It's OK to fail

I could make this about photography, but really it's about anything in life.  Sometimes things get hard, a bit too much, as a photographer I struggle to remain creative sometimes outside of weddings and other paid work - but really you just have to knuckle down and do it for your own sake, it's better to make mistakes and push yourself when you aren't getting paid than to let someone else down. 

Rather than talk about personal experiences relating to photography I'll use my 7 year old daughter as a bloody good example of someone who knuckled down and showed some real determination.

Taken from my personal Facebook page:

”Isabella did her karate grading at the weekend she’s 7 years old. She worked her ass off for 2 hours straight and made me incredibly proud. She got held back on the final test where she had to fight against 2 people simultaneously and didn't get her belt. She was devastated and cried all the way home.

She hadn't sparred up until that point, had no gear and went into panic mode refusing to do it. Sparring is a daunting experience the first time, being asked to do it in front of 60 other kids and a bunch of adults (and the fact it was vs 2 opponents) she was devastated she didn't do it or get her belt and nervous about going back.

So we got her some kit and took her back so she could ask if she could do some sparring, she wasn’t told to do this, she decided she wanted to. This is her first time, when it finished she asked "can I fight 2 people now"

Kids need these lessons, not everything will be handed to them on a plate, they'll have to do things they don't want to, to face their fears and really earn things. In a society of "everyone's a winner, here's a medal for taking part" kids need to learn they can't always win, they need to learn how to lose sometimes and how to move forward from it.

Isabella learned a valuable lesson over the weekend and tonight, she's learned to lose but not give up or dwell on it, she learned to face something she was scared of doing and she did it”

So here’s a lesson for all of us, if a 7 year old girl can do it (the titch in the pink stuff), we all can. Chin up buttercup !

Your job's dead easy mate

Guest banter | New wedding photographer tips

I love chatting to people at weddings, you never know who you’ll meet and how interesting they are. Obviously my day photographing a wedding isn’t simply an excuse to go along to a party and have a good time - although that’s exactly what I do.

Really I like chatting to people because it makes them comfortable around me, if I engage with people like I’m a guest I get treated as a guest, they relax and don’t see me as “The photographer”, just someone else who happens to be there. That’s really how I get the pictures I do - by not being seen as the photographer at all.

I had an interesting chat with a guest the other week, we’d spoken a few times during the day and come the evening a fair few drinks had been consumed which is where the banter usually starts. It went along the lines of

“Your jobs a piece of piss mate, walking around taking a few pics, beer in your hand”

“I know, easy isn’t it”

“You get paid a fortune to party with us, not bad that eh”

“I could think of worse ways to be earning money to be fair”

“You’re not even taking that many pictures, I’ve been watching you”

“Shhh don’t tell the bride and groom though”

Now then, if you’re new in the wedding photography game or thinking of starting out you’re probably thinking wooohoooo easy money !!

Here’s the reality though, even though I do literally walk round chatting to people all day and don’t appear to actually be doing anything particularly taxing.

To get to this point I’ve put in thousands of hours of work with my camera before going into weddings, I continue to do it now - it’s rare I don’t have a camera in my hand. So yes, to a casual observer I’m merely occasionally randomly take the odd picture here and there but really it’s the pre-work that’s gone into getting to the stage where I can take pictures on autopilot (like driving a car doesn’t take any thought but it’s a highly skilled and complicated thing to do)

My casual walking around for a day usually clocks up something like 25 miles on average, that’s a lot of walking without a sit down. I shot a wedding in Italy last year, when I got home 2 of my toenails had come off and I had blisters all over my feet (sorry to be gross but there you go), not to mention sunstroke that was my own fault though.

Then there’s the constant thinking, sure I’m stood talking to people but while I’m doing that I’m acutely aware of my surroundings, listening to other conversations going on, watching other happenings, framing my next picture blah blah blah. That’s an awful lot for a brain to do for 16 hours straight. To put some context here, I usually have a 2 day brain hangover after a wedding where I feel like I’ve been on a weekend bender. I’m physically and emotionally drained.

Not to mention the stress - now it’s not really stressful once you have a bucket-load of experience but there’s still the responsibility associated with the most important day of someone’s life in your hands. You still have to be on point throughout the day, weddings have a habit of throwing something you weren’t expecting at you and even when they don’t there’s still the additional thought that needs to go into ‘absolutely making sure’ you don’t stuff up pictures like the aisle walk etc

Shooting a wedding well from a documentary perspective is hard graft, physically and mentally - a real documentary photographer isn’t simply taking random snaps, there’s a method, a story, a lot of observation and quick thinking involved. All while making the whole thing look effortless, actually being so effortless you’re not even noticed.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes my job is a piece of piss mate, it’s a doddle and I get to party, chat, be involved and thoroughly enjoy someone’s wedding along with everyone else, and do something I’m massively passionate about - but it’s not simply a case of buying a camera, tipping up and taking a few snaps. Well it is kind of I suppose, it just depends how good you want those pictures to look.

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Determination

Our kids had their karate grading this weekend.  It's not easy, an hour of non-stop technique and fitness, stuff that would wipe a lot of adults out.  J is 4, he's had a chest infection for 2 weeks but jees I'm proud of the little titch. He never stopped, complained or thought about quitting. 

 The end bit of the session is a punisher, essentially 15 minutes of non stop star jumps, burpees and leg climbers at a faster and faster pace for each circuit, what makes me just as proud is his big sis Isabella who's only 7 saw him starting to flag a bit and got on the mat next to him to do the exercises and encourage him to keep going, even though she had her own 2 hour grading straight after.  

Kids can teach us grown-ups a lot sometimes.  

I'm incredibly proud of both my kids, they may fight like cat and dog and annoy the crap out of each other but they're so loving and supportive towards each other when it matters.  

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J starting to struggle 

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Poor kid couldn't stop coughing but kept going

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Big sis giving encouragement 

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One very chuffed lad and sister