MY PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVERY
How photography has helped me to become a more creative and confident person.
How often have you heard somebody say "I'm on a journey of self discovery" and wondered what exactly does that mean? Well in my case its been about looking deep inside myself and finding the real me, something I have only recently felt able to do.
I have always been a somewhat artistic and creative person. I never excelled on the academic side at school and some may well have called me a bit of a daydreamer. Confidence in myself and my abilities was also sadly lacking.
Unfortunately a long term health problem has had a big impact on my life. It meant holding down a job for any length of time was near impossible. There were times when I felt so lost and alone and wondered what my point of being was.
I have always been interested in photography but never really took it seriously even as a hobby until the mid 1990's when I bought my first SLR film camera, an entry level Canon. There was something that was just so magical about it. The feel of it in my hands, it felt so natural to me. I began taking photos on a regular basis, it felt like some kind of creative therapy for me and if my health was affecting me particularly badly, was something that I could do without even leaving the house. But in those days of film you had to wait for the images to be developed, (a darkroom wasn't an option for me), before you could review them and often there was disappointment.
My first digital SLR was another Canon entry level model, the 400D. By that time I had a lot more experience and knowledge of things like aperture and shutter speed and was able to experiment with digital in a way I couldn't with film and although I was still using an entry level camera, I felt I was beginning to take some half decent shots. My dream was to one day sell my images but I'm not sure I really believed I ever could do that or if I would even be good enough to.
A big step forward occurred for me in 2011 when I found myself in a position of being able to upgrade some of my camera gear. I went for the Canon 7D and the Canon 100mm f2.8L Macro lens. It was a revelation. Since close up and macro photography were of particular interest to me a macro lens made sense. I continued with my journey of learning and practicing for the next few years.
As someone who is now in her late forties, social media was something that didn't come easy to me. I decided to take the plunge early in 2016 and joined Instagram and Twitter. The feedback I received gave me confidence in myself and my photography. The question though was could I sell any? I uploaded some photos to an online stock library called Picfair but I really did not feel very confident of selling. Self doubt began to creep in again, was I kidding myself here? A search online about selling your photo's just seemed to throw up negatives (no pun intended). So many people who have tried, failed and given up.
Through 2016 my health improved significantly thanks to medical help and although my passion for photography had not waned and I was still taking photos on a regular basis, the idea that I could earn any money from it was fading. As summer 2017 approached I again found myself questioning who I was and what was my purpose in this life. I felt I was just drifting along and relying too much on other people for my own happiness. The thing I really wanted to do was sell my photo work, not as a try to get rich quick scheme, but simply to give myself and my work some credibility, and just because it is difficult and there is a lot of competition is that really a good enough reason not to try? If I failed then so what?
Stock photography was still the best option for me so I decided to go for it and submitted three test shots to Alamy, a primarily editorial stock agency. They passed Quality Control. I then began the process of uploading on a regular basis. Some research of the contributor forums on that site suggested that success would not be instant and that it may take some time before a sale but with hard work, patience and dedication along with continued regular uploading you possibly can make regular sales. This became my focus although those little negative voices would pop up in my head every so often.
Alamy was the site I was concentrating on, but on a rainy day in August last year a little ray of sunshine from Picfair dropped into my inbox. I had sold my first ever photo licence. Wow, somebody liked one of my photos enough to actually pay money for it. I was thrilled. This gave me a new drive and although no sales for the rest of 2017 I was confident another would come at some point.
And it did, in January this year I sold a licence on Alamy for quite a decent amount which I have since discovered has been printed in a book. Now all that hard work was paying off, I was beginning to sell my photos, something I never really thought possible a few years ago. More have sold since then and so onwards and upwards I go.
Big changes in my personal life this year have made me focus on myself and my goals and the simple act of pointing my camera at something and taking a picture has been so comforting for me, it sometimes feels like I am in my own little world. There are days when I just grab my camera and go for a walk and it just feels so great.
I finally feel I have discovered the real me, I've a new found confidence and for the first time in my life I actually believe in myself and that with hard work and dedication I can achieve the things I want, and its all thanks to my passion and love for photography.