I'd like to name March the month of "being brave." It's been an interesting month (and I'm aware it's not even over yet)! "Why?" You ask. Well, in the second week of March I gave 4 speeches to students in one week. Previous to this, I'd given a grand total of zero. If you discount any pitches at school and university (which were very much forced on me) I really have no experience with public speaking. In fact, it's not something I really planned on doing very much of. I've always been shy, but even more so when I was young. Talking in front of a class used to fill me with dread, mainly because I was terrified of being made fun of for saying something silly, or making a fool of myself. I could always do them, but I was acutely aware that they were not my strength. Let's not even go into how bad I was at debating!
Now, I feel like I have to address the fact that I did not plan on doing four talks all in one week. When I was asked by the lecturer of Fashion Photography at Falmouth University, the course I did for my degree, to talk to his students about my career, I agreed happily. Being scared didn't really cross my mind. If I'm honest, I think I was too busy to really process what I'd agreed to do. A few days later, he then got in touch again to see if I'd be happy to give them a second talk the next day; this time about magazine publishing and advice for his students. Again, I agreed. I went on with my work and a few days later, I was contacted by The University of Exeter (they have a campus in Falmouth) to talk to their students about my career (when I say my career, we're talking about Atlas here, just to clarify!) on International Women's Day. I've got to say I felt pretty flattered to be asked to talk on such a prestigious day. So, I agreed. Once I'd said yes, I turned to my calendar and realised it was the same day as my second talk to the fashion photography students. It didn't matter, I would simply do them back to back! Fast forward another few weeks, and I was contacted by a student from the university who had started a "Fashion Society." She wondered if I would be able to speak at one of her events. I happily agreed, and you guessed it, it was the same week as the first three.
When I spoke to my mum on the phone about my week of speeches, she told me she was proud of me and that she'd have never thought I would be going around giving speeches.. after all, I'd been such a shy little thing. And she's absolutely right! I was a shy little thing, terrified of talking in public. It got me thinking... why is it so much easier now? Well, I think forced my way there. When we started Atlas four years ago, we had no idea what we were doing. We had to put ourselves out there, communicate more. I had to start picking up the phone and calling up businesses, companies, big scary people all over the world to talk to them about what we were doing. If we ever wanted people to take us seriously, I had to believe in myself, or at least make them think I did! So I suppose, over time and without even realising it, I've made myself able to speak confidently.
This brings me on to the images you see in this post. I'm stating the obvious here, but I did not take these in my home studio when no one was around. These were taken in a very much public space. I may have been down a little coastal path where not many people go, but people do wander down occasionally. Self portraits are quite a funny thing to create. When I began taking photos, they were all I did for lack of a model, and to learn my craft. I stopped when I began to work with models and I've only started again recently. I remember so clearly seeing incredible self portraits by photographers all over the internet in incredible surroundings, and thinking how brave they were to go and take them out in public. When I met Alex from On Serpentine Shores and I asked her how she took her outfit photos for her blog, she answered that it was just her, a tripod and a remote. I admired her so much in that moment. That was exactly what I had wanted to do more of, but fear of being judged had always stopped me. The thought of someone walking past and seeing me posing in front a camera was terrifying, but I thought that if she could do it, then surely I could too!
I was out running when I found the location of these images. As I ran home on the gorgeously sunny day that it was, I thought to myself that it was now or never. The weather was beautiful, the sun set would be perfect, and I should just bloody do it. So I did. I packed up my tripod, camera and my remote into my car, drove to the stop and walked along the coastal path until I got to the spot. As I had guessed, it was perfect. The light was stunning, it was warm, sunny and the sea crashed bellow. I can't pretend I didn't spend the whole time these images were being taken slightly on edge that someone would walk down the path and see me, but I did it. And when I was done, I felt so proud of myself! I did it!
Lastly, this week I made my Wedding Photography website live! I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks ago that I was going to be venturing down the route of wedding photography and that I was a little bit scared about doing so. Well, I've been brave, and my wedding portfolio is now live for the world to see! If you know any future husband and wives who are looking for a friendly wedding photographer, then please send them my way. :)
Being brave can take so much effort, and so much energy. It's so scary to face our fears, but if I've learnt anything in the past few years, it's that if you don't face your fears once in a while, you'll be missing out on just how brave you could be.