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The Sunday Hustle

I'm up at 6.00am again, because of course I am. It's not like my body needs any sleep. Apparently.

I had something written for today, but that's been deleted and thrown because I can and I'm making the rules and it was miserable so I though "fuck that, lets write something else", also, I won't lie, the response I had from my last Sunday post was so good I figured I'd continue on the same theme.

Today I am back on the hustle, after spending all of yesterday between flaking out on the sofa or flaking out in my bed. Today I am scheduling tweets, replying to enquiries, I'm plotting and planning, and thinking and pinterest-ing. Today I am enjoying it, or at least, the vast majority of it. Yesterday the hills I had to climb seemed insurmountable. Yesterday it felt like no matter how hard I tried I wasn't going to get anywhere, or at least not without significant financial backing, because it does feel like that, so often. I know I mentioned it last week, but I feel it's worth touching on again.

I figured out a tagline, if you like "I'm just over here making the best out of my D3000". It's slightly tongue in cheek, I'm poking fun at myself on being unable to afford the latest full-frame mirrorless camera. Mostly though, it's true and something I feel need reiterating to myself, especially, time and time again. There is so much pressure to have the latest gear, and the only way I can achieve that is putting myself into a massive pile of debt. I'm already some £30,000 in debt to student loans, but I can't, no matter how much I want to, justify an extra £3k in debt. (That's buying a new camera body, and a new Macbook btw). Even then there will be people with better gear, more money to sink into their photography business.

It's something I ponder, do I buy the new equipment while working full time and shooting around my ridiculous schedule, or do I wait, and hope that eventually I can take my photography full time and then sink £3k into upgrading everything? And then there's everything else that I think about when thinking how to take my photography full time. Do I need to move to Brighton, or London, or another city to expand my client base? Do I need to learn to drive and buy a car, so I can shoot out in my favourite locations? Do I need to pay to promote posts on social media or can I hope and rely on the kindness of strangers sharing for me?

I can't help but wish I'd started all this business seven years ago, when I graduated university. (How time flies!) I like to believe that I wouldn't be in the position I am now, on the cusp of 30 trying to work out the intricacies of working for myself. Even at uni I was exploring my self and others through photography, and before then, at college, I always felt comfortable with the weight of the camera in my hands. It's hard to not beat myself up for not doing what, looking back, is glaringly obvious now. It's hard to not cringe at all the money wasted when I could have been doing so much more.

I have to remind myself that maybe the universe had a plan for me, that maybe I had to go through everything else before I got here. I remember writing artist statements for creating installations, gardens of paper flowers, that I wanted to create spaces for people to explore and spend some time in, it's only now that I'm kicking myself for not taking ~*aRTy*~ photos in these installations.

But that's all in the past and I am excited, today, to move forward, today I'm comfortable with the hustle as it means I'm working towards something, and that something feels good.

If you're local to Hastings, my artwork is now up at the Coastal Currents Arts Fair, it's for sale, and if you buy it I can promise you that that money won't be pissed up the wall, (although I can't say I won't buy a celebratory pint), it'll be going towards a new camera, or some other way of feeding back into making my wishes come true.


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Sunday City

I went to the Coastal Currents opening part on Friday, I say went, in reality myself and the manfriend rocked up about half nine with tins, had a look around and left. It felt like being at the weird uncle's awkward wedding. Coastal Currents normally has such wonderful opening parties, they're full of fun, art and good vibes. Friday was just plain odd.

Anyway that's neither here nor there really. Today I took my print for the art fair down. It's one of the images I took of Lily and is for sale, framed and everything. That's rather exciting isn't it? I really struggled to pick an image and to price it. I doubt anyone is surprised by this, I have so little self belief at times that it's actually comical.

But this weekend has been full of photographs and so will tomorrow and that leaves me feeling warm and happy inside. I've been teaching myself new tricks in photoshop too. Learning!

Recently a few people have commented, asking me if I'm drawing or printing. It's almost as if they do not see the creative value in my photography, which feeds into my own lack of belief. It makes me sad too, because I personally find my photography stronger than any drawing I ever did. I enjoy coming up with concepts and ideas, I am enthused by editing. For the first time since graduation I feel that my ideas are not, respected, I suppose. That it is just a photograph and anyone could take it.

Has there always been this hierarchy of talent? That drawing, painting is somehow harder than photographing and editing? Do people believe that the camera does all the work and I'm just pressing a button? Recently when someone has expressed disdain at my photography I've felt the need to hand them my camera, tell them to go try to take a photograph. That they should sit, sifting through their dreams that could be developed into concepts.

I sound angry I think, or bitter, but in reality I just don't have the energy to defend what I'm doing to friends, especially not when it digs into the very things that I struggle most with. I have enough time defending myself in front of the photography community.

It feels that to get ahead as a photographer you need a certain camera, a decent computer (my macbook is very much on it's last legs, my camera a D3000). I see people, when I arrive to take photos eye my camera up, it's not as big or flashy as others, but unless someone fancies giving me £1000 for a new one, I have to work with what I have.

This all teaches me to be resourceful though, to ensure correct exposure, focus, white balance. I have to practice and listen to both myself and my environment. I have to know where the light is, the shadows, I feel my way through like a murky pool to create photographs that feel like I do in that moment. I sit, after, in lightroom and photoshop trying to bring my ideas closer, editing carefully to bring my images to the best they can be.

It's all just a whinge though. I am not the only person to feel this, of that I am certain. I document my feelings that 100's of others have had in a vain attempt to relate and be accepted. It's all rather pointless though, I'd prefer to let my pictures speak for themselves.


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Sunday Service

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The last two weeks have been a bit bonkers. In terms of an explanation, that's all you're getting. I watched Montage of Heck again last night and it's left me feeling protective over parts of me. I can relate to much of what Kurt Cobain said about himself.

I use bits and pieces of others personalities to form my own.

But I'm not alone in that, and I know that for a fact. I picked up the Vice: Privacy and Perception issue on Friday when I got my ears tattooed. Through a variety of sections this issue of Vice explores the discrepancies between our online and offline selves. What ever you may think of Vice, there are some beautiful photographs in this issue and some interesting articles. The issue is interesting to me because I am interested in my online and offline self and how they dissect, converge and separate.

I am bolder on the internet than I am in real life (unless I've imbibed a few alcoholic drinks, or in the comfort of close friends). On the internet I can say things and walk away, I can put a divide between myself and her. This is a double edged sword, and I am surprised I have not got myself in more trouble. I rarely talk about my internet presence in real life. I'm not one to say to friends "hey, did you read my latest blog post?", I don't really share my life on facebook anymore. The people I care about and who care about me have my mobile number, they know where I live. I am uninterested in providing a show for others. 

It seems though, that in order to be relatable on the internet we're expected to share parts of ourselves, which leaves me questioning what do I share? Which then leads on to me thinking about myself both pre- and post-diagnosis. Pre-diagnosis I blogged near on daily for years, sharing every little facet of myself in a need or want to both understand myself and to be accepted. I'm unsure if I ever felt better about myself, but now I see those early forays as embarrassing and, desperately sad. How times have changed. I recently deleted a lot of old blog posts here too, the writing is clunky and awkward as I navigate that space between realting and alienating. 

Since being diagnosed and learning to live (because you can't recover an adult self you've never had before) I have felt the need to portray Borderline Personality Disorder as something that can be lived with, that the self harm and suicide attempts and hedonistic self destruction are not necessarily part of being 'ill'. That with the right regime of drugs there is a way of living that is ok, but that's not always true and not always how I'm living. As much as tearing myself to pieces is a true part of me, I don't want to build an audience based on 'will-she, won't-she eventually kill herself?'. Nor do I particularly feel like being a poster-girl for 'recovered BPD' (pride comes before a fall).

Which leaves me wondering what do I share and how do I broach that gap between online and offline me? Do I have to? How do I want to be known? The obvious answer to that is through my photography, a child in the general scheme of things, that I am trying to nurture and grow. That presents it's own challenges. I know many who say that if you ask the universe and it's supposed to be yours it'll come to you, but to open myself up to ridicule and say, listen, I want to be a photographer is, in all shapes and forms, scary.

There's already a level of embarrassment at my equipment and my ideas, that comes with trying to slot myself into an industry that seems to care so much about glass, full-frame or cropped frame, Nikon or Canon. The internet loves a success story, but at times it feels like the internet prefers to watch a disaster, or maybe that's just my take. Time will tell if I can make my dreams a reality, just like time will tell how I, and others like me, will use the internet.  For good or ill.


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Feels Like Sunday

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I meant to write yesterday, but I went to bed Saturday night with a headache that I woke up with Sunday, so after drinking my body weight in water and not shifting the headache I gave up and went back to bed about eleven am. Nothing like a productive day of sleeping, ay?

Today it's raining and the shoot I was supposed to be doing has been cancelled because of said rain. I understand, I do, but when all I want to do is take photographs it's frustrating. I saw a tweet the other day that mentioned the frustrations of having a plan and an idea of where you want to be but not being able to get there for *reasons*. I get that. I can't force people to pay me to take their photo, but I wish I could. I can't force people to sponsor me or buy prints (HINT HINT), but I can advertise these things. Not that I'm very good at that, I've spoken before about how it makes me feel dirty.

Anyway, I'm going to try pushing bookings for September and beyond. 

In other news, the idea I spoke about last week, of photographing the homeless and street drinkers has already fallen flat on it's face. There were a group of three street drinkers hanging out outside C.A.B the other day, and when I approached them and asked if I could take their photo they promptly told me to fuck off. Pleasant. I want to ask because I don't want to fall into the habit of taking photos of people without their permission, but still. Maybe what I need to do is set two days a month aside to drink and get to know these individuals first, I'm pretty sure the pictures will be better for it.

And I know this will be the case, how do I know? Because the latest shoot I did with Grace was seamless, the photos are good and the concept worked beautifully. Thats what you get for working regularly together for about a year. 

I'm not going to talk about my #Create365 here, or now, I'll create a standalone blog post for that because I have thoughts and feelings and ideas that would take away from this weekly navel-gazing.

I suppose with the day the way it is I should take the time to update and promote my internet presence. That doesn't inspire me though, and the idea of spending all day in front of my laptop listing and re-sizing is less than thrilling. I'm whinging, I'm sorry, it's 6.42 though, surely I'm allowed? 

But throughout everything else, I am so lucky and I have such lovely friends. The early hours of Saturday morning were not a great time for me, I won't go into detail, thats unimportant, suffice to say that my mood was incredibly low. I came out of it though, with the distractions and love of close friends and for that I am so thankful for. Because thats what they don't tell you about living with mental illness, that you will have moments completely out of the blue that make you want to throw everything away and blow your self to nothingness. These moments, although at times few and far between (if you are lucky), are just as terrible as the first time they happened. The familiarity I have with suicidal feelings has not made it easier, in fact, I would push that in someways the familiarity makes it worse. That I am in this place again, that these feelings have not yet gone for good.

That's all that life is though, isn't it? A handful of moments and some are awful and some aren't. And, I'd like to believe, there's a beauty in the wonderful and a beauty in the breakdown.


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Sunday Morning

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Hello, it's been awhile hasn't it? (cue singing Staind).

Here goes nothing, here goes everything. Now that I'm here I'm confused with what I'm doing, but I am trying.

It's been my 50 hour work week, this week and I spent Saturday asleep after going for breakfast. I always feel so useless when I do that, which is silly, I work nights, I have to sleep sometime. But this hustle culture makes me feel guilty if I'm not photographing or editing or pushing or doing. Saying that though, I am developing some ideas, one of which is a project 365. It's no secret that I am uncomfortable in my adult body, there's curves and hips and a feeling of large-ness that I'm sure is compounded by society. So what better way to get over that than a self portrait project for a year? It'll either work or it won't, you can follow along on instagram or you can wait for round-up posts here. 

What else did I do this week? Oh I tried to create some cyanotypes, that was fun, and now I've ordered some more solution and paper and I'm crossing my fingers for some more sunlight because that's one way to keep me busy.

I've loaded up my Ricoh 500ME with some Agfa 400 Black and White, I've wanted to photograph the street drinkers and homeless around Hastings and St Leonards for awhile now, so thats what I'm hopefully starting too. I'm a little concerned that the film isn't winding on correctly but the Ricoh hasn't let me down yet. 

I also set up a Patreon earlier today. If you're interested in supporting my work then this is one way of doing it, at the moment I'm doing the creation model, where if you buy a zine you get a free print, as I have about 30 zines to shift, I know I know I should sort etsy out again, but I am tired and I've always struggled to hustle and promote my bits and pieces. It always feels so dirty, it's a distinct lack of self belief and imposter syndrome. Which probably has no actual basis in reality but loom in my mind largely.

Saying that, identity issues come easy to me. As part of the BPD label. I have asked for therapy, both through Health In Mind and NHS services, but with East Sussex County Council cutting services everywhere I am not expecting any help unless I'm about to top myself. I did buy What A Time To Be Alone by The Slumflower, it'll either help or it won't, obviously I'm hoping for the helping bit. I must say though, a quick flick through and it's actually a stunning book, 10/10 would recommend for aesthetics alone. 

And I almost forgot to mention that I'm included in Coastal Currents this year! I've been selected to be part of the art fair at the Stade Hall, I have an A2 print going into the show that is for sale. It'll be on between the 2nd and 13th of September, so even if you don't like what I do, it'll be worth coming down to see the other 40+ artists.

Anyway, toodle-pip fellows, I need to shower and dye my hairs.


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One More Night

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And I pull myself together to start again.

Hi friends, it's been awhile hasn't it? I wish I had some wisdom to impart, but I can only think in soundbites and single sentences. There's so much I'm frustrated by, currently, but I am supposedly the only person who can change that. I shouldn't be blogging, I should be looking for a new job. I should be updating my portfolio or doing something that isn't sitting here throwing words into the no-space.

But what else can I do?

I am such a perfectionist and nothing feels right. My mental health wanes and I forgot who I was supposed to be, maybe. 

The truth is, I never knew who I was supposed to be.

I Wish You Lonely

Me, by Rachel Pickles

Me, by Rachel Pickles

I woke up with Morrissey stuck in my head. It's so sad that Morrissey has such toxic political views. I just wanted to enjoy The Smiths.

When I haven't been at work, I wake naturally between five and six am. As someone who for many years couldn't be roused from bed before ten I've become quite fond of my quiet mornings. I listen to music, or the radio quietly and hear the world slowly wake up. I drink a cup or two of herbal tea, I sit on the floor and enjoy having an empty mind for an hour or so. 

I want to exist in this moment forever.

The noisy void feels so big right now, and I am but one little voice, currently sitting on the floor and drinking Cardamon tea. I can hear seagulls and the occasional car driving up the road. Quietly in the background Ramona Falls plays (infact this is the playlist I've been listening to today, it's a spotify link).

I have a few shoots booked but so many more ideas floating about in my head. I write them down and try to find space and ways to realise them. My flat becomes a state of disarray with half-finished props floating about. 

My thoughts are scattered and my mind is tired. Friends, my beautiful friends are there and they are trying to help and I am thankful and feel my heart swell. I feel guilty at times for being tired and quiet, but I'm doing my best.

I'm trying. 

Any Dream Won't Do

Photograph of a photograph of me by Rachel Pickles (what?!)

Photograph of a photograph of me by Rachel Pickles (what?!)

I can hear the sound of thunder,
I can hear the sound of rain,
I can see the bright white lightning,
Coming down to strike me again,
-The Sound of Thunder, Nick Kingsley

I was recently reading an interview with Damian Maloney on Emmazed (here), in it Maloney mentions how in meetings with editors and agents and the other photographers he went out with, the agents and editors were impressed that Maloney and his cohort were so uplifting of each other. Maloney says 'And it's like of course, we're all excited about what each other is doing.'

I like that, and I like that a lot. 

I've always been excited by what my friends and cohort are doing. Getting to look through Pickles' photos Monday was such a treat, and she isn't the only one of my friends doing amazing things. Sometimes though, it feels difficult to find those pockets of support and encouragement. Maybe this is a whole new 'survival of the fittest' generation, where it's competition not community. I don't know, I'm talking about things that I haven't thought about properly. 

I've realised one of the major negatives in my life right now is (the dreaded) work - this doesn't mean that every shift is hell on earth, or that it's particularly bad, per se. It isn't where I want to be though, and finally working out a place where I'd like to be has made work just a little bit worse. Which obviously effects my already squiffy at best mental health.

And then there are all the others layers of having ambition, or a dream, or an idea of where I'd like to be. There's the plotting and planning of trying to get there, there's the crushing weight of what happens if I don't get there. I am a neurotic over-thinker.

I have high standards, for myself and others. I am aware of this and aware of my regular failings. In taking photos of others and reviewing them at a later date I am frustrated at times that my ideas aren't not fully realised, it's almost amusing that early forays look so naive. I have to remind myself that this whole thing is a journey and I am L E A R N I N G. You can sit looking at images on pinterest all day but that's not going to get me as far as getting out there and doing it.

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Do you remember when I did this? Just after graduation I loved creating ideas and scenes, spaces to be explored and exhibited. The Never Bought You Flowers exhibition was based, loosely on a song by Rico. I was struggling with heartbreak at the time, I think. It was all very Sophie Calle/Tracey Emin. When I went to bed yesterday at a ridiculously early time I contemplated making flowers again, making a scene, making a place to photograph in, and I was excited.