The past four years have been beyond interesting in all things growth for me. Thanks to three different auto-immunes Alopecia areata, Graves disease, and Lichen Sclerosus, I got to take a VERY good look at how I was living my life.
I pulled up a train crash speeding at about 100km an hour before it hit a wall and in the process have learnt some of the most marvelous life lessons of all time.
Jumping off a cliff into a new life 18 years ago, leaving Australia for Italy and a business for photography brought me so many insights into who I am and why I am here. There was so much to learn once I woke up from the trance I had been living that I couldn’t wait to get started.
There was photography and Florence, museums and art, a new way of living and being. And there was so much love and joy.
Love for life, for the small things, the world around me and the adventure I was on. The joy was daily in riding a bike through the streets of Florence, in learning a new language and the belly laughs for the mistakes I made and finding a community.
But somewhere in between Florence and the auto-immunes, my life got way more serious, I moved to Paris, got busy trying to make it work and being back in a big city.
I credit the auto-immunes with giving me my joy back. They gave me the kick up the bum I needed to take responsibility of my life again and start living it the way I wanted to live it.
I got back on the JOY TRAIN.
And yes I did and do eat a million fruit and vegetables, Yes I did stop all those chemicals and loads of other things (YOU CAN READ ABOUT IT HERE) but the healthiest thing you can do for your nervous system is to laugh, to share, to find joy and to allow yourself pleasure with a capital P.
Isn’t this the best news you have had all year! Yes folks, the green juices are fabulous but your nervous system needs a break from doing, from the stress of work and life and all things serious. It needs to dance and ride bikes, it needs to laugh till tears come out your eyes and your stomach hurts, it needs to play football with your kids and lie in a park and do nothing. It needs to paint and to garden, to smell the roses and to go fishing.
The more little breaks you give that poor shot to pieces nervous system of yours, the more it will fire up the hormones we need and get them doing what they are meant to be doing instead of freaking out and flooding our body with cortisol.
So lovelies, light a candle, buy yourself some flowers, book a massage because it’s good for you.
Five Tips for Getting the Joy Back
Remember what makes you happy and build it into your daily or weekly life, it can be as simple as riding a bike or gardening
When you feel like life is too much ask for help or when someone offers it accept it. Doing it all on our own is no longer a badge of honour
Build something that makes you feel good into your life. You decide how often. A swim, a massage, a walk in the mountains or a dance lesson.
Make frequent breaks in your day.. Yes you are allowed to rest. Sit down for 10 mins if your job is on your feet or vice-versa get up from the computer and do some stretches. Take time to meditate or do nothing, lie on the grass and look at the sky.
Disconnect – being connected all the time keeps our nervous systems on call. So make some rules around the use of your phone and social media so you can be present with the ones you love
The super big bonus of letting your nervous system calm down is that you let a little light into your heart and soul. And when the light gets in you get a little piece to your puzzle.
One of the things I love about dreaming up and teaching workshops is creating the time out for the participants from their daily life to not only concentrate on their photography and improve it, meet some new members of their tribe but to have the time to reflect on life and what they want.
It’s in this ‘bubble’ away from the cooking and the kids, away from work and daily chores that not only do you get time to concentrate on you and nurture your photography but you get the clarity on how you want to move forward or what you would like to shift or bring into your life.
I too have had the exact epiphany attending workshops as a participant and loved the experience of sitting in a room and being inspired, nurtured and everything done for me.
This October we plan on making it our best workshop ever where everything and we mean everything is taken care of.
At the beautiful Masseria Potenti not only are Maria Grazia and Chiara two of the most welcoming hosts but they have created an atmosphere of simplistic beauty that is a wonderful subject and backdrop for our portrait photos and at the same time good for the soul in every sense. We will look after breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will have your own beautiful room and all you need to do is to concentrate on taking the photos you have inside you and have yet dared to take.
The photography lessons, models, trips to local villages to photograph the locals, the critiquing and inspiring you and pushing your photography to new levels will all be taken care of by us. We plan to create a unique atmosphere of joy and trust where you can learn to be a little more courageous in accessing something deeper within you that will allow you to go beyond those portrait moments when it feels like nothing is happening, to provoke your portrait subject to draw out something more than a pretty portrait and for you not to give up when you still don’t have the shot.
If you love people photos and want to improve yours, if you would love to come away with a beautiful portfolio of interiors and people and want to give yourself the gift of getting closer to life, the details and yourself, there are only TWO PLACES LEFT.
I recently read Shonda Rhimes book The Year of Yes. I loved it for so many reasons because it reminded me of me years ago when I was frightened of life and commitments.
I would say ‘no’ to everything. And it took years to realise I was saying no to myself and no to life.
Till one day I say ‘yes’ to me, I made the decision to leave Sydney and go find the right life for me and then there was no holding me back. I became the ‘yes’ girl (kind of like Jim Carrey in Yes Man) but without the old lady upstairs!
I said yes, to moving to Italy, to going out with cutie Italian hotties, to becoming a photographer, to having lunch with strangers, to improbable friendships, to picking a destination at the train station and going their spontaneously, to not knowing what tomorrow held.
I said yes to jobs that freaked me out, struggling with photography but kept on going, to learning about art and history, to meeting friends of friends for coffee or lunch. I said yes to Italy and travelled her from top to bottom, I said yes to writing it down in a book (Italian Joy) and I said yes to falling in love with the most beautiful man I know.
I said yes to life and that big old guy upstairs returned my Yes with love, friendship, tribe, happiness, excitement, travel and creativity. He decided to reward me for my bravery, my courage of going wayyyy out of my comfort zone and each time I became a little more open to life when I uttered the word Yes.
The last couple of years I got bogged down in stuff, in new learnings, a little too much routine and I started to become the ‘no’ girl again. I could hear it before it even came out of my mouth.
So yesterday I made a vow, that 2018 will become my Yes year. A year of adventure, love and happiness and I know the universe returns if you dare to open your heart and mind so dear folks anyone out there that wants to join me on the year of yes???
Ultimately the more we say no to others the more we say no to ourselves. What are you saying no to?
If you have ever wondered how to break into the magazine or publishing industries to work with your favourite magazines and/or publish a book then save this date – 10th December 2017.
Due to popular demand Get Published, a one-day Workshop in Sydney is back in a new revised, updated 2017 version with exciting special guest speakers (superstars) from the magazine and book publishing industry who will guide you through the best way to have your images published in your dream publications.
I share my formula on how I managed to publish two stories in Marie Claire straight out of photography school and how you can too and how that lead to publishing and collaborating on 8 illustrated books and the guest speakers will talk on everything from how to pitch to a magazine and how to have our photographs published in a book. Stand back it’s going to be bigger and brighter than ever.
Oh how life has changed in such a short number of years. When I started out in photography I was still shooting film and sending ‘trannies’ to magazines on the other side of the world.
Everything, and I mean everything has changed!
I was asked the question the other day if I was starting out today what would I do differently? Sheesh, that got me thinking and asking questions and looking closely at the way I did things and I do things now.
The start is so wonderful, it is like the first flush of love when you would to anything for that love. Your energy and enthusiasm is ready to smash all glass ceilings and if your can harness and direct that power in the right direction you could set cities alight!
So if you are starting out, instead of poking around in the dark here’s what I would do today.
LOOK AT DIFFERENT ‘MODELS’ OF PHOTOGRAPHY
I would look at the different ways one can become a photographer whilst studying your craft. There are so many marvellous ‘models’ and the internet has changed and opened everything in 10 years. There are wonderful success stories like Alex Stoddard (fine art), Lara Jade (fashion) , Katie Quinn Davies (food +styling), This Wild Idea (Instagram) who have taken the new route and created a career of the modern age through social media backed up by marvellous, creative, true to their style photography. They created amazing work and put it out there and let the world get excited and that created a buzz around it.
Why? Before you jump into anything, the smart thing would be to inform yourself about it. I didn’t, I just dived off a high cliff and almost hit the rocks below. This wasn’t a fun experience and then I had to paddle up a river that felt like going up Niagara falls the wrong way. I learnt everything by trial and error and on the other side of the world (Italy) and wasted money and years. Somewhere in the middle I lost sight of what I wanted to do because I was working it all out as I went along. If you can track yourself down a real live working photographer who is doing what you would like to do and ask them the reality of it.
GIVE MY CREATIVITY SPACE
Give myself more time to be creative before putting pressure on myself to start making money from photography! Yes folks you may consider me one of the lucky ones who got published straight out of photography school with 13 pages in Marie Claire. I was in a desperate hurry to make some money and photography seemed to be the only outlet available to me in Italy where I didn’t have a permit to work. If I was starting out now and I could make money doing something else, I would allow my relationship with photography to develop with time, love and experience.
Why? I remember the sickening feeling of having my first job, of the sleepless nights and the investment of film to ‘overshoot’ to make sure I had what the client needed. Even though we can all pick up a camera today and you don’t have to know all the technicalities that you needed to know then, I think many people like me tend to jump in at the deep end (for whatever reasons) when they are still ‘half baked’. Yes, the creative and technical pudding is still soft in the centre and photography like all crafts takes time to develop your aesthetic, your techniques, your voice, your language, your sensitivity to colour and your inner belief in what you are doing.
When we ask for money for our photography when are still developing our aesthetic we are too eager to please the person paying the bills and straight out of the blocks we start to compromise our artistic vision before we have let that little baby flower. You haven’t even had the luxury to understand what your photography purpose is in life and BOOM you start losing it straight away.
Therefore, I would suggest take your time, discover, be curious, be like a beautiful dog and go sniff out some bushes and see what comes of it. Shoot the breeze with your photography, have a love affair, look whimsically into each others eyes before you move in together and start washing each others undies!!!
INSTAGRAM + SOCIAL MEDIA
When I started in photography social media meant going to have a chat with one of your friends who knew someone or had heard about a job that you might be interested in. It also meant picking up the phone to your favourite magazine or client and asking if you could come over and show them your pics. It meant going to the parties where all the ‘right’ people were going if you were in the fashion industry. It meant shaking your booty so god damn hard that you actually started to meet the world. If I was starting out today I would go build the biggest most beautiful INSTAGRAM account with every relevant hashtag whilst studying my craft, waiting tables, transitioning from a job or hanging out with my boyfriend Mr. Photography. Long before I was actually ready to start.
Why? Because the whole world is looking and connecting with each other on social media platforms such as Instagram whilst I was in Sydney a friend who works in magazines said that they no longer do Picture Editors enter a keyword into Google when they need an image they put it straight into Instagram! There is a double whammy effect of having a wonderful social media profile, you may just be discovered and even if you don’t know where it is going to take you at the beginning it gives your work visibility, you choice and an eventual much needed audience no matter what kind of photographer you are. The first question you will be asked when you front up to a publisher is how many people do you have on social media? A photographer I know who had photographed oodles of books for International chefs decided to pitch a book of his own, first question, how many people do you have on social media? Do you have a blog? When the answer came back as ‘No’, the publisher didn’t offer him a book deal.
Another photographer I know created an amazing blog with her work, created an International buzz which in turn created a large social network on the net and a publisher found her work on Google and offered her a book deal.
Sheesh, the portfolio is right down at number four. That isn’t because it is the least important it is because it is the most important! Yes folks developing your craft, putting love, thought and experience into you portfolio will take you somewhere far quicker than starting out too early with a ‘half-baked’ portfolio.
Why? Someone who has built up an Instagram account or vibing social media and then creates a ‘rock-star’ portfolio and launches it to his/her community will have the beginnings of an instant made business, just add Vodka and shake!
If you do it the other way around, you have an incredible portfolio or body of work you can go see clients in the traditional way, get in touch with websites etc or launch it to ‘deaf ears’ on your non-existent social media network. Yes, your beautiful work will be seen by no-one till you start playing catch-ups.
I would have practiced more before handing over my precious craft for money (sheesh did I say that).
Why? Photography is like mastering a violin, riding a perfect wave or writing a beautiful book. Whatever you want to master in life you need to put the hours in. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers says “to truly master something you need to put in 10,000 hours” and I am telling you from experience and someone that has put in 10,000 hours confidence, experience and depth comes in the doing. You mightn’t need to do your 10,000 hours before starting but make sure you have done way more than 100 hours or it will show.
When I was ready to start I would go build me one of these beautiful shiny new websites (well kind of like what I have) but it doesn’t need to be that tricky. It should be easy to navigate, show off your beautiful portfolio, tell us who you are and what inspires you and what you are selling!! Yes, don’t put up a bunch of gorgeous pictures without telling us if you are a fine artist and where you are showing, if you are doing children’s photography or wanting to do travel, tell us please what you are selling. Yes, dear photographer if you want to eat and work as a photographer it means you are selling something and hopefully that something is your work. Please make it clear and simple.
The people starting out today have so many wonderful resources at their disposal, we are heading into the ‘Age of Aquarius’ and in all things spiritual and creative so hats off to the lucky souls who are flexing their Aquarian creativity, vision and energy.
I hope this little insight helps you on your path.
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” Buddha
PS: I would love you to share to help anyone new starting out
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