Like so many freelancers and business owners, the pressure of 2022 and it’s need to overcompensate for the previous two years of lost work (and everything else we lost during that time) by saying Yes to absolutely everything, even if it was a job I wasn’t aligned with, led me to a place of extreme burnout.
For several months at the start of 2023, I was totally depleted on pretty much every level – physically, mentally, emotionally, and certainly creatively. The metaphorical tand was EMPTY! If I never picked up a camera again, I thought to myself, that would be just fine, which was incredibly scary, because for over 30 years photography was all I had wanted to do, but at this low point, I would have been very happy to sit at a desk in a 9-5 office job as an alternative (and terrifyingly enough fumbled together a CV for the first time in about 20 years to actually apply for jobs to do just that). Fortunately the Universe had other ideas!
Burnout is a strange thing to go through, in that it plays tricks with your mind, and the only way to get to seeing that light at the end of the tunnel again is to really deep-dive into what got you into that darkness in the first place. Overwork, obviously, but beyond that you are forced to look at what you can control and change (and what you can’t), what you can let go of, what you want to hang on to. You reassess your values, your goals, and what ultimately brings you joy – or what used to bring you joy before you found yourself getting so far off track.
For me, it was the realisation that I had gotten so far away from what had initially brought me joy as a photographer, even before I started doing it professionally, which was visual storytelling, travelling, finding inspiration from new places, faces and cultures, experiencing creative freedom (which I hadn’t truly done for a while) and ultimately capturing beauty through my lens.
In order to find that joy again, I knew I had to make a conscious effort to take a step back and find those stories to tell, view my own backyard as a new ‘destination’ that I could view with fresh eyes, and send my energy out to bring in a new set of clients who would hopefully share my creative vision, and recognise the value in what I do.
When I received an out-of-the-blue message one Sunday evening in June from a potential client who had been referred by a mutual friend, asking if I would be interested in a fashion shoot the following week, I jumped at the chance, rearranging a few things to make myself available on the day.
And as the energy you put out into the world ends up being the energy you get back, I found myself in the middle of a shoot that just flowed on every level – the pace of the day, the creative collaboration, the combined vision and flexiblbiy of both myself and the client, the product, the styling, the location, the weather, and the energy and creativity of the models, all gloriously came together to bring that little spark that had nearly been totally snuffed out roaring back to life again.
And speaking of models, I one again had the joy of working with brilliant actor, writer, art-director, producer all-round CREATOR, the brilliant and imaginative Brigitte Jarvis (who was one of the standouts of my All Dressed Up project during the early stages of Covid Lockdowns), and also incredible new star in the making, in her professional modelling debut, beautiful Abbi, who absolutely shone in front of the camera, knowing exactly what to do as though it was her 100th shoot.
Thank you so much to Vera at Tightology for your gorgeous product, your amazing creative styling skills, for putting your trust in my creative vision, being so relaxed and easy going on the day, and allowing me to reignite that spark once more, producing a stunning collection of images for you. xx