Last year, I came to realise that somewhere along the way, I had gotten lost.
I felt the need to reconnect with the world in a more tangible way, to return to my craft, to creativity and to experimentation. I haven't experimented with my photography for many years; as a result, I often feel like I have grown stagnant. I'm bored of my own work (but as with most creatives, we are our own worst critics).
Most of this year was dedicated to finding my way. It was never going to be an easy journey—it wasn't as if everything would right itself the moment the clock turned over to 2013. Clarity was hard to come by. But one step at a time, some of my greatest clouds lifted, and I found small pieces of myself again.
For the longest time, I was trying to understand how my photography would fit in with other pursuits I wanted to follow. I always knew that I wanted to do so much more. I never wanted to produce work that was just "good enough" or simply for what I would get out of it when I shared it with others. I wanted to remember how to create for myself, and how to imbue my thoughts, emotions, dreams into my images.
So I made changes. I learnt to spend more time with myself and things I enjoyed—not simply to relax passively, but to be calm in such a way that would be conducive to creativity. I woke up earlier or stayed up later to make time for the sunrise and for morning runs and for yoga and for writing and for reading and for drawing—everything to give myself more time to be.
I have yet to truly experiment with my work—I haven't taken very many real risks. This year was always going to be about remembering what it is I love, what I want to focus on, and where I want that to take me. And despite becoming more open with my experiences with anxiety, for obvious reasons, I still struggled to photograph when I wasn't entirely myself.
Albeit rarely photographing something conceptually unique or interesting, I dedicated more time to photographing what always exists around me; however mundane, however trivial. Everyday life can be so beautiful, and I photograph it because I am grateful to have this: to be here for every second, every changing shadow, every seemingly insignificant moment that amounts to so much more, in the end. I found ways to see things that I always see differently through the lens, and I guess that's also an experiment, because it was interesting to see what I observed, what I chose to capture and how I chose to capture it. All critical steps in understanding how I photograph and what moves me.
All in all, 2013 was still a great and busy year. I was hospitalised for the first time in my entire life, and 9 months later, Martin had surgery to repair a prosthesis in his leg (that blog post is one in the making, but he spent a good 5 months on crutches); I was reunited with a childhood friend I hadn't seen for over a decade; I was the official photographer for the first-ever typography conference in Australia, Typism; I produced some new videography work for designers Aurelie & Dominique (with one still in the works); I switched jobs and am now a designer at creative agency Flip. I never thought I'd help drag a drum-kit into a pine forest and listen to some pretty fantastic live drumming as I photographed the drummer, but that's exactly what happened; and despite the noon-day sun often being my worst enemy, I learnt to use it to my advantage in this street shoot with young, leggy Lilly. I also photographed the most beautiful DIY wedding (the first DIY wedding I've ever photographed), and then came home to a herd of cows grazing in the paddock behind our room. Everything is always so magical, if you pay attention.
Next year will be full of adventure. In September, I will be going to Borneo to trek for the orang-utans for 10 days, raising money for the WWF in the process. It was incredibly liberating to stumble upon this trip on my daily peruse of Twitter, thinking about it for a few minutes, becoming excited at the prospect, analysing all the reasons not to go, and then realising that none of those things actually mattered. It was a milestone in realising that some of the barriers I had set up in my own mind were gone, and I knew that it was only going to get better from here.
More often than not, experiences that are not actively pursued, or pursued without a plan, simply get lost in the "to-do" pile and remain buried, forgotten. There will always be a million excuses not to do something, but always one very great excuse to say, "yes". In 2014, I hope you find yourself saying "yes" to what you know will serve you, no questions asked. Your year is what you make of it.