was key for you growing your business?

Giving the best quality of work you could possibly achieve and giving that to the client. Also getting the most out of the athletes on shoots.

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Do you have a major career highlight since starting as a photographer?

The first Adidas shoot was pretty amazing, because that was quite a big deal. It ran me ragged and stressed me out no end with the budget and production the shoot involved, but it was my first juicy six day shoot with premiership football players, so I loved it.

Then there was the Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres shoots. Double front covers for FourFourTwo magazine and Nike. That was pretty awesome fun. Speaking Spanish with Fernando was a nice little reward from five years in Spain too.

And then, I think more recently it feels like a highlight to be finally aware that I have the chance to really knuckle down and work out what is the best thing I can possibly create and give instead of just thinking and striving for my own ‘successful’ career.

I guess a highlight of this energy developed into photographing and filming a yoga teacher training retreat in Tuscany. That was loads of fun because in a way it was my first yoga course. As well as filming in a beautiful location with amazing teachers and students I fell into the wealth of knowledge the 5/6000 year old yoga philosophy has to offer. Very inspiring. The opposite of the western way of life maybe. That really blew me away.

Vincent Starr Photography_Footballer Wayne Rooney FourFourTwo cover

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There’s 30-40 people on set and you’ve got all these lights on two or three different sets, crisp quality lighting, an amazing photography team and equipment with you – and you’re producing it, it feels great.

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What made the Adidas shoot personally rewarding? Was it the fact that you succeeded in such a large shoot with big names?

It just felt like it had been everything I wanted to achieve: to become a big photographer shooting big lighting set-ups.

Shoots like that where you’re in a big studio – there’s 30-40 people on set and you’ve got all these lights on two or three different sets, crisp, fresh, amazing quality lighting, your best hand-picked photography team and equipment with you – and you’re producing it, it feels great.

But then, the Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres were smaller, but a bit more fun because they both just nailed it. It was quick and more relaxed with a lot less people on set. Maybe four or five. I’d done quite a few shoots by then, so that was a bit more of a buzz. Fernando Torres just jumped up and did this horizontal kick perfectly in the first frame (obviously I took more frames but I was smiling to myself as I knew he couldn’t beat that shot).

Vincent Starr Photography_Footballer Fernando Torres FourFourTwo Cover

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Torres just jumped up and did this horizontal kick perfectly in the first frame (obviously I took more frames but I was smiling to myself as I knew he couldn’t beat that shot).

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What was the turning point that got you into meditation and yoga?

I remember sitting down at the dining table in our flat in Balham in January a few years back and saying to myself “What more I can do? What more can I put in to get me more work?” I’d been giving 200-300% in everything and it wasn’t giving the same energy back.

I was holding my head in my hands. I was frustrated and I was thinking, “What more can I do?”

Later that year I was hanging out with my sister who’s into loads of sport, meditation, yoga and writing etc. and she got me into a few science and spirituality workshops and meditation techniques. I’d tried meditation before, and was a little into yoga but second time round it was different and something just clicked.

Meditation can be just closing your eyes (well a very simple version of it anyway), shutting off external inputs, slowing your breathing to half it’s normal speed and just being. It’s really amazing when you get the hang of it. You kind of find you connect with your true inner self. The real you. Then after I got the hang of it slowly loads of things and energy just opened up to me. I began to ‘see’ more of what was really going on. What was driving everything in my life and in the world around me. Where I was going. What I thought I wanted and why I thought I wanted it.

When you have a moment of inspiration for example, really I think that’s you connected with your higher self. The more enlightened, less weighed-down-by-every-day-life type person and through meditation, yoga and balancing your life you kind of get more in tune with that side of you and stuff like that. You connect to that more.

You become less weighed down by the stressful things in life like money worries, what you haven’t got, the news, people in power etc. etc. and focus more on the positive things. Beautiful and simple.

Vincent Starr Photography_Yoga Poses

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When you have a moment of inspiration, really I reckon that’s kind of you connected with your higher, more enlightened, less weighed down by every day life self and through meditation, yoga and balancing your life you kind of get more in tune with that side.

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Starting a new venture can be equally exciting and scary. Do you have a way of overcoming personal fear and self-doubt?

Yes, just go for it!

There are two books that re-wired my thinking this year.

There’s one called The Power, which is the second book after The Secret. The Power is a bit more business based and creative I think. It’s funny, I never got into The Secret. Someone showed me that, and I wasn’t into it at all. That just shows how closed off I was then I guess.

The other one was Ubuntu Contributionism by Michael Tellinger. Amongst loads of other topics, it speaks of a better version of the world where people contribute four hours of work a day to their community doing whatever they want to do, then they are free to do anything they like. They don’t need money etc. In a way money is a controlling mechanism I guess.

Amazing, amazing books. Funny that I was reading them both at the same time.

Things I took from The Power are; it’s all to do with our sub-conscious mind. In the space of a minute you regenerate like a million cells in your body. In the space of a week you regenerate and replace all the trillions of cells in your body, so you’re constantly changing and are more like a wave is the sea than a static object..

Then also, things that are scary, are good for you. That’s what you should be attracted to, but your sub-conscious brain is trying to protect you, so if you walked out in front of a car it will jolt you back, which is good. It’s a failsafe, but also it stops you exploring more and going for other things in life.

Every day there’s things that you think, like “Oh, I can’t be bothered to do that, I just want to stay at home all day”, or “If I did that, how will I make money to pay the rent?” It’s you’re sub-conscious just trying to stop you doing stuff to protect you. To keep you ‘safe’. You’ve really got to push yourself through that barrier no matter what.

You’ve got to take yourself out of your comfort zone. What’s the worst that could happen? Even though it’s scary and daunting, just do it. Go for it, because you’ll become more alive and then more and more opportunities arise from that energy.

Give yourself affirmations to read to yourself everyday – telling yourself what you should be doing and thinking really – they’re really cool. “I am a successful photographer”. “Money is flowing to me from expected and unexpected sources”. “I am alive, happy and at peace with myself”. “I love myself”. Anything like that is great and really good for you.

Our brains are so tied up in a knot, that it really helps to tell ourselves these affirmations or positive things because the niggly voice in the back of the brain does the opposite. You know like “my job’s crap”, “I can’t cook anything”, “he/she doesn’t understand me”. Automatic negative thoughts can run our lives and we sometimes don’t even notice they are there. We have to be aware of them at least, that’s half the battle.

All these things add up to distract us and slow us down, so we’re less enlightened like a low hum and we need to be a higher vibration. A higher frequency.

With a daunting new thing; go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Would that worst really be that bad? You’d get through it, even if it did happen – which it won’t, so go for it!

Vincent Starr Photography_Sporty Spice Mel C

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With a daunting new thing; go for it. What’s the worst that could happen?

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What advice would you give someone wanting to follow their passion and create a career out of what they love doing?

The most important thing is try not to do something to be successful because you may find out that that success isn’t a real thing. Do things for pure passion and because it’s who you are inside.

That’s really positive.

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What adds colour to your life?

To me it’s all the tiny little accidents that happen that seemingly no one really notices that I think are massively important.

It’s like accidentally smiling at something funny that some does or that happens in the street and a moment later you catch someone’s eye and they also found it funny. Those simple small sparks in life are awesome.

Like miniscule dust mites of energy floating through the Universe that are lost everyday, but you catch one and it gives you a spark. Those little bits of magic. They’re not marketed, or on a billboard and they’re not sold to you. They’re just under the radar that no one really knows about and they’re little things that tickle your fancy and keep you going.

Like gold but in a currency nobody knows about.

Vincent Starr Photographer with his black Labrador Harpo

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You’ve got to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Blind faith. What’s the worst that could happen? Even though it’s scary and daunting, just do it. Go for it, because you’ll become more alive and then more and more opportunities arise from this energy.

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Quick fire questions: London, England

Best breakfast/brunch spot: La Suite West Hotel London. Nothing is more British than afternoon tea in London.

Favourite place for coffee: Shoreditch Grind.

Best local activity off the tourist trail: Jivamukti yoga at somewhere like the Jivamukti centre in Acton, or Yogahaven in Richmond.

When you’re not busy working, you can be found: Lost in the countryside or researching someone’s weird and wonderful work.

Favourite travel destination: Glastonbury or Valencia.

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Finally, getting a lot more into the yoga, your direction is already changing. How do you see your business evolving over the next five years?

The biggest thing I want to do in the next five years is give more to others, not to myself.

I want to use my creativity to help other people get more out of life, unwinding their minds if needed – unlocking any limiting belief systems they might have as opposed to concentrating my creativity to try make me money and ‘prove’ myself. Connecting my creativity more with the natural world.

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What a jam packed interview! Has Vince’s advice or philosophy resonated with you? Let me know what you enjoyed in the comments.

To see more of Vince’s impressive portfolio, or to connect with him, check out his social media below.

Vince Starr Vince Starr Facebook  l  Vince Starr Twitter  l  Vince Starr Vimeo

All photographs courtesy of Vince Starr.

Live more free,

Waiting at the bus stop for our surprise date

My only instructions were ‘wear something warm and shoes comfortable to walk in.’ I do love a bit of mystery! Intrigued, I obliged, ready for the surprise date Mike had booked me in for a few weeks earlier. I’m a huge fan of surprises. I enjoy the unknown and unexpected (even though I used to hunt out Christmas presents and take a sneaky peak when I found them – sorry Mum).

Joking with Mike in the days leading up to our surprise date, I kept telling him I was excited for our day trip to Paris. A girl can only try. At least now it’s in his mind for future weekend trips.

Wrapped up on a sunny, but crisp Autumn Saturday, we set off on foot ready for our day’s adventure. A bus and two trains later, we arrived at Stratford, or better known for it’s massive Westfield. Knowing Mike too well, I knew he wasn’t about to take me shopping and sure enough, my instincts were right.

I was hastily lead over the footbridge with Westfield disappearing from sight for yet another short bus ride (what would we do without the Citymapper app).

Trevelyan Road London

A surprise saturday date_family history

My curiosity was certainly getting the better of me and I wondered where Mike was taking me as we walked around a foreign East side neighbourhood.

Luckily, I was soon to find out. Outside number 14 we came to a stop.

A walk down memory lane

Looking up at the house in front of us, Mike asked, “Do you know what this is?”

Unsure, I shook my head. His answer was unexpected and emotional.

“This is the house where your Pop was born.”

That was enough for me to well up with tears. I was stunned at the gesture and overwhelmed with emotion. Happiness mixed with an emptiness from missing my Nana and Pop. Having been extremely close with them growing up, losing them both so close to each other some years earlier, still leaves a heart aching gap.

A few moments later the owner walked out to her car, so we mentioned what we were doing there – she was probably wondering why we were loitering about – and the significance of her home.

Venturing into family history

Number 14 doorway

She was so friendly and invited us in for a tour of the house. I think I was a bit stunned at seeing the house where my Pop was actually born way back in 1926.

We were filled in on some of the history, including seeing where a bomb shelter still resides at the back of the garden from use in World War II.

As it turns out, my great grandparents were living in this house with my great grandmother’s parents (my great-great grandparents), when they had my Pop. My great-grandfather was a policeman here in London and they were waiting to be allocated new police housing.

How is that for a little piece of family history. While I’m home at Christmas I’m going to do a little more snooping to find out more about our family tree.

Football match police horses West Ham

Still feeling a little emotional, Mike quickly advised that the date wasn’t over yet. A short walk and another bus ride, I thought we must be visiting another childhood home when we arrived at West Ham.

There were police and people everywhere and I didn’t have a clue to what was going on…

Then the penny dropped!

West Ham United supporters scarves

West Ham United ground with supporters scarves

West Ham United Stadium front

We were off to my first football game in London to support West Ham, my Pop’s team! I was a little excited and of course had to buy a compulsory supporters scarf.

West Ham United vs Newcastle Football match

West Ham United vs Newcastle Football

The atmosphere was buzzing as West Ham took on Newcastle. The Newcastle supporters were a rowdy bunch in the far corner – we could hear them chanting all the way from the other end.

There were sing-alongs, bubbles and loads of yelling. All the elements for a true football supporter.

Luckily in the second half, West Ham scored the only goal of the match down our end, so we all leapt from our seats cheering in victory.

West Ham United vs Newcastle Football teams

West Ham United vs Newcastle final score

The final score remained 1-0 to West Ham as the whistle blew full time, so nearly a whole stadium left happy.

West Ham United Stadium inside

West Ham United Stadium

I left with a smile on my face for a whole other reason getting to experience a piece of family history.

Well played Mike,

Ed Hewitt_World in London

What if you didn’t need to travel thousands of miles to see the world and experience different cultures? Great news explorers! In fact, you can discover it all right here in London. Turkish hammams, Brazilian parties and underground Burmese supperclubs can all be found right in your own back yard.

All it takes is one persons idea (with a lot of hard work and lesson learning) to create something innovative and new in the marketplace. Ed Hewitt and Ed Gillespie are currently on a mission to do just that with an app.

I’ve often said that London feels like the capital of the world, now through this new project, World in London are showcasing the diversity and bringing the best of nationalities to help Londonders experience the world in their own city.

Let’s find more out about the adventures behind World in London.

A very multicultural welcome, Ed Hewitt.

You have just launched a crowdfunding campaign to get your app, World in London off the ground. What was your motivation behind creating this?

With regards to the World in London concept, I used to be a travel blogger myself and started to question whether it was actually really necessary to keep on going off thousands of miles away from home for months on end in search of adventure and new cultural experiences. Especially when my own city (London) was blessed with so much cultural diversity.

After the end of one particularly long overland journey from Thailand back to the UK I started to write about ‘travelling’ the world in my own city. Seeing my own city from a new perspective was incredibly rewarding for me, and also was by far my most popular posts with my readership.

I began to think there could be something more to this than just a blog, as there wasn’t one place (in London) which really bought together all the amazing multicultural experiences you could have. As Londoners we know we live in a multicultural city, but we don’t really know how to make the most of all the wonderful opportunities that entails. That’s something I wanted to change through the World in London app.

The specific motivation behind the crowdfunding campaign is to really prove whether people want what we are offering before we go ahead and spend a lot of time and money building it. Everyone says ‘what a great idea’ but will they actually put their money where their mouth is to enable it to happen. Of course we need to raise the money too, but its more about validating our offering with as many people as possible.

Check out the crowdfunder link at the end of this interview to watch the video.

World in London graphic banner

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As Londoners we know we live in a multicultural city, but we don’t really know how to make the most of all the wonderful opportunities that entails. That’s something I wanted to change through the World in London app.

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What has been the most challenging part about turning your vision into reality?

From the demand side its definitely trying to get the message out to enough people. We need thousands of people to make this concept really work and engaging all of those is a real challenge.

From the supply side its making sure that the experiences we recommend through the app really are special and authentic. We also need to make sure that we are being culturally sensitive when working with different communities – the last thing we want to do is cause any collateral damage. That’s all quite time consuming and involves more than just a quick Google.

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Can you tell us a little more about your background before this venture?

My (adult) life to date has really revolved around my three passions for: multiculturalism, environmental issues and travel. They’ve always been passions, and have played the lead role in various phases of my life so far.

I wrote my dissertation at Oxford on multiculturalism in the UK, before leaving to travel around India and work for an environmental NGO in 2008.

I came back home to work on commercialising low carbon technology for a number of years, before deciding to scratch my travel itch again by taking a flightless journey from Thailand back to the UK along the Silk Road. That’s when I got into travel blogging – my blog mainly focuses on environmental issues I encountered along the route.

I think it was somewhere on a 36 hour train journey through the desert in Xinjiang province, China, that I first started hatching ideas for World in London. Back to my multicultural student routes!

Ed Hewitt_World in London on train in China

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I wake up every day with butterflies in my stomach. Some days it’s the scared butterfly, others the excited one. Not knowing if people will take to your concept – especially when it hasn’t been done before.

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What are three of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt since starting World in London?

1. Starting your own business from scratch is much more difficult than you think.

2. Everybody saying ‘it’s a great idea’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it translates into a great business.

3. Collaborate rather than compete! Especially in the early days.

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What has been key for getting the word out there for your app?

Well that’s what I’m doing now!

Initially it starts with your family, friends and early followers, but the key is to engage beyond those as quickly as possible. You need to create sharable content through social media, collaborate on good stories with newspapers and magazines and approach influential and relevant bloggers.

There are also the paid channels – Facebook and Google ads which we will contemplate once we’ve explored the other channels.

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Describe your biggest highlight since coming up with the idea for World in London?

Yesterday Sir Jonathon Porritt (leading British environmentalist) pledged £200 to the campaign which was pretty damn cool.

Prior to that, our ‘World Cup festival’ was great where we recommended how people could watch each team in the World Cup surrounded by the fans from that nationality in London.

The atmospheres in some of the places were absolutely amazing – exactly what World in London is all about. Being in Elephant & Castle with the Colombians was literally like being in Bogota and in the Mexican restaurant where the Mexican fans gathered one person described the atmosphere to me as ‘the best since the final at the Azteca Stadium in 1984!’ It rocked!

Ed Hewitt_World in London dancing

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Be very careful you don’t kill the passion which made you love it in the first place. Turning your hobby into a business can be a dangerous thing. You start seeing commercial implications when before you only saw the joy of doing something.

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Starting something new can be equally exciting and scary, and a time when many of us can be overwhelmed with self-doubt and personal fear. How do you overcome these feelings?

Like this question. It’s something I’ve wrestled with a lot. I even wrote a couple of blogs where I discussed this very topic and tried to create a new word for the feeling – ‘scexy’ – a mixture of scared and excited.

It’s really tough to be honest. I wake up every day with butterflies in my stomach. Some days it’s the scared butterfly, others the excited one. Not knowing if people will take to your concept – especially when it hasn’t been done before – is especially ‘scexy’!

I don’t really know if I do ‘deal’ with it. The feeling is always there, but it creates the adrenaline that fuels me. The key is not to let the moments of self doubt last too long! The next really exciting positive thing is just around the corner!

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What advice would you give someone also wanting to start their own business and create a career out of what they love doing?

Be very careful you don’t kill the passion which made you love it in the first place.

Turning your hobby into a business can be a dangerous thing. You start seeing commercial implications when before you only saw the joy of doing something.

I’ve met a lot of people who have grown sick of their hobbies because they tried to turn them into businesses. Bear that in mind…

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What does living A Life Less Beige mean to you?

It’s about removing the goggles which blinker your everyday life. I think when we travel we do that. We are in ‘discovery’ mode – we want to try new things, learn about new cultures. Yet when we return for some reason we forget that – get too caught up in the here and now of our everyday lives.

Through experimenting with World in London this year I’ve learned to see something amazing in the familiar – to take the ‘discovery mode’ of my travels and apply it to everyday life. That’s what we want to help others do through World in London.

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Quick fire questions: London, England

1. Best breakfast/brunch spot: The Turkish café appropriately called Enjoy Café on Kingsland Road. Freshly rolled gozleme (from an old lady sitting in the window!). Great value and really down to earth!

2. Favourite place for coffee: Bar Italia in Soho. Basically a slice of Rome right in the heart of London. Been going since 1949 so they must be doing something good!

3. Best local activity off the tourist trail: Pueblito Paisa. It’s the Latin American market of Seven Sisters. Truly a whole new world which basically nobody knows about!

4. When you’re not busy working, you can be found: Watching football with Colombians in Elephant & Castle (hang on that is working)?

5. Favourite travel destination: Your own city! Enter discovery mode and see it from a whole new light.

Try couchsurfing your own city for something really off the wall! Either that or Kyrgyzstan! Especially if you are into a heedy mix of beautiful alpine lakes, rusting Soviet infrastructure and fermented horse milk!

World in London Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan landscape

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It’s about removing the goggles which blinker your everyday life. I think when we travel we do that. We are in ‘discovery’ mode, yet when we return for some reason we forget that.

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Where do you hope to see World in London in a year from now?

Having really taken off for Londoners. I want the crowdfunding campaign to have been a success and to have built the app and have thousands of people using it.

Once we’ve proved the concept in London, we’d love to take the ‘World In’ brand to cities around the world.

World in London banner_The world is here discover it

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So, what do you think?! Great idea huh? If you want to get behind these guys and help develop their fantastic project, check out the World in London Crowdfunder page. You can also find out more and follow their progress on social media:

World in London Facebook  l  World in London Twitter

Get travelling,

Bridget Arsenault and Fatima Martinez Moxon BYT Film Club

A chance meeting and a shared love brought these two talented film enthusiasts together. I’m excited to bring you not one, but two inspiring guests for today’s A Life More interview. Bridget and Fatima have a passion for showcasing up-and-coming talent in the film industry, while making premieres accessible for audiences.

I love their enthusiasm, professionalism and belief in what they deliver. The evenings are always top quality and an enjoyable experience. If you want to see what a BYT Film Club premiere is like, have a look at my post Mayfair’s Secret Cinema: The Bright Young Things Film Club.

Time to get rolling. Welcome Bridget and Fatima.

Lets go back to the beginning. How did The Bright Young Things (BYT) Film Club come about?

Bridget: BYT (pronounced “bite”) started by accident! Fatima and I had a chance meeting at a Vanity Fair event. Fatima had discovered an incredible documentary called Mary and Bill about a 90-year-old triathlete and an 83-year-old high jumper and was so moved by it she wanted to host a screening.

We joined forces and June 26th 2013 hosted our first screening at the May Fair hotel. We sold out 201 seats, had the most fantastic night and afterwards all we kept being asked was “when is the next one”. And BYT was born!

In December 2013 we became a limited company and launched officially as a business March 6th of this year, with an absolutely spectacular American film Afternoon Delight.

Fatima: I had been trying to organise a screening for Mary and Bill for at least two years. I wanted the world to watch the film, but somehow the timing was always off, I would start a new project at work that required all my time, or I would be travelling a lot. I tried many times and got nowhere… and then I met Bridget and things started to click…. the rest is history.

Andrew Napier documentary poster for Mary and Bill

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Fatima had discovered an incredible documentary called Mary and Bill about a 90-year-old triathlete and an 83-year-old high jumper and was so moved by it she wanted to host a screening.

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What was your motivation to start this unique film club?

Bridget: We love films and we sometimes feel let down by the current cinema experience, nearly £20 to watch a blockbuster in a central London movie theatre, where the person next to you spends the whole two hours texting on their phone.

We want to bring back the glamour and fun of the cinema experience at an affordable price and help smaller, independent films have a platform to screen their work to a real audience outside the festival setting.

Fatima: I agree with Bridget. There does not seem to be a lot of variety in terms of the films being shown, unless you consider the BFI. We are both big on trailers and there were so many films we would find online, which would never make it to the UK.

I guess that after a couple of years waiting for these films to arrive, we thought: We are no longer waiting for someone else to screen the films we want, we are going to do it.

Afternoon Delight - Bridget & Fatima - Film Night

Image © Mark Cocksedge

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We want to bring back the glamour and fun of the cinema experience at an affordable price and help smaller, independent films have a platform to screen their work to a real audience outside the festival setting.

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What was the most challenging part about starting?

Bridget: Both of us have events experience and Fatima has experience in PR and marketing and I have some level of experience in the film industry but neither of us had ever run our own business! I don’t want to say it’s been easy but we’ve had so much support and we work with the most incredible and like-minded sponsors, and they make it easy and rewarding.

Fatima: Juggling two jobs at once! Once we decided to organise our first screening, things started moving very quickly and there was a lot to look after… we were glued to our phones/computers most of the day. Being organised was key!

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What are three of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt since starting BYT Film Club?

Bridget:
1. Time is probably our closest ally.
Especially with securing the films it can take quite a lot of time to get all the correct permissions and to find the right person who can get you access to the film.

2. It’s important to talk about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to let people know if you’re part of something exciting.

3. Get everything in writing. Everyone is so busy and working on so many diverse projects and with different clients and businesses, avoid any ambiguity, and get everything in writing.

Fatima:
1. You will make mistakes
, and you just have to accept it. It’s part of the experience and of growing any business. Make sure you learn from them and carry on.

2. If in doubt, call your contacts to clarify. Relaying only on email con sometimes result in parties talking about different things without realising it.

Toby Regbo_BYT Film Club premiere Q&A_The May Fair Hotel

Image © Gary Morrisroe

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It’s important to talk about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to let people know if you’re part of something exciting.

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What has been key for growing your brand?

Bridget: What is key for us now is growing our audience. We have a strong concept and model. We’ve done five events now, and we have a lot of the base infrastructure in place and fantastic relationship with some very cool and talented brands. We just need to keep getting the word out there.

Fatima: Our enthusiasm and not being afraid to approach anyone, from film directors and distributors to potential sponsors. If we think there is an opportunity for collaboration, we will contact them.

BYT Film Club guest with Propercorn at The May Fair Hotel

Image © Gary Morrisroe

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Describe your major highlight since starting BYT Film Club. What made it personally rewarding?

Bridget: What’s really great about working in an events-based business is that you absolutely do get to see the fruits of your labour. Every time we have a screening Fatima and I leave completely inspired and invigorated.

The feedback we get about the films we choose and listening to audiences laugh along with the films and enjoy them as much as we do is so incredible. It’s also such fun working with the different filmmakers. We typically work directly with the directors of the films and that is exciting and always such fun.

The other exciting thing about running your own business is how quickly you can put your own ideas into motion. Fatima and I can brainstorm an idea, or a company we want to work with, a film we want to screen and then we just do it. No red tape.

Fatima: Nothing beats knowing that people have enjoyed the event you organised. It’s wonderful to see people smiling or talking about the film after a screening.

The charity Women for Women International contacted the director of a film we screened to collaborate on a fundraising project after watching his film at one of our events.

Jill Soloway and Bridget Arsenault_The Bright Young Things Film Club Director Q&A_The May Fair Hotel London

Image © Mark Cocksedge

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Break everything down into chewable tasks so you don’t overwhelm yourself and know that it absolutely gets easier, the more experience you have and the more your confidence grows.

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Starting something new can be equally exciting and scary, and a time when many of us can be overwhelmed with self-doubt and personal fear. How do you overcome these feelings?

Bridget: It’s cheesy but you need to just forge on and try to banish those thoughts because they never do any good. We only work with films that we unwaveringly believe in and I think that gives us a strong foundation to feel secure in what we’re doing.

We also are lucky enough to work with some of the coolest and most talented brands in London. We couldn’t ask for a better venue than the May Fair hotel, we can always trust in Ciroc ultra premium vodka to make incredible drinks (so good they make us look and sound better on stage) Metcalfe’s, Propercorn, Green & Black’s, UNOCO, we are so proud of all our partners. It’s that age old piece of advice about surrounding yourself with clever and talented people and everything else will work itself out!

Fatima: I completely agree with Bridget. I also think having a good business partner is essential. There is only so much you can do by yourself, having someone you trust 100%, whom you know will have your back no matter what is really important.

Propercorn and Unoco sponsors BYT Film Club

Image © Mark Cocksedge

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Timing is everything. Don’t give up. Sometimes the right conditions are not there, don’t be discouraged, your break might be around the corner.

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What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own business and create a career out of what they love doing?

Bridget: You can do it! Set realistic deadlines and just jump on in. Another good thing about an event-based business is that you can’t procrastinate too much, you have a date that you need to work to and if you don’t get everything done by that date, it’s simply not going to happen.

Break everything down into chewable tasks so you don’t overwhelm yourself and know that it absolutely gets easier, the more experience you have and the more your confidence grows.

Fatima: You are doing something new, be patient and unassuming, nobody expects you to be an expert; be willing to learn from those around you.

Finally, timing is everything. Don’t give up. Sometimes the right conditions are not there, don’t be discouraged, your break might be around the corner.

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What does living A Life Less Beige mean to you?

Bridget: People! My friends and colleagues and all of the incredible people I get to work with every day.

Fatima: Not knowing what opportunities lie around the corner.

The May Fair Hotel Cinema Guests

Image © Richard Wallwork

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Quick fire questions

Best breakfast/brunch spot:
Bridget:
Providores or Berner’s Tavern  l  Fatima: Lantana or Cecconi’s

Favourite place for coffee:
Bridget:
Everbean  l  Fatima: Kaffeine

Best local activity off the tourist trail:
Bridget:
John Soane’s museum  l  Fatima: Visiting Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace

When you’re not busy working, you can be found:
Bridget:
Psycle! Or at the Royal Court  l  Fatima: Hampstead Heath or Heartcore

Favourite travel destination:
Bridget: Anywhere in the south of France  l  Fatima: Bhutan

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How do you see BYT Film Club evolving over the next five years?

Bridget: We really want to keep doing what we’re doing and keep doing it well. We would like to work more with distributors and in the future perhaps help the films we showcase secure distribution (if they don’t have it already).

Fatima Martinez Moxon. BYT Film Club at The May Fair Hotel

Image © Gary Morrisroe

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What do you think of this glamorous cinema experience?

If you are in London and interested in coming along to a BYT Film Club premiere, check out their website, or follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest info.

BYT Film Club  l  BYT Film Club Twitter

Lights, camera, action,

Cestr cow In Prague

Eating my way around the world is one of my favourite things about travel. Sampling different cuisines, seeing how different cultures come together around food and tasting new flavours.

It dawned on me that nearly every meal I eat gets photographed and documented, but I never post about restaurants I’ve visited and would recommend to others. With several friends visiting Prague this year and offering the same advice of where to eat (with positive feedback), I thought it made sense to write a post of my 5 best local places to eat in Prague for others visiting.

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Delicious lunch at Cestr In Prague

Čestr

Meat lovers, listen up. You need to go to this steakhouse. While not a stereotypical steakhouse, Čestr is spacious and bright with incredibly delicious, local Czech food. It does not get much more fresh than here. With their own in-house butcher, the cuts of meat on the menu changes daily depending on what they have that day. Diners can even watch the butchers hard at work behind their glassed work area within the restaurant.

My recommendation: Try the steak tartare. While raw mince doesn’t sound too appealing, the meat here is so fresh which brings out all the flavour. Rub the garlic on the toast, then top with the mince and egg mixture.

Location: Near the Muzeum metro.

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U Veverky

A little further out from the usual tourist haunts, U Veverky is a true local Prague restaurant. This was recommended to us by our Airbnb host as one of his favourite Czech restaurants and the food certainly didn’t disappoint.

It’s pub style, laid back and by no means a fancy night out, but the food is worth making the trip for.

They do have menus in English and we massively over ordered (the meal sizes here are very generous) to the waiter’s amusement. We took the rest to go though and enjoyed the remainder the following day.

My recommendation: Everything we ordered was delicious, so take your chances. The boys loved washing the food down with the Pilsner too.

Location: Near the Hradcanska metro.

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Best Pork Knuckles In Prague_Mlejnice Sign

Best Pork Knuckles In Prague at Mlejnice

Mlejnice

Another one for the meat lovers. Mlejnice is arguably the restaurant with the best pork knuckles in Prague. We literally found it by searching online for ‘best pork knuckles in Prague’ during our first visit.

Tucked behind a few cobbled streets not far from the Old Town Square, this restaurant gets very busy (others are in on the secret as well). They’re so popular, they even opened up a second restaurant nearby, though we continue to return to the original (Zatecka 17).

The meals at Mlejnice are huge and great value for money. I would recommend booking and if you can’t get in for dinner, head there for a hearty lunch.

My recommendation: Pork knee roasted in beer with horseradish and mustard. The chicken wiener schnitzel is also my favourite.

Location: Near The Old Town Square.

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Lokal

A modern Czech beer hall, Lokal is popular amongst locals, so be sure to book, or arrive early for a casual dinner.

The meals are smaller than Mlejnice, but it serves some delicious, traditional food.

My recommendation: Prague ham with creamy whipped horseradish is a tasty local starter.

Location: Near the Charles Bridge.

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Death by chocolate at Choco Cafe Prague

Choco-Café U Červené židle

If all of that meat and potatoes has filled you up, you may want to satisfy your sweet tooth?

If chocolate is for you, then you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven at Choco Cafe. The ultimate death by chocolate with hot chocolate, chocolate milkshake and horrice rolls. Fill up to your hearts content, though you may want to lie down afterwards.

Location: Between Charles bridge and Old Town Square

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If you are a real foodie and want an even more traditional experience, head along for one of the Taste of Prague food tours. Friends recommended this walking tour and we enjoyed the Prague Food and Culture Tour. A great way to get a lot of local knowledge, try food at several local restaurants and get a little bit of history thrown in.

Food heaven,