2016

When I think about 2016 I just can't believe it - any of it, It's been so incredible in so many ways, both incredibly good and incredibly challenging. But I'm ending the year in Canada with some of my favourite people, and somehow the challenges of this year don't seem so bad - they make me realise that I'm so well prepared for what's to come next year.

I hate to start with one of the challenges but it feels most relevant to this space - and I'm sad that 2016 has been the year that I've found blogging harder than ever. I've always used this space to just be completely myself, hold nothing back and be honest whether it came out in an ugly mess or something completely uplifting. I didn't tell anyone I knew in real life about it for ages because I hated the idea of picturing someone I knew reading here. As time went on and family and friends figured it out, I found I was able to almost shut out the idea that people knew what I was writing and while it did make me censor myself, it wasn't very much.

This year however, I've blended my blog with my portfolio and I've started to work with more clients - which is probably the most exciting thing ever! But pouring your heart out when potential clients are watching? Or knowing that you have to work with someone who knows so much about your personal life? That's hard. It makes you feel very exposed and I know that some bloggers do it and do it so well! But the more freelance work I take on, the more guarded and professional I feel I need to be - and terrible writers block takes over. I would love to get over this and just own both sides of my life, blend personal and professional and just let it all be me for everyone to see - but it's hard. 

It's a challenge for next year that I'm determined to take on, because I miss this space and sharing my life and adventures here.

But on the bring side I have got to work with some AMAZING people this year, both in the charity world and some beautiful brands. And none of these things have fallen in my lap, I've gone out and hand-picked each and every job I've done and chosen only what I knew I would love. Believe me, I've had a lot of rejection too, but the ones that worked out have been some of the best things I've ever done - for work but also in life. There's a lot to be said for not waiting for things to happen to you and instead going after what you want with as much enthusiasm as you can manage. 

It's meant a lot of hard work, a lot of self doubt, a lot of putting myself up for rejection and being ignored, a lot of failure, and a lot of restless, anxiety-filled nights. But I've also learned this year what it means to feel good enough, by my own standards. I've felt, probably for the first time in my life, genuinely proud of myself and what I'm doing. And of course I'm terrified that it could all disappear in an instant, but I've also become so good at ignoring that fear.

Some days you will feel like the ocean. Some days you will feel like you are drowning in it.
— Lora Mathis

2016 has also been the year of good friends. If you've been reading here for a while you may remember that I went through a really rough time a few years back. There's nothing like trauma to sort out who can really manage to be there for you in life, and who can't. And I don't blame some old friends for not sticking around, that kind of grief felt like a plague that everyone needed to avoid - but some didn't, they just jumped right in and stuck with me until I got through it. And when I came out the other side I found I had the most glorious group of people around me who taught me what friendship was really all about. 

I think one of my favourite feelings is laughing with someone and realising half way through how much you enjoy them and their existence.
— unknown

These days I have friends who encourage me and who I can chat to about work for hours as well as talk rubbish with and laugh until we collapse. I've learned the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people and there's no limit on the value of a community who can laugh with you, dream with you, and cheer for you every step of the way. I would go to the ends of the earth for them, and I know they would do the same.

And I have a good feeling that that community will be expanding in 2017.

And the rest of this year has been a lot of constant travel and a lot of hanging around waiting for things to begin. 2016 has been full of stops and starts, full of inconsistencies, full of gaining and losing.

But ultimately this year has been about finding out what I'm capable of through trial and error. It's been imperfect and messy, a constant ebb and flow of winning a lot and losing in equal measure. Each step has felt like a progression though and I'm so happy with the direction my life is taking - even though half the time I feel like I'm steering the ship and the rest I feel like I'm tripping over myself just trying to stay on my feet. But I kind of feel like if you're not falling flat on your face sometimes, you're not being brave with your life...

Next year is going to be absolutely insane, wonderful, challenging and one hell of a ride. I can't wait.

We can only be said to be truly alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
— Thornton Wilder

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Visiting Nepal

Nepal marked the start of my three week journey away from home - three weeks, three different countries. Here is a photo diary from my trip around Nepal...

My time in Nepal went so quickly, I was there for a job and we flew into Kathmandu one evening and flew out the next morning to Nepalgunj. The thing with working and traveling is that you don't really get a minute to breathe and take it all in - I had barely registered that I was actually in Kathmandu before I had to leave again. I feel like 40 years from now, if someone asks if I have ever been to Nepal I might answer "I think so...?". It all went by in the blink of an eye.

Working in remote communities off the beaten path means A LOT of driving. Every trip I go on involves at least one five hour car journey and it's always such a good way to see a country. And Nepal is seriously beautiful. The people, the light, the landscape... all of it is a dream for any photographer.

I did have a few hours to myself to wander around one of the communities we visited at sunset, and that is the part of this trip that I will remember the most - making friends and watching the sun go down. That and flying from Kathmandu to Delhi over the Himalayas, drinking Nepalese tea which is the sweetest of all the teas, and dropping my phone in a (clean, thank goodness) toilet in Kathmandu - that moment before you have to plunge your hand into a toilet is just not something I would wish on anyone. My phone lasted one more week but it finally died on the second part of my trip. But in other news, yeay iphone 7 plus!!

Happiness, not in another place but in this place...
Not for another hour but for this hour.
- Walt Whitman

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Kenya and Life on the Move + a Question

Only a few months ago I'm positive I was talking about how quiet life has been lately - I'm sure of it. And yet here I am, horribly behind on posting about my travels because I've been on the move with no time for writing! 

And now here I am in Nepal, looking back on my first trip to Kenya this year in October, and wondering seriously about where time has gone.

It's not unusual for me to have peaks and troughs where travel is concerned, but I will say that this is the most intense collection of trips I've ever done. By January I will have been on fourteen long-haul flights in three months and I wish I could tell you that I have by now mastered the art of sleeping in economy class, but I haven't. 

And while these photos from Kenya were only taken a month ago, it feels like a lifetime. Which makes me a little sad actually. While I will never forget these people and places for as long as I live, the Maasai women who invited me into their home for tea, the school kids who over-posed so sweetly and hilariously for photos, it all does go by in a bit of a blur. I know I've said it before but I would love to immerse myself for a while in a place and really get to know it, to tell it's story slowly and carefully - not in a rush.

But that's just the way it goes in this job (not always, but usually), you don't get paid to linger, you get paid to work and work bloody hard and long hours to get as much as you can as fast as you can.

And on that note, I have a question for you... do you have any questions for me? I get asked a lot about working as a photographer - what it entails, how I work, how I taught myself to do this, how I made it a career. Is there anything specific you want to know? I'm planning on putting together an FAQ post. So now's your chance - ask away!

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Forgetting to Pack for Berlin

Living life at a million miles a minute is great. But sometimes things slip through the cracks, like when you travel to Berlin for the weekend and the one thing that slips your mind is packing any clothes...

On Friday I arrived home from a photography trip to Kenya at 4:45am and flew to Berlin at 6:30pm - I had bought tickets ages ago as a surprise for Adam. And since I had just over a week to get myself ready to fly to Nepal on Monday (is this confusing? I'm confused...), I had to unpack and do about seven loads of laundry, start the edit on my Kenya shoot, get my camera cleaned, and prepare for another three weeks away from home.

So it wasn't a surprise really when I got to Berlin and opened up my suitcase to find my pyjamas, toothbrush, a summer dress, and... that's it. Needless to say November not summer dress season in Berlin.

It's ok though! I'm pretty used to traveling with not much and having traveled there in leggings and a jumper I resigned myself to living in that for the weekend and buying some new underwear. I love not having to worry about what I'm wearing, and if my choices are limited it gives me extra room in my mind to dedicate to more important things - like hunting down the best potato and cheese dumplings Berlin has to offer.

Traveling with a limited wardrobe is the way forward. A warm coat, this one is my choice from Fjällräven, a good bag - you can't beat a Kånken (especially one so good for the environment), an old cosy jumper and the best leggings ever made. Oh and some good boots.

Packing for three weeks in Nepal, India and Pakistan is going to mean a small suitcase and lots of multi-purpose items of clothing, because who can be bothered with hauling around a heavy bag anyway? 

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Autumn Wanderings

Autumn is the time of year where life picks up for me, is it the same for anyone else? September to January is where the magic really happens, where the most exciting projects pop up or good news comes in. Autumn and the early days of winter is when I really start to build some momentum, and then by the time the New Year rolls around I'm ready for a good long rest/hibernation until summer.

I've been working on some really exciting stuff lately. I mean, super exciting! I can't share it yet but keep an eye out for a few new albums in my portfolio of some really exciting shoots I've done over the past few months. And I'm hoping that good news brings with it more good news, and that good things just keep happening - you know when you feel like you're just about to catch a wave of good luck? I'm feeling that now, I hope I'm right!

But in between the excitement, trip planning, long-haul flights and piles of laundry mounting up, there are those wonderfully quiet moments. Moments like these were Adam and I pull over on the side of the road and jump out to take in the view, totally unplanned...

I don't know what I've done but I have managed to convince Adam that photography is fun. And now he's SUPER into it. I have never been so happy. He is all in one my second shooter, location scout, and producer - all the while keeping an eye on the light telling me when it's time to go and get those shots in.

Lately we have been making plans to go all around the UK, visiting our favorite spots and challenging ourselves to find some wonderful photo locations. With life responsibilities and work getting in the way we don't have as much time as we would like to hop in our old car and go somewhere beautiful, but we make it work.

There's nowhere like Yorkshire though. We were up there a few months ago for Sara's wedding, when the heather was still out and looking so beautiful.

In between downpours and styrofoam cups of tea we found a few special spots to leap out of the car on our way home and capture some of the magic. It's doing things like that which keep me going. There's so much hustle to be done, you have to work hard to make the life you want and that's something I'm coming to grips with - and the bone-tiredness that comes with it. But moments where I can put my feet up in the car while it rains outside and I'm all tired out from a fun shoot, those moments get me through those long hours of work. 

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A summer life.

Some photos from our trip to Canada this summer, and some thoughts on making decisions.

I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve written anything of any length that I’ve almost forgotten how to write! My ability to put down words is nothing short of temperamental at the moment, and sometimes the mood hits and other times I’m left staring at a blank screen, and then wandering off to make a snack and think about it another day. I’ve become the master of putting things off lately, not because I’m being lazy, but because sometimes that’s the only way I can cope. I put an absurd amount of pressure on myself and the burden of that is sometimes paralysing – in the urge to make myself make decisions, I just don’t. I freeze and then get mad at myself for failing.

So taking the pressure off by telling myself “it’s ok, you don’t need to decide right now” has worked so well for me over the past few months. I’ve just drifted along in a sea of doing things when they “feel right”. And for these past few beautiful summer months I have lived almost pressure free, with only a few lapses into stressful thoughts.

And now that we’re nearing the end of summer and I’ve given myself a good solid break from making any decisions, I now find that I don’t feel like I need to put things off as much anymore. I’ve gone from feeling like I need to give myself some room to breathe, to feeling like it’s time to stop worrying and just go with my gut right in the moment.

I’m so surprised that making quick decisions can feel as liberating as allowing myself room to decide.  But as much as I crave solid rules for life and living (the title of my future memoir – jokes!), the best thing I feel I can keep in mind is that each situation is going to require me to act differently. Sometimes I’m going to have to pause and tell myself “it’s ok, you don’t have to decide right now”, and other times I’m going to have to tell myself, “don’t look, just leap”.
There are no sold rules for life and living, there is only being patient with yourself and taking the time to know when you need to pause, and when you need to run.

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The Truth About Not Good Enough

Who isn’t a high achiever these days? Who doesn’t have ambitions and goals? We all see other people doing things, we see it first-hand thanks to social media, but the how and why of it isn’t always clear. So we set out to do something similar with no road map and no real understanding of the effort or steps involved to get there. Unless we choose a well-trod path in life, chances are we spend a good long time fumbling around in the dark.

And what keeps us going is ambition, a dream we are willing to work hard for and a vision of what success looks like. And we do work hard, day in day out we work. You could call it perseverance and determination and a love for what we do, but there’s a very fine line between passion and belligerence. 

Most successes in life are a slow burn. We hope we’re on the right track but who can ever be entirely sure? As much as we seek advice, no one’s path to success is going to look the same and the truth is there’s no formula. But because we’re always looking outside ourselves for proof of success, it’s easy to miss our personal mile-markers. Who can say what interim success looks like? I mean, is that even a thing? So anything short of our ideal is, put simply, not good enough. 

Here’s how it sounds in my head sometimes: nothing is ever good enough. I’m never working hard enough, my successes aren’t big enough, my failures are because I’m not talented enough or I’m a joke. I’m not smart enough, savvy enough, or personable enough. I’m not good at communicating, I have a fundamental inability to genuinely connect with anyone. And that's on top of the usual not enoughs when it comes to my personality and body.

It’s so easy to think this is coming from a genuine place, and to believe it. Sometimes I’ll just come home and ask Adam “am I a bad person?” – and when the waters get muddy I go from being bad at something, to just being bad in general. It gets personal very quickly.

When that voice builds up enough momentum and claws its way into our hearts and minds, it’s crushing. It becomes all we can hear and we start to spiral. No one is going to convince us we’re anything but useless. 

It needs to stop

 

 

What I have discovered is that these kind of painful thoughts can’t survive if you just go back to what you love most. For me it’s my actual work, it’s getting on the road taking photos. Not being a photographer, but just coming up with fun ways of photographing for the sheer love of doing it. It’s chasing that thrill I get when I capture the kind of light that makes my heart jump. It’s finding other photographers that I admire dreaming over what they create, and the idea that everyone is in it together, just creating amazing stuff that makes them happy.

In the face of my love for the process, all that worry below the surface can just take a back seat. I’m here to create work that I love, and be determined in creating only what I love – nothing else.

Who knows what success will look like for me or anyone, maybe I’m already achieving it. All I know of success is that it’s usually made up of what I see other people doing, which nine times out of ten is a story I made up in my head of what it took for them to get there. I can’t follow that path, I don’t know the way…

And this is the truth of it all: if you want to do something brave and creative with your life, it is supposed to be challenging. It is sometimes full of self-doubt and criticism, it’s scary, it’s long hours and sometimes pretty lonely. But it doesn’t have to be so painful. Fall in love with the work you create, with the process of creating it, and the community of people creating alongside you on their own path. It takes the pressure off, I promise.

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How I taught myself to be a photographer

I get a lot of questions about working as a photographer here and on Instagram, so I thought I would put a few thoughts into a post about it. I just love these photos of this little boy being taught how to box by his dad at the Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym in Havana and I thought they were kind of appropriate.

We all start out as amateurs, and we all have the ability to make something of ourselves, it just depends on how hard you’re willing to fight for it

Last week I came across the first photo I took for work, it was taken in Kenya on a camera I had borrowed from my mum. Back then I didn’t even know how to change my camera setting from automatic, I didn’t know what editing was, and being a photographer seemed like a cool job - for someone else…

Fast-forward five years and being a photographer is now my job. I’ve been published (in a book for the ACTUAL Queen of England), I’ve shot campaigns around the world, I’ve become an expert in photographic branding and I work with agencies, amazing brands and, wonderful not for profits every day. That all feels a big braggy, but my point is I went from no camera experience to enough experience to make it a career entirely on my own. Here’s how I taught myself to be a photographer....

Copycat

My drive to improve my photography came from my blog at first. Since I learn best by doing I set out to copy what other people were producing, focusing on my favourite bloggers and photographers at that time. I would try to deconstruct their editing process, or try to re-create the composition of a photo in a different context. Obviously you can’t take other people’s ideas and call them yours, but you can try to incorporate some of their creative elements into what you create. Trying out different styles is how you find your own voice! I can look at my work now and see elements of influence from so many people, and it kind of helps me see how far I’ve come.

Keep going

My early photos were rubbish! Laughably rubbish! But I love that I tried, and that’s how I learned. No one is good in the beginning and I would say it took me a solid two to three years to confidently produce work I was proud of. Sure I did a few shoots in that time that stood out, but looking back I didn’t do it on purpose. Every day, with practice, your work becomes more purposeful and really it never stops. With photography no one ever stops learning.

Start off with simple equipment

Learning with limited equipment only makes you a better photographer. I had a cheap Canon DSLR and the budget 50mm lens for three years before I borrowed money off my mum to buy my first full frame camera. And I was being paid for my photography before I started shooting with a professional camera! It’s easy to think that having a better camera will make you a better photographer, but that’s not true at all. If you're shooting to publish on the internet, you probably don't need a 5D mk iii. I forced myself to hold off on spending that money until I absolutely had to.

Publish

Start photo projects, put them on your blog, Instagram, facebook, anywhere you can. Keep shooting, keep learning, keep finding ways to get inspired and grow. Scour Pinterest for inspiration, go on insta-meets, keep going and keep publishing, keep connecting with people. So much is about the hours you put in. A lot of my work comes from the fact that I have been at it for a long time, I’ve been consistent in the work I produce for my blog and Instagram and clients can see the full range of what I can do. I worked days, evenings and weekends for about four years to keep up the amount of work I was publishing. That’s just how hard I had to work to get to the level I’m at now, but it’s not the same for everyone. Don’t let the hard work put you off, keep going and if you hate it then stop and find something else you love – photography may just be a stepping stone to something better for you.

Ask for help

I’ve sent out a lot of hopeful emails. I’ve asked dumb questions, looked and felt like an idiot and I’ve been shot down but I’ve also been picked up and dusted off by people who were willing to teach me and help me grow. I’ve been told I don’t get to call myself a professional because I haven’t been working as a photographer for long enough, because I haven’t been professionally trained, etc… Some people can push back hard or be evasive and even defensive when you ask for help or ask questions about work or shooting and editing. Other people will sit down with you and show you their entire work flow. It’s a real mix and it hurts to have doors slammed in your face, but it’s so amazing when you get answers and inspiration from other photographers. And when you're just starting out and looking to learn, youtube is your best friend.

Take chances

Part of how I learned to be a professional photographer was through just saying “yes” and taking chances. I become comfortable with feeling in over my head, I made friends with my insecurities and told them “I hear you but I’m going to do it anyway”. That’s how I ended up in Kenya with that camera I borrowed from my mum. Learning how to comfort myself in situations where I’m pushing myself is something I have found very helpful.  In the beginning I didn't always feel like I knew everything or had all the equipment to call myself a real professional, but I knew at the end of the day I could produce something unique and beautiful, and that’s a good place to start.

I hope you've found this useful! If you have any other questions or want me to write a post about a similar topic, put it all in a comment below and I'll see what I can do.

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Havana - From the Road, a Cuba Travel Diary and Guide.

Here it is! The first of my Cuba posts! I ran into a little trouble with editing my photos so that’s why it’s so late, but I took loads of notes while I was there so I have lots of useful info to share. 

 

What to eat, see and do...


 

Of course because it’s me this is going to be a really heavy photo post, but I’ll put all the information up top for easy access. Also I’m going to write an overall road trip guide on how we got from one end of the country to the other in two weeks without killing ourselves! That’s coming up in a few weeks.

But first, Havana!

We arrived in Havana late at night and our Airbnb had arranged a taxi for us – so we drove in a beat-up soviet car from the airport into town and went straight to bed. The air was warm and close and I said to Adam as we were driving along, “you know how sometimes you land somewhere and you just know you’re going to fall in love with it?”…

The next morning we got up early, had breakfast on the roof and took in the view over the city. The sky was so blue and it was already so muggy, but the heat felt amazing and the strong coffee jolted us out of our jetlag. Everyone told us that we had to change our pounds at the airport and that trying to do it anywhere else in town would take hours. We got to the money exchange at about 8:30 and waited for about half an hour to change our money – much better than the two hour queue at the airport! But I guess it depends what time you can arrive, if you can get there 15 minutes before it opens that’s for the best, otherwise the queue can get massive. 

The same goes for the internet place. In Cuba you have to buy internet for 2CUC (Cuban tourist money), and you can only buy it in one our tickets. The queue for that got pretty long but between money and the internet, Adam and I took a divide and conquer approach.

We spent our first day in Havana just strolling – as we usually do in a new place. We got lost, found ourselves again, ended up down some amazing streets and took things pretty easy. Sure we got harassed a little by people wanting to sell us stuff or take us on tours, but Havana feels very safe overall. 

We had lunch at La Bodeguita del Medio and our first Cuban mojitos! And they are absolutely the best. And way too easy to drink! I’m such a light weight, that we had to head home for a nap afterwards. We hadn’t heard of La Bodeguita del Medio before we arrived in the city, we only found it because of the crowds of tourists taking photos of the front. Adam was really put off but I wanted to take a look, and apparently it’s a pretty iconic Havana bar! And as it turns out, people want to take pictures but not really go in – so it turned out to be quite calm inside, full of history and music.

After our siesta we headed out for ice cream at Copelia – Havana’s famous ice cream parlour! Big mistake. I’m sure it’s beautiful inside but queueing for hours in the sun for just average ice cream just didn’t seem worth it to me. So we decided not to bother - but if you really want ice cream there's a Copelia truck next door selling cones.

Instead we ended up at the FOCSA bar at the top of the tallest building in Havana. The 360 view of the city is incredible, and the history of the building is pretty interesting too – so definitely bring your guidebook. And for dinner we went to El Chanchullero de Tapas because it was advertised as a “Hemingway did not drink here” bar – kind of a fun alternative to most restaurants all trying to say Hemingway was a regular. The mojitos were huge and delicious (of course) and while Cuba isn’t exactly a foodie paradise especially if you’re vegetarian, the food was pretty good!

The next day it was really cloudy so we decided it would be perfect to take a city tour in a classic convertible – everyone does it, but there’s a reason for that. It’s a lot of fun! We just showed up to the square close to the capital building and picked our favourite car – you get accosted by loads of drivers but they respect each other and so they don’t all pile on at once. We looked for a driver that spoke English and had a great time seeing parts of the city we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

As the sun was setting we headed to the boxing arena on the other side of town – where some of Cuba’s Olympian boxers train and where kids spend their time afterschool. Boxing and baseball are two of Cuba’s most popular sports and kids are constantly getting involved in one or the other. The Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym isn’t exactly advertised as a tourist spot (I don't think it's even on Trip Advisor) and it’s in a rundown part of town, but they are very welcoming and of course eagerly look for donations to help train the kids. Also it’s kind of amazing for photos, I’m going to do a separate post on that!

That night and the night after we went to La Lluvia de Oro for more mojitos and live music! It was absolutely incredible. Everything about Cuba is just as you would hope in that it’s truly authentic, but the singing and dancing that went on at La Lluvia de Oro was so much of what I hoped Havana would be and I just couldn’t get enough. We stayed there for hours and had dinner, which was ok, and the waiters were kind of grumpy – but when you’ve had a few mojitos is not really a big deal. But overall it was very atmospheric and felt a bit like a dream.

The next day was our last in Havana and was also the hottest day of our whole trip. We walked around and explored the city again in the morning, but after a while it just became too hot to do much else. We cooled off in the airconditioning and got to planning our road trip in detail, had a fairly good lunch at 5Esqiotas Trattoria and spent some more time exploring. 

On one of his solo walks around the city Adam discovered a really tall building that seemed mostly deserted apart from a woodworking shop in the lobby of what turned out to be an abandoned bank. Adam speaks no Spanish but somehow he managed to ask one of the guys if it was possible to get onto the roof – which showed another amazing view over Havana, and also the inside of what was once obviously a beautiful building now in crumbling. I think we climbed 15 flights of stairs at sunset, sometimes jumping over holes in the floor and sometimes fumbling in the pitch dark – but when we arrived at the top the experience was one of my favourite from Havana.

That night we went to watch more live music at one of the more touristy “organised” nights out – I wouldn’t recommend it and we left halfway through. There is more than enough live music on around Havana in clubs and bars, we didn’t need to pay for a show and I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

This has been such a brief rundown of our time in Havana, there is so much more to experience and do, places to eat and sights to see but this has just been our highlight reel. I’ll include more Havana travel tips in my road trip guide

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Life Lately - Melancholy and Separation Anxiety

I thought it was about time I did a life update here, it's been too long. With everything happening these days I think it’s easy to believe my life as been all travel and Instagram opportunities. Obviously it’s not all that, but life is what you make of it amongst the general every day stuff of wishing for more sleep and trying to motivate myself to get some exercise. 

And my life is always changing. Plans, thoughts and the way I’m handling it is always changing. Life lately from one day to the next is never the same. One minute everything is coming together, so much is happening and I feel like I’m moving forward. The next minute the dust has settled and I’m wondering - now what?

I’m powering this engine myself and my coal shoveling is inconsistent. It’s not like I don’t have the will or the drive, but sometimes I just don’t know what to do next – you know? We rarely take a moment to recognise that periods of melancholic indecision and even boredom happen. It's part of the process - she tells herself...

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how sometimes you just have to let life happen to you. And I’ve also been thinking about how all the self-help and motivational hand drawn pins out there do nothing to address the fact that sometimes life is just a temporary, directionless drift. 

 

 

There’s a very prominent “take what comes” attitude prevailing here in London at the moment, it’s settling on the country like a dark cloud along with the appropriately damp and cold weather. There’s a mixed feeling of “oh what have we done”, “finally we’re free” and a resounding “what the hell next?”.

Frankly it scares me. I’m afraid of the rising tide of racism since the leave vote was announced, I’m afraid to now realise our government has zero contingency plans, I’m afraid of what a future for a Europe not united looks like – from within and without. I recognise that much of this entire campaign has been about fear, and it’s working. 

But the things that I do know are: better together has always been an unequivocal truth when it comes to a people united. Hate, racism and xenophobia has no place in a progressive country’s future – but it exists within our people and it’s important that we consider its cause before stamping it out, because I suspect its roots run deep. And moving forward I don’t think any amount of separation can stop me personally feeling like a citizen of Europe, and the world. I will always see pieces of myself in others, no matter how different our cultures, values or believes may be. 

We are all connected in our humanity, like it or not, we are all in this together. Personally I find great comfort in that.


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There's Something I Would Love You to Read

A few weeks ago I decided that I just wanted to put it all out there - why I travel so much, why I found myself in a job that would so often keep me on the road. 

"Travel Far, Return Free"

I'm so proud to have been asked to write a guest post for Free People on their blog, and I would love for you to read it and let me know what you think. 

So rarely do I write something that feels so true to me, and what I'm all about - I often strive to put my heart out there but I don't feel like I've ever done it so well and as clearly as I have done in this post.

Please go and leave a comment over there, let me know what you think.

"Traveling to see the world has always been part of it, but more than that it feels like I am traveling for my own freedom."

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Home. A Life of Intention.

 

Coming home feels different these days. 


 

Life has always been looking forward for me – looking to the next trip, the next adventure, the next project. The thrills always came from the unknown opportunities on the horizon, and what was going to come next.

Traveling through Cuba was an adventure in every sense, I can’t wait to post my photos and stories. It felt like one of those endless trips, the ones where you land and immediately forget what day it is, how many days you’ve been there and how many you have left. Nothing felt specific, we just took things as they came up and had the best time with it.

Home has never felt like a specific concept for me. I don’t have a family home really, I don’t feel like I belong to one specific culture or place – rather I feel like my heart belongs in lots of places, and lots of people. But lately the idea of a home has become more solid for me. Maybe I’m finally growing up. I’ve always been a late bloomer.

In those quiet moments in Cuba, sitting on the front porch of our Casa of that particular town, I would get belly-flips of excitement in the pit of my stomach whenever I thought of home. A friend would cross my mind, or the idea of summer in my neighbourhood, or thoughts of sofa cuddles with Molly and I would feel genuine excitement for the slower parts of my life. The parts of my life that I built and chose and grew.

So much of travel is about what happens to you. You’re always in control of how you handle a situation, or process it, but travel takes so much out of your hands and you have no choice but to live in the moment and take whatever comes your way. That’s the thrill of it, I mean, it’s why we do it – to experience the unknown. For me it’s not thinking, it’s no commitments, it’s escaping into other cultures and other ways of life. It’s getting lost.

But home for me now feels like a culmination of choices I have made in my life that I am finally proud of. I find so much peace and joy in the idea of my home, my life and my friend-family that I have built here in London. 

But having said that, I have a whole lot of Cuba stuff coming up here. Lots, lots of photos, and a Cuba road trip guide coming your way soon.


The inspiration for these photos came from the story of women in coffee. A while back Taylors of Harrogate sent me some samples of their Esperanza coffee, grown by women. I've seen first hand the empowerment for women that comes with having a livelihood, a means to improve their living situation, educate and feed their children and elevate their status within their own community.  But of course the gender gap is universal, and in developing countries it is often overwhelmingly large. Taylors of Harrogate is working to address that with some amazing projects, check out their work here


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From the Road, a Senegal Travel Diary Pt. 4 Heading Home

This is the last of my travel diaries from Senegal. It's taken me a while to get through posting them all, but I have enjoyed putting them up little by little. It helps to make the memories last. There are a lot of photos to go with this post, some don't really correspond with the story, but I decided to post them anyway.

 

12th February 2016


Meckhe

 

The last few days have flown by in a flurry of villages, interviews and personal stories. We meet so many people, film them and document a few moments from their life to tell a small story that is just a part of a larger picture of change. 

We stop for lunch and Toni Braxton is belting out of the speaker system in the restaurant and it's a struggle not to sing along with over-dramatic hand gestures while eating my pizza. I'm pretty tired from the late nights on my computer, early mornings waking up before the sun, and all day photographing. I'm in danger of losing it in a fit of laughter as one or two of our crew actually do start singing along, using their pizza as a microphone.

We're way of the urban areas now, and you can drive for miles in what feels like the abandoned desert of the Sahal and still suddenly come across a village. I've really enjoyed working out of the city on this trip though, so I'm not sad about the hours spent driving through the sand. The urban areas and markets are such a challenge and I get told off for taking photos with people waving their finger in my face, even when my camera is switched off and hanging by my side. Village life is soft and sleepy, no one is going to run you over when you're not looking for trying to take their photo.

Because our itinerary changes day to day (even hour to hour, some trips are just like that) I'm always unsure if we're going to get some usable stuff each day and we just have to make the most of each location. Some trips have really tight schedules, other trips the schedules get chucked out the window.

It's probably for that reason, or out of sheer desperation, that I find myself at some point sprinting down a highway in the middle of The Sahel salt fields to catch up with a horse that's leaving me far behind in the dust. 

Justice, our local contact, suggests we just sit by the side of the road for a bit and wait for another to come along. It's a long, clear stretch of road and an amazing spot to get some shots with the drone, and we have time on our hands today. The sun hasn't quite risen enough to dry out the soft light of morning and it's almost cool enough to wear a sweater. 

We kill time taking photos of the landscape and each other until another horse comes along, and thanks to the friendly words of Justice the man agrees to let me take his photo. In those moments where there's one and only one shot to get I can sometimes really feel the pressure.
By the end of the day we have a few shots, but really amazing ones and I remind myself that quality is better than quantity and just leave it at that. 

After five days in the field, tomorrow we are returning to Dakar for a day and a bit before our flight home. We've already made plans for our next trip back to Senegal, maybe in the rainy season, and although we don't know when that will be it's clear that The Sahel still had so many stories to tell. I have a feeling I'll be back. 

 

 

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Notes on Change

Are you feeling it too? There’s change coming for sure. Everyone I know or come across (on the internets) seem to be going through something. Either they’re super tired/grumpy/down like they’re resting up for something big and they’re impatient to start, OR they’ve already started and change is happening for them.

If you follow astrology, which I seem to do only when there’s something written in the stars that I want to hear, you’ll know that we have had a few eclipses lately and Mars is apparently doing something which is making everyone angry. The thing to do seems to be just let it go, don’t try to fix it, just let it happen. There is healing in anger and sadness, and sometimes if you rush to fix the discomfort you don’t give yourself a chance to heal or process what’s going on. So I have been sitting with it and it’s felt as uncomfortable as a sauna in the rain forest. 

But having said that, I may be sitting with my discomfort but I've got my laptop propped on my knee and I'm getting stuff done anyway. Now seems to be the time to plant some seeds, which is difficult if you’ve been feeling as lethargic as I have. My friend Maja taught me a new word the other day: Frühjahrsmüdigkeit, it’s German for spring tiredness – “a temporary mood typically characterized by a state of low energy and weariness experienced by many people in springtime. It is not in the category of a diagnosed illness, but rather a phenomenon thought to be initiated by a change in the season”. I’ve had Frühjahrsmüdigkeit pretty badly throughout March and April. 

I can feel it ebbing away a bit now though, there feels like a bit of a vacuum in the air, like a big inhale or the quiet before things get super busy. It’s eerily quiet.

But truthfully I could do with a bit of a storm. I’ve had something of a drought around here lately and I’m in the mood for a new opportunity or a lucky break of some sort. You know the kind that come along and just sweep you off your feet? I wouldn’t mind being swept off my feet right about now.

So in my lethargic and hopeless state lately I have been sewing little seeds here and there. Knocking on a few doors and while I haven’t been up to shouting my intentions from the rooftops (re: too sleepy), I have been sending the universe little postcards of intent – and sending some emails too. 

I'm looking forward to someone or something coming along and shaking my life up a bit - but, you know, in a good way. Bad news can just bugger off please, and hello new and fun opportunities!

Photos snapped in Fez last December.

 

 

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A Life of Intention

I think it’s finally ok to say that winter is officially over, right? It’s getting warmer and the tree outside my house has a few baby leaves on it, and I’ve slowly stopped having the crippling, scarf clutching fear that at any moment the temperature is going to plunge and a blanket of drizzle will settle over London for days at a time.

On Sunday afternoon there was a thunderstorm and a flash downpour that caught people off guard on their bicycles and on their way home from their afternoon at the pub. I moved my favourite chair to the window and sat down to watch the world go by, and it was one of those peaceful moments that only come when you feel secure. And I have started to feel secure that soon I won’t be cold every second of every day, and evil central heating will be a thing of the past. And fresh air! Good grief, to open the windows!

But truthfully I have loved this winter. My Quiet Winter has brought with it a new and daily yoga practice, a healthy eating routine, a new-found familiarity with myself and a better understanding of what I know and what I don’t know. I spent a lot of time this winter learning to fully understand which way my heart was trying to point me, and strangely enough what I learned scared me a little. I found it was time to let go of some dreams that no longer serve me and had become a bit stale, of relationships and ideas of how things should be. It was a season of change when I wasn’t expecting it, and it feels like it has been preparing me for more change to come. 

The biggest lesson I learned however, was how to be intentional. Instead of just blustering through life like I am on a rollercoaster, never really understanding the ups and downs or recongnising the turns until I was way past them, now I feel like I have a little bit more clarity and control. 

Having learned what I want, I now feel like I have the tools and presence of mind to bring whatever it is that I truly desire into my life. It feels like a natural progression to move into something I’ve been thinking of as A Life of Intention. Where instead of tripping up the steps towards my goals, I stand on my own two feet and take them one at a time with the presence of mind to see where I’ve come from, where I am now, and where I’m going.

So this is the start of a new blog series and a new hashtag! I’m so in love with Instagram at the moment so the idea of starting a new hashtag is so thrilling to me – yea I can see how that sounds now that I’ve typed it out but I’m just going to leave it there anyway...

Check out the photos I've put on the #ALifeofIntention hashtag already and please feel free to use it yourself on the photos that really feel like they give you focus and clarity on the things you love most, the things that make you feel like you're building up a beautiful life around you.

 

 

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Brokedown Palace

When the place where your creativity and enthusiasm comes from just breaks down. I took these photos of a broken down and nearly abandoned palace in Morocco last December, and today they seem like the perfect photos to accompany a post about creative ruts.

Who doesn’t live in dread of those days where you wake up and all of a sudden you just don’t feel right. You sit down to work, full of ideas but none of the confidence and enthusiasm you had the day before. Maybe it’s an off day so you get up and get out, get through some mindless admin and come back to it all later. But still nothing. The next day it’s the same, and the day after that. 

Personally I have a really hard time recognising a creative rut for what it is. I usually tend to panic and spiral into thoughts about questioning myself and my life in general, the choices I have made and the ones I have put off making. Everything gets crazy big in my head, and very quickly too. 

I start to feel this panicky sense of running out of time, and that makes me feel desperate because I love my life so much and I’m afraid to change anything and let go of any bit of it the way it is.

With love and gratitude for all that you have comes a sense of fear of losing it all – but the only thing to do really is live every second of it and love as much as you can. And accept that nothing is permanent. So you sit down and think of all that you want to do and you put your ideas to paper, and then suddenly you’re up against that invisible wall again. Because it’s a rut, for goodness sake it’s just a creative rut!

Please tell me I’m not the only person out there who panics though...

After a while I do what I hate hate hate doing, I ask for help. I talk it thorough with friends, try to explain it all and while some people get it, others don’t – even though they try to. But that’s ok, no one can be on your wavelength all the time. But finally you find someone that says “yea, me too” – and sometimes that’s all it takes. 

Other times, these things help too:

Sitting down in your rut and enjoying the view. I find it so frustrating that I can’t just get stuff done all day every day. I have all the dreams and none of the ability to prioritise, so burnout is inevitable. Accepting every part of me is a personal goal of mine, and if that means hanging out in a rut for a bit, I’ll accept that time of mental rest if it’s what I truly need. 
Laughing/wallowing with a friend who is going through the same thing, or one who is amazing at empathy. I had to make a few phone calls before I hit on someone who sounded just as tired and just as defeated as I did. But when we finally met up serious chats pretty soon turned to laughter – a rut is just a rut after all, and thank goodness it’s nothing more serious. If it helps to laugh, I’m all for it.
Diving into something that isn’t your usual kind of thing. Lucky for me I have a film to edit and a looming deadline. It’s been about a year, maybe two since I’ve edited a film and I usually shy away from working with footage I haven’t shot myself. But diving into this edit and getting lost in a creative process which is so different from my own, that has helped. 

Creative ruts are the worst, but they’re part of the process and you can get pretty comfy down in that hole while you wait for it to pass, especially if you have Netflix.

 

 

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From the Road, a Senegal Travel Diary Pt.3 We All Deserve Peace

Senegal was a hard trip for me, as you may be able to tell from my other travel diaries. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of it, but my heart wasn't in it 100% - it was distracted I suppose.

These kind of posts are always hard to publish, and I procrastinate on it for a long time - but something in me, I don't know what, feels like it's important to tell the truth wherever I'm free to. Heaven forbid anyone should read here and despair at the imperfections of their own life in comparison to mine. Some of my life experiences I wouldn't wish on anyone, but because I know we all hide the worst of what we've been through, it makes me feel a bit better to get it out in the open for other people to connect with.

 

11 February 2016


on the road somewhere

 


No one in life is immune to those moments that level everything to the ground. The day your kids are born, the day you lose a loved one - those moments that happen in a second but light your life on fire to clear out the old and make way for new things. Some of them make you feel alive, some of them make you feel broken, all of them are exhausting. 

I miss my stepfather almost every day. Working in Senegal this past week I wish I could call him and tell to him all my troubles and insecurities about the work I do and I know he would understand better than anyone. 

He would tell me funny stories about his years working as a foreign correspondent. He would tell me about his hard times as a journalist covering conflict and the human condition, and he would just get it without me having to explain - after all he set me on this course, and I wouldn't be here in Africa today if it weren't for his advice. 

But I know what he would say today on the anniversary of his death, "this too shall pass". It's probably something he had to tell himself a hundred times, he was always having to say it to me, anyway. 

He was my great leveler. One of them at least. 

I wish he could have listened to his own words at the end of his life when he made the decision to end it on his own terms, but wherever he is now I hope he found the peace he so much needed. No one deserves it more. 

We all deserve peace. 

 

 

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From the Road, a Senegal Travel Diary Pt. 2 Sokone

This is part two of the travel diary I kept when I was working in Senegal last month. To catch up on part one, click here. It's an account of my photography trips overseas, what it's like to work in the field as a photographer, and a few personal thoughts.

 

10th February 2016


Sokone

 

I'm writing this as we sit in a small village in Sokone. There's a meeting going on between all the men left in the village who have not gone to market and I'm waiting for them to finish before I feel like it's ok to start wandering around and taking pictures. 

It's not easy to photograph people here because often they expect payment in exchange for having their photo taken. It's something I've come across in other countries around the world but here it feels like there's a lot less room for negotiation. I wish I had more time to get to know people and make them more comfortable, and I think about those photographers who spend months in one place. There never seems to be enough time. 

I wouldn't mind spending a long time in this village. It's towards the end of the day so the heat is less intense, and there's a tree in flower that's giving off such a beautiful smell. Sitting in the shade I think this would be a really peaceful place to spend more time. 

Anywhere in Senegal would be pretty peaceful to spend more time. In the early morning or even in the evening when the sun isn't so harsh and it's cool enough for long sleeves, everything is still and the light is so clear. This morning we were down photographing by the water and it was so clear in the sunrise, it looked like a completely different place as we drove past it again in the afternoon. 

There is a woman sitting right behind me now, playing with her daughter and they both have the same beautiful smile. I've already asked her if I can take her photo when I met her earlier and she said "no thank you". The scene now in the shade of the tree is just too perfect but I just can't ask again. I'm sad to let the moment go, but really it's between her and her daughter and it just doesn't belong to me. 

I get up and wander over to our truck to let Jeremy, our videographer, know we're getting ready to do an interview. He's flying his drone and the entire village has shown up to see what's going on and watch the kids chase it around. It's complete chaos and pretty funny to watch from the outside, but maybe not so much for Jeremy who's trying to find a safe spot to land it. 

The interview we do in the open air as the sun is setting and it's one of those rare interviews where there is no awkwardness, no hesitation, just a man very passionate and animated as he speaks. 

As the one in charge of these trips and getting the best content we can, these interviews make me breathe a sigh of relief. Even if I can't understand what he's saying I know he's giving us what we need and I'm so thankful for that. 

Jamie does the interviews now. Back when I first started I was photographer, videographer, interviewer, producer, director, and the momentum behind the whole trip. As soon as I could convince anyone to give me some budget and let me bring along some help, I dragged Jamie on a plane from London and gave him the task of talking to people so I could focus on photography and the rest. I've been in his shoes so many times and I knew at first he found it awkward as hell doing these interviews. It really is! Trying to get a good story out of a stranger speaking a different language, it doesn't get much more difficult than that - especially when you're having to work with two translators. But tonight he's really nailing it and I can tell he feels it too. 

Some moments you can capture and others you can't. But I'm so happy to end the day on a good note. And just as we are getting ready to leave for the evening, I manage to capture a moment that makes up for all the ones I felt like I missed on this trip. 

 

 

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The Quiet Winter -Building a Yoga Routine

I'm at the point in my yoga practice now where if I don't carve out time to spend on my mat for two days or more, I feel a difference in myself. I'm less settled, I'm stressed, my anxiety levels start to rise and I'm just a little less happy.

When I do make time for yoga every day, I'm the version of myself that I am most proud of. I feel like I am living in every corner of my body and mind, and using that energy to carry me through life in a way that makes me feel more fulfilled than I ever have before.

When I set out this winter to take it easy, come back to myself and really work on my foundations to make sure I was in a good place to start making things happen, I knew that yoga would be a big part of it. I've always done yoga a bit, here and there, never really committing but loving the idea of it. I never took the time to work on the foundations of my practice and my mind was too itchy to sit still long enough to hold a pose - it was too busy making lists.

But when I decided to take a few months to invest in myself, I settled more into the idea of making a commitment to take at least 15 minutes a day to do some yoga. 

It wasn't easy at first though. My body ached and my mind wandered. I had a few false starts where I hurt myself a little bit and had to give up for a few days. But a part of me really knew what I would get out of it if I just stuck with it, and I craved that peace of mind so much that I just kept going.

The truth of it is there's no quick way to get into it. There's no easy fix or techniques that will grantee that you will stick to anything. It starts with a decision and from there it's a journey. It's about finding what works for you, not getting discouraged by failures or your own weakness when it comes to 'not being bothered'. It's about forgiving yourself and coming home to yourself and just believing that you absolutely can, if you only give yourself a chance. 

I wrote a post a while ago about starting as a fledgling yogi. Since then I've developed a more routine, fully fledged practice, and here are a few of the things that have helped me stick to it...

 

 

  1. Carve out a space - find a special corner in your home that feels great to do yoga in. Mine is the spot right between my bed and the radiator.

  2. Carve out a time - every day after walking the dog is yoga time for me. Without fail. 

  3. Beware of a gap in routine - if I skip a few days, I'm more likely to skip a few weeks/months. I have to be mindful of that.

  4. Start where you are, with what you have - I just started with a mat, and as tempting as it was to buy all those fancy yoga clothes, I use them now as treats for sticking with it instead of as an intensive to start.

  5. Make plans - my plans revolve around my yoga practice a lot now. When I go out, when I come home, it all needs to fit in around getting the yoga time I need. 

 

 

Now that it has been six weeks and I have been doing yoga almost every day, even when I was in Senegal, I feel like it's not going anywhere. I'm not saying I won't fall off the yoga wagon, but I pushed through the tricky stage at the beginning and now I'm really enjoying it - I'm even a little bit in love with it in a weird way. I've graduated from the spot next to the radiator in my bedroom, to the middle of the living room floor as I've grown from a small practice to a more expansive one. And I keep my mat rolled out under the carpet in my living room, so that it's always there, ready and waiting.

It feels like I’m starting a really good book, and in a few years’ time I’m going to look back and wish that I could start from the beginning again with fresh eyes because it was so wonderful reading it the first time. 

 

 

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From the Road, a Senegal Travel Diary. Pt. 1 Dakar

I’ve never kept a diary when I travel on photography assignments, this is the first time, and reading back through it all I can’t believe how raw it all is. It’s completely different to the kind of travel post I usually write, but it's a lot more real. I hope you like them!

I posted a few photos of Dakar to Instagram that I took on my phone, the rest of these are from the first few days in the field, shooting in a few villages and a school in Sokone.

 

7th February 2016


Dakar

 

I’m writing this on my second night in Senegal, sat in my hotel room and getting ready for an early night before the real work begins. 

We flew in last night, me and two people I work with, and after a full day of flying it was a relief to just fall into bed. We stopped over in Madrid on the way from London to Dakar and those two flights were some of the bumpiest of my life. I’m so terrified of flying that I find myself squeezing my eyes shut and clinging onto the seat in front of me, silently saying to myself “please stop, please stop, please just stop it”. I don’t know when I became so afraid of flying but it always takes a lot out of me. And I often find myself wondering why I pursue a career that requires so much travel! The stress on my body that comes with this fear of flying cannot be healthy.

As it’s Sunday in Senegal we have to wait until work starts up again on Monday to get out of Dakar and into the field. But until then we are left to our own devices - Jamie, Sarah and I. Jamie I travel with often, he writes the stories to go with my photos. I’ve never traveled with Sarah before but I must have said to her at least ten times how nice it is to travel with a girl. Usually it’s just me and a bunch of guys for days on end, which isn’t a big deal really and something I only picked up on last year. 

My first impressions of Dakar are that it’s warm and peaceful, but I suspect it’s more chaotic during the week. We wander down to the ocean, watch a group of men gather to exercise on the beach (something that seems to be quite common here - they do squats for hours!), and have a really nice coffee - a treat you learn to appreciate when you travel a lot. 

After a day of wandering I’m pretty tired and grumpy with myself for making the rookie mistake of wearing flip-flops for too long. My feet are killing me and because I’m tried, the stressful thoughts start to creep in.

I organize these trips, the ideas and the momentum comes from me, so I am entirely responsible for them from start to finish. The pressure is on to get some good stuff (film, photos and case studies), and because we don’t scout our stories first due to lack of time and budget, I always worry about what happens if we show up to the pre-arranged location and there’s just nothing there. What if I go back to London with nothing? What if everything goes wrong and the whole team, five people in total including me, turn to me and say “now what?” - and I don’t have an answer. It’s happened before and I've never not had an answer, but there’s a first time for everything.

We have pizza for dinner and make our way back to the hotel in the dark. I feel like I’ve been trying to make stupid jokes for a while now which is what happens when I get tired around people I don’t know all that well. As we walk the call to prayer sounds from a nearby mosque and I’m not sure what it is at first, I’ve never heard a call to prayer like it. There are men outside on the pavement running they’re prayer beads through their fingers or concentrating on their kouran. A few blocks down are some women sat on the pavement, I noticed them earlier in the day but this time I ask our Senegalese contact about them and he says “basically they’re beggars” - a funny choice of words and I can’t tell if he said it that way because there’s more to it, or because English isn’t his first language.

Often sad realities crop up on these trips and usually I can see them in a larger context of a cultural circumstance, but sometimes my mind zeros in on an issue or an individual and I just can’t let it go - like my heart is just learning of this particular injustice of the world for the first time. It seems weird that every sad situation doesn't make me react this way, but some things are easier to accept than others I guess. Over the years I’ve learned that these are the moments that stick with you forever. In the sheer number of people and animals that I meet as I photograph around the world, these are the ones I will always remember and I can list them in my mind.

 

Some photos from the first few hours in Sokone...


A five hour drive from Dakar

 

We get back to the hotel and I shower and try to do some yoga to settle me down. I need to be confident and in charge tomorrow but really I’m just feeling anything but - over the years I've become pretty good at faking it, though I would rather not have to. I try to tell myself I’m just tired, but doing yoga just feels self-indugent and selfish for some reason. I do it anyway though, mostly because I think it’s a good idea and I don’t know what else to do with myself after all the preparations to start work the next day are finished. All my equipment is in order, my camera is taped up, my lenses are clean, my bags are packed...

On the flight over I watched The Salt of the Earth, a documentary about Sebastiao Salgado and it made me feel proud of my work, even if pales in significance to what he did all those years ago. It’s a graphic documentary though, as are his photos covering war, life in refugee camps, environmental disasters - important but brutal work. I can’t get some of those images out of my head. I know that’s what haunts me a bit tonight and I simultaneously feel like it’s ok and normal to be sad about seeing the hardship of others, and angry at myself because my sadness feels petty and small compared to theirs.

The real work hasn’t even begun yet and I’m already feeling it which worries me. If I go to sleep now I can stay in bed for a full eight hours, and maybe try and sleep for all of them.

 

 

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