First and foremost, photography for me is not about the equipment I use, how many likes I get on a Instagram post or even how much i get paid for a job. It's all about that fire i get in my belly when i finally see an image i'm proud of. That little "this is why i'm a photographer" eureka! type moment I get when I take a good photograph. It may not last long before insecurity sets back in, but it's there and that's why I do it.
I've wanted to be a photographer for as long as I can remember, since I got a Barbie polaroid camera for Christmas many moons ago. So now I'm getting older and slowly trying to make this into a humble career, it's strange seeing my relationship with photography change. From studying at GCSE through to a degree in the subject, it has taken many forms over the past few years. I've taken a lesson from every stage though.
GCSE 2007/2009 - Photography at school was a breathe of fresh air. I was finally doing creative subjects that I chose. Photography, Art & Design, Graphics and Drama. I got to carry around big folders full of my work and everyone wanted a nosy. When your 15 and have a bit of freedom it feels great. I was full of confidence and 100% sure this is something I wanted to do more of at college.
In reality, my work was a bit shit. Lets be honest...everything's glued onto black paper with captions typed and printed in the dreaded Comic Sans all about how I "really like this image because...". BUT I learned a lot of basic skills, like darkroom work, the basics of editing in Photoshop and I walked away with a respectable B.
See examples below, I struggled to find work from these years. Most of it was on school cameras and computers then glued into my sketch book.
A-LEVEL 2009/2011 - College was fun. The facilities were bigger and better, it was a lot more work and a big shock. There was a lot of people there better than I was, who didn't even necessarily want to be photographers which is a knock, especially when you're 16 and think your the best. I did enjoy most of my projects though, I did my best. Again got to carry around a load of sketch books which is the ultimate "i'm an arts student" staple. We learned more about film photography and darkroom processing, which is what I enjoyed most at the time. Which lead me to fall in love with my future university course. Never actually thinking about the practicalities of the decisions I was making. What would I do with a degree in Photography? What career would an arts based course prepare me for anyway? Making decisions at 17 involves a lot of looking through rose tinted glasses. I went with what I enjoyed most, not thinking about whether this meant I would continue enjoying it.
DEGREE 2011/2014 - University was a lot to get used too. My course was art and design based, rather than your commercial courses which would centre on studio and digital work. I slowly learned that I would be more suited to a different course, but forever stubborn and scared of failing I carried on. Most work focused on working with film photography and perfecting our skills there. I enjoyed this a lot, but during my second year I started to question the practicalities of what I was learning. I knew I wouldn't be able to do film and darkroom work once I'd graduated because it was expensive and barely accessible outside university.
So my third year I focused on perfecting my digital skills, which was never welcomed as kindly as film and print. It was seen as an easier option which didn't require as much time and skill.
The hardest part of University was the criticism. Each project ended with a group critique. You haven't experienced hell until you've spent a whole day in a room full of people who are ripping your work apart.
I eventually graduated with a 2:1 BA(hons) in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging. My biggest accomplishment to date, but did I get everything I wanted out of it? Probably not.
POST UNIVERSITY 2014/2017
It took me a long time after graduating to actually pick up my camera again. It was probably around a year that I didn't think about it at all. I was burned out from having to take photos rather than wanting to take photos. My photography spark came back to me though and I decided to focus on digital work and really finding a direction I wanted to go down. I've always gravitated towards landscapes, they're accessible and don't talk back and that suited me fine. So that's where I started. I made myself a Facebook page to put them on and it went from there.
Eventually I found opportunities through work. I worked at a Cinema which ran a lot of marketing events and they wanted promotional photos for social media. This gave me so much confidence that I really needed. I learned new skills again and it made me realise I do enjoy working with people and events are so much fun to be involved in. In 2016 I actually had the opportunity to travel to London and photograph on the red carpet for the film Premiere of Star Trek Beyond. To this day I can't believe I did that. It will always be up there in my top achievements.
At this point I'd spent almost 6 years in Sunderland...and it was time to come home. Being there made no sense and I couldn't establish my photography somewhere I didn't see myself living full time.
COMING HOME 2017+
Back home in Redcar and I decided it was time to kick off some proper work. I invested in my own studio lighting and focus on some portraiture and I also had my first wedding lined up that year. This is where my relationship with self doubt really sets in. When you're working and relying on yourself you add a lot more pressure. Looking back on my work I've produced in this period I can see how much I've learned and improved, and i'm bloody proud of all of it. I can see how my work has evolved over the years now, I've learned and adjusted myself through each stage with a big focus on trying to make it something I can pursue full time.
The biggest change recently is now I think of photography as something I do as work, rather than the fun hobby I once had. So I find myself frustrated because I feel I'm not taking on many "for fun" projects as I used too. It sounds silly but I forget photographs don't have to be work. I've had such a heavy focus on making my "work" successful, that I forgot that my biggest success comes from doing it for myself firstly and everything else will follow in it's own time.
I've now promised myself to just pick up my camera and go somewhere every now and again. Just pull over at the side of the road and take photos where I fancy and keep that joy alive.
These shots were from a drive around North Yorkshire, we stopped close off close to Danby.