Tabitha Hawkins

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a stylist and art director working in food photography. After 12 years as 'Photography and Style Director' of Waitrose Food Illustrated I went freelance and now work on books and for magazines - I've styled over 70 cookery books. I'm very lucky to have a job that I love which is constantly creative and inspiring. I work with great people and I get extremely well fed!

I live in London with my Italian husband and I love to dance.  As a hobby I teach Zumba which is very uplifting. 

I am blessed with an unusually large family - I know more than 200 of my relatives - and I love spending time in nature and by the sea.

What makes you smile?

like to think that I’m usually smiling as many things make me happy - sunshine, bluebell woods, time with my family and friends, holidays in Greece, my husband’s spaghetti. I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than sunlight on water, something I can’t wait to see when we’re able to move around again. 

Since the lockdown began two friends have sent us flowers which I’ve really appreciated. I've also been grateful for birdsong in the mornings and the flowers growing outside our window. And the luminous, clear vapour free sky. It feels that the earth is able to breathe again.

What can we do to support others during this time?

This is a time for community and for taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves. It's important to remember that we're all in this together. I’m trying to send more letters and cards and I’m calling elderly people who live alone so they have someone to talk to in this isolating time. For them a phonecall can be an essential outlet and I enjoy listening to their stories. 

There are lots of great charity initiatives to support at the moment. Aswell as the ones we're familiar with, I love hearing of individual projects like 'Hug a Hospital' who are delivering thoughtful care packages to hospitals. Our friends Mourne Textiles, a small family business in Ireland, are weaving rainbow scarves to raise money for local hospices (photo credit Tara Fisher) and some of the wonderful chefs I work with are using their restaurant kitchens to cook for NHS workers as part of initiatives like cook19 and NHS wellness box.

What have you been doing? (Any tips/ advice for isolation)

I’m taking one day at a time, keeping busy but enjoying a slower pace than my normal working life.  We don’t have a garden but I make sure I go to the local park every day and I dance there because dancing is what really lifts my spirits. I don’t mind how ridiculous I look leaping around on my own. 

I’m trying to improve my Italian with online lessons so I feel a sense of progression each day.  I do yoga to help calm my mind and, as someone who always enjoys food, I really savour every meal.  We always lay the table with a linen cloth, a flower and sometimes a candle when we sit down to eat. It's an important ritual.

My philosophy in life is to focus on the things you have rather than the things you might wish you had. This is a really important time to appreciate all the positives and to remember that many of the things we might miss are not gone forever. It's going to feel so amazing when we get to see or experience them again. Hopefully this surreal situation is helping us to reassess our priorities. For once we are focusing on health, really appreciating loved ones and consuming less which is something everyone needs to do.

Shoutout to someone

My mother, Diana, constantly inspires me because she is wonderfully competent and incredibly kind. She’s enjoying all the positives of the lockdown without ever complaining and she spends hours each day working in her studio cutting patterns and making scrubs for local hospitals - as someone who has always worked in fashion she's very skilled with sewing machines. She’s my mentor and my closest friend and although I miss her terribly it’s great that we can speak on the phone every day.