2018 - The end of the beginning
Jesus, it’s January again. I’m glad I can still say that despite struggling to finish this blog for weeks, now it’s just a case of figuring out where to start…
I seem to find my self in this position a lot so far this year, not quite knowing where to place myself in the wake of the year just gone. There is a lot to prepare for, a lot to continue and a damn sight more to discover still.
2018 started much like any other year in our household, Abigail asleep by my side with Jools Holland on the television. Despite music filling the sight of fireworks filling our windows something felt different. The year that now lay ahead felt like one that would bring big changes, be it through naturally occurring challenges or my own mindset at the time, this was a time with an undeniable sense of change ahead.
Oh and did the changes come!
Despite 2018 feeling like a foggy blur, the one moment that stands out the most is when Abigail ran down the stairs holding a positive pregnancy test. Like most in that position, I was incredibly happy but very conscious of the fact words were escaping me. We had been through a pretty rough couple of months previously with regards to pregnancy and now that it was finally a reality, it was a little… Surreal?!
It still feels a little surreal, but in the best possible way. It’s only a month now until we welcome him into the world and neither of us can wait to meet him.
With his arrival being so close I feel an overwhelming sense of calm… Or at least what I perceive to be calm. It’s hard to pin point exactly what I’m feeling at the moment, it’s as if time has slowed down immensely. I do worry whether it’s me feeling out of control and not owning up to it, but I like to think it’s natures way of gifting a bit of time to get all of my ducks in a row…. Despite not owning any ducks.
Knowing how life plays out, I have a hunch that things are about to get really hectic. My main focus is to be there to support my wife. She has done an incredible job over the past few months, to the point where saying “you’ve done an incredible job” doesn’t really cut it. She’s been a bit of a fuckin badass to tell the truth. Never wishing to give up or throw her toys out of the pram (excuse the pun), only staying focused on whats important, the health of the little one growing inside of her along with her own well being… Even if that means impromptu painting of a bathroom at the crack of dawn and various other nesting endeavours.
I’m ready to take over from her now so she can take her well deserved break.
2019 - The year of transition.
I’ve been so focused on my business over the previous months I feel like I’ve not really grasped whats been happening at home, like I’ve just been floating. That makes me sound like an asshole, but I promise its for a good reason. I’ve been trying to find the root of my business, so I can find my market, so I can deliver something of worth to people who want it as opposed to just ticking boxes. This search, as you well know, has been on going for a long old time but with a due date to work towards, it feels as if it’s been a lot more time sensitive.
Looking at it all objectively, I guess it’s all been a little overwhelming. I feel this great need to find the answers before the little one arrives in order to feel like I’m doing my bit to support us all. To know that while my business is growing and ticking over steadily, my home life will remain smooth… All be it with a lot less sleep and a bit more spew.
If 2018 has taught me anything, it’s that I need to work on letting go of my constant need to control of everything. I fear since going it alone this is something that I have become increasingly worse at. Always trying to ensure that nothing is gonna turn into the catastrophic cluster fucks that I paint in my head. I need to trust that nature has its way and that we are not the first humans to have a child.
I made some great headway with this in the later months of 2018. I’d spent my wedding season consistently worrying that I wasn’t worthy to be shooting the weddings I was working, that in some way, I wasn’t valuable and what I did served no purpose. It’s something I’ve struggled with since the beginning, despite seeing how much I have improved, I still feel like an imposter. So when it came to tying up my last wedding I vowed I’d shoot more of what I loved as opposed to what I felt like I was meant to be delivering . In turn I feel like the last few months of 2018 my photography went up a level and gave me a much needed confidence boost.
Honesty plays a big role in what I do. It’s paramount.
2018 saw a lot more honesty on my behalf. Not that I was being dishonest before hand, more not truly admitting how I felt. Some could claim I over share nowadays, but I feel it’s necessary in order for people to understand how I work. I’m really grateful for the response you guys have given me when sharing my deepest inner thoughts. The idea that somebody can read my blog and understand the way I function in day to day life makes me a lot more confident. Confident that they know 100% of what they are getting is genuine. Not just hype or clever marketing.
I never wanna feel like I am painting a bullshit picture of who I really am, especially when I’m exchanging my time and effort for your hard earned cash. I guess it’s that control thing again. I know I’m not like any of the other photographers out there, I’m pretty confident in my ability to say that. I shoot in, what I feel, is a weird way in comparison to what is popular, especially in the wedding scene. I’m always looking for that connection between myself and those I photograph.
Despite sounding a little self indulgent or arrogant, photography is something that has helped me develop in so many ways. So when I photograph people, it’s as if they are stepping into my world for a little while. A small space for us to just be human for a little while. Where we can have a laugh, go on an adventure or put the world to right with meaningful conversation. That little moment of unadulterated honesty where photographs are just the by product, its those moments I strive for.
I often struggled to find these moments in 2018, especially with my wedding work. If I’m being completely honest, its where I feel some of my work really fell on its arse. I could well be overthinking it but it feels like there was a certain disconnected vibe running through some of it. For that reason I feel a little uninspired with my wedding stuff. It’s not where I want/need it to be and going into 2019 I aim to work harder to get those moments of calm despite the party being in full flow. Granted, a lot of it will be couple dependant, I’m sure a lot of you will just wanna kick your shoes off and throw some shapes on the dance floor. Though make it known, I’m gonna be gunning for those really intimate moments this year. I wanna be able to walk away knowing I’ve shown you exactly as I wanted, as honest as possible, all insecurities aside.
I’m passionate about what I do and I never want to let anyone down. That is my biggest fear. I often question whether I’m stopping myself getting what I really want for fear of delivering something completely unexpected.
When Abi & I sat down to discuss my business objective two years ago, I’d always put integrity at the top. I’ve always romanticised the idea of my work being akin to Lemmy Kilmister’s character - A bit rough around the edges but always sincere and earnest. The type to forget your name but always remember your face and story. Remaining against the grain without ever being disrespectful, an entity into itself. Timeless.
There were moments last year where I sacrificed integrity in order to get cash in the bank. In hindsight, they were the most damaging decisions I’d ever made. I walked away from these feeling completely hollow and a little bit dirty. Though on the plus side, they have taught me to trust my gut and walk away when something doesn’t feel one hundred percent.
With the imminent arrival of the little one and having an extra mouth to feed I’ve had a few people advise me to “just sell out” and “take the jobs you don’t talk about” in order to pay the bills. Whilst some people would be inclined to agree with that sort of mind set, I’m pretty confident in knowing that I will never do this again. No matter how much hype that surrounds it. No matter how much I am promised. No matter how much I am going to allegedly benefit from it.
I’m not interested in it.
Now I may come across as a fool chasing a pipe dream, but I’d much rather hold out for the work I can feel invested in as opposed to being used to tick a box. As I keep saying, photography has given me much more than I could ever have wished for. I’m not going to start cashing that in for something I can’t take to the grave with me. No matter how arse backwards that may seem. It means too much to me to just opt out of the long game plan. I’m better than that.
I believe that if I want to do my wife proud and be an inspiring father I will have to work doubly as hard to find the projects I am proud to put my name to, as opposed to just paying my bills and hating my job. I’ve not come this far to only come this far.
2018 was a year of ups and downs. I started the year mourning the loss of my grandmother but felt incredibly lucky to have spent a few hours with her in hospital, holding hands and shedding a few tears. See, our relationship was tainted by a petty family feud that came about after my father passed away. I’d only seen her twice prior to our last time together and we managed to put a lot of hard feelings to rest. She passed in less than a month after. I’m grateful that her side of the family reached out to me. I’m grateful to have had some time with her. I’m grateful for being able to put an end to the futile nonsense in the months that followed.
Life is very short. The rate of which time mercilessly rips through calendars is good enough reason to turn ideas into plans. Plans into dates. Dates into good memories.
With good memories in mind, I am grateful for the times spent with my friends Matt & Pete who recently joined the others up on the roof. Losing these two has left an emptiness that will no doubt never be filled. Their passing has made me appreciate how fragile life is and how we should never take it for granted. When your at the coal face, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the small stuff, but with things in perspective, we don’t have long on this tiny blue dot, so wasting time worrying about menial shit seems so incredibly reckless. I appreciate this now.
Every year that goes by, I reflect on the times I become crippled by self doubt and fear of “lacking in ability”. The last few months of 2018 were some of the most insightful I’ve ever experienced. I found my tribe through the Dare workshop and some of the conversations since have been beyond inspiring. I have had a handful of close friends really support me and my work, regardless of my often bratty outbursts.
Along with close friends I have to give huge thanks to my wife for always trusting in my, often erratic, need for self improvement. I’m embarrassed by the amount of hours I’ve spent sat in silence next to her over the past twelve months, forever searching for answers to all my questions. I am inward and stubborn at the best of times but the fact she just allows me to just be me, without judgement, is the best reminder of how lucky I am.
Babe, should we ever hit hard times, please know that I have your back. You, Olin & our lives together are the sole reason I will always strive for better.
2019 will be a year rife with changes, It’s equally as exciting as it is terrifying. Though it feels very real, it’s a good feeling of real.
At this moment in time, I feel calm, which is a feeling seldom felt.
As I said earlier, maybe its natures way of slowing me down ready for the arrival of our child. I feel like life is about to start all over again come March, casting any worries or doubts I have now into the abyss. For the past week or so I seem to have adopted a “come what may” attitude. The past eight months have been spent trying to prepare for this huge event and I feel I have made no dent in the enormity of it all. I just feel chuffed that it’s happening. The next chapter begins from here.
With this next chapter, I have made a promise to myself to be more patient with my business. With the amount of success I see from those around me it’s been incredibly easy for me to get caught up in the idea of what I should be doing as opposed to what I really want to be doing… Creating something worthwhile and enjoying it all.
I’m entering this year as a photographer. Not a wedding photographer nor a commercial photographer. Just a photographer. No more. No less.
When there is so much life surrounding us, it feels daft to only seek certain aspects of it. Everybody has a story to tell and I’d like to hear more of them. This year I need to confront my insecurities, be it my social awkwardness, my lack of enthusiasm for swarms of people and just get in amongst it all. Not every story worth hearing is going to present itself to me, I have to dig and continue to dig there after.
I enjoy telling stories, with both photos and words when they are needed.
There will be an incredible story to tell come March and that will be my sole focus. Everything else will just be an added bonus. Yes I will no doubt fret over paying our mortgage and various bills, but don’t we all?
I’m done with feeling negative towards my work. 2018 has taught me that it’s just a waste of time and a sure fire way of getting bogged down in the proverbial mud.
Looking back over my images this week I have realised how far I have come. Granted I’m no where near where I’d like to be, but it’s a solid start considering how turbulent things have been throughout the past year.
2019 - Fucking come at me.
Here are my faves from the year.
Thank you once again for taking the time to read my blog, it really does mean the world to me! I’d especially like to thank those of you who took the time out last year to drop me a line or even mention me in your blogs. You guys make everything feel worth while!