On conversation

From ‘A love letter to Croydon’ zine

Last week was a sigh of relief. Last newsletter I decided to up and take (most of) the week off - and it was much needed. On multiple occasions I found myself wandering aimlessly with nothing much to do and just embraced it, resisting (mostly) the pull of mindless scrolling through a gazillion feeds, trying to put into play the lessons I learnt on allowing time for nothingness. Taking that time off freed up so much mental space, and I feel so much more revitalised and generally more like myself than I have for a while. It only proves to me how much I need to make time for proper time off, more so now that I’m self-employed.

I’ve said this many times now but lockdown and this whole situation has me feeling all sorts of ways. I’m somehow simultaneously getting lots done while also struggling to get anything done? If you’ve read my newsletters up to now you already know my woes, and I’m sure it’s something we all have in common right now.

During my week “off”, I’d already had a meeting booked in with the wonderful Sophie Wright of Magnum Photos who has been offering one-to-ones for emerging photographers (prioritising BIPOC and LGBTQ+ photographers - she’s still offering so get on it). It was a good and necessary reminder about the power of conversation, how a simple exchange of words and ideas between two people can be the most rewarding.

I came out of the talk with direction and inspiration on how to move forward - and moving forward is what I’ve been largely struggling with during lockdown. Up until now, I felt stagnant and stuck in limbo; at times, I felt like I’d even gone backwards. Having had this space to just air my thoughts and talk through things with Sophie has been exceedingly helpful; it gave me something of a mental reset, the space to see the bigger picture and let me realise the steps I need to take.

Conversation has been such an essential part of my creative journey and I always always recommend it. I don’t mean conversations involving big words and huge ideas and deep philosophical dives head-first into the meaning of life. It could be anything from a supportive discussion with a mentor to a simple chat with a mate.

It used to be that when I had a problem with a project or I had an artistic block, I would ask some people to cast their eye over the work and let me know their thoughts. I’d send for the cavalry via social media and put a call out to see if anyone would be willing to take a look - anyone from photographer friends to complete randoms. The resulting feedback I got was always essential to how I moved forward. Now this is a huge part of the way I work always, not just when I’m stuck. I especially like to talk to people outside of my creative bubble - those who don’t have preconceived ideas about what I’m trying to achieve - and I often find interesting insights here.

If you’ve been like me and felt a bit stuck and stagnant, whether it’s because of the pandemic or any other reason, a conversation could be all you need, and there are many ways to facilitate or create conversation. You could find or build a supportive community: it could be a small Facebook group, or it could be a WhatsApp group with a few other creative friends. Once we’re all allowed out again properly, it could be a monthly meet-up at a cute cafe.

You could join or start a collective (isle and The Other are two recent and brilliant collectives). Be wary of using social media only - there’s the well-documented downsides to this which I probably don’t have to explain. One thing I really enjoyed doing in the Before time were “co-working” days with a fellow freelance friend. We’d pick somewhere cool in town and meet for the day to just sit and work together. If there’s nothing that suits, don’t be afraid to start something yourself.

Being a freelancer can be lonely, especially with something like photography, and even more so during a time when we’re forced to disconnect from each other. It’s important to remain connected and remember the power of a simple conversation.

On that note, if you ever have any questions or thoughts or just need to get something off your chest, DMs are always open!

A x

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Today’s soundtrack


Reads

Mourning My Brother in 181 Tweets
“Remember this,” I thought to myself. “Tomorrow, when the grief hits again, you will need to remember this.”

On Being a Young Reader Attracted to the Darkest Possible Stories

“I already felt damaged and distorted by everything that had happened to me in life, and those books gave me agency. Stephen King hadn’t warped me; he had gifted me something... No, his books said, it is not you who is damaged, but the world itself.”

Photographer Gina Danza on Discovering Nature & Chasing Epicness

“When you edit, that’s really when you’re putting in your true emotions, because it’s the colors and the light and the shadows that tell a story about how I’m personally feeling in that moment while I’m editing a photo.”


Opportunities

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Sirius says…

“This is what you should look like when you take time off”


Hey! I’m a freelance portraiture, documentary and adventure photographer working in London. Community and culture are the cornerstones of my work, and I also run of the land & us, an online journal for photographers exploring our relationship with the natural world.

‘Notes on Freelancing’ is my attempt to make becoming a freelance creative a bit less scary.

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