Helloo everyone !
So as I said in my last post I am starting this new series of posts to do as daily as I can, and to keep my creative juices flowing – the inappropriate side of me is giggling right now.
Before I start, I would love to hear some of your ideas of things you’d like me to talk about. It can be personal things to you or what you want to know of me, about food, lifestyle or anything you think would be interesting to talk about, so leave a comment below !
To start this little series off I think I should talk about something I obviously know a lot about – how I got into photography.
I get a few emails about this and I think it’s nice to start with a little back story to how I got to here and what I love about it so much.
At 16 students have to select A-Level subjects to study during their two-years at sixth form (11th-12th Grade in the USA) and I had always been good across the board but didn’t have a specific talent, I was just always the one who took pictures at all the parties and picnics to put on Facebook. I enjoyed art even though I wasn’t that good at it because I liked people yet couldn’t paint them at all – not a good combo. The ‘problem’ was that I loved taking pictures of people and always focused on that, and when it came to painting my pieces they weren’t that good to be honest.
SO I figured, maybe if I take photography I can let off my steam and take pictures of people there and then take art as well and develop the skills in an area I’m actually okay with.
A lot of people (non-creative) were like “oh it’s too much coursework, just take art and incorporate photography”, “what will you do with photography ?”, “that’s such an easy subject, why not take Business ?”
I defied my critics and took Art, Photography, History and Philosophy + Ethics. I bought my first DSLR with my exam bonus money, a Canon 500D which I still use to this day, and was so happy and excited with the quality. Everything fell out of focus with a soft blur, the sharpness was crisp, people looked real you could see all the details – I’m getting excited now reliving that moment. My first picture was of a flower in my garden.
|first picture on the Canon.|
I started my subjects in September, immediately getting involved and tried hard to learn what I could. The only thing I’d criticise was that we didn’t learn a lot about technical issues such as ISO and aperture so I’ve had to teach myself later on and I still struggle a bit. When it came to our portraiture unit I flourished, I went wild and did loads of work, roping in my friend to be my model and dress her up, constantly stating the importance of white walls and having my mum hold our living room lamp so I could create shadows – oh how time has somewhat changed.
When it came to my first assessment, I got an A grade. I was so unbelievably happy and shocked; I didn’t think I’d done that well as I found some other class members did more or had more arty techniques but I guess I did something right.
When exams came round I chose the portraiture unit again and used more family and friends to model for me; I got stressed, I over-worked, I knuckled down, but I loved it all. I ended up again getting an A and I was so happy. I continued the subject for a second year, and I was allowed to write my own question for my coursework unit.
Over the summer I worked on the topic – I know, keen bean for starting early – of Alter-Egos, looking at Superman/Clark Kent, Beyonce/Sasha Fierce etc and it progressed into androgyny, how we force children into adult situations; it also started the use of myself as a model to express my body issues and hidden desires to be someone I felt I couldn’t be. At the time I went through two really big events that threw me, emotionally exhausted me and were a big wake-up call in my chosen relationships. This unit helped me channel my emotions and made me work more and more as producing kept me busy.
I was always scared of submitting, I had this view that even though I did loads, it wasn’t as good as so-and-so’s work. I was always trying to be better. When my result came out for the unit, my teacher just walked up to me with the grade sheet and circled ‘100%’, “We couldn’t give you anything else Lauren, it was excellent.”
I could cry now relaying how amazing that was. I was one of two in the year to get that result.
My exam unit went well also and overall I achieved an A* grade at the end of my A-Levels. I had decided I wasn’t ready for university so I went to a local county college to study an Art Foundation. Over the summer I worried I might not want to do photography, that I was no good at it, maybe I should do printing instead… I struggled along the weekly projects of clay sculpture and painting, carving materials until I finally reached the photography week. Within an hour of starting I knocked myself straight “Lauren you love photography, see how much you love it !!”
I was working with film and dark-room developing, a new experience and I was so at ease. When we could have a second taster week, I battled myself onto the Photography course and had a fantastic week by the sea, developing film pictures and going up to strangers for pictures.
I learnt that my tutor was straight-talking, honest, blunt, sarcastic, took no s*** (which I was like ‘praise god finally no dilly dallying’) but he respected photographers who loved what they were doing. When I tried to describe my work to him I felt it was hard to articulate it with words and he didn’t understand, so when he saw some of my previous work, he was like “Jesus I didn’t think it would be this, let’s rework all this stuff” which made me happy. I’m glad I was able to be the photographer I wanted to be with full reign.
We did loads of mini projects – Self-Portrait, where I revealed a lot about myself emotionally, Identity, Landscape and Street Photography. I loved trying each of them out again to get back into the swing of pictures, I learnt how to use Medium-Format, 35mm and how to talk to strangers.
I got into 4/5 of my university choices, but I didn’t really like any of them, none of them excited me so I deferred my entries (which I am still going to refuse acceptance), but I still worked my hardest in my exam unit.
I was still in some weird mind-frame and wanted to physically change myself over the course of my project, but I found it too hard so I looked back at my Alter Ego work and decided to focus on the social and mental health issues perfection has on young girls. I made myself look gaunt, bruised, mentally unstable; I addressed body issues, how hair colour changes our appearance, how engaging in groups socially makes our behaviour change…I did it all and more.
Distinction was a really high aim, you had to get 100% in each area to achieve the grade and again I didn’t think I was doing enough, you don’t know how well you’re doing until the last moment when you can do nothing. So I kept working. I ended up finishing really early and had loads of free time to stay at home and enjoy summer.
After my exhibition, I waited a few weeks until going in to get my grade and leave, and I got a Distinction which was a massive relief. I skipped out of college to go onwards into whatever it was I would be doing.
Summer passed, I worked, I went abroad, and then I came home realised I don’t want to be stucking doing something I hate forever so I decided to focus on getting into photography again.
It was by pure luck I read an article saying ‘apply for competitions’ to break into photography which made me enter COMPANY Academy. I hadn’t done a shoot in months and when I got over all my fears of ‘how will I know what to do’ again, I was in my element slathering vaseline and foil on my face to take pictures.
I forgot about the entry, and continued finding jobs etc all the boring stuff. I was almost at the end of my tether, about to give it all up when I was informed of my selection and it was the best yes I’d had in months. Being able to put it on my CV really boosted my confidence and my attraction to other companies.
Since then I have been making sure to keep shooting pictures for my blog posts and for my own personal work, I enter contests and send my work off and out into the world, and I love it. It brings me joy and so much excitement to pull a picture up and go ‘holy s*** this is a really great picture I can’t wait to edit this !’ As my own boss and tutor, I am no longer scared or questioning what others think. If I love my work, then I know it’s good, I am my own critic and I’m a really hard one at that – my opinions on photography, don’t get me started !
I love hearing the feedback on my pictures, but I know ultimately that if I’m happy, then that’s good enough. I am excited to get my work published more and to work in a creative environment, and I am so happy I found my route here as photography has – as cliche as it sounds – changed my life; I’ve been able to be who I want to be, and be good at what I want to do. I get my knockbacks and my put-downs but I won’t allow something like that to prevent me continuing onwards, and so far it works.
So that’s how I got here and how I started, that was one hell of a trip down memory lane !
All my links are below to my work, you can time-travel right back to the beginning if you so wish.
Let me know your thoughts on posts like these below, and what you’d like to see next
Lots of Love,