Every now and then, something happens to make me take a step back, and review where I am. I think it’s extremely important as a creative person to do this. Just this week, I was emailed the inset photograph by my Chilean guide – Sabine, who accompanied me on my little photo-tour of Torres del Paine national park in Chile a few weeks back (in the inset picture, I’m the one standing with my back to the camera (left) with Polly, one of my participants from Australia – looking out towards the Towers of Paine, across Laguna Armaga in Chilean Patagonia).
On my Patagonian tour - Laguna Armaga
I don’t often see photos of myself in the ‘environments’ I frequent these days, and this image in particular has made me think…..
A few years ago, I was sitting very comfortably in an IT office in the middle of Edinburgh. My life was pretty normal, I went home in the evenings, caught up with friends, did the shopping, washing, went back to work the next day and so life continued for me, as it always had.
Each day I would look outside of my office window, and I’d watch as the clouds crawled across the view I had over the rooftops of Edinburgh, over Arthurs Seat (extinct volcano) and over the seasons I’d witness the same landscape change. I was an onlooker, dreaming of being outside more often than inside. I felt my life was pretty good, but I’d always wished to be outside more often, making images more often too.
Roll forward to today, I’m just home from a month’s long trip to Patagonia, Bolivia and Easter Island. Things couldn’t be more different for me these days compared to my life back in my comfortable little IT office. I now run a successful photographic workshop business, I spend most of my life outside, watching the clouds crawl across some very beautiful landscapes here in Scotland. In the past year, I’ve expanded my business to Norway, Iceland, Patagonia and Bolivia. I wouldn’t have dared guess that this is what I would be doing back in 2007 when I first had ideas of changing career.
Although it has not been plain sailing, and like every job out there, my new job has it’s downsides as well as upsides, I find that I’m much more content at what I do, and I also feel I’m more in touch with who I am as well. I’ve learned so much about myself through the act of setting up and running a photographic workshop business.
In many ways, I’ve had to review just who I am. I think we all carry around with us a mental image of who we are, and of our own abilities. I’ve had to seriously reconsider my own mental image as I think it was really out of date. For years I felt I didn’t have much initiative, or was able to be pro-active enough to do things for myself. I’ve found that it’s simply not true.
I wish, that if you have aspirations to do something new with your life, that you can find the inspiration and encouragement to try them out. Often the signs are there, the clues that we need to make some changes to our lives, but we seldom take their cue and run with it.
I’ve been more scared in the past three years than I have been in my entire life. Running my business has been like riding the crest of a wave. Thrilling and often making me feel very, very alive indeed. There’s been very little in the way of staidness to it.
I think that with whatever it is that you’re doing, whether you’re creating art, engineering bridges, building roads, writing computer programs, just taking a moment to stop and reflect on who you are, where you currently are and what it is that you want is a vital ingredient to having a good life. I believe that everything that has happened to me over the past few years – has happened because I wanted it to, and by visualising where I wanted to be, I was naturally steering my own course in the direction I wanted to go.
Patagonia was brilliant by the way, as too was the Bolivian altiplano. Both landscapes were extremely different, and it was really something to get to come back to some places that I have a deep connection with. If I had to go back to my IT job now, I guess I would adapt to that, but I don’t think I could ever live with the prospect of never going back to revisit Patagonia and the Altiplano. They are like good friends that I have to keep in touch with. They feel like home, and sometimes I think I’ve become a citizen of the world through my own love for remote landscapes.