So, what am I going to do with my life?

That’s the big question that everyone’s asking; my friends, family, lecturers, employers, and even myself. I’ve never been great at making decisions. I used to be so hesitant of the consequences, and of wasting time on things that didn’t stick to the original plan, so would often end up taking the safest option. I’m still no good at making decisions, that much hasn’t changed. But, I’m no longer afraid of the consequences of making the wrong one as I know there’s always something to be learnt or gained. This mind-set has given me a lot of confidence, and pushed me into approaching a lot more opportunities.
I like making things; documentaries, band promos, photos. I like displaying things; I like putting my work out there and seeing the various reactions, I like finding old things and giving them a new lease of life, I like adding to my collection of antiques, trinkets and artwork. I like saying “I’ll help you with that”, when I have no idea what I’m doing, and then dedicating my energy to finding out. I like making props, and mending and decorating things. I like travelling, and adding to my bank of memories, friendly faces, and fire side stories. I ask ‘why?’ a lot and always hope that the answer’s going to be ‘there doesn’t have to be a reason’.
I have my next year or so planned out, and I’m not sure where I’ll go from there. The work in America will hopefully lead onto further employment, but will as a minimum allow me to better my chances of employment on my return. The fact that I still don’t know exactly what job I want to do for the rest of my life doesn’t bother me in the slightest, the thought of actually staying in one job for my entire life does! I know what I’m good at, what I enjoy, what I want to be better at, and what I don’t enjoy, and for me, that’s a very good state to be graduating in.

Photography Teaching Assistant Job in the US.

In mid June I will be flying to Vermont, to spend a few months teaching analogue photography and dark room skills to 8-13 year olds. This is a professional, paid job. I don’t know exactly what equipment I’ll be using yet, or what the syllabus consists of, but I am so excited. This is going to be a great chance to learn, improve my communication and teaching skills, meet new people and add to my portfolio. I have been out of practice with my 35mm for a couple of years due it’s impracticalities, and haven’t had access to a darkroom since college, so a few months ago I dusted off my camera, got a new one too, bought some film and a membership to a local developing shop. I’ve loved getting back into the habit of using it, and experimenting with things such as double exposure. It’s also been great teaching my boyfriend how to use it too, obviously this is very different from teaching 8 year olds, but it has prompted me to brush up on my own knowledge and think about why I am doing certain things. After my contract has finished, I plan on travelling the east and west coasts of the states; yet more opportunity for me to get experience taking photos in a wide range of environments. There is a possibility at the end of a full time job in the marketing department in London (although there is one position and hundreds of applicants) and a strong chance of me returning to America next year.

Camera Op for Not Just A Pretty Race

Charlie Lawrence has produced a documentary about women in the motorsport industry. I helped out as a camera op, with a Z5, on the shoot at LOLA. We had originally hoped for a bigger crew but only Charlie and myself could make it, so I manned one camera while Charlie did the interviewing, recorded sound and kept an eye on another, static, camera that I’d set up. We had a tour of the building and considered different options of filming locations; there were quiet, but boring offices, there was a busy but colourful lobby, an interesting but dark wind tunnel, and a well lit workshop that was quite echoey. None of the locations were ideal, so we settled on the workshop; it was bright, spacious, not in use (at least when we started filming) and was fitting as there were car parts in the background. We were very pushed for time as we were only allocated a very limited time slot to film, so we had to make quick decisions and get the job done. I think I did well on this shoot; I hadn’t worked with Charlie before, I was bought in last minute so didn’t know much about the project, and worked in quite challenging conditions.

Major Kong

I am in the process of producing a range of media for up and coming band; Major Kong. As well as helping design gig posters and fliers, I am creating ‘facebook media’ (promotional cover photos for example) and a promotional video. I have done a photoshoot in the studio, gig photography and video. I am in the process now of editing all of this before it get’s uploaded within the next few weeks.

Skills audit

My ability to communicate with a wide variety of people in different situations has always been one of my strongest skills. I’m good at being understanding and empathetic, whilst being professional and efficient. I’m good at explaining tasks, and also at getting good communication going amongst a team or crew. Confidence is key in communication, and I’ve learnt that even if I’m nervous or unsure, acting confident helps a great deal with getting people to listen and understand. It’s often the case that I am patronised or overlooked (excuse the pun) due to being a girl of 5ft-nothing, and I feel like I sometimes have to make an extra effort to make myself heard or respected by people outside of my friendship group and the people I have worked with before. I’ve learnt through experience that people often assume that I’m incapable of a handling a task if it involves something technical or ‘heavy’, so it’s important for me to know that the team I’m working with trust me. I’m usually quite a quiet personal, but I sometimes have to ensure that I am very active in a discussion or decision making process so that people realise that I do know what I’m on about. Working in environments such as this could have done one of two things; completely knocked my confidence and made me doubt my own ability, or forced me to come out of my shell and prove that I can give as good as the rest of them. Luckily, it did the latter. I have also found that my leadership skills have improved greatly over the past couple of years; when I started university the though of taking on a role of Director terrified me, but as I’ve become more confident in my skills and as a person, I would happily do this.

Time management has never been a particularly strong point for me. I always plan my work way in advance, hoping to give myself ample time before the deadline to make tweaks, perfect the edit, check and re-do the exports if necessary and so on. However, I still always seem to struggle at the last hurdle and find myself wishing for more time again. With other peoples projects this hasn’t been a problem at all, but on my FMP this was an issue that I was naïve to think I had under control. I started my FMP very early, and spent a long time doing quite in-depth research. However I didn’t account for being let down my so many contributors, or having quite so many problems with equipment and room bookings. My lesson isn’t that I need to stop leaving things until the last minute, because I never do, but that I need to have many backup plans, so that when things do go wrong, I can make a change and carry straight on. I think that although I am getting better at this I still have a lot of room for improvement and it’s something I really need to focus on in future work as I am determined to convert this into a strength.

Networking is the main skill that’s drummed into any media students mind; ‘it’s not all about what you know, but who you know”. I’m a very inquisitive person by nature, so when I’m on a shoot or at a gig or something I’m always wondering “Who’s that guy? Who’s she working for?” and so on. I make a huge effort to make conversation with people if I think they may be an industry professional or someone that I could work with on a free lance job (such as a band or a charity). Finding and approaching contacts is not a problem for me, but what I need to improve on is staying on their radar. There have been several people (including a radio station producer, and a documentary photographer) who I have been on good terms with in the past, but have let the lines of communication fall silent, and therefore I know they will not remember me. I have definitely learnt my lesson with this as I’m frustrated at how much could have come from them. For example; that radio producer now works for a major network inCanada, and that independent photographer has since been published in National Geographic and The Guardian. I need to make more of an effort to keep in contact; showing an interest in their projects, letting them know I’ve available for work etc, and making an impression on them by sharing work that I think may appeal to them.

I have spoken a lot about my creative and technical skills and flaws already in my work, so I won’t go too in-depth here. The main area that I know I should improve on is editing (and exporting; I can never get that right!). I am fairly proficient at using Adobe Premiere, but I need to expand on this and try to include more After Effects, and get more experience with using Final Cut Pro and Avid too. I also would like to gain more experience with sound recording and editing, as I feel I don’t pay enough attention to this in my work; not because I don’t think it’s important, but because I don’t know enough about it.