Step away from the viewfinder

January 24, 2020

BURNOUT

On a personal note, 2019 was all over the place for many reasons. Logistically I had shoots in the UK, Europe and Asia. I had one accident, two thefts of magnitude and the regular project delays we all suffer. At times, the work has been hand to mouth and it hasn’t been lost on me that earlier in the year, I didn’t deal with anything particularly well.

A change is as good as a rest but I couldn’t see where the rest part might come in and I was battered. Sleep seemed to come easily but my love of early mornings did not. I can normally get by on a couple of hours sleep, I’m not prone to much other than occasional colds and middle-aged aches as well as being guilty of having resting bitch face when actually ecstatic. The energy and ideas seemed to dissipate and I found myself in a cul-de-sac. Dark, dismal and worse, alone. Not physically, I was still surrounded by many people and the love of my life, but I had inadvertently careered across many busy lanes and come to a screeching halt in burnout boulevard.

So, what do you do? You have work to complete, commitments to see through and it all grows around you like weeds. It entangled my mind, penetrated my sleep and wore away my confidence until I figured I was either going to break, collapse or run away.

I ran away.

Never done that before.

I’ve always tackled life head on. I’ve stared down bullies, I’ve overcome fears, I’ve had no shits to give when someone has listed a ream of reasons why I can’t do something and I’ve gone and done it. Yet here I was. 2am. Awake. Staring at the darkness and unable to feel anything. It wasn’t exactly a feeling. It wasn’t for me at least, it was just nothing. Soulless, numbness and lifeless.

I stared for about two hours up from my bed and nothing came. No ideas, no self talks, nothing. Not even white noise. It was horrible.

But this hadn’t come about overnight. This had been something that had been coming for a while. A mixture of life changes, circumstance and personal change. Things that I’d blustered away and not actually dealt with. ‘Life’ shit basically. So, I saw out 2019 with a whimper, like the last embers of a dying fire. What I needed was time away from it. Time is the healer after all. I needed time away from the camera to take stock of everything.

And the answers, dearest reader, didn’t come particularly quickly or with a fanfare. The answer has been stoicism. Having the ability to only tackle the changes that I can make, implement and deliver. No good sitting here thinking I’m no good at something, I need to either be good at it or try and be better at it. As long as the ‘it’ in question is actually what I have a passion for. Part of the reason I lost my way is that I had stopped taking control of what it is I want to do. My wife has only ever wanted one thing in her life; to be happy.

For years, I thought that was a twee thing to say or have to aim for. Me? I’d gone balls deep in to working and earning money since I could remember. I’d done well at it too. I got on the property ladder at the age of 23, I owned 3 cars by the time I was 25 and I was raking in six figures for the latter part of my twenties. I thought I was happy. Looking back, I think there were flashes of it but it was so layered in bullshit that it makes me cringe at the recollection of that person.

But now, I’m done with a lot of things. From the look and feel of the website here, you may see a lot of different styles, subjects of automotive and people. The truth is, while I do love cars, I’m much more at home shooting people. I love automotive design but planes were always my first love. Being dragged up by a wannabe plane designer (my father) and spending weekends at Elmdon Park (now Birmingham International Airport), my nostrils were always full of Jet-A. As much as I could tell headlights of cars at night, I could tell you planes from the engine noise alone. I draw, I play the piano, I doodle cartoons, I write lyrics, I’m decent on a general knowledge quiz but have no idea what a Kardashian is. I love a good drink, swearing comes naturally to me and while I love Beethoven to the Beetles, the latest Eminem album is currently banging my bass bins. I’m a geek, a nerd, I prefer rugby to football and I used to be decent as a golfer and a mate.

I’ve not done half as much of all the things I’ve just listed as I’d have liked in the last year, or longer, mainly due to pitching (and not winning) a lot of automotive business. I guess this let a lot of self doubt creep in but having sat down and understood what I do well, what I don’t do well and what I’d actually strive to be known for, it is time to get that going. It is time to pitch with passion. I’ll be working more this year with my wife who is a far better writer, conversationalist and person than me so if it is stories, articles and proper researched content you need, get in touch with her (www.alifeafterpink.com) – you won’t regret that.

The break away from the camera wasn’t welcome as I love it, but it was needed. This year is going to be hard as I have set myself targets but they are all achievable as long as I keep doing it with passion. The inward review was tough and ugly but I needed to do it not only to be a better photographer, but a better person. In time honoured tradition of my email sign off to people, thank you for your time.

I hope to work with you at some point soon.

If you like what I do and want to do something together, get in touch.

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