I would like to say thank you and happy new year to all the great folks who attended my workshops, beautiful and talented models & makeup artists I have worked with. Everyone who had kind comments and help when I really needed it! You don't know how amazing you have been! Right then...
To cap off the toughest year of my life, here's 5 things I have learned in 2015!
1. Camera clubs aren't dead!
If you thought the humble shed-in-the-woods camera club is dead, you'd be wrong, kind of. The freezing cold political dungeons may be dying out, mainly due to internet learning resources and I imagine because people don't wish to spend their Tuesday night getting told by "Kenneth The Chairman" that their photos aren't good because he said so, but the experience is now available from your very own home! Simply log onto almost any social internet forum, post a picture and wait. Within no time you will be bestowed with comments that, at best, make a backhanded swipe about how "your camera takes great pictures" or at worst, telling you to quit and/or kill yourself! Wonderful. The main lesson here is that people have the ability for the first time in history to selectively expose their personality and paint themselves in the best light, and the majority seem to choose the option of acting like a petulant child and/or racist. So that's fun!
2. What I thought was decent a year ago now makes me cringe!
This one is pretty simple and I am sure everyone feels it in some way or another, but holy crap I don't like my old work! It seems to be getting perpetually efficient as well as stuff I did a month ago now makes me feel sad and like I should ask Kenneth The Chairman for advice.
3. Self hatred speeds up the process! (Perhaps)
A common link that has been brought to my attention time and time again this year on workshops, with studio owners and models is that there is a general surprise that I am still inside my 3rd year as a camera owner. This isn't a "look at me I love myself" comment, but more highlights a possible catalyst for burning through some of the more frustrating walls we encounter in any creative medium.
This catalyst is self-hatred. The phrase "I'm my own worst critic" has never been more appropriate. The application of my own standards is indicative of someone who should be institutionalised. I demand to know why I am making absolutely every decision on every frame of every shoot. Without fail, I will ruin just about everything I enjoy about photography in the quest to improve and make my journey as long as possible. Sometimes this leads to what we will call a pitstop, but is more akin to a multi car pileup as I explode with self doubt and desire to be a better photographer. I think this separates me from a lot of other photographers. It's not that they don't have the hatred, they just direct it elsewhere! (There's a reason Photographers don't unionise!)
My favourite quote on this I have heard is "They say they have 20 years experience, but what they mean is they have repeated the same year of mistakes, twenty times!". I would very much not like to be the guy this is said about!
4. Instincts can't be trusted!
I'll keep this short and allow you to read between the lines, but simply put; Knowing who to depend on and trust is a learned skill! Instincts, like a lot of people, are sometimes a massive let down!
5. My wife is amazing! (Not that I didn't know already)
In the past year, my wife has had to watch her beautiful mother, her best friend, suffer through cancer and sadly pass away. All whilst working at a high pressure job and being an incredible wife. Beyond what I am willing to write about here, she has remained a wonderful, optimistic and positive person, against all odds! The universe owes her some positivity and I am in awe of her strength!