If I'm really honest with myself, I've wanted to be a photographer my whole life. Or at least ever since my dad first let me have a go at using one of his old cameras, which led to an ongoing stream of hand-me-downs throughout my childhood and teenage years, for which I'm eternally grateful!
I distinctly remember having photography competitions with my two brothers in the garden in the summer holidays, and the pure excitement and joy that clicking a button and creating something that didn't exist seconds before, brought me.
Growing up, my bedroom walls were always plastered with posters, photos, gig tickets (mostly the Maccabees), postcards, magazine tear-outs and fashion illustrations - my dream back then was to be the editor of Vogue!
But I never even let it enter my consciousness that I might actually be able to take photos for a living; it just didn't seem like a possibility.
I continued to enjoy my hobby and improve my craft doing A-Level Photography where I got to learn how to use studio lighting, develop film and make prints in the darkroom. I still have overflowing folders and boxes of black and white test strips and enlargements that I can't bear to part with. The smell of the paper takes me straight back to the college art department and the utter thrill of waiting for the images to reveal themselves as the negatives dried (not to mention the crushing disappointment when I messed up and lost a whole roll of street documentary photos).
Still, I didn't trust or believe in myself enough to pursue my love for taking photos any further than shooting street style for my uni fashion magazine or my friend's drama society shows. My degree took me to France and Spain for a semester each, where I documented my adventures the only way I knew how, with my camera. I picked up new skills working as an assistant to a hotel photographer and as a picture editor for a tourist information website in Spain. Even with my work being published on this much-visited site, I would never have dreamt of referring to myself as a photographer. Imagine!
And then came the disorienting time of graduating and having no idea what on earth I was going to do with my life. You know the one, right? I stumbled into a couple of digital marketing roles because that's what most of my course-mates seemed to be doing and the experience on my CV didn't lend itself to much else. I learnt a lot about branding, web design, marketing, copywriting and SEO, so I'm really glad I stayed in these jobs despite sometimes feeling truly lost and unfulfilled.
I may have carried on accepting 'lost and unfulfilled' as the status quo if it hadn't have been for two tragic wake-up calls in the space of a year to stop treating life like a dress rehearsal. I made the decision to take responsibility for my happiness and quit the job that left me in tears several times a week. It was time to step up and, for once, actually trust myself enough to take a risk in the name of my own mental wellbeing.
I was not prepared for the epic shift that would happen when I made this move. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders and that that this was the beginning of something huge! There is absolute magic in standing in your own corner and listening to your intuition when it whispers that you can do this!
If you'll let me, I'll stand in your corner too.