This is a blog I have been meaning to do since the start of December and am only getting round to my review of last year as we are getting close to the end of January.
2012 was a major transition year for me, and was an extremely tough yet rewarding one. I started the year not in a good place, in a stressful job which was taking a little bit of my soul away everyday. It had got to the stage that I had become physically sick over it as I knew there must be more out there than a job which was causing me stress yet had no rewards. I felt that I was not achieving my best or didn’t feel I was free to be as creative as I wanted to be. I had a feeling that I had so much more to give.
I finally quit my day job in February as my health was suffering. This was not an easy choice as I was giving up the security of a monthly wage and I had no promise that I would find work but I had to believe in myself and that it would all work. I have always loved photography and have been practicing me technique since I got my first SLR in the first year at Uni. I now had nine years of working as a press photographer under my belt, which taught me many things.I had to believe that I could make a living out of my passion, in the middle of a recession of all times! Photography to me has always been my calling and I can’t imagine ever not doing it. Anyone who is interested in photography will understand this, it is something that you simply get hooked on.
So I spent the first few months of the year reading every business book I could get my hands on, contacting people for advice, spending hours in the library doing research and I was getting very excited about becoming my own boss. The business side of photography was something that was totally new to me but something that I really enjoyed as I learnt more about it.
I found that people came to me at just the right time. I saw an advert for the Prince’s Trust Business Training course and successfully made my business plan with their help and was delighted to be approved a business loan, which was such a great help. The Prince’s Trust also appointed me a business mentor, Niamh Taylor , whose advice has been invaluable to me this year. Niamh also had a great year as she was awarded CIM Ireland Senior Marketing Professional 2012!
I also received continuous support and advice from the Omagh Enterprise Centre, who have some amazing staff who are always there to help. I couldn’t have done it without them,
At the start of Easter I got a call from South West College who had an opening for a photography teacher which I jumped at. I took a lovely group of students for their NCFE qualification in photography, which was such a great experience and I was very proud that they produced such amazing work which they then exhibited and sold in aid of CHARIS Cancer Charity.
My dream was slowly becoming reality as my business plan was also approved a grant by ARC (Assisting Rural Communities) and they agreed to offer me a grant to get my studio open at Clanabogan. I had my planning permission approved and we got the work started on transforming dad’s garage into a nice space for my studio and once I got building control passed I was able to start taking my first studio bookings in my own first studio!
I had been following the work of Derry/Donegal photographer Jay Doherty (if you hadn’t heard of him, check his work now) and really liked his style of work (if you hadn’t heard of him, check his work now) . He agreed to let me help assist him at weddings which was a great experience for me. I have done many weddings on my own but I do think that as a photographer it is great experience to assist other photographers and share ideas. It also helped that most of his weddings were in totally breath-taking locations on the coast, which he totally utilises in his work.
I had started the year with a totally empty diary and a massive empty wall calendar on the wall in my spare room and it made me smile as I took it down at the end of the year that surprisingly my diary and calendar had been filled to the brim. It was definitely a year of hard graft, building self-confidence and believing that it would all be ok!
As I went through my portfolio from 2012 I was surprised to find so much work, when you have your head in your work you don’t actually realise how much you are actually producing. I have met such beautiful people this year, been part of so many special moments at weddings, on family and newborn shoots and much more. I am so grateful for all of it.
I now have a year ahead of me where I know that it is now time to step it up a gear and keep working on my dream.
I hope my year can inspire others to not be afraid to follow your dream. For me, it wasn’t an option but a must. If I can do it, anyone can.
I have had a favourite saying for years which I keep it on my fridge door, ‘Reach for the stars and the only place you can fall is the sky!’
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has helped me on this journey that was 2012.xx