On being an independent woman and taking risks. To all the strong women out there who are trapped in work they no longer love. Follow your dream.

Am I scared? You bet. Yesterday I resigned from my teaching job. It’s final and there is no going back. I’ve been on sabbatical. So is my photography diary full? No. I’m not financially secure, I have taken a leap of faith – in myself. You see all of the awards listed below? I bet you think I am confident and successful, convinced my business will be easy and that paid work will flood in? Not at all – bookings can pour in, then it goes quiet and I feel queasy. I had a faculty family, now I am a lone wolf. So why did I give up a safe pay check and structured work and free fall? I will tell you the truth.

I had a dream when I was 14 years old, I fought to take my GSCE (O’ level) Art, then I fought to sneak AS Art into my life and they said, “Give up and focus on academic subjects.” So I went behind their backs and went to Art college on a Saturday morning. To be honest academic subjects made sense, I had a very abusive childhood, I am lucky to be alive and I needed to become well qualified and to earn my own living, to be safe. I needed enough money to get out. Simone De Beauvoir said, “Independence begins in the purse.” She had a point.

Photography was too risky. So I ended up teaching media in colleges and until I had my daughter it was creative and it sustained me. Then I got post natal depression and demoted. I thought just having a job and being a mum was enough, and I was exhausted anyway. I longed for my dream and feared it was not realistic.

When my daughter was a teenager ( I know I waited that long! But this is a real story), I went to night school to study photography. I invested in me and it was knackering. And brilliant. To fill myself up instead of wringing me out. I plotted my exit. I exhibited at The Getty in London in May 2017 and a few days later I decided to leave my job! The shot hanging on the wall was about a road journey mixed with a “Thelma and Louise” fantasy because I wanted the accelerator pedal and an open road, to take a trip before I am too old. So my gut screamed in place of the tyres.

College were lovely and suggested a safety net ( I think I may have appeared rash, and well Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff) they called it a sabbatical. When I resigned yesterday my boss hugged me. My friends hugged me, the Principal hugged me, because I refuse to give up on my dream. I want this adventure and I bet they do too.

So many of my friends are trapped in their lives. Plot your escape.

Portrait of Britain

I joined a photography club when I was 16 years old and I went to Art School on Saturdays whilst studying for my A Levels. I taught in a college, sensibly paying the bills until my daughter was a teenager. I went full time freelance last year. Some dreams must finally be lived. So what did it mean to be short listed for a national award in my first year? 

A boost to the self belief. The urge to reach higher. To ask my mentor to help me to develop more meaningful work. To thank my models and ask them to continue offering me so much of their authentic selves to shoot. But also the shock of it. If you know me you will see that I come from a very abusive childhood and never dreamed I would survive to adulthood, evidence that I am flourishing can be hard to deal with. It goes against what I was conditioned to expect. So ‘a win” has humbled me. It is a win too, in my first real year of work I got short listed out of 8000 entries and hanged at the Getty. So I am just going to push on.

LenCulture Emerging Talent

So there are two sides to my work. I shoot for families and individuals and for businesses too. BUT, it is really important to me to push myself and develop my style with my tutor Aj Wilkinson. I love exploring how women construct their femininity. Olivia does too. As a trans woman she shares this dilemma. Shall I be girly today- but will I be taken seriously at work? If I want to wear jeans and no make-up will people judge me? Can I be lots of different women – even in one day? Ladies out there reading this know what I mean!
Olivia is one of my muses and we often work together. She gives a lot of honesty to my camera. The image I took of her hung in The Getty, now it looks like we might be off to New York. Cross your fingers for me. Getting international recognition would be amazing. Ultimately it benefits my other clients too. You can buy my photographs knowing that I work very hard to give you something special. 

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