I first spotted Olivia’s work as part of the University of Brighton degree shows back in 2012 and have been a fan of her amazing portraits and fabulous use of colour ever since. Given the impressive list of accolades and press coverage received since then, I was delighted when she agreed to share an image with me.  (It is always extra special to see a  square format B&W image!).


Olivia Coles - New Orleans 2013 (The Shot I Never Forgot)

Olivia Coles – New Orleans 2013 (The Shot I Never Forgot)

On a wall in Joshua Mann Pailet’s ‘ A Gallery For Fine Photography’ in New Orleans, hung the Edward S. Curtis photograph ‘Before the white man came’, edition 291 for $4,500. It was a photograph taken in North America in 1924 and features a Native American woman, wrapped in skins from her waist down, her hands balancing a bowl on her head. Her back is to the camera and before her lies a winding riverbed with palm trees hanging overhead. It has always fascinated me as a photograph; it seems to embody Curtis’ romantic admiration for the past. To the point where he has almost forgotten his presence within it, so intent he was on its subject’s preservation. I gazed at it longingly for another moment before heading back out into the 40-degree heat that was New Orleans in July.

Later that day we took the tram up to the City Park, hoping to get some relief from the heat but instead running from shadow to shadow of the large palms and deep south oaks hung with spanish moss. Suddenly finding myself alone, I rounded a bend by a lake and came out onto a grey stone bridge that overlooked the water. As I turned, I gasped at what lay before me. There to the left of the bridge was Curtis’ scene. The water twisted round into the distance and palms, hung heavy, lined the banks. There even lay a small grassy patch to the right that stuck out slightly from the bank, where the lady in the picture stood.  At that moment the others came around the corner and I grabbed one, standing her on the grassy spot and pulling out my camera. I moved around for a moment and found the shot. A moment from another time and another place, on a mid summer’s day in Louisiana.


For more on Olivia and her work, please use the links below;

WEBSITE: www.oliviapoppycoles.com
TUMBLR: www.oliviapoppycoles.tumblr.com
VIMEO:     www.vimeo.com/oliviapoppycoles
TWITTER: twitter.com/opcoles


The Shot I Never Forgot  is an on-going series of posts where I invite Photographers to share an image that has always remained with them, despite being unused.

The premise is that most photographers shoot many more images than ever see the light of day and often take some fabulous standalone images on instinct whilst making a particular body of work or project.  Because these single images do not fit the theme, they sit gathering dust in the archive.

However, there are usually a few of these images which stay in our minds as they have special significance or are too good to be lying dormant.

The Shot I Never Forgot is an invitation to share these images with the world and let them stand alone in their own right for others to enjoy.  

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