I had worked at Marks and Spencer for 10 years. My career to date was M&S; I started there at the age of 19 and I feared more than anything becoming an M&S stick of rock whereby if you cut me in half I would say ‘Marks and Spencer’ down the centre. So the decision to leave everything I knew along with the lifelong friends I had made and try and take on the world by myself was huge!
‘The decision’ was brought about by two things; firstly, I wasn’t happy in my role. People in the office were leaving and upon hearing their news that they were leaving to start their own business or follow a personal passion, my internal cry was ‘take me with you!’. Image that kid in the super market that throws themselves on the floor and has a massive wobbly-that was me inside. I just didn’t want to be there anymore. The big corporate machine was taking its toll on me and with each day I could feel myself mentally trying to pull further and further away from it. Over the years the things that I wanted out of life and what I valued had changed dramatically.
Then secondly and more importantly; one day I was at a party with Ewan (my fiancé) and his family and I was having a conversation with his cousin about work. She was in between roles and I wasn’t happy in mine and as such I then went on the usual work rant that felt all too familiar to me. She then asked me what the ‘dream job’ would be, and without even drawing breath out the word came…’photographer’. Her response to me was simple, ‘so why aren’t you doing it then?’. Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest. Why wasn’t I doing it? I then asked her the same questions in return, and she couldn’t answer me. She did however go on to tell me that to know what you want to do in life is a gift in itself as she was struggling to find that clarity. I have always known I wanted to be a photographer and I thought that everyone had a job that they dreamt of doing, even if sometimes it might not seem possible.
As a young teenager I can remember I was always getting my friends to pose at the top of the stairs at my parents’ house (very embarrassingly, usually trying to impersonate the latest girl group. The Spice Girls being my fav) and I would be so excited to see the results when the films were developed (my god do they get a laugh now!). Then came the day I got my brothers old hand me down SLR camera which I started to play with and picked up the settings by myself along with learning to focus the camera and adept the light to different environments. I instantly fell in love. I literally have packets and packets of photographs from teaching myself how to use that camera and I was so proud of the photos that I produced that I started to seriously consider it as a career.
However back then digital technology along with social media wasn’t what it is now. There was no Instagram or Facebook and to be a photographer felt to be a lot more studio based and a lot more isolated. It is definitely a vocation that has evolved over the previous year’s especially. As I started to research more into photography I kept coming across the point that photography wasn’t a steady career, which at the time was important to me. I wanted an element of security in my future. I was also led by the crowd a bit at that age and everyone was doing more academic qualifications and degrees so I chose Fashion and Marketing at the University of Leeds (and yes I am aware that in retrospect my degree choice may not be deemed to be the most academic!).
This is the point in my life that I wish I could go back and advise my 17-year-old self to follow your passion and do what you enjoy, not be led by doing what you feel you should. So at the risk of trying to advise my 31-year-old self in another 20 years’ time, I made ‘the decision’. I handed my notice in, and I’ve never looked back since. As it is led me to here, and you reading this blog. Hello :-).