Thoughts from the bath – the big 2.6.

James: ‘I know everything for this van will go your way because you’ll be like ‘but on YouTube they did this, on YouTube they did that,’ and I’ll be like ‘I want a hammock.’ ‘No, no, no, no you need a 7 point pin clicking one and a bed at a 7 degree angle that only opens on Tuesday’s if the full moon is out because it saves 2.5cm when you’re shitting.’ That’s what you’ll be like.’

I’ve thrown around the idea of living in a van for a while. Here’s the suggestions from James of what jobs we could do while living on the road ;

  • Pimp and his prostitute
  • man with a van
  • freak show
  • burglars. Specifically cat burglars
  • clean drive ways
  • bandits
  • land pirates

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Satisfaction. This word keeps floating around in my brain and popping up at really inconvenient times. What will satisfy me right now? What will satisfy me in the future? What would satisfy my partner? Now it sounds like we are talking about sex but I’m not, I just don’t know how else I can word that.

I turned 26 yesterday. Age meant nothing to me, notice how I write in the past tense? Since yesterday I’ve had an ‘oh, shit, where has that time gone?!’ moment. I know others have it, one of my best friends is always in shock of her age. I was always pretty chill about it. When my sister was 26, 5 years ago, she seemed so old and so far away. I’m not where I saw her at. Not that it was a goal to be like that, it’s just strange that you reach unreachable goals and you realise it’s all completely different.

I joked all day that I was turning ‘the big 2.6.’ only because it’s not a 21st, it’s not a 30th, it’s 26. Closer to 30 than 20 but still a bit in limbo. And I feel like that’s me to a T. A bit in limbo.

Have I done enough? I don’t know. From my prospective, no, but others may say yes. But at the end of the day it’s a no. Nope. You have a lot more in you. (This is a pep talk, encase you haven’t caught on. I literally only have right this second.)

When I came back from my road trip I tried and still am trying ways to get out of this slump. It’s specifically a slump about not travelling. It put into prospective how much I want to change things in my life. What I want to do to feel how I like to feel. Feelings are important to me, I have a lot of them.. Probably the same amount as you.. Just knocking my ego back down. Unfortunately it’s brought up how much I can’t live how I want or live any life that’s progressed from where I am now without money. You can’t go down any path any more without a lot of money, it’s a dead end. Gone are the days where you could have a ‘normal job’ but still be able to buy a house. You need a lot of money.

Money.

I hate money. I don’t think it’s just people without it that hate it. Let me know?

There’s too much of a system for me. I’m not a system person. It’s fine if you don’t mind it, follow what was set out for us all. Personally though, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to rent or buy a house. I’m not afraid of hard work to get there, that’s not it. I just want something different. As my Mum said, I live to play. (Which doesn’t mean no work! Writing, blogging, being artistic is play. Work can be play.)

There’s things about being an Adult (notice the capital A. I’ll be an adult – little a) that I don’t like and I’m resentful that you have no choice. Yes that sounds millennial but yes I’m just being honest.

All the time people talk about being mortgage free. Mortgage free everything. That’s the goal for Adults. Mortgage free. The dream. Cool. I don’t want a mortgage or to rent. To me it sounds like rent (and waste your money and have no life outside of that and not enough money to save to buy a place (been there)) or buy (and put a ridiculous amount of money into a property that you’ll be paying off for the rest of your life while watching programs about how to be mortgage free (haven’t been there but sounds yucky and seems impossible with England today)). Then this is the part where my depression likes to jump in like ‘Surprise motherfucker!’ from Dexter.

This is where my thoughts are unconventional. Why not live in a van? Mortgage free. Live on land you can’t build on with it. Don’t follow the same route as others. Someone once told me I couldn’t make my own route, that proper bummed me out. Not because I believed her but because she didn’t believe in me.

All I can conclude as this water is getting cold is that I have to save. That’s all I can do right now. I want a plan of some sort but that’s not possible. You hate money but you need it. Just save.

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The conflict of ironing..

..which would seem irrelevant to me because I don’t iron. None of my clothes are ironed, nor my Mums and I’m sure my Nan has told me she hates it so has cut back or stopped. What’s the point then, Emily, what’s the thoughts today?

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It’s a pretty simple one, just that whether people are happier who iron. I often contemplate now today’s generation are so used to getting things instantly, you don’t have to wait. I said to someone the other day that I miss the TV being on when I was young but not watching it because I was waiting a few hours for something, meanwhile I would get on with something important like playdough or barbies. That’s a weird thing to miss but I look back at that and feel relaxed, comforted and it’s just simple. Having anything at my finger tips, having entertainment whenever I want, only means that when it comes to meaningless tasks I am totally put off them because it’s not stimulating enough.

Now it’s balancing itself a little bit, in my opinion. Mindfulness is popular, meditation, people preach digital detoxes, everyone loved kindle and now people prefer books again, the Nokia 3310 is back, minimalism, record players.

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So I wondered if something like ironing is a therapeutic task that keeps you grounded. I completely right it off because I think that I don’t want to waste my time doing something I don’t like. Doesn’t that sound so privileged? Doing things like housework are normal, why do I expect a more adventurous lifestyle than that? I want extraordinary, ironing doesn’t fit the cut.

I don’t believe I’ll want anything less than an adventurous life, I’ve always been like it, I just like to play. I do think it’s possible, I think you can live whatever life you want to live. Exceptions of course, I’m not exactly living how I would like to completely but I understand it’s a process anyway, and that part (being on a journey) is part of my ‘dream life’. So really I’m exactly where I would like to be, because I’m not ready to be anywhere else. My life has to be my dream life by this theory, no matter how shitty or amazing it is currently. Also I have the mindset that I desire, even though I’m not climbing a mountain I have that mindset when I’m climbing the o2 (if you haven’t done it, nothing in common with a mountain) (still recommend it). It’s not a ‘more and more’ mentality, not constantly unsatisfied and wishing, this is where my thought process could become foggy for someone that doesn’t know me. I don’t expect anything from life and I’ve never liked the thought of hand outs. I think its more just try your best, be satisfied, have fun and choose what you want to waste time over – not what you think you should waste time doing.

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My Mum is always trying to find short cuts with menial tasks. That’s kind of her thing. I get it, I don’t want to wash up really, I don’t want to sort my things, I don’t want to iron. Since de-cluttering, though unfortunately still doing it, housework isn’t such a big job. Maybe that is the answer. If you only have four plates and you wash them straight away it’s not that bad, I’ve even enjoy some organising when there isn’t as much to do. Another option is to live a disposable life? I don’t agree with being wasteful but I could have paper cups and plates. Or, and the most attractive option to me, never own a house, live on the road. That’s me romanticising.

These are all ponderings. I have the outlook that if you don’t like doing something you shouldn’t feel like you have to do it. At the same time I have a tendency to go off in my head and live along my wild ideas and plans (is that a bad thing?) and doing something simple like watering my plants (which I bloody love so maybe a bad example) brings me back down to Earth.

I’m not going to iron to see if I like it. I will stick to creased clothes. I still work hard at writing or some DIY I’ve got going on but I don’t want to work hard at stupid things that I can’t for the life of me rationalise. It opened my mind to what we possibly should do though, to keep ourselves grounded and human. So shortcuts are a good thing, I agree with them, but just like finding that balance with how much technology you consume in a day, I think some things should stay old school. I will water my plants by hand, not any fancy contraption, but I won’t iron.

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Bad habits

I get bored with entertainment easily – isn’t that a sign that I should stop searching for something to entertain me and instead do something productive?! But no, I carry on scrolling through YouTube, I keep looking, consider Netflix but know that I would get sucked into a program for hours, so I scroll YouTube again hoping to find something remotely interesting, not realising I’ve been doing that for hours instead. Why?

I’m in such a habit with my obsession with YouTube being fine. I don’t watch TV though, so I rationalise it by thinking it’s just like someone flipping channel to channel. It is, but it’s still something I don’t like about myself. Watching videos is like my down time, but I need to make a new habit of when I feel that restlessness to just stop and do something else. That is exactly what has just happened now and why I’m writing this post. I said no to myself, and opened a blank page to just ease myself away. To let that need in me calm down.

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I assume when people get addicted to social media it’s like this? I know they get validation from how many likes, or whatever, they get, which I can’t relate to with YouTube. I can understand it with blogging maybe. When starting your own blog, or anything like this, I think you have a choice of whether you keep to your authentic self or get wrapped up in how many views and likes you get – and that dictates your content. I also think it’s hard not to think that’s the most important part, isn’t that why you have a blog, for people to see and like it? I get that. I don’t have that hold with blogging, or social media, but YouTube, that damn YouTube has a hold on me. Vice grip.

I find the people I follow fascinating. It inspires me. Downside? Can stop me doing cool stuff but just watching it.

Ever heard that if you tell people your ideas and they validate you, that is often enough satisfaction for you to not actually go through with the idea? So people wonder what’s more productive; keeping ideas to yourself or sharing them. I’ve definitely seen that in action with people around me, telling me something that is brilliant to them and they want to do it, then we chat about it, and then… nothing. On to the next one.

Well, maybe watching videos is the same. Other people are living the dream so I don’t have to. I get enough satisfaction watching someone do something I want to do that I don’t do it.

Life isn’t boring. It’s just that the internet is so stimulating.

Personally, I’m just going to make a conscious decision to rein it in a little. I’m not going to put pressure on myself, I think I’ve naturally been doing it anyway without saying the full sentence or declaration in my head. Could be because spring is here, could be because my mental health is improving. Whatever it is I’m going to carry on with it and concentrate on getting satisfaction from myself.

And now that sounds like an unintentional masturbation joke.

Stress of the future

A good day is when a new door opens in your brain to new thought. I say this positively because it has to be, it’s not something to negatively dwell on. Today I’ve been confronted with something I kind of reject. There’s a question to why I reject it, whether it’s because I oppose anything to do responsibility or opposing what ‘I’m meant to do’. I do debate what I should do vs what I want to do. Regardless on if what I want to do is also what I should do. So whatever the reason why am I scared to prepare for the future?

I’ve seen the importance in it many a time. In the past I had the savings for a rainy day. And now? Now I hate the thought of waiting to live. I suppose this comes from people saying they’ll ‘wait for retirement to do that’ (I’m talking people in their 20s), and I think it’s absolutely absurd. No one knows if they’ll even reach their 60s. Plus by that point, and I try to say this sensitively, will you be able to do the same things as in your youth? You probably won’t even want to.

I’ve also had older people say to me that they wished they travelled. So many wishes and oh my God so many ‘don’t have kids’ and ‘don’t get married’. Not that I take this ‘advise’, every person is different. Also these people probably have so many blessings that they aren’t counting, which I may not have if I choose travel over a deposit for a house. You must substitute one regret for another.

I like to think that if my life got completely uprooted I would see it as my next adventure, but I’m saying that from the perspective of living with my parents, having a roof over my head and dinner on the table. If that was all taken away in a day, then what? What options do I have? I suppose, seriously thinking about it now, I would sell all my possessions, try to stay at someone’s house, take it a day at a time.. Then what if I had to provide, what if I’m not singular and there’s a lot on my shoulders? I did live on my own for four years and the stress was there. It’s all about finding the balance of doing what you want with your life, but also preparing for your future in case shit hits the fan.

I mean, this all being said, you can’t really have a plan in place can you. Otherwise you’ll be one of these people preparing for the zombie apocalypse or a nuclear war. You just have to be brave and somehow muster the courage to see a massive negative as a chance to learn. That’s what ‘failures’ are.

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My bubble of successes this year

I get in this assumption that with time passing I must be more wise and, for lack of a better word, ‘better’. I don’t know what the better is and it’s not as much pressure as it used to be – as been figured out recently I have some high standards. I think it’s at a healthy level now, it’s just me hoping that I’m trying at whatever I’m doing/interested in at that moment. Saying this I caught myself out today when I was watching some YouTube video from December and I naturally assumed it wouldn’t be as good at this YouTubers latest vlogs. Four months have passed since then (but I had to think about that anyway because it went by so fast) and my natural reaction was off putting because this YouTuber is ‘better’ now at her craft than a third of a year ago, yeah? No. Possibly, but nothing works like that. It’s not black and white is it, Emily? Who am I to judge her anyway? I don’t know her and the vlog was good, entertaining, inspiring, and my initial reaction to the date had nothing to do with the quality of the vlog, so does she need to change anyway? I don’t really feel like I’ve changed a lot in four months. Still, I wouldn’t go back to past me. Not even yesterday.

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Example that time can mean nothing in my life, an actual real life example; I absolutely love The Beatles. Favourite band. I just googled it and their first song was released 55 years ago. It’s been 48 years since my favourite song, Here Comes The Sun.

Progress is good but adding time into the mix isn’t.. always.. for me. You can get into a cycle of just wanting more and not even realising your successes. New isn’t always better, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Maybe my environment has taught me to automatically think ‘this is so old! It was made in December!’, when really time is irrelevant on the worth.

At the same time I’m totally guilty for assuming I’ve achieved nothing too, when in retrospect I have. I can’t compare myself to others my age and what they’ve achieved but in my little bubble of the world I’ve gotten better. Better to what? I don’t know, but I’m proud of my timeline. So here are some good things that have happened these past four months, in my bubble;

started work after time off sick – and now settled in

started CBT therapy

leaps and bounds better

did a blog post about each session

learnt a lot in therapy in general and feel good about it

painted my bedroom (and ignored any judgements about the colours)

helped with painting at my pregnant best pals house

threw out so many of my belongings

sold clothes on ebay, sold DVDs, cashed in my pot of coins (nearly £100)

joined a gym

use the gym

started to plan a road trip

socialise so much more

started writing a new book

started writing in my old diary again

waking up at a normal time

got a lot more into music

starting reading books again

doing housework (this one is huge)

I’m dancing around the house again

did more drawings

I feel happy right now.

 

 

Makeup And Mental Health

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I put on makeup today. It’s been just over a week. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but I suppose this symbolises how hard I’m trying to help myself. Oh my god, if only I could not wash, lay in bed and forget there’s an outside world. Today I’m acknowledging there’s a world – hi world, how are you today?

For me I’ve always had a strange relationship with makeup. It generally corresponds with how healthy I am mentally but is always contradicting itself. From feeling awful so not wearing any, to feeling so good about myself so I refuse to wear any. Then feeling awful so I wear loads, or feeling great so I’ve put loads on. This time I’m trying to feel good, trying to look after myself. It must be a universal things that mental health and makeup are interlinked. Oh the irony that something as ugly as depression goes hand in hand with beauty.

When I look back without diving too deep into the past I’ve reached this stage in five phases.

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1.

I started wearing makeup as a teenager. Later than others for sure, I’ve spent most of my life being ignorant to what ‘we are expected to do as women’, then when the time came I didn’t know how to put it on. YouTube wasn’t around or wasn’t as huge as it is now, so no tutorials, no tips, just a girl thinking I should probably start doing this now. My mum didn’t wear any so it was guess work and although at the time I thought I was doing a good job I definitely wasn’t. Do you ever look back at things and just feel dread? Yeah, I have no idea what my face looked like. I suppose I got a little bit better at some point. I hope. For my teenage self.

2. 

When I moved to Malta at aged 20 I stopped wearing makeup because it was too hot and uncomfortable. I think I wore eye liner and mascara if I went out out, but I basically stopped and it wasn’t anything bigger than that. A year later I moved back and when I started work and socialising with my old friends I started wearing it again. I’m completely unaware of how I wore it, I can’t remember putting foundation on. Maybe I wore very little. If only my memory wasn’t so bad, it’ll make story time so much easier.

3.

2013 shit got real and I got really mentally ill. I had a lot of time off work and had to reboot myself. I’m sure I’ve read before that when you have a breakdown something actually breaks in your mind, so it’s natural to go back to a childlike state. So no make up for months. Something else happened which was very strange, and I assume it correlates with going back to a childlike state, but because my body and mind was learning things all over again I was having revelations every day. I forgot how to socialise and so I would ramble these new revelations at whoever would listen – one of them being about make up. I was disgusted that I had to cover up to be socially accepted, and it’s not accepted for men to do it etc. You get the idea. There were many rants about gender and society.

4.

In the same year, still off work and still very unwell, I discovered beauty gurus on YouTube and I finally understood that make up can be about yourself and it’s an art form. There are people out there that wear it for others, to fit in, but there’s also many women and men that wear it for themselves. This blew my mind. I felt like something unlocked in my brain because I honestly hadn’t thought about it like that. I had only worn it so far to look normal, to be very honest with myself.

So I started experimenting, copying tutorials. Very badly done and even now I have no skills, but I enjoyed it. When I had days where I struggled to get out of bed or go outside because my anxiety was awful, I would spend an hour or two putting on make up, and it helped me. It calmed me, it got me out.

I still was out of my mind, I almost had to tell myself things for it to be ‘okay’ and that I’m not giving into social standards. I still don’t know the truth, but I would tell myself that the female sex does scientifically enjoy feminine things, therefore my natural body does want this, I’m not doing it for others. Why was I enjoying it when I was so opposed to it?! Gahhh melt down!

I also experimented with the idea that it’s a mask. Like I said, I was aware people wear it to fit in or they wear it for themselves, and so I started doing it for myself so people wouldn’t know what my mind was really like. The amount of times, even now, people say ‘oh wow, you don’t look like you have anxiety and depression’. This mask of makeup covered it up, literally. I’m not saying I would suppress my mental illness, just that to deal with it in public or around people I don’t want to open up to, I would cover up. I couldn’t feel social anxiety as bad when my make up makes me look like every other girl, and that I’m ‘well’. I wore it so I could live.

5.

I started to wear all the time when these revelations dyed down which, for me, meant I was self conscious of who I actually was. There’s a fine line you have to balance along – but maybe only if you’re battling with mental health issues. If I have a time period of being wrapped up in ‘fake things’, I end up drowning in social norms, but forgetting I don’t breath on reality TV or appearances – I end up wearing make up everyday to keep up the act. ‘I am normal I am normal’  

I was also single at this time so was I wearing it to entice? Entice sounds like a horrible word, makes my skins crawl.

Finally I’ve reached the steady stage now where I feel like I’m in a healthy place where I don’t have to ‘impress’ or ‘fit in’. I still mask myself if I need to, so at work definitely, but I also wear it because it makes me feel good. I feel like I have a little  more control on the contradicting needs I have – the need to hide, the need to be myself, the need to be part of society, the need to reject anything to do with the norm. I suppose I’ve managed to normalise make up. (No doubt there will be more ups and downs though)

I like myself, sure there will always be insecurities but I like who I am and if I have to wear make up to embrace the world that day I have to welcome it – with a shimmering eye shadow and all.

 

Why My Olympus Trip 35mm Is My Favourite Camera

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I couldn’t describe to you what I’m interested in when it comes to photography. It’s a general question that’s asked from other photographers, and it’s totally understandable because I’m interested in what you do too, but how can I answer it when the answer is so wide open?

My reply is pretty similar to this;

Erm.. It’s kind of hard to explain. I don’t do it professionally, once upon a time I wanted to but when I realised the best way to earn a living would be weddings and advertising I was instantly switched off.. I do personal projects, about like.. actually you probably wouldn’t find it interesting, and I’m not sure what purpose they would be for, I just do them and don’t share them – at least not yet. I like a meaning behind them, but I also just like them to look pretty.. That sounds dumb, obviously they have to look somewhat good. I’d like to sell photos I think, but completely on my terms, which is very stubborn I know. I often document things, important things to me, which I assume probably means that’s my favourite form..

Erm.. and.. I don’t give a fudge about the equipment I use.

Pause… Are you still breathing?

If you are the type very interested in the equipment, just hear me out.

I’m 25, so yes my style will probably grow. I know my ideas have grown since college, aged 16-18, but even then I was never the type to be interested in the digital side of the medium. It was so clear seeing which aspect sparked up someone’s passion from the work they handed in, or how they dealt with an assignment. Like school, there were labels for what kind of photographer you were – though not a fan of labels myself. So rather a ‘geek’ or ‘popular’ there were the ones that were interested in having the best SLR, the ones who liked fashion, the ones who liked sport, the ones in it for the money, the ones to liked film, the ones who didn’t really know what they liked, and then the ones who were in the same group as me – but I still don’t know what that’s called. I knew what I liked and disliked, but I suppose the simplest way to describe it would be I liked to capture something that had some meaning to me.

Now, after years of not doing it to complete an assignment, and finding my own inspiration while still not wanting to be a professional photographer, to me photography is a very quick moment in time that I wish to capture. Obvious answer, but I literally mean that. The way my brain works, if I’m somewhere and I see a frame I want to take a photo instantly of what I see. Right. Then. I don’t want to pause and think, I don’t want to take loads of photos trying different angles, I don’t want to keep going until I have the ‘perfect’ photo. It’s not about the perfect photo. It’s a snap of the finger. It’s a flash of lightening, a jolt, something has shaken up the Earth for one second and the need in me wants to photograph that inspiration. The feeling is very quick and can disappear just as fast. It’s a feeling of elation, or hope, a spark, I see something that has stirred a feeling in me and I want to capture that very moment, not a few seconds after.

Obviously I’m not that quick, I’m not super human, it’s not a stressed out situation where I faff to get my camera out and then ‘damn, I’ve missed it!’ but instead I take the photo and move on. This is also bearing in mind that I have my ‘photography goggles’ on – I’m out with the purpose of taking photographs, it’s in my hand or close reach, and in the back of my mind I’m naturally framing everything I see so if find that spark of inspiration comes along I’m ready. I also wouldn’t take a photo if I don’t find it. This all being said, I hope you realise I’m talking about my personal photography rather than if I were taking a photo of a product or something specific where you actually have to get the ‘perfect’ shot.

I just find it so fascinating and liberating how a camera can capture how you view the world. At college everyone in my class would take a photo differently of the same object, and it’s wonderful to think this tool you have – whether it’s a crappy one or the best money can buy – can show others what you’re seeing, and you can read so much into a person because of that. Growing up wanting to be a photographer got confusing because I wanted to be the best I could be (and when I couldn’t I would give in), I wasn’t even sure what direction I wanted to go or how I wanted to frame something so I could be ‘different’ or ‘perfect’. It doesn’t have to be about perfection, that pressure can disappear, and it doesn’t have to be a competition. Just tell a story. You forget how simple it can be – you can get your own style by just being yourself.

I believe you can suck the life out of a photo so much that there’s nothing real left and there’s no meaning, and that’s a mistake I don’t like to achieve.

Now this is where my Olympus Trip comes in. I know I said I don’t care about equipment – I want to tell the story, not what I took the story on – but this amazing little camera works wonders for this style. I love it so much, I value it enormously, it has naturally become my go to camera. I got it from one of my best friends for my 17th birthday, and she bought it from a boot fair for a couple of quid – before they got popular. When we were at college together we were always experimenting with all different equipment, manly film, but we would literally just play with cameras or in the studio, and somehow our teacher allowed us to because I suppose he saw us learning even if we thought we were just playing.

Along the years I just learnt how to use this camera really well. I can choose the focus easily and quickly, and it’s usually right. I started viewing every shot I made on any camera through the eyes of my trippy, and over time whatever I hoped to come out would come out as I wanted. I was always better with film, even at college, but with Mr Trip something clicked. It was definitely trial and error though the years, don’t get me wrong even now there are dud photos, we just have learnt to morph together. What tops it off is that the colours are beautiful, if using film wasn’t so expensive I would without a doubt use it constantly – unfortunately it’s not practical enough for everyday things I need to photograph.

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So when I say photography has developed into an emotional thing for me and its more about the feeling I felt at that time, this camera will win every time, hands down, in helping me capture that.

This is my long winded answer to what I’m interested in. I’ve found when I’m asked I can’t give that person the discussion about equipment that they thrive on. It seems funny to me, I don’t care what I use, I just want to get the shot. Personally, I’m not interested in the equipment, and I’m happy that I’ve found a camera I can work with so well. I haven’t found a way to say any of this quickly and that doesn’t offend or disinterest the other person, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Whether you see photography as an art form or not, we are still on the same side. Express yourself however you want.

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Photos taken while in college

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Photos from Day Tripper

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day tripper 3

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My last shift in a photo centre is on Saturday. I’m going to miss those Charlie’s Angels. New starts brings out reflection in me.

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Photograph by Amy Simpson