Weddings, Passion and Self-Conscious Creativity

Do you create without a need for recognition? Or does a little support go a long way? Do you hide your work away, self-conscious of it, or do you show it off for all to see?

As you read this I’ll be at a Wedding as a weird cross between Photographer and Guest. The Wedding is that of Kirsty’s sister, Katie, and her fiance, Stephen. As everyone I know is actually part of the Wedding itself, I’ve opted to spend the morning working it (as a Photographer) rather than sit in the crowd amidst people I don’t know. Greg will be with me, so we’ll be fully representing Level Up Photography, but I’ll be slowly turning into a guest as the evening (and the alcohol) gets going.

Therefore, it seems poignant to me to address one of my favourite topics, that of passion. If you’re new here, I’ve written about passion a few times, and this very blog started as an attempt to fuel my own passions. With the Wedding day currently taking place (at time of posting, not at time of writing – I do want to make this clear) it is obviously a prominent theme, passion is obviously very important to today’s event. So, I’m going to talk about my passions, because we’re not all bored with that subject on this blog are we?

A few weeks ago I had a few moments of clarity. I shared a post I’d written and it received more hits and shares than ever before, partly because it was posted directly to my own personal Facebook, partly because the topic was sensitive in nature. That same week, I also received compliments for my photography, both from an actual paying client, and also from a few friends who were really pleased with some of my work. To have a week where I received such recognition for both my creative pursuits was… a little overwhelming, but ultimately fantastic.

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One of the photos I am most proud of!

Days, weeks, months can go by and nobody notices what you’re doing and that can feel like what you’re doing isn’t quite right, that what you’re doing isn’t clicking. I think this is more so with creativity than anything else, especially if you’re a self conscious creative. There are people out there who are clearly brave enough to just create for creativity’s sake; they want for nothing but for the joy of creation, or they simply believe that what they’re producing is of a high tier. However, there are many of us who, despite creating simply to create, do so a little more tentatively and with the hope that what we’re doing is well received. I’m the latter.

As much as I blog simply to blog, as much as I take photographs to simply make a good image, I do so with the desire that someone will enjoy this work. I don’t do it to receive compliments, though of course they’re always welcome, but I do it with an intention that someone may get some enjoyment out of it. The thing is, when we’re self conscious about our work, we’re less likely to boast about it, and we’re far less likely to show it off. So, what did my recent week of praise teach me? It’s that to receive the encouragement we desire, we need to actually make our work known. By hiding our work away, we are nothing more than a self-fulling prophecy. How are we to receive encouragement for things nobody realises we do?

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The Photo of Odin that got me some love from my friends!

Ofcourse, it’s a double edged sword. By putting our work out there we open ourselves up to criticism, we have to leave our comfort zones. But it finally helps us answer our enternal questions, are our passions good enough? I find out if my writing is good enough by posting blogs, I find out if my photography is good enough by sharing my photographs, and more-so by making a career out of it. I open myself to criticism, but I vow to take it on board and adapt with it in mind. This ensures we continue to get better, this ensures we break a never ending cycle, for one that is more favourable and positive. Rather than worrying about our work, rather than hiding it out of worry, and rather that worrying more because nobody is passing comment on it, we change. We become someone who puts their work out there, who receives feedback for their work, who improves their work, and who puts their work out there once again.

Being at a Wedding is about passion, but it’s also about celebration. We all have our passions, some of us will be better at them than others, but that’s never a reason to stop. We should be celebrating our work, we should be proud enough to show it off, regardless of our skill level. A Wedding is a celebration of your love, it’s you saying to the world that “this is us“, so shouldn’t we show off our work? Shouldn’t we say “this is me – this is what I create“? After all, there’s one thing Weddings are about more than both Passion and CelebrationCommitment. Lets be committed to our creativity, let’s celebrate it with passion!

 

What do you think? Do you share your work or are you more inclined to keep it hidden? If you’re the latter, a bit like me, why not take it upon yourself to share something this week. If you do, let me know in the comments below!

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You’d almost think I’ve timed it this way, though I haven’t, but my Facebook page just went live and this will be the first post to it! How’s that for Passion, Commitment, and Celebration? Click here or on the logo to take a peak!

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Tower White: A 3LT

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The stairs coiled round, cold, frictionless, making the ascent a harder task than they had ever predicted.

Tower White had been their destination for too long; they had celebrated when they’d reached its carved, crystal base.

Never once had they considered the climb.

*****

Well, would you look at that! Two Three Line Tale’s in two weeks… Two for two! Thanks to Sonya and to her prompt. My last 3LT can be seen here, The Last Jellyfish: A 3LT and the previous was The Trooper: A 3LT.

Dunkirk (2017): Review

When I left my parents, on route to see Dunkirk, my Grandma scoffed, dismayed by the films she was familiar with that glorified a horrific time she lived through. Dunkirk, whilst not without it’s moments of hope, is certainly not all about glory. Dunkirk is a tense, often uncomfortable watch, which never quite gives you a full moments reprieve. For that though, its all the stronger; solidifying it as one of the best films this year.

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From the opening scenes, it is clear what Nolan has set out to do. This is a war film more about tension and suspense, than it is about ‘action’ set pieces; it’s about making you uncomfortable because the subject matter is uncomfortable. Your heroes here aren’t larger than life, performing unbelievable stunts, they’re men on the ground, air, and sea living in the vile moment to moment nature of battle. This is a film that is trying to convey the true horror of war and succeeding beyond its own expectations; doing so by forgoing gore in favour of tension, and relying on the brutality of real events, real attitudes, than shocking, blood covered scenes. Similarly the enemy too, are never seen, but are continually felt. Aside from their planes, the German army isn’t even glimpsed, but this atmosphere of the faceless threat only serves to add rather than take away; giving a feeling of overall oppression, a feeling of hopelessness and struggle, of ever dwindling hope.

Nolan proves here what he can do when given his freedom, when he’s allowed to work on a passion project and unhampered by studios and external script writers. He also proves he can play to his own strengths, performing his technically masterful shots and staying clear of dialogue, his usual downfall. In Dunkirk, Nolan almost sits back and lets the war tell itself, but he does so with a series of beautiful long shots, and claustrophobic close ups, managing to fully portray both the scale of war and the emotional weathering of the individuals within it. Here he delivers a better film than any of his previous, one that is carefully considered, and tackled with tact. There’s still glory here, the film isn’t unrelentingly miserable – Tom Hardy’s RAF pilot springs to mind – but it doesn’t come out the blue and it isn’t the sum of the movies more grueling parts.

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The true feeling of being at War will never be captured on film, it is something unimaginable and indescribable; a horror known only to those unfortunate enough to have took part. Dunkirk, however, comes far closer than many other films. The tension, the rare moments of quiet, the lack of relaxation throughout the whole piece… Everything Nolan does here is masterful. I was blown away from the opening scene, the harrowing sounds of the gunshots, and I couldn’t even force myself to relax as the credits rolled. To borrow the words of a friend, Dunkirk will leave you half in awe and half shell shocked, and it certainly did both. This is a film that will rattle you in an unforgettable way, and it is easily a contender for the best film of the year. As someone who isn’t normally a big fan of War films, I can’t recommend Dunkirk enough.

Battery Powered Humans

Human beings are like batteries. We charge ourselves, we carry out our tasks, we deplete our energy, and the cycle begins anew. What differs is the types of batteries we are, how quickly our energy runs dry, and what we can do to recharge ourselves.

Obviously we’re not really batteries, and, as any Matrix fan will tell you, we wouldn’t be very good batteries either, at least when it comes to powering something else. Processors maybe, but not batteries… Anyway, that’s a different tangent. Using the battery analogy, the thing that has always interested me though is how we go about recharging.

I may have written about this before, so forgive me if I’m retracing old steps, but it’s come up a bit in conversation really and I feel compelled to write about it. I want to discuss the differences between being an Introvert vs Extrovert.

Many people, myself previously included, think about the terms in pure black and white. Introverts spend time alone, they’re not very social, they prefer to read, watch tv, or hibernate, over going out into the open world and partying, meeting people, or spending time at functions. The Extrovert is, therefore, the polar opposite, they’re confident and chatty, they love just going out there and meeting anyone and everyone, they’ll talk to strangers, they’ll be the life and soul of any event they attend. The world is never so black and white though, and when coming to define ourselves we may often err on the side of one, but it’s unusual that someone is completely in one camp over the other.

This is where recharging comes into it. A few years back I read an eyeopening article that completely changed how I viewed the Introvert vs Extrovert debate. I’m quite introverted, I enjoy spending time to myself, but I also enjoy seeing my friends, going to the pub or having board game nights. That puts me into somewhat of a grey area. What the article did though, is help me realise I don’t have to be in one camp instead of the other, I just had to realise that one camp is where I recharge, whilst the other is where I expend energy.

See, I could spend all day playing video games, honestly I could. I’ve been known to wake up on a day off and just game all day until bedtime, that’s sometimes 16+ hours worth of gaming I could happily do. This is because being alone, having some time to just game, isn’t exhausting for me and doesn’t expend much energy. I’m not even talking physical energy, as obviously being on my ass all day isn’t exhausting in that respect, I mean mentally and emotionally. Now I also enjoy seeing people, my friends and family, but if you put me with them for 16+ hours I’d be drained. As an opposite, I have friends who could happily do something with someone every single day, whereas if they spend too much time on their own they start crawling at the wallpaper. I used to just think they were awful at entertaining themselves, “how could you not enjoy your alone time?” Well, the fact is that they actually do enjoy it, but it’s exhausting for them. Introverts expend energy in social situations, Extroverts recharge. Extroverts expend energy when entertaining themselves, Introverts recharge. It’s really that simple.

The beauty of this theory is that it covers that grey area nicely and it doesn’t limit how we view ourselves. Both types of people can enjoy both sides of the fence, but they only do so for so long before they need to take a break. I think we all understand the importance of needing a break sometimes. If I have a busy week at work, then a weekend full of plans with family and friends, I no longer feel guilty for planning in some alone time; some recharge time.

Hopefully this has helped you to define the lose terms ‘Introvert’ and ‘Extrovert’. What about you? Where would you place yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

The Message of Chester Bennington

Today we mourn an artist who gave everything they had to their music. Who fought an admirable battle, and left in their wake a message about love, passion, and mental health.

By now, even people who had no connection to Linkin Park have seen the headlines; Chester Bennington took his own life after a long battle with depression. I hardly had any words. Two weeks ago, to the day, to the time that the headline flashed up on our screens, Kirsty and I had been watching Linkin Park perform live. We were reliving our youth, bathing in the nostalgia of a band that defined our teenage years. Around us, I was taken aback by the sheer range of age groups; the late 20 somethings, early 30 somethings like Kirsty and I, the older crowd, carefree and rocking out, and even a ton of younger faces, from single digits up to early teens. Up until that point I hadn’t really known their music was still touching the youth of today, but I was glad for it. To me, they were a band like a time capsule, they represented a period of my life, a big period of my life, and I have a lot of memories set to their music. It was good to see they were connecting with others too.

When the news struck, my Facebook descended in disbelief. I saw heartfelt posts from friends, I saw people shaken by a celebrity death that had never been shaken before, I saw people who had just felt a connection severed. One of my old university friends shared her artwork, images painted and drawn of Chester, and a motivational post about how Linkin Park had inspired her to pursue creative dreams. I saw many more friends sharing how Linkin Park had got them through trying teenage times. Even Kirsty, who isn’t one to post wordy status’, moved me with her words about this now-lost smile and the impact its owner had had on her life.

When you and your mom wait all day to see your favorite band, and you know it was totally worth it.

A post shared by LINKIN PARK (@linkinpark) on

So what about me? Well, I wanted to share this Instagram post of Chester performing, and I wanted to talk a little bit about mental health. This small snippet, to me, is bittersweet. Here is a man performing, putting his life, heart, and soul into his songs. He is surrounded by adoring fans, people who are touched by his message, people who actively love him and his music. In this captured moment he literally couldn’t have any more love. His message is reaching people, his passion is moving people, his art is helping people. As a writer/photographer, I’d strive for nothing more than that kind of reaction; to do that much good with the little time we have here. Yet, even with that much love it’s clear Chester felt alone, or unworthy, or any other negative and irrational emotion that depression can conjure. This video shows a man suffering from loneliness within a crowd; someone feeling unworthy despite the love of his fans. He is struggling despite his own message to the crowds, perhaps wishing he could hear his own advice.

When we saw Linkin Park those two weeks ago, we had no idea it was to be their last gig. When we saw them, Chester campaigned for love. He told us to join hands, to share a moment with our neighbour, to love each other in the face of the terror and hate being shown the world today. Again, this memory and this message is now bittersweet.

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I’m writing this post, not to cash-in on a celebrity death, but to make a special mention of Mental Health Awareness. From the outside, Chester had it all. He had fame, he had money, he had his gorgeous children, and he had adoring fans. The image above, the looks in his fans eyes, would be enough for me to say, with no other evidence, that he had a good life. That’s not how he felt, and this isn’t a true reflection of his suffering. If anything, it serves as testament that we can seemingly have everything in the world, from the most material of possessions, to the most love anyone can be given, yet depression is a nasty affliction that can take an immense and immeasurable toll. We never know what someone else is going through, which is all the more reason to show each other kindness, patience, and most of all love. The phrase “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” couldn’t be truer and more poignant in this moment.

Anyone that has suffered with depression, long term or short term, will know what it can do to your mind. Will know the thoughts it can tangle you in, how trapping it can be and the options it may make you consider. Many people fight against depression and mental health of everyday of their lives. Many people do so without recognition, without witness. We never know exactly what others are thinking and feeling, and we never know when a day might be someones last. Lets take Chester’s message, proclaimed loudly at his last gig, and show each other love. Lets mourn, but lets learn. Life is far, far too short to not be kind to those we meet, to hold grudges and anger, to not offer a helping hand to those we see struggling. Lets be better, more approachable people, so we can fully tear down this stigma surrounding mental health, so we might save someone going through a hard battle.

This is the part where normally I ask for a comment, a like or a share. However, instead I want to encourage you to spend the time talking to someone, sharing your love with them, or even just letting people know you’re there. I will always be here for people who want to talk, friends, family, or anyone at all. Let’s be better, for the sake of each other.

Unexpected Appreciation

Don’t you just love it when someone appreciates something you do? When it wasn’t your intention but receive it anyway?

At the weekend I had some downtime, I had no plans for an afternoon besides the usual household chores and tidying. So, I got to editing some photos. It’s been awhile since I’ve edited anything without it having a work related purpose. When you’re sat on around 600 photos for a client, I can’t bring myself to take some time out editing personal photos, it just feels like time wasted. Now, with the little lull of freedom I have between gigs, I took to editing some photos of my friends Dog, Odin. You can see the finished results here: Level Up Photography: Wordless Wednesday #17

I had the photos for awhile now, many of them from over a year ago back when he was a puppy, and some more recently of him at a friends BBQ. I always thought it would be nice for my friends to have the photos, but I can’t bare to let anything go uneditted so they’ve sat on my computer gathering virtual dust. With my free time, however, I suddenly felt inspired to edit them up, and I can’t describe how glad I am I did.

After sending the photos I expected a “Thank you”, I expected the “These are great” lip service a couple of friends will give you. I received so much more though. They both sent me messages saying how much they loved the photos, they want to get them printed onto a canvas to put up in their home, and they said it made them miss their dog (as they were currently on their way back from a holiday). My one friend messaged me to say I should do professional pet photography… These were the kinds of comments I just wasn’t expected, I wasn’t braced for. Their gratitude was heartwarming. Their gratitude was inspirational.

I love photography. I love all aspects of it, from taking a more thought-provoking artistic piece, to capturing a memory on film. Hearing their comments about my work made me swell with confidence that this is what I want to do with my life. Not just photography-wise, but with my writing and with all my pursuits. I want to make people smile, I want to connect with people. I don’t necessarily want to impress people, though that would certainly be nice, but I would like to bring out a positive reaction from them, I’d like to do something that has an impact, albeit a small and fleeting one.

I’m lucky enough to have received these messages on the same week my last client text me to say how happy they were with their wedding photos. A text message which, when I read to my Mom, made her cry. Those prideful tears, which I’ve felt myself this week, are further assurance that I am going in the right direction.

This week I’m feeling confident in my work. This week I’m feeling assured of my goals.

How has your week been? Let me know in the comments below!

The Last Jellyfish: A 3LT

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One bright light beneath the waves, piercing the crests, a star in a blank sky.
Within the currents, her fluorescent tentacles wind and curl; vortexes left in their wake.
The last jellyfish yearns for adventure.

*****

Been awhile since I’ve took part in a Three Line tale, hopefully the sea water doesn’t add to the rust my writing skills are already gathering. Thanks to Sonya and to her prompt. I’d like to say the cliche “hopefully this is the start of me partaking more often“, but the proof will be in the doing! My last 3LT can be seen here, The Trooper: A 3LT.