I am quite partial to the month of August, what with it being summer, and the month of my birth. It's been so lovely to have so many blue skies and short-sleeve-wearing opportunities.
It's been a busy month for both business and pleasure...
My son, Sam and I took a trip west, firstly celebrating my birthday in my hometown with family and friends, then heading to Cornwall for a regular whirlwind tour.
In Cornwall we hooked up with one of Sam's first/best school friends following his return from a four year seafaring circumnavigation of the globe. I was on the communication loop from base, and was kept in complete awe of the crew of four - the youngest was a baby when she left, so it was great to see she could balance on solid ground! Their scariest moment was when a humpback whale decided to give them a nudge. Hats off and a testament to self-belief and determination.
Sports have featured highly this month - not just with me, but I'd almost forgotten the Olympics just happened. It's good to see there has been some kind of legacy from 2012 with investment in a lot of sports around the country. Really pleased to see Britain getting so many medals, and Brazil pulling off such a good show.
I have been teaching BoxingYoga™ regularly and decided to practice the full routine myself for ten days on the trot to enhance my practice and examine some of the moves more intently. It has taken me years to fully appreciate the saying 'practice makes perfect'. There really is always room for improvement.
I went on a couple of bike rides with Sam. He has been cycling a lot over the past few months, so sees himself as some kind of expert! We rode down to Waterloo via the scenic route, which involved riding down the River Lea until we reached the Olympic Park and hooking onto the Regents Canal until Limehouse Basin, then getting slightly disorientated until finding the Cycle Super Highway which I must say was amazing. It was another glorious day, so the fact that it took three hours instead of one (if we'd done the big roads) was no bother.
Our destination was St. John's Church at Waterloo. We were going for a scout around 'The Crypt' which is where Southbank Mosaics have their headquarters. I will be doing some work there in October, when all will be explained. On the day, a kindly gent' gave us a guided tour.
And so, to Photography.
If you've only been following my work or blog since having this new website you probably don't know much about what came before...
I have been freelancing in the photographic industry for twenty years, starting out as an assistant to advertising, then editorial photographers. After freelancing for some time I worked primarily for one photographer in the home & lifestyle sector. Despite him berating the fact that his day rate hadn't increased for fifteen years, he was shooting for most of the top lifestyle magazines. I was learning a lot about photography and client liaison - these were still the days when we had big team lunches, and the clients seemed to drink coffee all day long! We worked consistently for two years on 'Changing Rooms'. You remember, the TV programme with the most outrageous approach to home decor! They had a subscription magazine that ran alongside the programme which we worked on: step-by-step images of how to stencil a table for example as well as photographing fully decorated rooms. There was a lot of set-building and painting involved, which is in part to thank for my DIY skills. The magazine industry at this stage was still flourishing, and photography still looked like a good career choice.
With that experience, most people would have pursued a career in this area, but I've always had a sense of adventure and wanted to travel the world. Paired with a keen interest in writing I decided I would become a travel writer and photographer, and why not! I did my research, read books, attended talks by my peers and had my trip planned, including a working visa for Australia.
Just a few weeks before I was due to leave, I found out I was pregnant. Oh, the irony! Let's just say, this had quite an impact on my unfounded career. Ever determined, I still managed to go away for two months; the first with my partner and a month on my own as per the plan. I took hundreds of pictures. They never did make it very far, as hospital appointments and nesting was a little distracting.
Once we brought the baby home my approach to photography was fairly scrappy for many years. Never really having the headspace or wherewithal to know what I should do, I did lots of things!
I had some success with children's portraits (I'll never know why I let that slip), then weddings when I was shooting on film. My switch to digital was unwelcome and unenjoyable. I felt my standards dropped before they rose again, by which time the wedding industry was filling up with people who were way more excited about weddings (in their entirity,) than I ever was, so I decided to leave it to them.
Then what? Then what indeed. I started working for all kinds of businesses and picking up work for various councils and charities, plus some more creative work that I have always maintained - images I would sell at craft stalls and markets.
Then came the recession. I immediately lost a regular client, people's budgets were cut and even companies that could afford it started using the doctrine 'we haven't got much of a budget'. Councils bought digital cameras for their staff and the phone pretty much stopped ringing. Interesting times.
Things got pretty bad, so at the beginning of twenty-eleven I took on a part-time role as a Framing Adviser in a local shop. This is one of the best moves I have ever made. The fact that it is not photography is precisely why it works: better to do something that is completely different than take on shoddy photography jobs that you'll regret. The fact that all of the staff are creatives has allowed me to share ideas with like-minded people in a way that I had rarely had the chance to do for years. I have met so many interesting people there and finally allowed myself to see myself as an artist. Yes, I am!
Over the past four years I have been reassessing what it is I intended to do, what I am doing and what I want to do. I have made a lot of big changes in my life.
I hope you don't think it's all been difficult? Here are some highlights of my career so far: travelling to Kenya to document a trip in collaboration with The Prince's Trust, doing a job inside 10 Downing Street. Having Sir Peter Blake admire my work in a gallery in Mayfair and photographing a wedding at the Tower of London. I have had some amazing opportunities and met many inspirational people along the way. And of course, I have had the absolute pleasure of seeing my son grow and flourish. He has been nothing but a joy to me, ever since a few weeks after the initial shock that is.
I am glad I have stuck with it, I am glad I can write this and see what a mess it all was. I just hope that my reawakening or whatever it is gives me enough time to see me produce work that means something to me, and that other people enjoy. That is all I ever wanted out of photography. I don't expect to get rich, but I do need to earn enough money to pay my way in this astronomical city, so over to you!!
Oh yes, August!
You may remember I mentioned the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize last month? I didn't quite make it into the National Portrait gallery, but I did get shortlisted from around six thousand images to under 400. I think they end up with around sixty for exhibition. Maybe next year!
Big news for now is that I am going to have a solo exhibition this Autumn as part of Photomonth. You will hear a lot more about this nearer the time, but here are the main details:
The Gallery at Republic
Republic is a six acre commercial and retail estate located in East India Dock, London.
Wednesday 16th November 11 - 7pm
Thursday 17th November 11 - 7pm
Friday 18th November 11 - 7pm
Saturday 19th November 12 - 6pm
Sunday 20h November 12 - 6pm
Monday 21st November 11 - 7pm
Private View Wednesday 16th November 6.30 - 9.30pm
Also in November I will be exhibiting with Islington Art society and there is a chance that I may be in one or two more shows, depending on selection, so don't expect to see much of me for a while!
Over and out