Over the last 6 months, my local Leith Walk has had its grey and shady veneer peeled away to the vibrant, motley heartwood underneath. Leith has always had the handle of being a colourful neighbourhood, but the curatorial eye of LeithLate has seen this put forward in vivid hues. LeithLate chief Morv has paired visual artists with local businesses whose street shutters are lent as a steel canvas to their ideas and artwork. With no shortage of interesting businesses on the walk, and some truly excellent artists in the local, the range of expression and creativity has been awesome.
Speaking as someone visual – it has not only been a great idea, but a great success. My roving eyes have more luscious pigmentation on which to feast on my walk up the street. I think we could all happily see more artistic collaboration within our commnuity – bravo folks.
|Games Master – Jamie Johnson|
|Fairtrade Coffee – Bernie Reid|
|Paradign Shift – Dave Lemm|
|Inner City Sanctum – Liana Moran|
|Word Of Mouth – Fraser Gray|
|Origano – Richie|
The first production of the year from the Traverse Theatre will be opening this week as a work in progress.
Me and the Traverse worked together on the poster before Christmas to tease Andy Greig’s visually rich and euphonic poetry into a working image. I always work off a script for visuals, but this time I had to measure my reading. Written as a poem, the prose crashes like waves, heavy and atmospheric of Orkney. Each line was so nuanced and connotative I kept finding myself re-reading passages just for pleasure.
We took the shoot to my own local The King’s Wark, in Edinburgh’s traditional Shore, for a genuine seafarer’s vintage. No strangers to Leith, Tam and Lewis knew the venue and charmed coffee out of the staff for us to warm up with.
Since the temperature hasn’t changed a great deal since December, I am looking forward to cosying up to the show and seeing how it has developed from two glasses of whisky and some old maps.
Over a year ago I spoke of a message from the blue. I have learned to pay attention to little signals around me since. Tiny reminders impossible to ignore, like meeting yourself in a mirror unexpectedly. This wet night in Edinburgh I found a sign directed entirely at me. Shrouded in the dark of night, a small message loaded equally with foreboding and encouragement, lit the way for the end of a very long year.
To speak from the heart, this has been an incredible year. The ground beneath my feet has shifted landscapes in every direction over the last 12 months. I could not have dreamt up the changes that have fallen in around me. I have never known a year like it, and to speak the truth, I hope I never do again.
So finishes my second year as a Freelance Photographer. Like any second album, the follow-up is always grueling. Expectations are high and forgiveness is low. The stops need pulled out. And so they were, last July when I went full-time. Now and for what seems like forever I know myself only as a photographer, but I am still well within the trials of initiation. No longer is everything powered by happy coincidence, it has been a year of forced introductions and grey determination. It has been a year survived rather than a year passed and with it the grit and adrenaline that all freelancers can identify with. Despite my world-jaded grumblings however, this is in every way a celebration. I have kept one foot in front of the other and earned one consoling year’s distance from wondering where the next work will be. No longer do I fear that if I stop picking up the phone I will vanish into obscurity. I have created the chaotic beginnings of a new nest on a bedrock of confidence and experience that can now take my weight.
But this aspect of the occupation is in permanent masquerade. Everyone is happy and everyone is busy. From the outside the lights are always on, the party in full swing. My work must seem a riot to those with a 9-5, an absolute circus! Not lost on me, I find myself bursting an ear-to ear-grin from sheer fortune some days. But my work is also an extra limb, that doesn’t go into storage after 5.30. It is ubiquitous. It comes to bed, it comes to the table, it comes on holiday. It has me out of bed before sunrise and, more often than not, it sees in the dawn, some unfinished project nearing completion. But I am a creative, and if I cannot embrace a late night then none can.
One surprising addition this year is that I have been approached by other photographers asking me for advice. Some starting out, others who look to my work as a signpost of the right direction. I was alarmed at how difficult it was for me to explain a recipe to what I do, especially seeing my own terrain so full of potholes. From where I stand I can only put two pieces of advice forward that have lit my way through the last twelve months.
Make the most of those around you and allow them do the same to you. There is nothing quite as unexpected as how lonely early freelancing is. Previously I talked of blocking out other photography to help purify my own creative voice. A lame disguise, I understand now, from the panic of feeling part of a race to thread water as a professional. The beauty I have realised is that no one is exempt the gauntlet of starting from nowhere. Instead as the year has worn on I have begun to relish my fortune in being surrounded by such inspiring contemporaries, self-employed or other.Your network is your greatest strength and it is a thrill to be taking those rich, early footsteps, charged with the satisfaction of progress, in unison with others.
There is no use getting hung up on the sudden and fortuitous success of others. No paths run the same course and this is a blessing. For those who stick at it, we all enjoy incredible, unique moments of recognition. For me this year, in the middle of rural Brittany at a wedding, I had to explain to a stranger in disbelief (and in my half-French) that I was, bien-sur, the same eoin carey he and his friends had been following online for the last 2 years. For the right person, freelance work is the most humbling experience they can have.
Secondly, there is no reason why you should not take inspiration in your own work. If you are following your rules and trying hard than you can only end up with something you love, allow it to push you forward. It is a long, long one-way street. Just follow the signs.
All eyes on deck!
At one fell swoop, here are my images from the recent and brilliant theatre productions I have had the pleasure of working on over the last month. All Scottish and all highly contemporary in their own ways.
First up, Ka-boing, is Random Accomplice’s The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, which just finished its tour in Edinburgh’s Traverse a week back. Take a gander at their excellent website and admire Johnny McKnight’s comic book flair!
And for my inner teenager, at my inner back of the bus:
I was invited to Perth to shoot Horsecross Theatre’s production of The Odd Couple last month. A rewritten female version of the classic 60’s play and film. Sensation overload: with a really sumptuously 80’s set, wardrobe and palette that I literally didn’t know where to look! On top of everything the downtown NY accents and antics had me rightly tickled.
On the s i t t e r s calendar this week is the SCE final year exhibition in the Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny St starting on Tuesday night. If you haven’t gotten wind of the glorious spectacle to be, you need to get yourself down to Leith walk for a visual feast! It is only the cream of Scottish Student photography and the gourmet capital of aesthetic cuisine for the next week in Edinburgh. The team has designed and built a website as well as a blog that you can go right ahead and get a preview of whats on show. If none of that is enough, I have been in the workshop, and Arthur the toilet..has been PIMPED (and cleaned)! He’ll be on public display for as long as i can get him so come one, come all and take a seat!
Two images from s i t t e r s will be exhibited along with the recently printed, and delightfully exciting, hardback coffee table book. It is a luscious square format banquet of high quality prints of the project. It will be on hand for some light toilet reading material. Enough said!
This is it. All the cards are up and s i t t e r s has come to an end. I am absolutely floored to be able to finally reveal the bounteous fruits of all the hard work. To look back at the very first post on this blog and gauge my confidence that i would be writing these words, now furnished by such accomplished images from such accomplished people. Once upon a time there was nothing, now there are twenty two creations that i am absolutely delighted with.
The obvious thanks go to those hardened souls who braved the camera. Every one of you who sat for me held open the door of confidence to shoot the next. You absolute dancers. Thanks to everyone i asked, hinted at and chased. All those who dusted off perfect locations and anecdotes when inspiration was needed. Everyone who has kept the raft buoyed with encouragement. And to everyone who has followed me, in and out of this blog, thank you so much for being part.
But while the photos are up, there is still much more going on. Please drop in on the blog for news on awards, exhibitions and the s i t t e r s photobook that is currently well in the pipeline. There is still quite a trove of whimsy and craic from the project’s development that needs to be shared so while the hard work is finished, the fun isn’t over.
Thank you especially to Sola, who has allowed a salvaged toilet to live out of our front room for the last 4 months and who has been my rock, paper and scissors through the entire project.
Stay tuned in over the next two weeks for enough s i t t e r s excitement to fill up a cistern (after the number 2 button!)
Like a film unfolding, everything is spooling along smoothly and nicely at the moment. Here is a round-up of some of the schemes and scenarios that have kept us all busy over the last few weeks. The schedule it must be said, has steam coming out of it! Still more to go though, so stay tuned