I was going back and forth on what to write in this weeks blog post however this morning I woke up to see my certificate for my higher national diploma in Photography finally came through, finally closing the chapter on the first step in pursuing photography professionally.
I’d mentioned on here before that the 2014-15 academic year post leaving high school was a challenging one for me. I had only achieved a C in my first big Graded folio unit and while people tried to reassure me with “hey, it’s still a pass” - for participating in a course that was all about photography, trying to turn it into a potential career, scraping by with “just a pass” was not acceptable to me. And while I could try and talk the folio up with false convictions, it did not stray away from the fact the subject matter was boring, barely relatable and inconsistent.
Don’t get me wrong I did learn a lot in that year, it was very beneficial for me technically - I finally figured out how to work a camera properly and a lot of great beginning essentials I’d otherwise not been introduced to in high school. But in high school I used my 2 years in photography as a tool to escape a version of myself I wasn’t happy with, it gave me a stronger sense of identity and I used the projects I took on as a way to educate myself about who I am and the world around me. It was a nice form of therapy and personal development. But starting college in a new place, with different people, who were smarter, older, more confident and more talented was quite overwhelming and pretty much showed me up in the biggest way possible. I would skip classes, I had no ideas, didn’t feel connected with the lecturers; not inspired; no drive to create and really all in all did not feel good enough to be taken seriously. All of a sudden photography became this very negative dark thing that became all about knowing the best way to do something and how to make money. I wont lie, I certainly became disheartened by the whole travesty that was my first year outside of high school. Could this be a real “profession” for me? Do I have what it takes, not just creatively but emotionally and psychologically?
In the summer of 2015, I pretty much slumped into a pattern of eat, work sleep repeat with the occasional trip to my best friends house to talk about the meaning of life, and trying to work out how the world works ahaha yeah it was a bad time. But honestly the constant over thinking about emotional honesty, embracing things for what they are turned out not to be such a bad thing after all. I knew if I wanted to be something more than just someone who boxed nuggets 4 times a week I needed to have a better attitude about photography and what I thought of myself. I had the potential to get better and create a profitable service to offer people, if I really wanted it.
Fortunately for me my course was 2 years, meaning I had a whole other year to turn things around. And I sure as hell did. Walking into this year with the mindset I did was a scary one, I was still that underconfident person who bottled it trying to ask someone if I could take their picture. Which made it easier when our first project was about asking total strangers if they wanted their picture taken ahaha. But honestly, that was the best thing that could have happened - after I got over the initial fear of hearing the word ‘no’ everything else felt easier, leading to more confidence in myself and more confidence in my creative ideas. From that moment on, approaching every assignment with a positive attitude became ritualistic - if I had an idea “what did I want to do?” and “how was I gonna make it work?” - it was a lot of problem solving but as soon as I invested a lot of my own time outside of college and investing some money into ideas, everything shifted. And as soon as my ideas got better, my work got better allowing me to be more secure with myself and what I wanted. Taking myself seriously as a photographer allowed other people to take me seriously, leading me onto more paid work, interviews with agencies and major print sales. Not all of my new ventures worked out 100% but I’m in a much better place now having said yes to new opportunities and finally putting myself out there than just posting a couple of my images online. I had a lot to prove in my second year at college and thankfully my efforts paid off and I’m moving on to bigger and better things hopefully in my BA programme starting in September, a lot of which I owe to my excellent lecturers.
That’s the thing about being creative. It’s not necessarily about drawing well or taking a nice picture, its about finding a positive way through any situation using you initiative and determination.