I metaphorically leaped out of the bath yelling “Eureka!” a couple of weeks ago. Hang on. Potted history time.
- Having spent years as a sculptor – after all, that’s what my degree was in, it no longer hit the spot for me. Oh dearie-dear
- Meltdown, followed by trying lots of other things – illustration, printmaking, artist’s books, dyeing and stitching, studying herbal medicine and running a vintage shop. Love them all but…
- Ping! I finally understand that film photography has always lit me up
- Decide to pursue this on a deeper level to see if it truly is my jam. Narrow down to black and white for several reasons I’ll explain one day; do some darkroom workshops, set up home darkroom, learn like a crazy person, meet lovely helpful people. Experiment with alternative processes and pinholes cameras. Get very excited
- Then get very deflated when I realise I don’t want to be a starving artist. What’s my next step?
Isn’t the advice is always the same?
SHOOT WHAT YOU LOVE and FIND YOUR NICHE
I think I need help.
So now it’s the beginning of 2016 and I join a pricey mentoring group to find that help. Everyone else in the group is either a wedding or portrait photographer and I’m convinced by them all there’s a niche market for black and white film in these areas. I’m quite sure there is, but it wasn’t exciting me. The others are all obsessed with bookings, the competition, post-editing, hootsuite scheduling and earning six-figures, so I quit. Yes, I know that when you’re starting out you should accept all jobs and I did/still do. I even worked with a digital camera a few times just to get experience of the shoot itself and a girl still needs to buy a turnip for the stewpot. I also shot interiors, documentary and product shots. I don’t mind doing these but it’s not fire in the belly stuff. What is though, is rambling in nature with a tripod and hummus sandwich, searching for the narratives and mood of landscapes; the sensitive relationship we have with the natural world, and meeting interesting, cool people along the way. I also love sharing all this whether it’s via writing about it here or simply just putting it out there. Or helping others with their film photography.
We can spend too long defining what out lives should look like by comparing them to others’ or seeking out their opinions rather than following our own inner compass. I thank my mentoring group for showing me what I didn’t want. I wonder if part of getting clear was stepping away from general internet noise and paying closer attention to my own cues.
Getting back to the Eureka! moment. I’m going to sell fine art darkroom prints of my projects, and I’m starting off on Etsy. Why? Because It’s a bite-size, small step out into the world of selling my art. Etsy is a low-risk, low-cost testing ground that’s already built and powered by someone else. I’m not a complete Etsy noob, my original art shop was open from 2009-12 but I don’t want to re-open it. The work I sold, thus the reviews and sold items, no longer represent what I do. I want a clean slate with it, sadly Etsy (the bastards) won’t let me use my own name again so I have to come up with a shop name so it will truly be a fresh start.
Etsy has changed a lot since I was last selling on there, so rather than rush headlong into it with no map I’ve devised a bootcamp. I’ve set myself a date to open my shop, I’ve set specific targets to reach each week. I’m thinking I should keep track of my progress on here, what do you reckon? A monthly check-in to let you know my progress? My dear blog, you can be my accountability buddy.
Let’s do this! Wooh!