May - 2017
Extracts from, It Fell From an Unknown Height

The devil on my shoulder is actually coming to me with some words of wisdom today, be it all with a few tears. Shit, is the devil crying?

I'm never going to shoot like Parr and to think I can, or can somehow achieve something like his work, well, I'm just kidding myself really. I admire those that can somehow seem to bang out work that's very reminiscent of him, that's in the same vein, that's just as good; I simply cannot. I'd love to, but I cannot - I'm not good enough yet. The devil comes to me in waves, sometimes telling me to drink up, often-times letting me know how shit I am. Sometimes one causes the other and vise-versa.

Sit back and realise that in my pathetic self-loathing slumps in wallow that I'd actually stopped breathing and that it was probably best to exhale. Slumps in May - all I have to do is click one button in the 'admin' section of my website and it'll all be hidden. The thought pleases me more and more as the days roll by. I simply want more of myself and know I can do better; I know with continual dedicated effort, I can do much better. The rut that I constantly feel that I am in is in part borne from the inability to move on and let go of what I consider 'safe'. Safe is fine, but there is still something in me that wants to break away from it all and not be so tied to and constrained by those I have studied and admire. I have no mentor but know that if I would have, I'd have eventually abandoned them.

12th - The circus. I can't recall what photographer I'd seen in the past whose work I'd liked and gave inspiration to go check out the same. Of course, circuses are no longer the wild animal pits of "entertainment" they once were, and that's a good thing - the only animals at this circus were horses and birds.
As usual, I'd emailed them to gain access and photograph.

This is something I don't mind doing, but it'd still be nice to be represented by an agency or paper where someone else has everything already arranged for me. My official UK Press Card doesn't really do much for me in that regard. I don't think that that is ever going to happen for me and it's not that I completely dislike the process of begging to get in somewhere, than it can be somewhat tedious.

Backstage I find my usual hidden and out-the-way spot. I was instructed beforehand that at no time should I venture into the caravan homes of the performers, even if invited to do so. That was fine. I'd imagined going in and getting some portraits but for the purpose of my 'From Behind' project, I didn't mind not being able to do so. They were kind enough to let me come and take some pictures, the least I can do is respect their wishes.

The circus tent, humid and stuffy; sweat dripping and soaking all parts of my body - I no longer mind this, I have learned to ignore it. The performers are pleasant and kind and seem not to be bothered by my presence and I have fun photographing them. Using the digital camera, as always, meant that I was forever fucking around with the settings as it simply didn't want to play ball and I fucking hate spending more time with a camera and its settings than I am actually taking photographs - it's off-putting and disrupts my flow and state of mind. It pisses me off greatly and I lose focus. So I have decided to simply get a cheap film rangefinder. I have one in mind and it will replace the Fuji X100s. Fuck that camera. Having said this, I don't mind blur.

21st - Begged my way backstage, again via email, to photograph The London Symphony Orchestra, again for project. And again, I used the digital camera. The only reason for doing this is 1.) so I don't look like an amateur (although I am) with the little point-and-shoot film camera and 2.) The little point-and-shoot film camera makes a lot of noise and I didn't want to spook the horses or make a noise near the orchestra. The film camera would have been my first choice though had these things not been a problem. Again I struggled with the settings; there was a lot of light and shadow and I struggled to get the camera to expose for the bright light whilst keeping information in the darker areas, where most people were. The whites in the photographs were my main concern and I battled all evening to pull them back and failed - there was simply nothing in them for me to rescue and I fucking hate the entire process of it all. I guess I could just convert the whole lot to black and white to quickly and effectively hide all the crap but ... oh fuck it to hell.

I love being backstage. I feel oddly at home there within whatever scenario I decide to shoot. It's a people thing - I'm absolutely fascinated in what people do and the way they go about doing it - their transformations, nervousness before a performance and all the banter and laughter that occurs when people come together to get ready. It's here that I find that beautiful transition from one state to another and I often find all emotional ranges under that one solitary umbrella. I am simply drawn to it and hope for more. The 'project' that I am doing on instances of being backstage is nothing that I have really set a date to complete; I will simply keep going until I feel I have either covered enough or feel at ease with my work. The latter is the problem.
It's hard knowing I have spent a number of years on projects and series and have come to the realisation that they're not very good, or at the very least, not good enough. It's hard but at the same time a little liberating; to start again and produce not only bodies of work that are visually pleasing and photographically competent but work that has meaning and substance. I've always felt my work has no real meaning and although I think the ideas behind them are fine, my execution of them has been lacking. I have never really been pleased with most of what I have produced and that little bastard of a devil on my shoulder whom oftentimes leads me astray in other areas, never fails to let me know of all my failings. I've always been glad to know. Occasionally someone will read all this and email me advising me not to be too hard on myself. That's kind of them, but if I'm not going to be hard on myself, then who will be? I never consider it hard, just realistic. I think being realistic about your work, your expectations and having a true understanding of what you're producing can only be of benefit, regardless of the frustrations and despair it can often come with. I will not walk blindly into this thinking I am good at it. I have too far yet to go. I have carried that thought with me from the start and it has and continues to serve me well.

To start everything again, without any constraints or given thought to anything I have learned - to throw everything out the window and to start shooting without the shackles of thought, the bind and knots of explanation and the continuous suffocation of the process ... to stop fucking around and just shoot.

Do I think the devil cries? Between moments of laughter, oh I think she fucking must.