Yesterday St Patrick’s Day celebrations kicked off in London. Although being Irish myself and having lived in the UK for 26 years, I’d never been to the Irish celebration in London. The weather was amazing, glorious sunshine the whole day. I took my camera and limited myself to one lens so decided on my Nikon 18-70mm. Here’s how the day went in Pictures.
It was just another of my spur of thought moments. To create something pancake related. I had no idea what I was going to do until I positioned the camera and saw the scene through the viewfinder. It was another lightbulb moment and I could see the pancakes splattered all over the place with my son in the scene. I just use one pancake so after I positioned it each time I took a photo. My son was brilliant and got what I was trying to capture so after just 5 or 6 shots of him, I had the one I needed. The pancake had to be in the air when he tossed it. I then merged all 19 images in photoshop and brought out the detail during the editing process.
I happened to be watching #LooseWomen today on ITV and they asked for viewers to send in their pancake photos. I sent mine in and was delighted when it was aired. http://www.itv.com/loosewomen
With the recent floods here in the UK, thoughts of boats sprang to mind so I had to think of a concept using the paper ones I used to make as a child. It was raining heavily outside and the initial plan was to catch rain on the window behind the scene but by they time I had set it up, the Sun had come out and dried the droplets off the glass. Nonetheless, I continued with my vision.
I’ve dreamed a million daydreams, of fantasy and fright. I’ve read a thousand quick tips because my brain can’t take too much at once. I learn by doing, I never liked school and never done anything whilst there so didn’t learn. Why, because they weren’t doing anything I was interested in. During class my mind would drift off into random thoughts of dreams and nonsense, well it seemed like nonsense until I learned to use it, because it interested me. I used to make collages from the characters in history and English books, I’d stick them into landscape images in my geography books and create imaginary worlds. No one paid attention to it, it was just ‘my thing’.
I had a retail job eventually, and amongst the computer tech-ery we also had books on photoshop for sale. I began to read. I saw manipulated images and how to’s on the pages…. I bought Photoshop 5.2
There was information online, although scarce; on getting the best from this ‘App’ as the internet was new. I gathered what I could from the books and tutorials I came across and made notes as I practiced the art of digital creativity. I found what was missing in my younger years and I was hooked.
I ended up creating ‘sigs’ (forum signature banners) for members of gaming forums. My work was becoming more and more popular as requests for new designs came in. I was doing what I loved without payment but it got me a fan base.
Things happened in my personal life and I kept away from the forums and design. I lost motivation and struggled to keep myself occupied.
One day I saw an amazing photograph. A spark ignited and I discovered a new path. Another process of learning, reading, watching and listening had begun and almost 4 years later I am still in love with creativity, only this time I can capture it instantly. The learning continues, I’m inspired by other creatives, regardless of their field.
This pushes me to try new things, dream new dreams, and share my thoughts with the world through my images. I have learned to use the tools I have, without worrying about the tools I don’t. I am a Creative.
I was shocked and saddened to receive a letter from my Sons Primary School regarding a photo I took for another parent at the Schools Nativity play in December 2013. In the letter, the Head Teacher of the School expresses her concerns about the manner in which the Photo was taken.
I attended the play as a Parent, and along with other parents, I was keen to get some photos of my child so I could record the memories visually. During the performance, another parent approached me and asked me if I could get a picture of her child who was taking part as one of the 3 Kings. As the children stood on the stage, I had a decent position and could get a half decent shot of the parents child in his costume and crown. I showed the image to the parent who then asked me for a copy of the image. When the play finished, I headed home and printed a copy of the photo for the parent.
As she has children at different schools, I had little option but to give the photo to the school office to hand to the parent when she was next in. I had put the image in an envelope and addressed it to the Child’s Mother.
In the letter received from the Head Teacher, it states “Parents/Families are allowed to take photos during school events” as long as they are for personal use. She then goes on to say “however, a Professional Photographer taking photos of an event is an entirely different matter” and requires permission of the parents and could be in breach of the Data Protection Act.
Firstly, I attended the ‘performance’ as a Parent. Despite what I do for a living, my first and foremost thought was to ensure my child knew I was there to see him. Taking photos was a secondary thought.
I noticed other parents there who were also taking pictures, some using mobile phones, tablets etc and a few using digital cameras. some Parents even recorded video of the whole performance. Whilst I understand the schools policy regarding images of children, I in no way used any image for financial gain or for promotion. I never posted the images to any website or social media site. I simply printed out one copy of one image for one parent so they could have a printed memento of their child in their Nativity Play.
Why should what I do for a living have an affect on whether I’m allowed to take images, just the same as any other parent, regardless of the tools I used to achieve that. My camera isn’t even a top of the range professional level piece of kit. It’s merely an middle of the road DSLR and I used and 18-70mm lens for the images.
This is discrimination. A right for people with camera phones, compact cameras and tablets to take pictures but the same right is denied because I am a parent who happens to be a Photographer who attended the event.
Also in the letter the Head Teacher states “As a Professional Photographer, I should have contacted a member of staff or Governor” to explain that I am a professional photographer and I should have gained permission to take photos.
This is Political Correctness gone way over the top when a parent is discriminated against because of their profession.
I love adding different photographic genres to my portfolio. I love to challenge my photographic abilities. I love to create images that hold your attention. I love being different. These are all the qualities that make what I love doing, great. I don’t have time to regret not taking up photography earlier in life, it came to me when it was meant to and I grasped it with both hands. Knowing from an early age I was creative, I didn’t channel it until I picked up a proper camera. Who knows why, perhaps I just wasn’t ready.
When I know I have a job coming up, I try to imagine what images I hope to achieve with the subject/s of my images. In the case of these Guinea Pigs, I’d seen some snaps of them so had a rough idea of their scale and look. I also knew where I would be taking the images, a conservatory in this instance; so imagined the light that would be coming in. I imagined using materials and props so went out to look for some. I found a few objects in a local shop that seemed suitable and then imagined the Guinea Pigs in various poses using the props. This is all before I even actually met the subjects or seen the location. The backgrounds in these images are simple bedsheets. The majority of the light is coming in from the left and above the subjects. On the day, it was cloudy so the light is already diffused which was softened more by the plastic galvanized roof of the conservatory. I had a silver reflector camera right.
Pickles & Pumpkin
April 1 2004 ( April Fools Day). I was working for a retail company and had borrowed a product from the store the day before to learn about it’s features and functions. It was a Thursday, my day off the day I promised to return the product. At 11am, I headed to the store, put the product back in it’s place, then had a chat with the staff before leaving. I decided to head over to another branch of the company to speak to my colleague there as I hadn’t seen him since a training day we had some months back.
Living in London, I didn’t drive a car as my home to work distance wasn’t worth the tax, insurance and all else that goes with owning a car costs. I had a 50cc Italjet Moped, cheap insurance, tax and great for beating the rush hour traffic. I had just bought a new helmet the week before and was wearing a protective jacket, with plates in the sleeves and in the back, I also had gloves with kevlar protection, because it was a nice day, I was wearing track suit bottoms and trainers. So I headed off and had a nice leisurely ride as it was just past mid- day and the weather was perfect with little or no traffic on the road.
I was almost at my destination and was approaching a junction where there was a removal truck waiting to pull out from the left and a car coming towards me, indicating to turn to his right into the junction. Well I was going straight and had the right of way so continued at my pace.
The car suddenly turned right across my path, hitting me side on. My first thought was ‘SHIT’ before I felt myself flying, I remember the noise of my helmet on the tarmac and the orange light with images of the last few hours flashing through my mind in an instant, I remember thinking, WOW!! like I’d just seen something amazing!
I immediately found myself sitting up in the road, I think the first thing I did was check myself over, I seemed alright so tried to remove my helmet. A man came over and handed me my keys to the bike and said ‘these are yours, are you alright?’, I thought he was the driver of the car and was shouting at him for turning in front of me, he just walked away as I screamed at him to phone the emergency services. It turns out he was a passenger in the truck and the driver that hit me was in his car in a state of shock. I couldn’t get my helmet off so had to remove my gloves, that’s when I noticed my left hand and wrist was turning black and blue, again I thought ‘shit’.
With my helmet off, I looked back and saw that I was about 30 ft away from my bike which was under the car, pushed into the junction, just missing the truck. I was fully aware of what had just happened. I Saw my right trainer out in the middle of the road so looked down at my foot, There was blood everywhere. I knew it was bad, so grabbed my foot and applied as much pressure as I could. I could see a huge gash in the side of my right leg too but I knew that would just need stitches.
Out of nowhere, a nurse appeared and then another and another. I realised I was outside a Doctors clinic and remember thinking ‘thank god’. I don’t remember any of them speaking to me. One of them handed me bits of my watch which were found down the road a bit. They were all attending to my foot, at that point, I just lay down and let them get on with it, I felt safe. For some reason I phoned work to tell them I wouldn’t be in the next day. I had no idea how serious my injuries were.
Bang!!! the pain hits as the adrenaline wears off. It was unbelievable, I thought my leg was hanging off, it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I couldn’t feel any pain in my left arm at all. I could hear the sirens getting closer, the police and ambulance were coming. I was relieved. One police officer knelt down beside my head and tried to question me, the pain was overpowering and I could think of nothing else, I can just remember telling him, the car pulled across in front of me.
The ambulance guys were here, and because I was lying on the ground they put a plate stretcher under my back, and a neck brace on me, I told them I’m fine it was just my leg and wrist but they didn’t listen, so now I was angry and in pain. They brought me to the ambulance and we were on our way to the hospital, I began to feel colder than i’d ever felt before, I told the crew and they said it’s because my blood pressure had dropped and not to worry. The female crew member kept calling me Tim, I was furious that she kept getting my name wrong thinking that if anyone comes looking for me in the hospital, I wouldn’t exist.. It was only afterwards I found out she did it to keep me talking and alive.
I’m not going to go through the whole hospital experience but basically I was rushed into the trauma room and attended to straight away, they gave me morphine for the pain and I don’t recall much after that. I had a crush injury to my foot, severed the artery and damaged nerves and tendons which had to be removed. I had 2 operations, they put four wire pins in my foot which were left sticking out like nails in a piece of wood. I shattered my ankle and broke my left wrist and thumb.
I was in hospital for 8 days before being sent home to recover, My right foot and left arm were in plaster and life suddenly changed as I struggled to cope with what had happened. The things I took for granted, like having a bath, now became a whole new experience. In the nights that followed, I was having extreme nightmares, waking up screaming and shouting. My foot was getting spasms which traveled all the way up my leg, it was very uncomfortable for months. I had the plaster changed on my leg after 6 weeks and spent a total of 14 weeks with my leg in a cast. My arm was out of plaster after 6 weeks which was a huge relief.
A simple normal day had turned my life upside down in an instant, I became withdrawn, anxious, depressed and scared. The realization of how short life can be hit me hard and I couldn’t trust any drivers anymore, I was even terrified travelling as a passenger and would often refuse to go out because I was afraid of it happening all over again.
My insurance had me covered and I was assessed for my mental health by a private company. I was diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression. I was having frequent anxiety attacks and went for counseling when I could manage to leave the house. To be honest I didn’t get any benefit from ‘talking’ to the councillor about what was going on in my head. He had no clue what I was going through, he was just trying to re-assure me but really had no idea how I was feeling. I wasn’t the best person to be around, I know that much. I felt hate, blame, guilt amongst other emotions. I was always angry and even now despise the driver that hit me because he never apologised. In court he said I appeared out of nowhere!! he must’ve been blind because my bike was a bright green colour.
So the case went to court, it was the first time I’d seen the other driver, I wanted to grab him by the neck and show him what he’d done. Instead I said nothing and just waited for the court to decide his fate. There were witnesses, luckily. The truck driver and his family, they were moving house and they saw everything. They all said what I knew, the car pulled across my path without warning. The other driver was found guilty of driving without due care and attention, he was given a stupid fine and lost 4 points on his licence. I was happy for a brief moment but it didn’t last. For him it was over and although I’m sure he won’t ever forget, he will never know how he turned my life around. I am reminded every day, every twinge and spasm I get in my foot, brings it all back. I know it’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life and some days I ignore the thoughts and reminders (triggers) other days the pain is so uncomfortable, the thoughts that go through my mind you wouldn’t want to say out loud. Despite medication with the terrible side effects for depression, inducing the craziest dreams and sickening thoughts, I had to stop taking it.
My work suffered, because my mental state wouldn’t let me out of the house, I was taking more days off than I was working and it was taking it’s toll on me and the company, I was losing interest in the things I loved doing, fishing was a chore because of how my thumb broke, it made it difficult to make the rigs, the pain would worsen the colder my hand got, standing on uneven ground affects my foot and my balance isn’t the same because of the injury to it. Bowling was another issue, my Son’s favourite past time but because of my injuries I can no longer enjoy the experience and I soon lost interest altogether.
So where am I now? well, I have good days and bad days. There are times when I’m very happy and ready to face anything and there’s also times when I can’t step out the door. I’m extra careful when I do go out (part of the condition) and I suppose I’m over protective of my family now and even when they are out without me I get flashes of ‘what might happen’ and feel a huge sense of relief when I see them again. It’s strange going through that every time but something I’ve now become accustomed to. Over cautiousness is the term, but at least I know I will do anything to protect myself and my family. My life continues as does my PTSD but I’ve learned to deal with the everyday of it.
I hope this post makes people more aware of the condition and opens the eyes of those who think depression is something you can snap out of (as my doctor once told me) you can’t snap out of it but you can learn to live with it and that’s what I’m doing. Everyday is a blessing because I’ve got through it and every tomorrow is a hope that I can.