I have it! It’s back. It’s been away for a long time. And wow, what a relief. It feels like it’s here to stay.
For the last 18 months I’ve been fighting against some nasty anxiety issues, almost all of which exist within the confines of my tiny mind but external elements have fueled them something nasty too.
I lost all interest in my photography which was the one thing that had previously made me interesting and stood me out from the crowd. It faded because I wasn’t pushing myself and because it became easier to say ‘I’m not good enough’ than to put myself in a situation where I might not work at the standard I craved. Quite a lot of it was to do with my equipment as well which has always lagged behind the areas I’ve attempted to work in. In some ways this was a good thing, in many really – It forced me to really work for what I wanted to achieve. I like to think now that perhaps, in the same way as the Roman Centurions trained with swords twice the weight of their battle gear, I have learned how to wield my cumbersome tool so well that when I get a better camera I’ll be able to take the world’s best photos (yes, I can dream).
The problem was that it was all too easy to make excuses about my equipment and to think ‘this is impossible, I’ll never have the right tools for the job’. That, more often than not, resulted in me going out and binging £100 away in a night. That’s all changed I think.
I spent about a week working for my Dad recently, somewhat tail between legs, having had to return home for such things as food and the only opportunity I’d found to earn any money.
My Dad’s a roof tiler and a bloody good one. I watched him work and reflected on how poorly I had worked for him when I was a teenager. It was because I had no passion to complete anything. Again, that has changed.
My Dad works with such intensity and passion that he refuses to do something that’s even a millimetre off perfect and he sees the rewards as a result. He’s been going for 37 years and is now in such a position that he can’t walk down a single street in Cambridge without receiving a friendly ‘hello’ or pat on the back from a passer-by. He knows everyone and he’s worked for everyone and everyone respects him (my Mum excluded). He has a reason to leap out of bed every morning and that’s what I’ve been looking for. I got to witness this with fresh eyes last week and I think it’s done me the world of good.
I lay awake one night after work and had a stunning idea: I could SAVE money and buy the camera I wanted! If I totted up what I felt I wanted as a full setup it pushes nearly £30,000 but that was the most negative possible way to look at it, and the way I’d used as an excuse to lament the futility of my photography over the years. But if I looked at it a different way, the camera I want, a camera that could last me 10 years, is £1500. £1500 is about 8 photo shoots, or to put it differently, 15 ‘not drinking binges’. All I have to do is knuckle down for a couple of months and I’ve got one of the world’s best SLR cameras to call my own.
My brother has helped me inadvertently with this as well. He’s always worked hard, always returned home to save money, taken on whatever job was going, because he had passion about what he wanted to do, in this case scuba diving. And so, even though he spent the last few months at home in the smallest village known to man with nothing but Mum and two Golden Retrievers for company, he is now sat on the beaches of Ko Pha Ngan, the setting for Danny Boyle’s The Beach.
Now don’t get me wrong. I know I sound like an absolute twat and that I’ve acted like an absolute twat. I’m not having a major epiphany by realising I could save money to do something I wanted to, or that I have suddenly realised the joys of working towards something you enjoy. It’s just that it’s finally come together for me. I’m finally confident enough to go for what I want. I’m even looking at my old photographs, that I almost unanimously despised, and thinking ‘hey, that one’s actually quite good’.
So, no matter what it takes, I’m going pro. I might be the world’s worst pro but I can be rubbish and TRYING, confident that I’m fulfilling my passion.