Why is mindfulness still one of the hardest things for photographers to grasp?

As I am writing to you, I have just arrived home after working my fourth Saturday in a row, hair in a disgusting greasy bun, about to throw my fourth coffee of the day down my throat – and it’s 6:07pm. Now most experts say you shouldn’t drink coffee after 12 noon, but I’m sure all photographers will beg to differ.

“Hello, my name is Georgie, recovering workaholic…”

“But Georgie, isn’t this your blog post in homage to Mental Health Awareness Week? Which was only some weeks ago…” I hear you cry from behind your keyboard. In fact yes, you are quite right. I’ve not really got off to the best start, have I?

Okay, let’s start again.

Hello, my name is Georgie, recovering workaholic, and I am crap at mindfulness. I hate gratitude journals and meditating to me just feels uncomfortable and well, pointless. I know, I know, I can hear almost all of you reading this gasping with horror, and well if that’s you, perhaps you should stop reading as this post might, I stress might, not be for you.

Lumix camera

But, that fraction of you who are sat there as home thinking “oh my goodness, yes, hello! That’s me! I hate pretending to align my chakras and always focus on the negative” this post is 100% for you my friends.

We are the unpopular few who just don’t get it – and when I say it, I mean ‘self-care’. I’m gearing this up for you photographers out there, cos if you hadn’t already guessed, that’s what I do for a living. I really want to reach out to those lonely creatives that don’t want to feel stupid anymore just because they would rather sleep till 8:15 then get up at the crack of sparrows, just to attend a yoga class or meal prep for the day ahead.

Photographers really struggle as a collective to have ‘hobbies’; usually because photography was once their hobby that they’ve been lucky enough to make their career. But what really ever does fill that void? I know for me, I still haven’t really found what it is I am passionate about outside of work – mainly cos, I’m a bit of a dork, and I love my job. I usually end up working and working through evenings and weekends most weeks… which isn’t really my remedy, more like my poison.

“…have you ever heard the age old mantra, if you like something enough you’ll make time for it?”

There are things I do do (try not to Chandler Bing hysterically laugh… do do…) to get some separation from work, that I didn’t realise was even being mindful, until I stopped to Google what the hell mindfulness was a few weeks ago. And despite what you might think, being mindful and caring for your mental health as a creative, can be, if you put your mind to it, much easier than you think.

Do you want me to share these tit-bits of wisdom with you? Well, you’re here, so lets just presume you do!

someone reading in bed

Personal work

I remember someone saying to me recently, “but what photography work do you do, for you?” And I had to stop and ask myself, hmm, what do I shoot for me? Not a lot, I had to be honest with myself.
I think I lied and said something along the lines of “because my day job is so demanding, I have little time these days for personal work”.

Okay, that isn’t an out ‘n’ out lie, but have you ever heard the age old mantra, if you like something enough you’ll make time for it? Like those crazy people who work god-forsaken hours but still find time to go to the gym… yeah, I am not one of those people. Finding time for work that makes you happy, and is just for you, that’s what really is important.

So for me, my personal work? I hear you ask, well, you’re reading it right now! My blog has become my personal work. This is me officially taking the proverbial pen to paper again, and I’m loving it – writing is something I do for me, that bleeds into my career, and I love it. Even more so because it’s not for a client, or even for a friend – it’s something I do just for me.

If there’s a photoshoot, I’ll be there if it’s at 4:30am on the moon, if I have to”

Bubble bath

Take a day off, just because you can

As a photographer, it’s just common knowledge you have to work all hours God sends you – whether that be 9-5, or perhaps evenings, and even weekends. If there’s a photoshoot, I’ll be there if it’s at 4:30am on the moon, if I have to.

However, I discovered around May of this year, after burning the candle at both ends for just over 5 years, since leaving University, that sometimes a girl’s just got to take a day off, you know?

It was like my mental health stuck up a tiny white flag, waved it furiously in the air and shouted “enough is enough, I can’t take this crap anymore!” and I had somewhat of a mid-twenties crisis. How am I meant to work Monday to Friday, evenings and weekends for the rest of my life? I found myself asking anyone who would listen.

And then it hit me… I don’t! I don’t have to work every hour of the week, just because I feel like I have to. Someone very wise once said to me “just because you’re busy, that doesn’t make you hard working”. It was like I was confusing a busy schedule with feeling hard working and important. It’s about identifying that these two things do not connect – you need to be economical with your time.

Now I take a day off in the week from time to time, or if I know I’m working an evening I take the morning of the day off. Sometimes the days have purpose, I go get a coffee with my Mum, or walk the dog, or even sometimes, most of the time, I have a Sex and the City marathons all by myself, just because I can. And, I kind of like it.

Do the thing you love, don’t just take photos of it

Okay so get this – when I became a recognised food photographer, in the Manchester area at least, I kind of just stopped cooking. I was so busy, running from shoots to events to more shoots, I just didn’t have time to prepare and stock up the fridge like I once did.

I started heavily relying on Jon to do all the cooking – bless him, he is an angel – but I really missed the thing that once made me so happy and filled me with joy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a great cook, I’m okay, I make a mean chicken curry and I like to bake banana bread, but I just stopped doing all that, and God did I miss it.

I was surrounding myself with food in my day job, but not saving myself enough time for the thing I loved so much, that made me become a food photographer in the first place – cooking.

So I’m not saying don’t completley stop shooting that thing you love, you’re making a career out of it, good for you! All I’m saying is if you’re a sports photographer, take some time out and go to a football game every once and a while. Or a fashion photographer, take some time every September to go to the A/W fashion shows. Or even like me, a food photographer, just remember to make time for the little things, and don’t lose that fire for that thing that you loved in the first place. You were lucky to find it, please don’t forget it as you excel in your career.

don’t get me wrong, I love a mind-numbing Instagram scroll every now and then…”

dog on bed

Put a limit on social

Social media, the demon of all 21st century businesses. You can’t thrive without one, but having one takes up all of your time, boggles your mind and might as well be a whole other job all together.

I’ve talked before about not getting caught up on the numbers, and creating content for you always comes before how many likes light up on that new upload you posted a half hour ago, but when is it time to say enough’s enough?

Not all together, don’t get me wrong, I love a mind-numbing Instagram scroll every now and then, but can all the scrolling really be good for our souls? Interesting studies have shown that social media apps promote bad mental health, create comparison issues for their users and leave you feeling well, damn right inadequate.

I know I’ve spent the odd Saturday morning looking at my competitors newsfeed and thinking ‘why did they score that client, and not me?’ Forgetting all the amazing things I had achieved that day, week or year, just because Joe Bloggs seems to be doing better – or so he’s choosing to tell you – but that’s a whole other story for another time.

Create limits for yourself like your parents once made you do as a child, I have two strict rules…
1. Only 1.5 hours of social media a day on my work phone, which btw includes WhatsApp
2. No phones, at all, after 9:30pm
Sounds drastic? Yes I know, but no one knows me better than me, and I know I don’t like feeling worthless, inadequate or jealous, do you?

1 in 3 people say that using their smartphone is the last thing they do before going to bed at night”

What’s worse, 1 in 3 people say that using their smartphone is the last thing they do before going to bed at night. So most of us are actually going to sleep and stewing over all these negative feelings last thing we do, before sleeping! Imagine what that’s doing to you, no one deserves to feel bad, especially just before we go off to the land of nod.

Insuring your mind is one of the strongest things you can do as a photographer, no as a creative. You wouldn’t leave that £500 lens hanging around uninsured, so why do we do this to ourselves? So little time is spent on the nurturing, just the doing, working and running around like a headless chicken. I promise you, it will catch up with you – it did me.

It’s so important to find that thing you love that takes you outside of yourself and your natural working habitat. I know for me, it’s that time when the camera is down that I actually make real memories with my family, Jon, and the people around me.

That’s what I want to remember last thing before I go to bed at night, not feelings of tiredness, stress and anxiety.

What’s it going to be for you? What are you going to chose?

All original imagery taken and curated by yours truly, Georgie Glass
Take a look at my food portfolio here, and my lifestyle portfolio here.

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2018 ®

Why have I embarked on 365?

Have you ever stopped long enough to look back over your decisions to wonder why the hell you made them in the first place?

day 1

It’s this strange crossroads type of place where you look back over your time, life choices and, in my case, work and feel happy about the decisions you’ve made, but know you can do better. Well, that’s kind of where I was at just over 2 months ago, when I made the decision to undertake a 365 Project.

If you frequent my website a lot you’ll have noticed I’ve not been around for a little while – I’ve not been gone, just absent, beavering away debating my next move. As artists we’re constantly looking for creativity to inspire us, usually in everyday life. But my life has been so full of the everyday mundane and routine recently that I’ve not felt full of inspiration.

day 3

“I was filled with content that I thought my audience wanted to see, rather than what I really wanted to create…”

Instead my mind has been full of thoughts like “the mortgage will go out in two weeks…” or “I need to be at this place at this time, and it’s imperative I’m not late” and more usually “I need to complete X amount of work, walk the dog, plan meals for the week, go to the gym, be a healthy adult, and make sure I am a fully functioning human being” without imploding… probably all sounds too familiar if you’re a freelancer*, like me.

day 25

But in January I made the conscious decision to become a solo blogger; define that as you will, I don’t really think I really knew what journey I was undergoing when I made that choice. I was filled with content that I thought my audience wanted to see, rather than what I really wanted to create. And to be honest if you’d of point blank asked me what I actually wanted to be putting out there into the ether I probably would of said, “ermmm can you come back to me on that one later? Cheers…”

“I felt like I was losing my identity, and becoming this new dis-functional version of myself…”

day 19

I was in this extremely weird Alice in Wonderland type place. I was invited to plenty of incredible events and experiencing awesome things in Manchester, however not really creating the content I wanted to see, but instead what would gain me a bigger following. I was too tuned into my numbers, and not my work. As as a photographer, that really wasn’t where my head was supposed to be at. It took a massive smack in the face, to make me wake up and smell the social dissatisfaction to realise, hey, I’m not actually all that happy with my content I’m over here creating. Who am I again?

day 24

I felt like I was losing my identity, and becoming this new dis-functional version of myself. Not enough of one thing, and not even too much of the other, just in this strange grey muggy area in the middle. I wasn’t sure what road I was on, or who I was actually becoming, all I knew was that I remember who I wanted to be. That same person I wanted to become when I was 13 years old, a photographer.

Okay okay, enough of the rambling, you want to know what this will mean for you, the reader, right?

Well all it really means is the content you’re going to see moving forward is going to be a lot more curated to what I want, and not what I think you guys want – as if it isn’t coming from a truer version of me, you guys are going to see straight through that, right?

Hence forth the ‘365 project’!

day 26

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll of noticed that my 365 photo-project is already underway, the morning I post this with you, I’m already on day 68 and I’m loving it! All the content will of been shot by yours truly, and it will not only serve as a platform where I showcase my best work, personal and professional for the next 365 days, but also a place to be my true creative self, and just be who I want to be. How does that sound ey? #deep #deeperthanEyalonLoveIsland

The blog will follow in the footsteps of the 365 project; it’ll be home to a little bit more than just photographs but ultimately it’s here to achieve the same goals – to showcase my best photographic work, and act as an extension of my portfolios (which you can view here, if you like).

day 36

And that’s it! I mean, don’t get me wrong I did expect some kind of ‘Welcome Back’ banner, a cake, a sing-song, but whatever… I’ll just take the fact you’re here reading this as my gift. This is my triumphant return to blogging! Hope to see a lot more of you, my readers, as we move ahead into this new time for my content. And you can look forward to seeing many more photographs like these featured in today’s post from my 365 project, as I move forward with the blog.

Peace, love & stuff… x

www.georgieglass.co.uk

* – If you haven’t already checked out my blog post about ‘What Being Freelance Means to Me” then please do, just click here.

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2018 ®

Everyone’s asked themselves that age old question, the one that sits in the back of your mind most of your young adult life but you’re almost too afraid to say it out loud; could I make it as a freelancer? Because my life would be so much better if I were freelance, right?

You’re *insert age here* and you love what you do, but there are certain constraints to the job that just don’t make you happy, and working for yourself may solve most of these head scratching problems. Maybe you know someone else in your field who went freelance and they’re bossing it. Or maybe it’s just always been you dream to own your own business, but the idea of actually doing it just fills you with nervous energy.

Believe it or not, I have been there; back in 2013 when I graduated University there was nothing that filled me with more dread than logging onto that HMRC portal and signing up as a registered business. Forging those initial pathways as a photographer was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. There aren’t too many employable options; you could go in-house for someone, but then depending on the company or brand your options for growth are quite limited. Or you could assist a more mature photographer with gallons of experience, and trust me I did my fair share of assisting, but following someone around with light boxes and picking up lunch orders was never really for me. My only ever real or plausible option was going freelance, but I don’t think I ever realised what that truly meant until I was in the thick of it.

“But Georgie, why are you writing this now? No one wants to hear about you or your story” I can hear my inner critic calling out to me. Do you have an inner critic? This is something that resonated with me from one of my female business-boss idols Lola Hoad (of the *One Girl Band podcast). She talks about her inner critic, Barb, and how every freelancer has that internal voice that is forever berating every creative or brilliant idea you ever have. Well, my inner critic is more of a Helen; whenever Helen creeps up and tells me I’m not good, strong or intelligent enough to own my own business or be successful in the thing I am passionate about, I have to take a deep breath, acknowledge how I’m feeling, but remember how sodding important it is I push on anyway.

I’m pretty sure this realism is one that every business owner has, embracing failure but just doing it anyway. Because if you don’t do those things that fulfil you, are you ever really living?

I’ve had countless of those rock-bottom moments when you’re not quite sure what you’re doing with your life. Having to deal with imposter syndrome on a daily basis, not knowing if you’ll make your next mortgage bill, questioning your worth, eating beans on toast for the fifth time that week, having a screaming match with your parent/friend/significant other because you’ve worked another 13 hour day and they just want to spend a little time with you, but you’ve still got so much work to do. Sound familiar?

Freelancing is so often glamourised to be different than what it really is; the grass is greener kind of attitude, and that most of it is easy-living. I refuse to sell you that rose-tinted dream. Since my **podcast interview with my beautiful friend Kat Horrocks so many truly talented individuals have approached me to tell me how inspiring I am, how they look up to me and my achievements, and how they hope to be as successful as I am one day. This is flattering, and fills me with so much joy I’m almost bursting at the seams. I want to inspire you to set your sights high, but make sure you’re prepared for change and constant learning. Be proud of your growth and also be prepared for those pitfalls along the way.

You will have to learn so many elements of business to become a freelancer, as I have done. This has only made me stronger and feathered the strings to my bow. I am not just a photographer; I am a businesswoman, accountant, marketeer, social media guru, events coordinator, networker, copyrighter, debt collector… you can imagine the list goes on.

Yet I am still learning every day.

There is no end game and there is no final major project. I can hear the words of my lecturer Trudie ringing in my ears: “Do you ever really stop learning? Your final major project is not your final project here at University, it’s the very last thing you do before you die…” and if you think you’re the best, will you ever really grow to be more? You need to learn to not be bullied by your inner critic but also to never get too big for your boots.

Being freelance really is a rollercoaster. I do hope that each and every one of you who aspires to own your own business achieves your goals, and that your dreams of being freelance really do come true. But I feel like I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t warn you how fucking terrifying it is at times.

Does this make it not worth it?
Do I wish I’d taken an easier path with my life?
Do I regret being freelance?

No.
Not one single day.

*Want to listen to Lola Hoad’s One Girl Band Podcast? Click here.
**Want to check out my interview I did with Kat for her Put Yourself First Podcast? Click here.

All images in this post are shot by the extremely talented Adriana at @Adrianasphoto

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2018 ®