I thought it would be a good idea to share with you all where my photography journey began! This thought was triggered when last week I was putting all the bits and bobs back in the cupboards after we had our living room decorated. The job that would only take a few minutes seemed to take forever to put the stuff away as I was reminiscing over photos!
SIXTH FORM 2003-2006
So I have always been torn between sports and art related things – photography and textiles mainly, I played hockey to county level for Cheshire, LOVED team sports and running and did Art and Textiles at GCSE. When I got to Lower Sixth at Bishop Heber there was a new subject in the option boxes ‘Sports Studies’ which really threw a spanner in the works as I was going to choose Art. But because I could not do GSCE PE as I did Art – I thought I would give Sports Studies a go!
Lower Sixth passed and I decided to drop Spanish – I could get by with some words but not enough to get an A-level in it! Art became an option again to pick up at AS level while I did my other subjects at A2 level. Upper Sixth we had to start applying for Uni and I had Sports Science in my head. I got an offer at some amazing Uni’s : Sheffield Hallam, Loughborough, Aberystwyth.
I took my offers further and actually landed myself a scholarship at Aberystwyth which was very exciting and had it all set up to go the following year if I got the results. However their was something still niggling that I was not going to finish my Art A-level which was a real shame.
One of my favourite teachers at school – Mr McMillan said I needed to finish my Art A-level, it would be such a shame not too. I have always been an indecisive person and I knew that I needed to as well, and really was Sports Science what I REALLY wanted to do?!?
So I had a meeting with the Head of Sixth Form – no one had done a ‘gap year’ before at the Heber and advised I should not do it. My intentions were to do my A2 levels, come back the following year – finish my A2 Art A-level and continue working at the pub that I had started working at to save for uni the following year. Great idea!
I deferred my place at Aber, went to the Heber to complete my Art A-level and continued working at the Combermere Arms.
I made some incredible friends while working at the pub who I am still in touch with many now (and in fact met my husband Craig there too!) but one very inspiring friend, was my friend Hannah. Hannah is an incredibly creative person, amazing artist too and heart of gold! She is a couple of years older than me and she had actually finished uni and went out to Ghana to volunteer and do some travelling with a charity called Madventurer. While I was on my gap year Hannah returned and showed me some amazing photos of what she had got up to on her time away and knew that THIS is what I wanted to do too. I wanted to go and meet some incredible people, try and make a bit of a difference to some people and also have a bit of a break from working/education and get my head straight with what I wanted to do in the future. Another inspiring set of people where also my friends Mark and Rob who were regulars at the time at the Combermere and also photographers. I actually owe a lot to these two now. When they heard I had booked some time away, they insisted that I borrowed their Canon 1N Film Camera to take with me. I did not really now how to work it – advised to just leave it in ‘P’ mode and have a play! I was absolutely delighted! So in the May – I did my Art Exam, handing in my projects and jetted on a plane to Ghana!
My time in Ghana, was just the absolute BEST! I met some of the most INCREDIBLE people. Super friendly, caring and funny! I really tried to help make a difference to these peoples lives in the short time I was there. I was away for nearly 4 months and carried 28 rolls of FILM with me in the end! I saw some amazing places and actually went to Timbuktu which actually is a real place! I thought it was a phrase and a scene in the Disney film The Aristocats!!!!
I helped build two out of three phases of the Junior school which was just a wonderful feeling that the children in the village would have a dry area to be able to go and learn. When in Ghana, I really tried to help teach some of the kids when I could. When we first arrived, I noticed a boy called Jacob, who was quiet. The more I got to know him, I found out that he was originally from Togo and could not speak “Ewe” – the local language very well or English. He got 11/100 on an his Ewe test and got the cane in class for not doing so well and it shocked me so much, I felt the need that I really wanted to help him – with any subjects that I could. Firstly he came to our house, but before we knew it, more and more of the kids from the class wanted to learn too, so our venue had to change. The village had an infant school we could go into at night. I bought some candles but before I knew it I was teaching around 10 children in the evening from anything I could remember from GSCE level – about the body, photosynthesis, english – reading whatever we could do and they LOVED it! There was a local shop that sold 7up and Fanta which equated to about 1.5p a bottle!! so I tried to make it such a lovely experience to treat the kids to a drink which they could not afford and teach them any sort of knowledge that I could remember!
We organised sports days and simple activities – which everyone loved – its just really shows you do not need technology. One significant moment I remember was when us volunteers organised a football match. Jacob never really played football the time I was there but that day the other boys asked him to join in and he loved it, it was ace to see, a job well done!
My time in Ghana I was photographing, A LOT with the film camera! I was loving it, photographing people and the scenery but also the kids especially loved playing with the digital camera. The camera I had was terrible and I dread how many batteries I used but it was great to get so many photos!
The photos below are just some snaps of my scrap books that I have made since when I got home. I was gutted to leave Ghana but I ran out of funds and I had to get back to face reality.
BACK TO REALITY
So I got back late in August, and freaked out I had no money to go to Uni with, so I deferred again. This was the last time I could do this now. I carried on working at the Combermere and also got a couple more jobs – working in a coffee shop and also Topshop! I then met Craig (at the Comberemere – my now husband!) He started at the pub while I was away in Ghana. When I arrived home, I received my result for my A2 level Art and got an A – so truly worth doing!
So that year I simply worked and worked and worked!! I then had the chat from my mum and dad asking really what am I going to do with my future, I could not defer again and was Sports Science really the route to go?!? I nipped to see Mr McMillan at the Heber and he suggested applying for a Foundation Degree at Manchester Art College – stupidly I missed the application date by a day! So that scuppered those plans and it would take another year to apply. I could not wait another year. So I started thinking and while making my scrap books from my travels it dawned on me about photography courses. I started researching more and more and found Mid Cheshire College ran Chester University Photography Courses there. I went for an interview with various bits of work and got offered a place! My photography journey started to begin! I notified Aber that sadly I would no longer be taking my place. Craig and I started to become more serious and on a whim, we bought our first house and rescued our dog, Marley! I continued at the pub so I had an income while i did my foundation degree and things were slowly but surely coming together!
In Year 2 at college, we had to do a module on working with other professionals, which I worked with a fashion photographer in Manchester and although the experience was amazing, this was not the avenue I wanted to take. I worked with two other wedding photographers and realised this is what I want to do!
I completed my foundation degree and got a First, and graduate at Chester Cathedral, really fantastic day!
I have worked so hard working with other wedding photographers over the years and still work regularly with a photographer who gave me that chance almost 9 years ago! In that time of building my business a lot has happened! We had Florence, Craig and I got married! Followed by the arrival of Dougie, moved house and then sadly lost Marley our wonderful dog. (very sad times) we then got Reggie our chocolate labrador as we could not cope with out a loving furry friend around and then Stanley (Child number 3 came along!) and if that was not enough, we got Reggie a friend, a black labrador, Woody!
So on reflection, looking at those amazing photos, I am one very, very lucky lady! A healthy family, our lovely home and married with our doggies! Although my life has been incredibly indecisive I certainly would not have it any other way now. I love photographing, I love working with people and a MASSIVE believer that:
ALL THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON
A massive thank you to the following people:
- Mark and Rob for lending me your camera, if it was not for you I do not think I would have had all those photos to put in my scrap books and reflect on what an amazing time I had photographing
- Hannah – for telling my to go to Ghana! If you had not inspired me, i would not have gone!
- Mr McMillian – for pushing me to do that gap year and finish my A-level Art
- Caroline – for giving me the chance of work experience with you and teaching me all these years!
- Mum and Dad – making me think what I should do with my life and all your love and support!
- Craig, Florence, Dougie, Stan, Marley, Reggie and Woody – for being my forever ending models! I love you all dearly and photographing you all makes me realise how incredible important photos are! (Click here to see the models in action on our recent holiday!)
- All my beautiful friends in Ghana – for being such remarkable people, photographing you all and your way of life