8 Months From Arrival

My Melbourne Adventure - The Journey So Far

This article is a reflection on my relocation to Melbourne, what I’ve endured, discovered, realised and experienced. Elements of this article will touch on previous posts (both here and on Facebook).

THE BIG PUSH

Essentially my main reason for leaving Perth was a combination of dissatisfaction and nothing left to lose.

Creatively I felt that I was hitting a glass ceiling. Having been passed over for two promotions at a company I was working for (one that I had been promised in favour of someone who just happened to be nearby the manager, and another in favour of a man who had taken the opportunity to use a overseas work trip to cheat on his wife with another staff member and then nearly gotten in a punch up with ANOTHER member of the trip when confronted about it), as well as just an overall lack of opportunity to pursue true creative work.

I was also beginning to come to the end of my energy and ability to educate every, single, client, about why photography is not a free service.

Personally, our family was selling the house and I figured, now was as good a time as any for a fresh start and that if I was going to have to move, well, it mas as well be a big move. A literal kick-in-the-ass-out-the-nest moment.

So Melbourne it was.

ARRIVAL

So, taking my laptop, camera and a suitcase that contained more equipment than clothing I booked my flights and, leaving a tearing mother at the airport, off I went. (She still got the last emotional word with her ‘Do not Open until in Plane’ letter).

Landing in Melbourne I was met by my new roommates Drue & Penny who I would be living with, in what would soon become know as ‘The House of Love’.

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FINDING MY WAY

I admit that for the first few weeks I probably used photography, as well as getting accustomed to a new city, as an excuse not to make friends. Looking back it feels like I must have thought that as long as I pushed myself creatively, that everything else would follow. In only a few weeks after arriving I had sussed out some places to shoot that quickly became my favourite haunts, and would see me return time and time again. While these regular spots, as well as self set creative goals served to improve my skills, it was a harsh wake up call to realise how truly alone I was.

Making friends in your 30’s (I’m 29 for 5 more months at the time of writing), is infinitely harder. And while I’ve never had trouble making friends (despite my anxieties) I have admittedly, always struggled maintaining them.

Keeping that in mind I feel that I’ve done my best to at least ignite some friendships, regardless of how busy or eventually how disinterested the other person may have been. Getting to touch base with other friends who had moved to Melbourne, such as Ceri & Sharlie, Sophie, and others who I knew previously only through the internet (Rhianna, Mimi and others) has been a huge boost to both my emotional state and my creative process. There is nothing better than having close friends who also understand the drive behind creative work.

Sophie in particular has been a huge emotional and professional rock for me in my journey. Always willing and eager to support my ideas, but just as ready to remind me to stay grounded. Our semi-regular dinner sessions and shoots have helped me stay on track, develop ideas and risk new ventures.

BTS shot of Sophie posing for me during my Workshop Video

BTS shot of Sophie posing for me during my Workshop Video

Discovering a mutual love of D&D among the housemates also helped serve to bring us together as a group as we were able to put aside a semi-regular Sunday evening to play as a house.

NEW IDEAS - Creative

I definitely feel that moving to a new city has improved my perspective. I find myself looking much more closely at many of my day to day surroundings, really trying to be focused and aware of what is actually occurring around me, rather than spend my day attached to my phone as I would if I was travelling around back in Perth. The ‘newness’ of the city encourages me to look for photo-opportunities in the day to day much more than I normally would.

I also have more desire to actually get out of my comfort zone and actually explore the city, walk down alleys and be more aggressive in my approach to street photography. Melbourne is a city in which the majority of people smile or ignore you when they notice someone capturing them. Perth is a city where most people would give you the finger, intentionally photo-bomb you or even accost you for an activity which is 100% legal.

Coming to a new city has certainly helped me to feel more confident in my approach to things like street photography. But also to spending a day shooting entirely in black & white. Or analysing and photographing the use of the colour red in images.

I’ve also been super fortunate in being able to work with a tonne of new creatives this year, as well as some of my favourites from the past. I’ve tried my best to take the blinders off myself creatively and stop worrying about how my work will be perceived and just focusing on creating something stunning.

Meagan Chasteneuf

Meagen (or Mimi as she is known online) has been one of the biggest names on my Model Bucket list for a while now. It has definitely been worth the wait to shoot with her. Not only is Mimi ultra professional on camera but she is also one of the warmest and most passionate people you will meet. A true free-spirit. Hopefully in the new year we will get a chance to work on something that isn't restricted by conflicting schedules.

Sophie Sparrow

Sophie as mentioned as been my rock in Melbourne. She never ceases to amaze me in her endless support and passion for any project I put in front of her. She is some I would trust (and have trusted) with any and everything. And her endless trust both on and off camera has allowed me to flourish here in Melbourne. It strange to think that as of Jan 2nd we will have only known each other for a year. With that in mind I am even more thankful with how welcoming and supportive Sophie has been (she only knew we for about 4 months when I moved states).

Amanda

Another amazing individual I got to meet this year was Amanda. Teaming up to capture something different to my usual boudoir style, we really connected and were able to create some beautiful intimate images.

Mckenzie

The mind behind the blog Currently Loving, Mckenzie was a fun woman to work with, with some interesting styles and a great NZ accent.

Steve Hawk

You might have noticed but I don’t photograph a lot of men generally. I find it hard to feel inspired by muscles and maybe as a product of my upbringing (I come from a women dominated family with two sisters) I just don't connect as well with other men. I have had few close male friends over my life as well. Steve Hawk however was someone I felt instantly comfortable around, and he is a man just as passionate about his creative work as I.

Leisel

I’ve been trying to work with this girl since like 2014 and FINALLY when I did a trip back to Perth in September, that dream came true! We put aside a whole day and hit up the beach for some wet and sandy shots, did brunch (pancakes with strawberry jam and Turkish Fairy Floss), and spent the rest of the afternoon shooting some amazing boudiour / intimate portraiture in my hotel. Sadly with my new contract I’ll have less opportunity to shoot with Leisel again anytime soon, but we are both keen to tee something up when she next visits Melbourne. So who knows?

Caitlin Gerken

This list wouldn't be complete without my favourite nude model, Caitlin. Always up for pushing boundaries and shooting something that pushes us both creatively. Caitlin is a constant inspiration and just a joy to have on camera.

Olivia Alarcon

Olivia was one of the first models I got to shoot after moving to Melbourne and I’m really sad we haven't been able to line up another but I know she is busy pushing the industry boundaries as a pioneer for “non-traditional” models, advocating for smaller, curvier models and generally any model who isn't 6 foot size 6 or below etc. Hopefully we’ll find time to shoot again in 2019 .

NEW IDEAS - Personal

Moving to a new city, and also a new household, has also taught me a lot about where in my life I need to let things go, and where I need to push. When other’s habits need to be acknowledged and accepted, and when they need to be educated as to the need to improve. Finding the right time to accept and the right time to draw the line. Learning the difference between ignorance and laziness, paranoia and good instincts and re-learning to trust my gut AND BRAIN in combination.

Accepting fear as a driving force to improve, casting off stress to accept a situation and deal with it is far more productive than wishing for someone to change.

Learning that diet is actually super important was a huge change for me, as I'm one of those people who seriously struggles to put on weight, (and as such will happily eat trash food), and spending time cooking and planning meals has helped improve not only my energy levels but also my mood and ability to accept stressful situations.

Having no choice other than to be self-sufficient has also helped improve my confidence (at least somewhat) in that I now feel much more confident in those things that I KNOW I can achieve and that lends confidence that I WILL be able to achieve new things.

Mental Health

I knew I’d find challenges with moving to Melbourne. I knew I’d struggle to find my way. I knew I’d have to make new friends and find new work. What I never expected though, was that the scariest thing I’ve ever done would make me the happiest I’ve been in years.

I moved to Melbourne and gave myself 6 months to find something worth giving up regular access to my friends and family. 5 months in I was struggling and looking at the possibility of having to return home in defeat.

In November I started my contract at Verve Portraits. It’s been intense, stressful, a load of new information to learn and absorb, and full of 5am starts (which if you know anything about me you’ll know this is a tough one for me). But I couldn’t be happier to work in a company that legitimately cares for its employees (it’s literally a giant family).

The learning (and re-learning) curve has been huge. I’ve had so much information to absorb and so many new habits to build, along with stressing about making sure I perform and deliver on a 5 start experience for clients, that it has been both exhilarating and stressful beyond belief. At times its pushed me to my limits. However I have been blessed with a wonderful fellow trainee (Elena) and the most supportive, and demanding, mentors and team members. They continually push you to be better, pointing out where you need to improve, without trying to break you, there is just as much acknowledgement and celebration of your successes as pushing you to build on your failures. It was really difficult not to blush when Gino brought me into the office after my first shoot for a round of applause.

It has been one of the hardest but most rewarding experiences of my life so far.

I am looking forward to a brighter future.