This post is something I would like to share. It’s the story of how I came to find photography.
Growing up I was a very active teen enjoying different hobbies like dance, horse riding, ice skating and trampolining. This way of life was what I lived for, especially when it was a way of socialising with others and feeling the rush of winning when in other circumstances I was rather shy.
In 2005 I left high school and went on to college to study Law, Sport Science and Human Biology. I really enjoyed being in 6th form, especially studying Sports and Law. My Dad had always said i’d be a great lawyer because I could debate and argue for England. I may have been a little shy but when I wanted to I couldn’t half talk!
By Christmas I was in my element, gaining good predicted grades and gaining a great group of friends. Another thing I loved to do was travel all over. I have always been excited to go somewhere new and experience different new activities so I booked onto a Tall Ships adventure around the Mediterranean for three weeks. 2006 was shaping up to having an amazing start.
Before I knew it the day before I was due to travel down to Heathrow came and as always I had left it to the last minuet to pack. A friend who lived down the road had borrowed some things that I wanted to take and I also wanted to say goodbye before I left so on the Thursday night I left my house and started to walk to hers.
Next thing I knew I was lying on my back with someone shouting my name. I didn’t open my eyes, I just replied to who was shouting and then that was it. I then wake up to my then boyfriend asking me what my mum and dads number was because he wanted to ring them. Again I didn’t open my eyes I just replied and then blacked out again.
The next time I opened my eyes was in a hospital room with monitors all around me. My mum and dad and boyfriend stood next to me looking tired and for some reason relieved. They told me what had happened and asked me if I remembered anything, I was so tired I couldn’t make my mind work. They left me to sleep and the next morning everything became clear and I learnt the magnitude of my accident.
As well as head injuries which affected my sight in the long term, I had fractured the right side of my pelvis, broken my lower sacrum (back) and with that came compression on the S1 nerves. The surgeon, Mr.O’Malley came to see me the following Monday. He told me and my parents that he had looked over my scans and X-rays and found there was a lot of damage to my lower body and that he would need to operate to see the extent of the damage and the scar tissue. To put it bluntly I was in a lot of pain and lucky to be alive. What was said next still runs in my head. He told me that he would have to do a number of things to fix me up but the chance of it working and me walking again was 50/50. My mum and dad just looked at each other then at me. My response was….”I could always play wheelchair basketball.” Naturally.
The next two months where a blur of tests, operations, rather mind numbing bed rest and swapping from ward to ward. I lived off of green grapes because I didn’t want to eat anything with all of the morphine and other pain killers I was on and I watched every season of Friends, Tru Calling, Family Guy and Sex in the City. My friends and family came to see me but visiting hours where only for so long so the rest of the time I either revised for my A Levels or slept. I did an awful lot of sleeping.
Finally March came and I was allowed to move for the first time in almost two months. The nurse came in and helped me change, swung my legs over the edge of the bed and asked me to try and stand. Now I wish I could say I walked from one end of the room to the other no problem but that just didn’t happen. One second I was on the bed the next I was on the floor. I was so frustrated I burst into tears. The nurse picked me up and sat me on the chair next to the bed, giving me a moment to calm down and regain focus. She nipped away and when she came back she had a wheelchair for me. I got into it and we went for a roll around the ward I was staying on. To be honest in one way I was glad to be out of the room, but on the other I didn’t want to go outside. The thought of it frightened me to death and it had been snowing so it was cold. After a little while we went back to my room and she left me there while she went to get something. When she came back she had a Zimmer frame with her. That just hurt even more seeing that coming in. I was 17 years old, a gold winning dancer and being given a Zimmer frame! I just wanted to cry. Instead I let her sort out my wires and tubes and with some encouragement I took a deep breath and grabbed onto the frame. Literally dragging myself up, shaking like crazy as all my weight went onto my arms, I stood up for the first time in two months. The next challenge was actually moving forward but the nurse said one step at a time. I was a real life Bambi. Over the next few days I was being taught to walk with a Zimmer frame and then with crutches. I tackled the therapists fake stair case by going up and down it on my bum like I did when I was a kid. I just wasn’t strong enough to walk up them with crutches just yet. The day finally came where I was told I could go home. I was so happy to leave, even if it was just to be on bed rest at home at least I was at home with my mum and dad and my things.
April, May and June where spent revising for my A Levels, going to physiotherapy and sleeping. It was hard to stay awake for a whole day, sometimes I managed but mostly I wiped out by 3 o’clock. I finished my exams and felt a sense of relief but one question loomed over me. What do I do now? With my injuries I couldn’t complete my Sports Science A Level, I had just passed my Law and Biology AS exams but no where near the grades I had hoped for.
This is when I started to realise that I couldn’t just jump back into the way I used to be. I couldn’t do my hobbies, I
couldn’t do anything where I wasn’t sitting. In all honesty I hit a mental wall and went into a state of feeling very sorry for myself.
For a while to get out, I started going to watch bands around Warrington and Liverpool. It was nice to get out but I couldn’t exactly stand up and dance so I sat in a corner near the front. After a while I started taking photos of the band from where I sat. One day, I was sat talking with my dad at home. While reminiscing back to when I first started going on holidays and camps we laughed at how I used to take 12 rolls of film away with me and came back with all of them used. It used to cost him so much to develop, he was happy when I had a digital compact camera. He went on to tell me about all of his old darkroom equipment and how he used to develop his own photographs. I remember mentioning that I had really enjoyed taking photos when I went away skiing or on camp and I’d realised just how much I enjoyed it when I started to take photographs of the bands I went to watch and the people I knew in those circles.
August came and went and it was time for me to decide what it was i wanted to do. did i want to continue with my current A Levels or didn’t i?
After talking with student services at college I decided to study Btec Media and A Level Film Studies. I’d always loved Art and Design, been creative when it came to writing fiction and fell in love with cinema when I was on bed rest as I had plenty of time to watch every film that was on DVD. But the thing that swayed me was Photography. My college didn’t have Photography as a course so this was the next best thing. I had the time of my life on this course. I loved studying it and wanted to excel in it, always aiming for distinctions and achieving it.
In October I turned 18. When asked what I wanted for my birthday I said I’d like an DSLR so my Dad being my Dad researched what where the best DSLR cameras around and on my birthday, gave me a Canon EOS 450D with zoom lens. That was it then I was away. Shooting every moment, every thing in sight. In November I had to go back into hospital to have some scar tissue removed from my nerve endings, my metal plate adjusted and the tunnels widened. This set me back a bit but now I had something to look forward to when I was up and about again.
The next year and a half was spent working on projects and being rather competitive when it came to getting the best grades in the class. All of my hard work paid off because in August 2008 I left college with a triple distinction in Creative Media and I was accepted onto the Dual Honours BA Photography and Film Production course at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.
At university I met one of my now best friends Laura, mother of my niece and nephew who are a great source of inspiration to me. Here I also found that my love of photography wasn’t just as a hobby, it was slowly becoming my way of life, just as my sports where to me a few years before.
The next three years where challenging but just as rewarding. I was gaining good grades, got to go to Africa twice on two separate publication projects and left in 2011 with a 2:1. Over that three years I started to build up experience by second shooting for other photographers, shooting for a portraiture company and also started shooting my own weddings, the first being Justine and Ian’s wedding in 2009. I also made the decision to fund and complete outside training to improve my technical abilities so I sent myself on various training seminars with Aspire Photographic Training up in Kendal with Catharine Conor and the rest of the team which included; Stuart Cooper, Kate Hopewell-Smith, Lisa Aldersley, Lucy Woodrow and Phil Barbour. I was especially lucky to have Rachel Hayton inspiring me with her flare for styling.
After graduation I chose to complete my PGCE in Post Compulsory Education and Training which qualified me to teach Photography and Media to 16+ students. I absolutely loved teaching the group of students I was assigned to and doing this made me realise just how much I had learned myself over the past four years.
After I had completed my second degree in 2012 I took time out of education and just worked in a bar for a year. This gave me time to focus on what I wanted to do with my photography and where I wanted it to take me. Sadly in 2012 came more sadness then joy with the ending of my marriage and the deterioration of my health.
After all of this, with the help of my parents and my best friends Charlotte, Orhla and Laura. H. and my boyfriend Phil, I realised that there was no question about it. Photography was my love, my passion, something I could do and do well be it teaching it or practicing it. Now things have calmed down and are back on track I am able to throw my all into relaunching my business and love what I do as well as doing what I love.