5 things I've Learnt in 5 days

Friday, January 20, 2017

'Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.' 
- Steve Jobs

Tue 3rd Jan – Car crash
So I’ll begin my blog post when I had a car crash on the first working day of the year. The car collides into the back of mine at speed causing a horribly big dent in my boot. I am thankful I was wearing a scarf that day (I rarely wear my scarf in the car) so didn’t suffer from whiplash. The car decides to drive off at the roundabout and it’s so dark in the evening, I didn’t get a chance to see who it was or exchange insurance details. I drove home a little shaken up but grateful it wasn’t a serious crash. After this I decide to take my car into the garage for servicing as the number plate bulbs had smashed and if there was anything else wrong with my car…

What I’ve learnt is that: you can get angry, annoyed and agitated but at the end of the day, to be thankful it wasn't a lot worse that it could have been. It actually worked out for the better...

Sat 7th Jan – completed my self-assessment
I put my troubles about my car to one side and decided to focus on another issue, my taxes! It's not really an issue as such, more of that I dreaded doing it as I feel I’m not very good at maths and numbers so accounting isn't my favourite pastime. I was introduced to my accountant Carl, from a good friend of mine Jamie Kemp, and happy he took me on as one of his clients. Having just started my business, this was my first year of doing my Self-Assessment tax returns and was nervous how I was going to do it all. With the deadline looming for 31 Jan, I was determined to get it all submitted on time. Carl had mentioned my accounts were actually in a good state (i.e. my receipts and documents weren’t all over the place and organised pretty well) and that I shouldn’t put myself down as I was doing a good job. It’s a nice relief to know I’ve done my taxes and know the state of my accounts.

What I've learnt is that: you're actually better than you think you are and shouldn't put yourself down. Another thing I found is if you invest in people who make you feel good about yourself and encourage you, it makes the whole process so much better. 

Fri 13th Jan – Helen Snell exhibition 
It was snowing the day before so I decided to wake up extra early and get the train to Portsmouth to document Helen Snell's beautiful exhibition at the National Museum Royal Navy at the Historic Dockyard rather than risk driving! I had previously met Helen where I had documented a group exhibition called The Gather-ing in Stoke-Sub-Hamdon working with Somerset Art Works, Craftspace and the National Trust. It was lovely to see her exhibiting in Hampshire, especially at a military base. I had attended her opening night in November (pic below) and I was delighted to hear she wanted me to photograph her exhibition. As a wedding and lifestyle photographer it's great to try new things and document still life and be surrounded by exquisite pieces of art. It's amazing realising how big your network can be and it's always so lovely bumping into people and collaborating again. Looking forward to editing the images - pics coming soon!

Sprinkles Gelato
Talking about collaborating within your network, I received a lovely email from Christina Stone at Sprinkles Gelato who is their new Marketing Manager. We had previously worked together whilst I was a Graduate Associate at Southampton Solent University when starting out my career. She's such a lovely lady (and super creative too - check out her Stina Stone craft business) that it was fantastic to get an exciting photography brief to work on. Having photographed my good friend JK Fine Chocolates Christmas campaign it was great to be approached on photographing another luxury food campaign, ice cream!  It 's awesome to work with brands and people you enjoy and like - Sprinkles Gelato is my go-to place for ice cream in Southampton - especially during the summer months. :D
Excited for the shoot next week - photos coming soon!

What I've learnt is that: your network is bigger than you think and you can never anticipate where you might get an awesome job/ commission/ opportunity. Don't be afraid to say YES and push yourself for new challenges that you feel will fulfil you.

Sat 14th Jan – London SWPP convention
I've been a member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers for almost a year now and thought it would be interesting to visit their annual convention in London where they have masterclasses, a huge trade show, live talks, workshops... you name it. It's great opening your eyes to what the industry has to offer and meet fellow photographers and become inspired. Another early start, travelling to Paddington for a 9am masterclass with Gurvir Johal on how to do wedding portraits in 15 minutes. It was great seeing a renowned Asian wedding photographer demonstrate how he makes beautiful bridal portraits in minutes (pic below). Looking forward to testing some of these tips at my next wedding. After the masterclass, he even gave a free mini session about wedding albums, which was great as I'm launching my new wedding album and wall prints range next month!

Another masterclass I visited that day was Audrey Kelly's talk on work-life balance and how to achieve more with your business. I must say she's an extraordinary woman and how she balances being a mum, business woman, award-winning photographer, fine artist, educator and run three photography brands at such a young age is amazing. At only 33 she's achieved so much and being 23 myself, it's inspiring to see a young female photography kicking-ass at business. Hopefully within 10 years time I can say I've achieved similar.

New prime macro lens
I barely had time to break for lunch at the SWPP convention as there were so many great trade stalls to visit ranging from photo albums, camera equipment, photo prints... you name it, they had it! I had been thinking about purchasing a macro lens to help me with shooting engagement rings and now with new food photography commissions, felt more alluring to buy one. After heading to the Canon stall where you can practice with any of their lenses and camera bodies, I just swooned over the quality of this new prime lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. I'm a big fan of investing in quality lenses for quality photos and find Canon's prestigious L-Series range is extraordinary. Look forward to using this powerful lens soon.

What I've learnt is: to invest in yourself and your business you should get involved with what the industry is doing and immerse yourself with what it has to offer. Invest in learning from industry pioneers, network with new people and open your mind. Don't be afraid to invest in new equipment to better your business. Basically invest, invest, invest! :)

Mon 16th Jan – New car
So after the car crash, I had my car serviced to see the extend of the damage and found that there were more serious things wrong with my car that had been due to wear and tear making it unsafe to drive. Had I not had my car serviced, a worse crash could have happened! Despite paying for a car service it's better to be safe than sorry! I had even mentioned to my partner I would like a newer car in Autumn 2017 but you never know what life throws at you. I felt this gave me permission to upgrade and instead of buying another cheap small car, I felt compelled to buy a safer & snazzier car (I think the red reflects my sassy personality). I had enjoyed driving my baby Ford KA when I first bought it and thus decided to get another Ford but a feisty Fiesta this time. :P

How I purchased this car was a little crazy. My partner Rob had originally had booked annual leave from the Navy but all of a sudden had to join ship. We were given 24 hours to find a car, and so the first one I visited, I bought! Usually I take my time to decide over expensive things and a lot of 'umming' and 'arrring'. I was a bit nervous doing the whole process by myself and part-exchanging my old car, transferring documents and test driving as it can be a bit overwhelming, but I think the 'now or never' attitude helped me be decisive. Bless, Rob even drove the car from the dealership in Portsmouth to Southampton for me to give me a bit of time to process the fact I bought a nearly new car - something I never thought I'd be able to afford at 23.

What I've learnt is: to take the positive from every situation and see how you can make it work out. Not to put limitations on yourself and say you CAN achieve things if you put your mind to it. Also to reward and be kind to yourself - there's no point in working hard if you can't enjoy the finer things in life! :)

Fri 20th Jan – today - so what have I learnt?
So I'm sitting at my desk whilst the majority of the working folk have put their feet up and relaxing for the weekend -(deservingly so!); and it's been good reflecting on things. As Steve Jobs mentioned in the opening quote 'Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.' I can certainly say I love what I do!

After reading through my mammoth blog post (congrats if you've made it this far) and after my 5 things I've learnt in 5 days, I think the biggest thing to take away from this is there's nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it. :)

Happy Friday! xx

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