It's 2019. And lo, everyone was thankful that the mess of 2018 was over and done with*.
I didn't make any resolutions this year. After nigh on 38 years, there's not many New Year's resolutions that I can think of that have either stood the test of time or been particularly helpful. Most of the good stuff we do in our lives is about the forming of habits and the following-through on the promises-to-self that we make in the wee hours. So it goes.
But it's a New Year, so it's a time to start thinking about where I've been** and where I want to go in the next 12 months.
Where I've been
I didn't create much in 2018. And that's not to say I didn't shoot much. I shot quite a lot, and although it wasn't as prolific a year as some have been, I'm satisfied enough with it from a volume-of-work-done point of view. Actors' headshots shoots have become more common, and with a bit of marketing I can see the chance for some real growth there.
But I didn't really push the boat out, creatively. I didn't do any of the crazy big production shoots that I've done in years past. I didn't do much in the way of work on my current projects — although I shot quite a lot of frames for subject|object, I didn't do anything for Celtic Gods. I didn't start any new projects and, crucially, I didn't finish any of the old ones, either, despite my intentions at the outset of the year.
Where I'm going
I've got a number of new challenges and Things To Keep Me Occupied this year. A lot of them aren't for the pages of this blog, really, so I'll spare you those. Photographically speaking, however, here are some Things:
Refurbish and relaunch the studio
Okay, technically not just photography-related, but whatever. I've had my studio space for about two years now. In that time I've shot quite a bit of work in it, but I've never been really happy with it. It's cold, because it's in an old mill. It's dark because it has no windows. It's untidy because it's mine. Etcetera. Hitherto, it's not been the most welcoming place for clients, and I've often found myself apologising for it.
So, new year, new space. Except I'm not going to move — partly because I don't want to spend the extra money on rent and partly because right now I've got all the space I really need (if not all that I'd really want, but see point 1). Instead, I'm refurbishing the space that I have: new floor (laminate wood instead of painted concrete), new furniture (at the very least a couch upon which clients can chill rather than the old office chairs I've been using for the last while), new lights (some reasonable IKEA wall lights rather than the horrible fluorescent overheads which are currently in use).
I'm part way through the project right now; the floor is down at least, and I've put shelving in to house all my equipment so that it takes up less floor space. Already it feels new and exciting, and I like being in it more than I did.
Ideally I'd like it to be more than just a photo studio space. I already use it for musical jams with a group of friends. I hope I'll use it for more things still — there being other forms of visual art besides photography.
Shoot more conceptual stuff
This last year I've shot a lot of portraits. I like shooting portraits; it's my comfort zone. And like all comfort zones, sooner or later, it can get boring.
Once again I find myself with a notebook full of ideas for more concept-driven images with wildly different visual aesthetics. I'm finding myself inspired by Alexia Sinclair, Tim Walker, Gregory Crewdson, John Keatley and others. And I'm in a position where I need shoot the images in my head or get off the proverbial pot.
And here's the thing, as ever: the only thing that's holding me back is me, and how much energy I can bring to the creative process.
I'm terrible at finishing stuff. Absolutely, demonstrably awful. This year, I'm going to finally finish subject|object, and at least get the ball rolling on an exhibition for it.
I've got more Celtic Gods shoots in my notebook than I can shake a stick at, and yet I've done nothing with that project for nearly two years now — and the stuff I shot two years ago once again languishes unfinished.
For subject|object I simply need to go somewhere other than Manchester for a few days and shoot there, because it'd difficult to get ethnic diversity I want in this town, believe it or not. London is a much likelier place to find the folk I want to work with for this last phase. They say the last 10% of the work costs 90% of the efford, and that's definitely what I'm feeling right now.
2019 has to be the year of shooting or getting off the pot for me.
* Except for those people who see January first as an arbitrary boundary, and believe that all of existence is in fact just one long rolling shitshow from one day to the next. To each their own.
**Okay, technically this should have been done at the end of 2018. It's a few weeks' difference; I'll live.