The last few weeks have been a really interesting journey with lots of fantastic shoots and work with some fantastic clients. And some of the opportunities that have come my way have been really exciting and have got me some pictures that I go, “Wow, I’m quite happy with that!” But there’s a difference between being happy with something and being proud of yourself for doing it. And this came up in conversation a few times with a number of different people recently. And this question of feeling proud – are you proud of your achievements, are you proud of your work? And it’s been quite an interesting journey for me. I’ve done this for 10 years now. I have a back catalogue covering all manner of different facets of the industry and my business is going very well. I should be very proud of that from an outsider’s perspective and a perceived thing – I should be proud of what I’ve achieved. But me personally? And inside? It’s just where’s the next thing? It’s the next job, the next big client, the next big, interesting shoot, the next big thing coming. I’ve never looked at things with a sense of pride.
And this links back to some of the blogs I’ve done recently, regarding shoots for me as obviously I love shooting for clients and in the last calendar year, I’ve shot in the region of 155 shoots across a wide range of clients. And of all of those shoots, obviously, I’m really happy to have helped all those businesses to get their pictures and I do like seeing my pictures out there being used for what they should do. But do I feel proud of that? I don’t know – pride’s a really funny thing in my world.
So that swings it round to this – shoots for me, shoots for clients. I think any healthy business has to have two key sides to it. Firstly, for it to be a business and not just a hobby, there needs to be a significant amount of business and financial gain from doing what you do. So on the Venn diagram below, because I have to put it in because I use it to reference for a lot of people, there’s a Venn diagram, one side of it says money and one side of it say creative. Often in photography terms, people sit on the creative side and make a bit of money and that’s great. What I’ve caught myself doing over the last year is being more on the money side of things. And that’s obviously good for the business and that, but then I’ve maybe been maybe lacking the creative shoots for me. So when I look back at those 155 shoots, there’s actually only one that was for me.
It wasn’t for a client, obviously, they’ve used them and all of that, but the real driver behind it was that I’d set myself the challenge as this shoot was four years in the making. It’s the one with Ash Dykes, I’m sure you’ve read the extremely long blog about it. And I said this calendar year, that I was going to do more shoots for myself. That’s not to say I’m doing less business, far from it, but I wanted a few more shoots that I can go, “I gave absolutely everything to that, the story behind it, absolutely bought into it,” and really walk away going, “Yeah! I’m proud of myself for doing that.” For whatever reason, whatever the shoot entailed. And to kind of just put that out there was quite strong for me and quite impactful to be able to look at it and go, “Yeah, that’s what I wanna do.”
So I have already shot Louis Alexander earlier in the year, which was 17 marathons in 17 days. It was the story behind the young lad doing it, which was, he’s just an amazing guy and he’s busy rowing the Channel at the moment, which is again, just amazing, to raise money for charity. Then next in line, so number two, Captain George Bromley, extensive military career, is raising money for a number of military charities by doing a beeline from Lands End to John O’Groats. And I’ve driven a couple of hours up the road to catch him on the road, get some pictures and then drive home. And who were those pictures for? They were for me. Because I think the story and what he’s doing are fantastic. If a handful of my pictures can support him, raising money, then what am I here for?
It’s breaking that barrier – some jobs are for money, some jobs are for creative, some jobs are that tiny little slither in the middle, which is getting paid for really, really cool shoots and obviously we want a lot more of those every year. But these shoots are very much in the creative aspect and over on that side of the Venn diagram. Do you think about your shoots like this, or is it just an idiosyncrasy of myself?