I’ve always been people obsessed. Creeping down the stairs as a child in PJs trying to eavesdrop on fascinating dinner parties, loitering during His phone conversations with just about anybody and please don’t get me started my spy-in-a-cafe habit… it’s a proper pastime.
Curious – yes – damn right nosey – probably – but I suppose with this people fascination, it’s no surprise that I’m a behind-the-lens sort of voyeur. My only rule is that the picture and the story it tells must be honest and so any non-genuine posing or false-memory making is absolutely left on the cutting floor.
my Olympus Pen F with 12mm lens
Basically, I hold up my hands to these traits (and more) but do limit my flicking (twice daily / not hourly) through Instagram and – while doing so – started to wonder where so many of us derive this intense joy of snapping, editing and posting. So (being nosey, obvs.) I asked my insta-feed for their thoughts – go and have a look….
Questioning my own snapping/posting habit, I’ve found that it’s my very real fear of time passing – unaccounted for and all too quickly – which feels most prevalent. Moments are fleeting and a photograph (either online or in print) stops and preserves that moment… every single time. And, without sounding overly ‘mindful’ here, the image we take is often a reminder of what we need to be thankful of. That sunny day. Those dirty boots. This hilarious child. It makes us stop and stare and feel.
It’s worth acknowledging too that the mundane is every bit as picture-worthy as the special occasion and by looking through the viewfinder , you are looking in a totally different way. Often running out of the door at speed, I grab my keys, my bag worn crossways and my treasured Olympus Pen F in hand. Simply because, while out and about, I don’t know what (or how much) I might want to look at differently.
Finally, images quite literally TRANSPORT me – and you – to a different time and place. To a mood and a moment. And I find we need that transportation more than we realise.
Just for the record, I wasn’t running away from being ‘another year older’. No. And I certainly wasn’t having any sort of middle age breakdown. It’s not my style. In fact, I actually don’t mind getting a little older… in my head, it simply means the world is still turning and we are all moving one step forward.
But I knew I wasn’t in the mood to party. And that I was looking for something – something different. And I was absolutely need to get AWAY from ‘it all’. So, I imagined finding an old house (with a green door), in a remote location. A B&B run by an eccentric woman. On the hunt for some long walks, a cosy pub and a properly cooked breakfast… with my gang in tow (of course)… I was on a mission.
And I finally found it. Our very own Narnia.
(PS I can’t actually disclose the exact location, as it really won’t be Narnia anymore. But if you’re absolutely desperate to find out, contact me with a sizeable bribe.)
Sometimes it feels like I might never know what to call My Career. Not my job title, my recent freelance project or a batch of photos I’m currently editing. My actual career. More than often I’m asked ‘what IS it that you do?’ And out tumble a mix of words describing what it is that I think I do. Obviously there are variables within the mix of these words, depending who has asked me the question but also depending on which way the wind is blowing. In short, I feel that my ever-evolving digital creative existence is an odd-shaped object hurtling towards any swing door in its path…
Bearing in mind that only 27% of us think we’ve might have made the right job choices, it seems that I’m not really alone in this ‘what shall I do when I grow up’ confusion. And of course there’s no surprise that it takes a couple of marketers to spot the gap in this ‘marketing’ market – in steps the creative life planning duo Bill Burnett and Dave Evans and who immediately brand it *design thinking*.
Yes these ultra clever (ex-Apple designer/engineers) people are behind a course called The Design Programme at Stanford University where they do their utmost to prevent students from graduating without the personal design tools they need to plan their next move, as well as the next few years ahead.
I couldn’t wait to meet Bill and allow him to help me work out what’s next. In fact, the room was packed, full of high level, already successful execs looking for that same shining light.
But before Bill’s interactive session took us anywhere close to answers, he needed us to grasp some proper theory – here are my top 5 take-outs for you all to contemplate:
- Did you know that you can never deal with more than 4 or 5 choices? Do you know about the jam story? Oh and by the way don’t ever keep that choice open once you’ve made it… our brains will constantly re-evaluate it, given half the chance causing ABSOLUTE confusion…
- Don’t be trapped in your own story. Such an interesting idea that you can trap yourself whilst trying to untangle your life plan.
- Talking of planning. Just don’t do it too much. Our lives can’t really be planned much at all.
- If you really want to do something. Anything. TELL someone. Anyone. The moment you do, your relationship with that something will change.
- Do you appreciate which parts of your week leave you feeling energised and those which totally drain you? We plotted our own week graph before it all became that bit clearer. From there, Bill advised us to surround or sequence our negatives with positives eg a little watercolouring after a particularly soul-destroying, slightly toxic weekly client call…
We also discussed Bill’s Good Time Journals and forced ourselves (because it’s just not that easy) to fill out varying Odyssey plans. Bill and Dave’s book is well worth a purchase – I’m working through it already. Cliché, I know… but the course, the book, these men… they GET IT. They really do come at this wood/trees confusion with some sound logic and strong navigation.
Lastly (before you rehash your entire life) I’d suggest you Google: Bill. There are a number of youtube video he has recorded which also make a lot of sense. He focuses on our fear of novelty and ultimately how, if we master any new skills we need to create meaningful work, we can readdress at our goals, our purpose and understand what essentially gives us a happier balance.
Today I went to see a man about a dog. Not a real dog, but a man at least. We ate avo on toast at The Mae Deli and talked over a few ideas we had. The coffee could have been better but the rye toast reminded me how much I really don’t need to be eating so much wheat.
And then I walked and walked – #LondonbyLondoners, Instagram calls it. Discovering pretty doorways, a hidden mews, colourful brick walls and even a little roadside photography.
I resisted that instinctive temptation to use the phone as I walked, so instead a stream of images of this city I call home.