Day 159 of Project Portrait. Next up we have Sophie Friese-Greene. We've been chatting for nearly a year to get this portrait done - which in itself reminds me just how long I've been doing this now.
But anyway, back to Sophie. Sophie lives in Cambridge and has emerged from education without a clear path of what she'd like to do. I was very much the same when I left university.
She's tried a number of jobs, but none has really stuck. Being in your 20s there's an illusion that you're supposed to know what you're doing with your life. My assumptions were built around the idea that a career or an idea for a career would materialise miraculously when I graduated from university. But it really didn't.
For Sophie that brought up a number of personal challenges, and lead her into some dark places.
Things seemed to be ever changing, but in that she discovered her faith in Nichiren Buddhism. This is form of Buddhism established in Japan, and is focused on the chanting and recital of the Lotus Sutra, which is believed to imbue good health and extraordinary strength. It's something Sophie has come to rely on for those very same reasons. It helped her through some dark and difficult moments.
I was supposed to photograph Sophie in the physic gardens in Chelsea the day we met, but it was busy and ludicrously expensive. So we took a walk across the Thames and found Battersea Park, where unbelievably we found a giant pagoda with a buddhist monk perched beneath it. The perfect place to capture what I saw in Sophie.
No one ever really tells us how to be comfortable in the skin we live in, we have to go and find it for ourselves. For Sophie, that comfort came through her faith, and so this picture is all about her devotion to her faith.
But also a reminder of the need to be in the service of something greater than ourselves, both physically and figuratively. Something I think we could all learn from.