lit from within

The comments on yesterday's post are so amazing I hesitate to put a new post up, because I want to hear more. But this is, after all, a blog, and today is a new day, so hopefully you'll scroll down and join the conversation.

I remember as a child going to perhaps my first feature film, a Disney animation, and being fascinated with the projector light catching the smoke (my parents didn't smoke, and back then, you could smoke in theatres). There was something so magic about the swirls. So that's why I'm posting this, Mom, cause I know you're reading this and I know how you feel about smoking. And btw, it was lovely talking with you yesterday: I know the relationship between mother and daughter is rarely smooth, but I am so blessed to have you as my mother, and my close friend.

This was shot during the same lunch as yesterday's post: it was so magic inside, and Emily, came to the lunch, not knowing any of the women there. She's only 19 (turns 20 on Thursday the 13th: happy birthday Emily!) and English isn't even her first language: she moved here from Romania just days before I met her outside Topshop last fall, when I asked to shoot her.

Almost everything she's wearing is vintage. Each time I see her I'm amazed at what a chameleon she is. She has a serenity and a radiance that transcends her age, or any time period. She is so warm, kind, generous: a true go back girl. She's a bit shy, perhaps, but also has a calm confidence. It's like what they said about Garbo: the camera loves her, and she seems lit from within. Happy Birthday Emily.

(Oh and please if you have a chance take a minute to vote on the side bar: I've just discovered this cool 'polling' widget, and I'm trying it out. Don't worry: I have no sinister Brand Plan up my sleeve! Just curious what you guys think. And if you want to do a write in, feel free in any of the comments sections: I bet there are different brands in other countries that rule the Street.)


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm a long time reader, first time commenter. Firstly I would like to say that I really love the blog, but I just don't think this post is appropriate... you have written earlier about the influence of bloggers, and I completely agree, bloggers have a lot of influence, and for that reason I don't think these shots 'glamorising' smoking are appropriate! I know this is a fashion blog and you are not promoting smoking, but after reading this article (below) this morning, it has struck a chord!


Anyway, keep up the good work otherwise! H x

Nat said...

Hi, these pictures are stunning! The lighting is amazing - thank you. I love love love this blog Jill. I am currently revising for upcoming exams and checking out your blog is such a treat when I am taking a break. Thank you, Natalie

jazmine rocks @ jazzabelle's diary said...

What a lovely post, Emily is very pretty girl! I personally see nothing wrong with her smoking, I actually think it's rather artistic - the smoke does look beautiful in the top photograph. We all know smoking is wrong, blah blah blah, but everybody makes up their own mind whether they want to smoke or not and by this post I don't think you are influencing people in the slightest. Though I have to say, my mum smokes, and you have influenced me to explore taking photographs of the smoke, to capture what beautiful patterns it creates.

Love, Jazzabelle. xxx

The Photodiarist said...

These are some of the best pictures you've done ever. I love this post!!

Rebecca said...

I see the point in the argument saying that you shouldn't have posted these pictures as it sets a bad example, but I think that's a just a bit... over zealous?
Most people reading this blog (I can't say everyone!) will be in their mid-teens and above, and will have learnt about the pros and cons of smoking, and if seeing a pretty person makes them want to start too? Well, personally I think that's a bit of a weak argument. If there's to be any pressure on people to smoke, then it'll be from people they know, or at least someone they idolise (i.e. Kate Moss)
They really are beautiful pictures though, don't start to censor, whatever people say!!


ps. I'm pretty sure I have that brooch somewhere....

jazmine rocks @ jazzabelle's diary said...

p.s. i meant the middle photograph, do excuse me! x

Olivia Isabella. said...

I love this post as always and completely agree with Rebecca! I always think those who would only comment to be negative, rather than praise are not worth listening to and who would go up to someone in the street and say they aren't pretty? If we are not condoning pictures or cigarettes then who says it is okay to be rude to someone simply because it is online?
also, have voted in your poll! I voted Topshop, but now see the error in my ways. It was wishful thinking, I presume... But I think the true answer is H&M purely because it is everywhere. But I do love Topshop - maybe it was not wishful thinking as I would love Topshop even more if it did not grace the figure of every single 13+ on the highstreet!
UO x

Style Odyssey said...

I have to agree that people are overzealous about smoking. Live and let live. If it's not hurting anyone, what's the trouble? Seeing pics of someone smoking isn't going to make someone pick up the habit, or stop.

I can appreciate the artsy-ness of the pics.

And no, I have never smoked in my life. Not once. To each his/her own. I prefer to mind my own business. :)

As always, great post, beautiful girl!

Style Odyssey said...

P.S. To clarify- Obviously smoking hurts the smoker and we all know the effects of second hand smoke (plus- yuck!) I meant in my comment that the pics themselves are not harmful and needn't be considered shocking.
I don't condone smoking at all. But I don't judge either.
I enjoy everyone's comments, by the way! Nice to see differing opinions.

Alma said...

Firts of all I'm really proud to see a Romanian on your blog! I'm a Romanian too and this is so encouraging to know that we are not taken only by the things that are written in the newspapers!:)
She looks stunning, a true bohemian look. It seems like she's from another era. I like the cigarett in this pic because is bringing a special mood. And art is art, doesn't matter if we have smoking in pictures or literature, are used to transmit a moment!:)
Congratulations again! And thank you for this picture! It made my day!
ps: Happy b-day, Emily!

jill said...

First, thank you all for your comments, but especially, H (Anonymous). We're regular readers of the Times, but I hadn't had a chance to read that article - it was just a freak coincidence that I posted these shots today (shot them about 2 weeks ago).

Your argument is absolutely valid, and I feel quite shamed, especially after reading the article (thank you for including the link). In fact, I don't know if they'll post my comment, (it's pretty long) but I asked aloud: do I take this post down? Do I leave it and allow this to be a forum? (I'm leaning towards the 2nd: I assume anyone who is reading this blog is mature enough to read the comments - and to make up their own mind).

I certainly didn't intend to 'glamorise' smoking. My father died of cancer, but it wasn't lung cancer, and he didn't smoke. I personally don't smoke (I did, but quit years ago) and I certainly don't condone it. But, like my dear dear friend Stephanie (Style Odyssey) said, I try not to judge, either. My feeling is, Emily is 19, she's legally an adult, and I hope - and expect - that this is just a phase in her life, and she, too, will quit.

And for anyone who has read this far: it is far far easier to quit than people realise. We read a wonderful book by Alan Carr called 'How to Quit Smoking' and it did the trick.

That said, Deb, I hope you don't mind that I took down your comment: it's Emily's birthday coming up and I know I wouldn't want to read that if I were her. I don't know what you look like but I'd expect that you wouldn't want to read that on someone's blog about yourself. On this blog, which most people respect, we tend to go by the policy 'if you don't have somehting nice to say about someone, best not to say anything at all.'

As for me: I'm posting, so I'm fair game!

Last but not least, Alma: I'm so glad I made your day and on Emily's behalf, thank you for wishing her a happy birthday. What kind of things are written in newspapers that are anti-Romanian? My radar is only out for the anti-American stuff! ; )

Thank you again, each of you. And please: don't smoke!! xo

ioana said...

she s lovely, i m proud to be romanian :) i also have identical boots from a vintge fair :)
love your blog,read it every single day,maybe i ll see you on the street when i visit london in august:)

Iris / London Fashion Diary said...

I don't think you should take this article down.. You are obviously not trying to influence people to smoke, and like you said earlier people reading your blog are hopefully mature enough to know what is good for themselves! I love Emily's hairstyle! She's so pretty!

xxx Iris

Fayoona said...

ok, so smoking isn't exactly the nicest of habits, but if you put a picture up of her drinking a glass of wine (another addictive substance and a vice of mine) there would be less of the agro, purely as it is more socially accepted. Equally dangerous though.
you captured something beautiful in a picture and wrote beautiful words as usual.
can't wait to talk to you properly at the next bloggers date.
xx fiona

Anonymous said...

reaally love your friends outfit here! it's gorgous!
also, i voted topshop because it's my second favourite store in the world, bar beyond retro. but now thinking about it, i wish i could vote again for zara because, even though it is out of my price range, the quality and cutting of each item is so beautiful! currently waiting for some floral pants from zara to come back in stock!

Platform P said...


Call me biased becuase I'm a smoker, but you're not a babysitter Jill. The internet is also a sea of pornography, anorexia and suicide sites, that you cannot protect impressionable children from. You posting one picture of a girl smoking (which to my knowlegde is your first) is your perogative. I know that smoking is a nasty habit, I would hate if my kids smoked, but you can't shield the 14 year old from life, that's ridicuolous. There was a whole issue not too long ago with Adam Lambert kissing a guy on a late night t.v show. The American viewers were like 'oh my God our children'- ridiculous! Life happens, real life happens, and just becasue you don't post about it doesn't mean it's not going to happen.

Don't pander to anyone who asks you to take this down, as this is your on personal space.

Love xx

the style crusader said...

wow! what a controversy! this is what blogging is all about! love it!

first of all, these photos are beautiful. emily is absolutely gorgeous in real life and in these photos. happy birthday wishes being sent in her direction from me!

second, totally love that you accepted the anon comment jill. people are totally entitled to be offended by a post and to have their voice heard about that. i think, however, that you are entirely entitled to post what you think is appropriate. you gave your political views the other day - that could have influenced people to dislike your blog. now you've put a photo of a girl smoking - also can influence people to not come back. either way, it's their choice and your choice to decide what to post on. will spare you my thoughts on smoking as could get very long winded... xx

Anonymous said...

well, thought i'm gonna add my thoughts too, hehe! been a social smokers, but not any more! and i always was influence by old classic and film noir movies...like audrey h. or lauren bacall etc.. and knowing that smoking is unhealthy..i still like to look at old black and white photos where their is smoke involved, or movies as well..well, when you watch old classic movies it's really hard to except not seeing smoking people! ;) so, looking at such photos doesn't wanna make me smoke again.. it's just an artistic expression..and smoking is not as advertised as it was back than, well not in a good one that is.. that's all to this topic, i guess!

other than that....Jill, always loving your photography and images! great shots! ;)

dearest greets!

mark fallows said...

I am an anti smoker but as you know i support your craft.
see my post here

Anonymous said...

Yes Emily is lovely but if she continues to smoke she will get old looking before her time. Her smoking will effect others with second hand smoke.
The cigarette just turned me off. Glad my 3 "kids" gave up smoking.
Your father who died of cancer did smoke until he met me.

The Fashion Cloud said...

Emily is indeed gorgeous and god forbid she won't be the last person snapped smoking. Street style is all about snapping pictures of people in their element, not posing too much and being true to themselves as opposed to magazine editorial or other!! I like the shoots even though I have always been a true non smoker,but then again I understand the strange and understated beauty that is a women smoking.

Bloggers may have influence but let's no be over estimating ourselves haha

keep up the great work!!


jill said...

Again, thank you, each of you, for taking the time to write & get involved in this conversation. As Jen said, this is passionately how I feel: it's what blogging is all about!

A friend who just started a wonderful blog ('altered spaces', under lovely lifestyle) said she feels at times like she's talking to herself, because she's not yet getting people to come and comment. That's what we ALL felt when we started our blog. I'd love to comment to each of you but I'd be late for my yoga class (which is kind of the opposite of smoking).

I do want to echo what Toni @ the Fashion Cloud said: let's keep this in proportion. No photos I put on my blog will put a gun to anyone's head and force them to smoke a cigarette. We're not that powerful.

As I just said in a comment on the Times article, echoing what another reader said, if you tell a 'child' not to do something, they'll do it. Same with a teenager.

Same, in most cases, with a legal adult.

I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. It's something Jen and I were talking about yesterday: if you are a soldier, and it is a war, and your squadron leader tells you to burn down a village, are you morally obliged to do it?

Is free will an inherent part of the human condition?

I'd like to think so.

Anyway I woke up with one less follower, (perhaps more, for all I know: perhaps I got three new followers, and four less ones) and I'll never know who left, or why. As my darling father, who did smoke til he met my mom, for a brief period of a few years in his youth, and who did die of cancer (but not, I'm convinced, related to smoking) would have probably said in this conversation:

That's what makes horse racing.

I also LOVE what someone named Max Martin put in the Times article comments:

Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own.

-Logan Pearsall Smith

Isn't he a Swedish music producer?

slowdownapproaching30 said...

I'm only just starting to find my voice in this blogging world, but what I love is that it allows everyone to say their piece either via pictures or by words. What I love about you blog is you always manage to combine both so wonderfully! Keep doing that you do as it really works. Lise x

Altered Spaces said...

Great photos Jill- I agree with the most of the others about the cigarette smoking...however the fact that it gets people talking is a plus...that's why more and more locals are banning indoor and now outdoor smoking! I agree the swirls of smoke add to the second shot-
keep doing what you're doing...

franki said...

Jill, I love how your blog sparks so many debates!

I'm just echoing the sentiments of people who've already commented, but as this is YOUR blog, I'd say you can and should post whatever you want - a couple of photographs of a pretty girl smoking is hardly going to result in a load of teens rushing out to get their hands on a pack of Marlboro Lights!

I suppose it depends on how you view smoking though; while I think that Emily herself is very pretty, I don't see anything 'glamourous' in the fact that she's smoking. While I do think that the swirls of smoke are quite intriguing in the way they catch the light, the presence of the actual cigarette and all that it represents, actually makes these photos, for me anyway, a bit sad.

I feel quite strongly about smoking and whenever I see someone smoking, like Emily or my sister, who is also 19 and also a smoker, I just want to give them a good telling off! No matter how lovely and stylish they are, as soon as that cigarette makes an appearance, it's the only thing I can focus on.

Of course, both my sister and Emily are adults and can make their own decisions, but I do hope that, in time, that decision is to quit.

Franki xxx

thekiwibex said...

I tend to agree with The Little Curly Girl. The first thing I noticed was the cigarette, and for me, that makes me not enjoy the photographs as much (although as others have said, the curling smoke is objectively quite beautiful). That said, you absolutely have the right to post what you like on your blog, and if nothing else, at least this has sparked a lively debate!

Keep doing what you do - your blog is one of my faves :)

Alma said...

If you didn't heard about the anti-Romaina stuff I won't tell!:) I'm just happy that I saw this pic here!:P

Anonymous said...

Wow I can't believe this picture offends people, it's a beautiful shot, she isn't posing she's just doing her thing and it's magical. I agree this is what street photography is all about capturing the moment and the people without interfering. I'm a nutritionist, I've dedicated my life to trying to inspire people to respect their health but being offended by a picture of someone smoking in an artistic context is beyond extreme in my opinion. What next no looking at old paintings of harems of naked ladies for fear our children will be led astray by it? Get real! Love the blog btw so much fun and your always manage to find such interesting looking people :) Happy birthday Emily you're so beautiful and I love your style! -Kay

Frances Davison said...

I absolutely love the Logan Pearsall Smith quote! I don't see that it's your responsibility to shield readers in any way, and asking her to lose the cigarette defeats the whole nature of streetstyle, in seeing the beauty of something natural and capturing it as it is. x

P.S. I can't choose between zara and H&M so I'm going to vote 'other' for Whistles.

ruya tabirleri said...

your work is awesomely awesome. thanks for sharing :]

CS said...

Oh come on, the first thing I noticed was her outfit. It's a fashion blog so that's what I'm focusing on. This isn't a blog that kids are really going to look at. I don't see it as 'glamorizing' smoking, it's just THERE. It's what the girl was doing when the photo was snapped and I think street style blogs should capture the individual and what they are doing at that moment. Man, people are so uptight. :/

CS said...

I read my previous comment again and I sound kind of harsh. It was unintended. :S

Anyways, the photos are beautiful. I dislike smoking but if someone else wishes to smoke, it's fine with me, who am I to judge as long as it's not affecting me (although I do worry about my friends who smoke and wish they would not)