The Portrait of a Jazz Singer - portraits of Oriana Curls in London
Oriana Curls is something of a secret sensation. Popular over Instagram, Twitter and all through the social media platforms, she is frequently heard performing at The Crazy Coqs off Piccadilly Circus as well as numerous other intimate venues around Central London. Her versatility stretches to cabaret and her original love was the violin! When she sat down, took a sip from her latte and started talking, her voice emanated a breathy Gallic charm reminiscent of the Paris stage. That part was no surprise as after all, she is French. Jazz, French pop, cabaret and even burlesque forms her present repertoire. There was something so naturally charming about Oriana that I felt as if I had known her for years. Outside, it was a cold late December afternoon. After coffee, our photowalk was brief and covered the start of Frith Street in which stands the historic Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, to the next street, the new cul-de-sac of Dean Street and the Pizza Express Jazz Club. From there, via a pigeon faeces splattered Soho Square we headed over to the other side of Tottenham Court Road, to Denmark Street where all the musical instrument shops mingle with small underground clubs.
Vintage wasn’t so much an agreed theme but just how Oriana had attired on that day, and it suited her so beautifully. The more I looked at her I imagined being in the same streets in 1950s London, smoggy, smokey and the bustle of a pre-digital era. As a photographer I have never used Kodachrome, the glorious colour slide film of that era that captured so many memories of a post-ration London. It had died out in 2010. My experience of slide film had consisted of a different kind of emulsion, equally saturated with a heavy blue cast - the seductive Fuji Velvia. Before the reader assumes an uncanny hip in this photographer, let me assure you that I shoot digital! The vintage look and feel of the images are all part of my very own customised style of post-processing reminiscent of a bygone age. I hope you like it!
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