I thought I would write a little blog about my journey over the last three months.
I have always had a keen interest in photography, but never had the confidence that my photography was any good. I have always been quiet and suffered from confidence issues over the years, and if anything difficult came along I would run a mile. I have quit good jobs because I hated them.
Anyway back to the story. In June 2018 I noticed a post on Facebook advertising a open art competition in St Helens. I had never even had a photograph published, never mind in an exhibition so I deliberated whether to enter.
Here comes probably the worst month of my life. Eleven and half years ago, I was lucky enough to let 2 staffies into my life. This breed has been given such a bad reputation mostly through irresponsible ownership and ignorant reporting in the media. You only often read about the bad but never the good. If you have ever owned a staff you’ll know that the are loving, proud and loyal dogs with such gentle nature, if brought up in the right environment with the right care.
Around 18 months ago Max, one of my staffies was diagnosed with Cancer, and I vowed to give him the best time since the diagnosis. So he went on loads of walks and was spoilt rotten. I never expected him to last 6 months, yet alone 18 months. In June I saw a deteration in him, he was restless and stopped eating, which I know was a bad thing as he loved his food, I was expecting to have to say goodbye, so after 3 visits and a month later, we sent him over the rainbow bridge on one of the worst days of my life. I watched him go in my arms. Goodbye Maxy-Boy.
Sorry if you’re feeling sad, it does get happier. I had planned in this month to capture an image, and prepare this for the exhibition, but other priories meant that a few days before the submission date I had nothing. Here comes the mad bit.
My original idea was to capture a set of images in 120 film using an holga, which would show, the well know sights in My home town, but has I only had a few days, there was no way I would be able to develop, print and frame the images in such a short space of time.
Now inspiration then hit. I was watching a blog by Craig Roberts, known as E6Vlogs on YouTube (check it out if you love analogue and film cameras!) in which he was using a Instax SQ6. This was great as I could develop the images in real time, and if give a different edge to the normal digital type prints you get in most exhibitions, so I took the Friday afternoon off work armed with my camera which I bought off Amazon a few days earlier, Thank god for Amazon Prime!, and took 20 or so images of the well known spots in the area.
I had to learn how to work the camera, how to compose (which is a hell of lot different than a SLR, I’ll tell you!) and get the correct lighting, knowing that I had to get them right. Talk about pressure!
Here I was, sat with 20 or so images in front of me and a cheap frame from Wilko’s and I wasn’t happy with the quality of the frame. I had spoken to a fellow photographer a few days ago, who had exhibited before, who put me on to Sue at Artisan Framing (Check them out if you want an image framing, they’re very good! ) and so I Messaged them on Friday Night, now bear in mind that the submission date was either the day after or Monday so I fully expected to get a NO! I need more time, but they came through. I took my images down on Saturday morning, pick the framed images up on Monday Afternoon and submitted them to The World OF Glass about an hour later, talk about cutting it fine, but I though what the hell, it isn’t going to be accepted anyway.
So I had an anxious few days wait, to get a envelope through the door. I had only been accepted for the exhibition! Now onto the opening night, there was a posh evening arranged where all the exhibitors and friends to attend, and a prizegiving, which I attended. I wasn’t going to go as I have always struggled in social situations which involves large crowds, my gob has the tendency to stop working and I crawl back into my shell. SO firmly out of my comfort zone, I went along. There was a section of great pieces ranging from photography, to paintings, sculptures, dressmaking to glassware. I very proud of my town on that night, as St Helens has such an awful impression from some of the locals.
Onto the prize giving, we went through the Highly commended categories, which were given for different sections such as photography and art, and my name wasn’t mentioned, so I was thinking, that I hadn’t won anything. I wasn’t too downhearted as getting accepted was an achievement for me. Next came the Ex Terra Lucem award, which is the towns motto, and if you live in St Helens, you have probably seen this a thousand times, its everywhere.
This award is a special recognition of the towns 150 anniversary of becoming a borough. It was only a collection of small townships before then, but thats a story for another day. Low and behold my name got called out, I went up and collected my prize, shook hands with mayoress and went back down, feeling so excited. Not only to get accepted but win a prize, come on! It can be happening to me.
Since then I have two mentions in the local paper, including getting an image published, my photography has gone from strength to strength, I am more confident in myself.
So to end, I had originally intended to keep the image after the exhibition ended, as I wanted to keep the piece as a memento of my first exhibition, but I received a great offer, and my image is going to be part of the archives at the World Of Glass. Happy for this to go to a good home.
Whats the moral of this story? Don’t ever give up, if things get difficult then ride it through, you’ll find that is isn’t as bad as you think, even when things get tough, of you work hard enough good things will come!