What do you call a Professional Photographer without a camera? I was going to start this missive with a sentence containing the phrase ‘ex-photographer’ but somehow that didn’t work for me. Ex-photographer implies (to me at least) that I no longer ‘wish’ to be a photographer. That I am never going to take another picture or ever pick up a camera again.
Truth is; I am a Professional Photographer without the means to take a photograph. To push that truth a little further; I am also an artist without the means of creating art.
Times are hard the world over. Switch on the TV and one is bombarded with adverts asking you to help impoverished children in Africa, people the world over without food or clean water, mistreated animals and today I saw an advert asking me to help the victims of child marriages.
In the Western World it is almost impossible for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder although house prices are at an all time low. Gold prices have been as high as they’ve ever been yet the common-person does not have the money to invest, rather, judging by the amount of adverts, people are being actually being urged to sell their gold (to survive). The rich get richer! Inflation rises. The cost of food and fuels rise almost daily and now, because of the recent flooding in Thailand, hard-drive prices are set to soar, thus driving up the price of computing again.
Those same times that are hard globally are also being hard locally; having said that I’m a Professional Photographer without a camera it makes perfect sense that I’m incapable of earning a living as a photographer.
In fact, since moving to Cornwall, whether because of my terrible marketing skills, a run of bad luck or my refusal to work as anything other than a portrait photographer I have only had one paid gig. Even that was sold at a fraction of the price that my last London job cost the client.
I am a photographer without a camera because living in Cornwall, as I do, as many others do, requires a circus full of skills; One has to constantly juggle money and possessions. It is a fine balancing act to keep ones head above water, one is constantly trying to escape from poverty, one has to tame ones debtors and one constantly hides behind the tears of a clown.
The constant juggling of finances is the hardest. Rent, food, water, electricity, heating, pet bills, travel, broadband connection, cell phone, TV license, addictions and quality of life: Rent, because luckily I live in a hovel, is covered. As to the rest? The water board have taken me to court. Luckily, they are the one service that can’t disconnect you. Food is juggled with electricity is juggled with heating is juggled with the broadband etc. It is ALWAYS food vs. pet bills, pet bills vs. electricity, electricity vs. travel, travel vs. cell phone, cell phone vs. addictions or addictions vs. quality of life. There is NEVER enough money to go around. There is NEVER a time when all of ones needs (according to Maslow) are covered entirely and comfortably.
Hence the fact I’m a photographer without a camera. To survive. To SURVIVE, I’ve had to sell it.
Since I came to Cornwall I’ve lost virtually everything; My physical health has deteriorated, my mental health has deteriorated. My mother has stopped talking to me, she will continue this to her death bed as her own mother did to her, my relationship with my father is strained and all my sundry family with the exception of my daughter and sister refuse to have anything to do with me.
I have lost my girlfriend of six years (along with my laptop and cordless drill) to another man and at least sixty percent of my friends are no longer friends.
To survive Cornwall I have sold: My £600+ ($960) mountain bike, my canoe, my Xbox 360 and games, my DVD collection, excess current generation video games I would like to have kept but no longer played, my entire collection of retro consoles and games dating from the eighties to the current generation (some of which will be forever irreplaceable), the gold chain I got for my twenty-first birthday, my car, a collection of rare Japanese toys and dolls, a hand forged Samurai sword, a Canon GL2 professional video camera, two pairs of Elinchrom Style RX 600 strobes and assorted diffusers, softboxes, umbrellas, dishes and reflectors, radio triggers for the strobes, my Canon 1Ds Mark II, a Canon Speedlite 430EX, a Canon Speedlite 580EX, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM lens, a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, a Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L USM lens, a Canon EF 2x II Extender, various professional Hoya filters, all of the studio backdrop equipment, a Manfrotto monopod, a Manfrotto tripod, a Leica D-Lux 4 plus accessories and the Nikon S3100 I replaced the Leica with (although not for monetary gain but because it was utterly rubbish!)
I’m sure there’s more but you get the idea?
I have considered suicide but I have a responsibility to those few that still love me and my dog. I have considered suicide but I think I’m such a fuck-up that I’d mess it up and end up as a cabbage in a hospital bed. I have considered suicide but tomorrow might be a better day.
I live in hope that tomorrow is a better day! But tomorrow never comes as we all know. There is only today. There is only today and only I have the ability to make today better.
But most days I can’t, most days I’m not strong enough.
That’s not to say I won’t, I want to, but I lack the means to make today better at the moment. A good day today means I got up, I shaved and showered, I brushed my teeth and I got dressed. That’s on a good day. A very good day meant I probably fed myself and washed up, maybe did a little cleaning, maybe took the dog for a walk. An extremely good day maybe saw me thinking about the future a little, maybe I got out to town where the people are and maybe I called up a friend for a chat.
Past that, I struggle.
That’s not to say there isn’t a plan. I’m not totally done in, just done in enough to not be able to pick myself up and dust myself down alone.
I can’t help but think about the past and the future; this just weighs me down and makes the present crap. There is so much baggage in my past and try as I might I just can’t let it go. A lot of the past put me exactly where I am now. I analyse and over-analyse. I know I can’t change it but I can’t seem to forget it either. It’s a painful circle.
The future also seems more important than the present and perhaps I’m making a mistake there too; Without some kind of success in life I won’t be covered for retirement, I’ll never amass a decent state pension at this late stage and I’m not getting younger day-by-day. Each year I seem to feel my age more acutely than the last.
I’ll never realise my dreams through regular employment; they’re modest dreams by anyone’s standard but probably beyond the means of say, a civil servant in this financial climate. Especially a civil servant that’s never left a regularly paid job by his own volition; I realised the other day that I’ve either been sacked or been asked to resign from every job I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot!
I realise also that I lack having someone to love. As crass as it might seem, success means you get the pick of better women. Financial stability is probably the modern version of having the biggest club and the best furs from back in the caveman days. Very few women love a failure! The cavemen failures were the ones the mammoths trampled and the sabre-toothed tigers ate. Today’s failures are the financially and emotionally challenged.
This year has been terrible! I’m not going to live another year like this! I’m not! Either I make it next year or it’s that trip to Thailand I always spoke of… I can’t do this any more. I just can’t.
This year was worse than last which was worse than the one before that which was looking to be a pretty good year until the October.
2008 was the year it started to come together and also the year when it started to fall apart and it hasn’t got better. Two thousand and fucking eight! Just when all the hard work began to pay off the situation changed, I made a knee-jerk reaction and it was downhill all the way from there. Here and there I managed to grab a rocky outcrop or a tired old shrub on my descent but the rocks never held and the shrubs uprooted. In mountaineering parlance I need to find an old piton or cam wedged tight into the slope to belay (I probably shouldn’t mix nautical and mountaineering metaphors but it works…) my fall and give me half a chance to climb back up again.
Somehow, between now and March 2012 I need to find a minimum of £8000 ($12500). Yes, eight thousand pound to get myself back on track. I have no idea how! That’s just for the camera, a lens and a flash. I’d actually like £14400 for equipment and another £3000 to buy me some time in London but £8000 would be a start! With £8K I can start to take photos again and stop being whatever a photographer without a camera is called.
Donations gratefully accepted… Email me for my PayPal account details and you’ll have my eternal gratitude and a mention in my first biography. If it’s a good enough idea for Katie Price it’s good enough for me!