The images here came to me on an evening wandering around the magical town of Ataco in El Salvador. It’s a little cobbled town nestled in the mountains, surrounded by coffee trees and natural habitat for as far as the eye can see. It’s become a community of creatives, who have painted the crumbling walls with bright murals and sell their artisan wares on every corner. My time there will sit with me for a long time. And I’m sure that’s in no small part to the intimacy of experience that comes with slowing down and allowing time to take it’s own pace.Read More
I’ve questioned many times whether I’m really passionate about photography. I have few photos of my holidays and I’m never seen with my camera when I’m ‘off duty’. So maybe it’s just a job to me… but I know it’s not. I’ve been drawn to it for a reason.
When I’m not cycling, I’m usually swimming, in lido’s, lakes or seas - I’m drawn to water, like a little rubber duck, if rubber ducks could cycle. Many friends have suggested I combine my passions and get into underwater photography, and it seems like a logical suggestion, that would be the dream right? But something has always stopped me.
I’ve had all the chats about the barriers that might be getting in the way - procrastination, fear of failure, not being good enough. And I’m guilty of all of them. But as I build up a rhythm in the murky lake water, gliding through the seaweed and taking mental snapshots of the trees on the horizon every time I turned my head, I know why. I’m always observing, soaking in the surroundings and taking a hundred photos in my head. I don’t always need a piece of equipment to be passionate about photography. And I don’t need physical photos as evidence of that.
So it's not that I don't enjoy my job, it's just that what draws me to it isn't necessarily what draws others to it. Photography to me is a way of bringing more observation and exploration into my life, to focus in on things that I cherish. However, observation is a gift most of us have available to us at any time, in any place, and we don't always need a camera to hone this skill. In a world where everything seems to be constantly documented and photographed, we’d do well to give our memory more credit and give more time to the simple pleasure in observation, for ourselves. And I don't think I'm doing my industry an injustice suggesting this - when you do pick up a camera, you might realise you've learnt more than you expected.
Writing a blog post is permanently at the bottom of my to-do list. Hence the lack of blog posts. In an attempt to encourage some kind of mental shift, and understand the benefit in sharing what I do with the world, I joined a storytelling workshop for creatives, which I’ve just completed. I’m not sure exactly what I expected to achieve other than some increased confidence in my writing ability, but whatever it was, this far exceeded it.
We delved deep into our driving forces, our vulnerabilities, fears and barriers (there were more than I thought) - we opened up, shared, and closed up again, then re-opened and dug even deeper. It was deeply personal but collaborative - without the support within the group it wouldn’t have had the impact it did.
It took me a while to realise what was happening. The process slowly unveiled, and gave us the confidence to use our authentic voice, authentic being the operative word. Most of us started the course feeling we had nothing of interest to share about ourselves. As writers, musicians, photographers, film makers, we all tended to place the focus firmly on someone else and their story. This course was about ‘our’ story, and making us realise that our little voices in our head are actually interesting to other people, and that there are people out there who want to listen.
So this is the start of the new authentic me. I’m going to be vulnerable and share what I love and hate. In every job I do I encourage the client to be themselves and have faith in their own character to shine through - so in the spirit of consolidation this is me doing just that.
I’ve realised just how much I observe the world around me, so most of my posts will be about my observations and if that can inspire anyone else to do the same then that’s a bonus.
Here’s to hitting that to-do list from the bottom up :-).