Let’s talk about 2017

We’re here again.

We’ve reached the end of yet another year, one I’d really rather forget.

With Neko going missing I don’t think this was ever going to be a good year, but this is one that went from bad, to worse, to unbearable at some points.

I wish I was able to offer up some note of hope or faith or optimism, but I just don’t have any of those things left at the moment. I know we’re supposed to go into New Years with at least a little of those things, but all I have is the looming sense of fear that it’s just going to be more and more of the same.

Entering 2018 I am going to be sad, broke and feeling as though I am the least employable person in England. I need things to change so that I can take care of myself and relieve the pressure I’m putting on Joe because he’s working so hard to support us both and it’s super unfair. I apply for so many jobs but never get anywhere and to be honest I’m a little tired of hearing the well scripted rejection letters consisting of tripe about how the standard was so very high – and basically I’m not good enough. I’m tired of going to interviews where I am tasked with things which have nothing to do with the job I’ve applied for, how is that a fair assessment of how well I can do they job you’ve actually advertised. I’m tired of interviewers not listening to what I’m saying and twisting it to make it into something that suits their agenda. Job hunting should not be that hard or that unfair.

I work hard, I try hard. I just need a chance.

This year has also been kind of lonely, I’ve not seen that much of my friends this year and that is largely down to me. I promise I will try to be a much better friend next year.

Health wise, this has been one of the hardest ones on record, and I don’t just have the uveitis to thank this time. I’ve been struggling with low moods for a very long time. This year, it all came to a head in very traumatic circumstances, which I won’t go into. Diagnosis: Panic Disorder and Depression. I used to be one of those people that didn’t really understand depression, but now I do, and it all came too late.

I’ve always been pretty open about suffering from anxiety. The symptoms are very physical and hard to ignore, depression is something which can easily be confused or mistaken for low mood. Then one day you realise those low moods have been hanging around for quite a while and have long outstayed their welcome. You’re exhausted constantly and everything feels like an effort. It doesn’t take much to upset you and them bam! All of a sudden, there it is. The big black cloud of depression. So cliched, yet so true. The world is suddenly full of dark fog and you can’t find your way out no matter how hard you try.

I’m still very much lost in that fog. I will be until help arrives and I have no idea how long that will take.

Creatively, this year hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been networking like crazy and met some awesome people, been to some amazing shoots and got to do things I never thought I would. Here are a few highlights.

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So there you have it. 2017 all wrapped and almost gone. I would really like for the creative stuff to keep going, but the badness to stop.

Please cut me a break 2018. I’m not sure how much more I can take.

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It’s Over

An awful lot has happened this year, and not all of it has been good. I’ve been feeling very low recently. Not because of any one thing in particular but because of many things. Given that until this point, I have kept most of it bottled up I figured maybe writing about some of this stuff might help.

The first thing is just how difficult it has been making the transition from doing nothing to doing everything. I was out of work for the better part of 6 months, and now all of a sudden I am juggling a job and a degree. I feel tired a lot of the time and doing things for myself has become virtually none existent since the end of September. Of course, I understand that in every situation we’re in sacrifices need to be made, but right now I’m trying to find ways of re-integrating things that I enjoy back into my weekly routine. Exercise for example. I feel shit without exercise and the sooner I get back on that the better.

Secondly, little things are setting me off down the downward spiral again. I’m really struggling to keep my mind in a good place, and as always, as life does, it is just throwing a constant stream of challenging situations at me and I just don’t have the energy to handle them at the moment. This isn’t meant to be a pity party, just an opportunity to blow off some steam in the hopes that my permanently foggy brain may start to clear a little. I never know what to do anymore and I feel like I’m just aimlessly meandering down a path that isn’t taking me anywhere.

Finally, I recently had a major revelation. Since starting my course I haven’t quite been able to decide what direction I want to take my photography down. Torn between my want to be creative and the need to become more employable, a lightbulb suddenly went off in my head. I no longer love photography. In fact, I fucking hate it. There, I said it.

This has been a long time coming as it’s been a very long time since I picked up my camera with genuine joy and excitement about what I’m about to do, but now it has all become clear.

The Photography world is a mass of egos and mediocrity. I’d place myself in the mediocre category. I’m a tiny fish in an enormous, over saturated pond and quite frankly, does the world need another mediocre photographer? No. It really doesn’t.

I even closed my PurplePort account. I don’t use it anymore and more often than not I’d browse the pages asking myself what exactly the point most of it is all about. Did half of these images need to be made? Do they have an audience outside the model, photographer demographic? No, they don’t. For many it’s just a hobby they want to take further, for some it’s an opportunity to get your ego stroked, and for some it’s a genuine passion. But those are in the smaller numbers.

Yeah, I’m fully aware of how negative this sounds, and quite frankly at this moment in time, I really do not care. In fact, I truly believe that more people should be taking a long hard look at what they’re doing and asking themselves ‘Why?’ How many people go to University and study Photography because they hope to be a Wedding Photographer, or a Family Portrait Photographer? Not very many. This is meant with no disrespect to the people who do these things as a career, they’re challenging jobs which can be vastly rewarding and I know people who are hugely passionate in both of those areas, but if we’re being honest, these are usually fields we fall into because it’s a chance to use our skills to pay the bills.

It was never my dream to become a product photographer. It was a job I fell into because it would allow me to use Photography to make money, then incidentally, I grew to enjoy the E-Commerce industry which is where I decided to stay. So, what now?

I’ve decided to use the next few months to try as many new things as possible and see where I fit. Perhaps, I’ll fall in love with Photography again and I’ll pick my camera back up with feelings of joy rather than resentment once again. Maybe I’ll discover something completely new all together, which in my heart of hearts I’m hoping to do. Either way, I’m not a total quitter, if you throw enough mud against a wall some of it will stick, and then I can start climbing out of this hole.

The truth can really hurt, and it’s taken a long time to finally admit this to myself but I no longer want to drift along in an industry which is undervalued, underpaid and destined to keep the majority of people who fall into its jaws at the bottom of the career ladder all their lives. I don’t want to be in minimum wage jobs all my life. I don’t want to be working in studios which pay through the floor day rates then spend months chasing for my wages. It’s time to move on and realise, that while I had an absolute blast for the best part of the last eight years, this is where that journey ends.

I really don’t know what the future holds for me, and yes, of course I am scared. Fear is a large part of my nature, but there are many things out there I am yet to explore, that in itself is pretty exciting. Photography grinds you down, like many things in life, but it is an industry that can swallow you whole if you let it, and I am not about to let that happen.

Returning to Shooting

Between July last year and February this year, I found myself on a self-imposed hiatus due to the fact such a large amount of my time was consumed by work, travelling to or from work, and subsequently recovering from work.

In all the years I’ve been photographing, I’ve always tried to maintain an element of enjoyment, and make time to shoot for fun. This is possibly the longest period of time I have gone without really doing anything for myself besides taking the camera out for the odd walk on occasion. For me though, half of the fun comes from organising the shoots, the meeting of people to collaborate with and getting to work in amazing spaces.

It was quite hard to try and find my feet again after such a long break, my confidence as a photographer is pretty low at the moment so I decided that to ease myself back in, I’d attend a group shoot rather than try and take on the task of doing it all myself, just to see how things went.

Studio Antics was something I’d heard about before, so I decided to sign up for their event at Bryn Hall Arch Studios in Derbyshire. They had some great models attending and the cost was incredibly reasonable for a full days shooting in such a great place. Being on such a small budget, I had to be sensible, but I just really felt the need to try and get back into this before I ¬†gave it up forever.

The day did not disappoint, I got to work with two models who have long been on my list of people I’d like to work with and they were both just as amazing as I’d imaged, both as people as well as models. I’m so glad I decided to attend. Shortly after I found myself organising two of my own shoots again. Result. Not only that, but I also began work on a new project which I have been planning for a while. It’s still in the very early stages, so I shall save that for another time.

However, for now, I shall leave you with my first finished set of images from the day. This is the incredible SINderella Rockafella. Enjoy.

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