When it comes to blogging, I’m just going to admit it, I’m a little bit naff at it aren’t I? Sometimes I get on a roll and smash em out once a week, then more often than not, I choose to wait until I have something to shout about.
This time it feels like the latter.
It’s been a busy few months. I don’t mean that in the typical, “Oh I’m ever so busy” with flailing hand over forehead, self employed kind of way. Just a lot has happened and all of a sudden we’re in October. October already… Jesus fuck.
So I guess this is what this blog post is about. No, not about the fact it’s October. Just what’s been happening. A pre blog warm up before getting back to posting about work stuff. So if you’re cool with it, I’m gonna use this blank page to ramble on about my most recent thought processes and bring you up to speed with where I stand;
The past few months have been really creative and I’m really, really stoked to have had them. I’ve met some incredible couples and worked with some equally badass brands. In comparison to this time last year, I feel like I’m flying through work. Often having multiple projects stacked up on top of each other. I don’t mean to come across like one of those annoying Instabraggers, but I wanna make a point of being grateful for it all. It finally feels like I’m moving towards my goals.
A few months ago, I posted about how I’ve struggled to cope with my own self criticism and insecurity. That still remains, but it now feels like a necessary evil. Like a cog in the machine. You can’t have one with out the other. That being said, it feels like I have a handle on it now and am learning how to manage it.
Where as before, I’d see a problem without any means of fixing it, I now see cause and effect. Like time has slowed down slightly allowing me to get a better grasp of things. Weirdly, I’m approaching work in the same way I’d approach being in a kitchen. When something apparently fucks up, you look at it for a bit, go for a smoke/have a strop and then just get on with it. You can only work with what is in front of you. No amount of fuckery will ever change that. It’s just important to remember why you are doing it and what you want to achieve.
I believe that whatever is laid out in front of you, is only a fraction of the final product. It’s your process, your thought and touch that matters.
This is my new approach.
I can wish my life away wanting to have the same affect as those I admire. But in doing so I’m losing what makes what I do special. It’s about the journey. The sleepless nights. The knowing you’ve done your very, very best in order to deliver something.
That used to be seen as a negative, now it’s seen as positive. I’ve always valued integrity but secretly I’ve wanted those big epic pieces to my name. Then believing; Because I’m not creating the very best straight away, I’m weak. Where as really, the process, the development and the constant revisits to the drawing board, are so important as they build strength.
Up until a week or so ago, I was growing frustrated with myself as I’d find my self laying in bed at night cursing at all of the great photographers I follow on Instagram. Post after post of “2019 is now fully booked”, “thank you so much for all your enquiries 2020 bookings are now limited”, yadda yadda yadda. You know what I’m talking about. The constant “reassurance” that everybody around us is doing much, much better.
Let me take this moment to huddle around you and talk in hushed voice… It’s all a bit frustrating right?! Are they some form of cult to get this following?! Are these posts actually the Kool Aid? Because, I’m sure as fuck getting sucked into it all.
Don’t get me wrong, everybody who posts that sort of stuff hustles. They’re amazing at what they do, they’ve found their market and they’re crushing it. I’m by no means shitting on anybodies hard work. Do not misquote me on this.
So why bring it up?
I bring it up because it’s opened my eyes to where I stand and what I believe. I’ve flirted with this subject a few times in the past, but now it’s cemented into my brain. A solid foundation to build on. Some folk wanna make a good living, have a blast and show it to people. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Nothing at all. Zero.
What I’ve realised is thats not what I want. Where as when I started I did.
For me, I want things to be a constant challenge.
It’d be really easy at this point to build a copy and paste approach to my work. A lot of the really popular photography on Instagram’s explore page and wedding blogs seems to follow the same approach. A paint by numbers kind of vibe. You go to point A to point B then Finish up on C. Don’t get me wrong I’m certainly guilty of having a few tactics I rely on to leave my mark on things… But I want more than that. I want every time I pick up the camera to be unique. To create something completely different to the last.
That may seem like a terrible idea to some, but to me it makes sense. I think this is the root of a lot of all of my insecurities, this constant quashing of what I want to create. Almost as if I’ve not been true to what I really believe. Like I’ve been to scared to just run with it.
I’ve always criticised myself for not having any consistency to my images. I’ve often looked at other photographers and felt like I’m doing something wrong, because my work in comparison is so unpredictable. Take this blog for instance, one minute it’s a beautiful wedding, the next its somebodies beaten up tool box. My work would never create one of those clean Instagram feeds we’re drawn to.
However, this is where my thinking has evolved. That ebb & flow. That’s me, through and through. It’s how I work. I need to touch on various bases to gather momentum for that one big thing. I’ve ignored this for so long.
My mind goes from zero to one hundred in a flash. One moment I can be working on something, the next I can have twenty tabs open, full throttle looking up seemingly pointless things. For instance;
How many matches would it take to match the power of Tsar Bomba?
Two hundred and thirty eight billion apparently.
I have to deal with this constant need to chase every thought that comes into my head. Not to mention the small fragments that fly from them as they burn up.
My work will naturally mutate from subject to subject purely because of the way I think. It’s the difference between a musician who plays on feel to one who plays with a metronome. I’ve said it numerous times, I’m curious. If I find something, I like to follow it. Every path forking off into another direction. Like fractals, connected to a main body but infinitely spiralling within themselves. I have to explore something to exhaust the thoughts energy.
How to bring this back to my point…
Now I am comfortable with the uncertainty of my work.
It’s what makes my work a part of who I am. It shows how I think and what has caught my attention while I’m working. I’ve tried to crack down on this uncertainty in the past with styling. Manipulating stuff to know I’m walking away with something thats expected. It just doesn’t work for me. The final result feels empty. Lacking somehow.
Now I have to let things unfold naturally. I feel it’s my job to work around what my surrounding provides. Moving stuff about just feels like I’d be cheating.
This is where I have gotten lost in the past. A lot of popular stuff I follow seems to be based on structure and cleanliness. Only showing the best bits of somebody/something. I’m definitely not a fan of this in my own work. I feel it’s my responsibility to capture whats happening in the moment. I dislike the idea of creating something that feels temporary/fake for the sake of a “great” photograph.
This is what I mean by I want it to be challenging.
For me, photography should be genuine. It should be about what/who is in front of the camera and nothing else. I fear that modern marketing is all about instant gratification, ego stroking and cult like status as opposed to creating something meaningful. After all, those trusting me to do my job, are the ones who will look at what I create the most. Them seeing themselves in an honest light is worth way more than a fleeting moment of fame.
But what If they don’t like it? Break the cycle.
Show them they are human and incredible for being so. They are worth more than the “likes” they planned to achieve.
I finally feel confident to hold my nerve with this way of thinking. Not only for myself but for clients and couples as well. I know not every scenario is going to be picture perfect or contain a beautiful view point over a mountain. But I now trust myself fully to connect with those I work with in order to deliver something that represents who they are. Something nobody can ever recreate or take a way. Something completely unique to them.
The boredom of constantly battling my insecurities has turned in to a positive lesson. I still feel like I have a long way to go to truly get a grip on it, but I’m on the right path at the moment… Or a more interesting one at least.
To further push myself in this development, I’ve commited to “The Dare Experience”, a work shop run by Marshal Gray. When I first started shooting weddings he and Claudia were those responsible for opening my eyes to what photography could and should be. Challenging. I’m fuckin pumped for this. I feel like its been a long time coming. I’m heading into it completely open minded and ready to face what ever is thrown my way.
I believe for a long time I’ve had barriers up. Jostling for position in the market with my elbows out, secretly competing with those around me. It’s just insecurity. Insecurity at its finest. I feel with a much more brutally honest view towards things I can find the people I want to work with a bit easier. Like a sharp whistle from the other side of a crowded bar.
I no longer feel the need to try and sell myself the way others do to please a market. I’m going against the grain. Fuck it. Why not? We’re not here for long. We may as well commit to what makes us happy. Trying to fit in doesn’t do that for me.
What I really love about this job is how it requires constant self reflection. With every step forward I take with the business, it feels like I am grounding myself as a person.
Since turning thirty, I feel like I’ve become very old, very quickly. Hopefully, some time soon, the wisdom will follow and I won’t have to right anymore flowery, self righteous essays in order to figure stuff out.
So expect more from me as of now. More creativity. More swearing. More ballsy moves.
I owe it to those I hold dear to be a better version of myself
I’m fucking ready!