A year of adventurous weddings at The Redcastle photography, along Lough Foyle, in Co. Donegal. Fun-heavy, loved up photography sessions on the coastline at the hotel and locations in the east Inishowen area
Welcome to Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal - a small slideshow of wedding photography and landscapes
To the kid that’s sitting fretting about what the future will bring, where he or she has a future to be excited by, please lend me your ear. Maybe you are in limbo in the wake of the A-level results, disappointment weighing on your shoulders, your parents in a state over your next few years of education. Maybe you are already at uni, maybe it’s not the dream existence you expected, maybe your heart tells you that change is needed, maybe you’re in a job you hate, maybe you’ve taken a path through life that really was not what you wanted and are feeling anxious and defeated. (On the flip side, if you are riding the highs of good results, if you’re living the good life of joy and contentment then keep her lit, keep living the dream, live it without apology…and you can stop reading now.) This is for the dudes that are in the place that I was, 20 or more years ago, A level disaster aftershocks still rumbling through my world, uncertainty over the future, low self-esteem, little to no belief that I had much value to bring. To those dudes I say this – my big regret in life is worrying too much.
I spent years with a stream of anxiety flowing through my mind, and only now I realise that is was all for nothing. Someone once said to me that guilt was a pretty useless emotion, for it gives you that burden that you are actually doing something, all the while leaving you worse off than you were, compounding the catastrophe…maybe there’s truth in that. I can say this – I was born to create, to make things happen, to go against the grain, paddle upstream. I know this; I take it from my dad – the original creative. I don’t mean he danced around the streets of Ballykelly with bells around his ankles or painting abstract canvas while listening to The Byrds – I mean he created things where nothing existed before – he went out there and made shit happen. School mostly gave its best to rip that gene out of me – the system did its damnedest and in many ways succeeded for manys a year….for what good was a rebellious maniac with dreams to the education system in small town Northern Ireland – not all their fault, as funds and resources and time were always tight.
I recall telling my careers advisor that I wanted to spend my fortnight of work experience with a surf business, hoping to see how they worked, how those making a living on the fringes of ‘regular’ community could make it possible. I was denied. While the rest of the year went to banks and solicitors’ offices I was kept behind in the library at school, alone with my regrets….and a few other edjits that couldn’t get it together either.
Yes, I wasn;t much use to a Grammar school but I know now that I certainly should not have allow their opinions on me and my attitude to life make any difference to my dream and self-esteem. Many of us have zero love for traditional education and how good we are at memorising stuff, but that does not have to mean we have less of a role in the fabric of society. We were all born to contribute. .
I say this now – perhaps you are feeling the pain, perhaps the future is not all mapped out in front of you. But please do not give up hope, please know that your possibilities are limitless. Please know that you are still so, so young and have many good years to figure out what the hell you want to do with the many decades you have in front of you. Maybe the university place you craved is no longer an option, ok, try again, go find a job and pass a year or two grafting and figuring out where life might take you, go travel, meet new people, immerse yourself in creativity, work hard, sow the seeds for the life you want to be living in 5 or 10 years’ time. Work hard, save a few pound, know that there is a great place for you if you keep believing, keep saying yes to opportunities, keep an open mind, keep pushing out of your comfort zone. .
A few years after my ban from ‘work experience’ I was living in California, helping run one of the biggest skateboarding graphics businesses in the world and making my way towards the dream. This happened through nothing less than serious hard work, saying yes all the time, rising from my bed at 5am every morning to make my way to the bus, working harder than I’d ever imagined, sweating it out daily under a hot Californian sun, knowing that my dream was not far up the road. Not much money at the time but skateboarding to the beach to surf the Pacific after work and grabbing a Burrito on the way back will surely stick with me as one of the greatest periods of my life. .
I’m now a professional creative; I make a living loving what I do. I was in my mid 30s when I realised what it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life. After years of misadventure, experience, sweeping floors, stamps on the passport, small victories, disappointment, letting people down, trying and failing. I repeat – my mid-30s, not in my late teens, not with a sweat-soaked A level results envelope in my hand. Life has endless possibilities for us all, and dare I say if one door is slammed in your face then their might be many more that open in time, or failing that just learn to boot the door in with all your might. Good luck out there, persevere, believe in yourself, never ever give up…
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Reasons to be grateful…
The sight of the early morning sun through the bedroom curtain
The sound of my son whispering in your ear to come play cars
The feel of hot water on your back, and hotter water going down your neck
A fit of laughter with the wife that reminds you that this really is forever
Reading a poem that felt so right for this chapter in my life
The sound of the van door slide closed for the last time as we hit the road to freedom Floating in the air on a playpark swing in sync with my daughter
The smell of my son’s hair as I carry him crying down a country lane
The sight and sound of the Atlantic swell as it reaches its sandy destination
The creak of a rusty door that leads to a new escape Soft sand beneath your feet, warm sun on your back
A winter sun that reminds me that springtime will arrive, soon enough
A short conversation with a 3 year old that came over to say hello to us on a new beach
2 donkeys in a coastal field with 2 magpies on their backs
Hot coffee and a homemade Aero bun, made for one another Lego, Screwball Scramble, tomato soup to aid calm
Leaping onto a skateboard for the first time in a week
Warm, welcome swimming pool water to heal us all, body and mind
The sight of my girl completing a full length of the pool
The long journey home, quiet conversation, heater at the feet
The sight of an ambulance and the knowledge that I am not in it
A message of elation from a friend that just got engaged
A photo of my parents that shows they are healthy and happy
No more words as we dine together in darkness in the van
The sight of home, the tired souls, the cats assemble to greet us
A starry night at the hilltop castle, a pink moon rising over the fort
1 million stars to greet as my eyes adjust
The children are asleep safe and well, more memories made
The wife to greet me in the big bed, cold feet and all
…..many reasons to be grateful on Sunday 4th February 2018
FEEL THE FEAR...
I had a spontaneous conversation with a friend a few weeks back, as we tramped through wet heather out on the coast beyond Inch Island pier, in Donegal. He was telling me about change in his life, how he had tired of his career and was ‘hoping’ and striving for transformation. He wanted to reconnect with what he felt was always there in his heart, deep within, he want to open a new chapter, live the life of a professional creative. He also had big fears, big fears that turned into big monstrous fears in the wee hours of the morning, big fears that crept up when he was at his most vulnerable. It was a great conversation, I was happy to listen. Would he fail, he wondered, was he insane for leaving the bosom of a safe job, could he handle the turbulence. There were folk in his life supporting his new chapter, but also those warning him not to, to bank on the ‘known’, avoid risk, stay safe, protect his investments. I could only offer what I knew from my own experiences, from what I had read about and what I knew to be true in my heart.
I left my ‘safe’ 9-5…..9-6…9-7…8 sometimes, about 4 years back. I had known no real worries or pressure previous – I knew there would be money in the bank at the end of the month, I knew I’d be still employed a few years after, I knew I would not have to stretch myself too much in the long haul. All that, I knew. I also knew that, although it was a job I valued, in an environment of cool, friendly folk, I knew that there must more for me in this short life. I say I knew, but in reality I only ‘hoped’, or dreamed, as the world of self-employment in a small corner of the northern most county of Ireland was defiantly not a given, and was fraught with risk. The time came to make the leap though.
There is a great proverb, it sounds a bit far-fetched to the point of being fictitious. It is ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. I believe in this so much. When I was ready to make the leap, I found myself having a real spontaneous brainstormer of a conversation with a friend that was a professional creative, and a few weeks later I met a hero photographer of mine in Dublin, I heard his tale, then drove home with a head full of ideas and inspiration and a book that would become my bible. My time had come, the window of opportunity wasn’t so much open but slightly ajar, and a offered it further open with the ignorance of a big size 9 boot over following next year.
Change is not easy, we are often governed by our habits, but it is possible. It is possible for those that believe in gift of life, it is possible for those that are willing to take the jump, that are willing to trade safety and security for risk and opportunity. You will face hardship like you never thought possible, you will know what every hour of the clock feels like as you sit working, planning, creating, you will know hopelessness, pain and loss, loss of your freedom, loss of your very sanity. No one ever said it was going to be easy, and neither am I right here. It is not easy but it is possible. ‘Sow the seeds today for the future you want to live tomorrow’, another wise man once said.
My advice right now, during this short break from a late-night editing session is this….get on it, get on it tomorrow morning, take a step towards your goals and your dreams, for life is short, and we only really get the one run at it, from what I hear. Exercise self-discipline, self-belief, develop your skills and ability, use your mistakes as an education, not a burden, read the right books, listen to the preachers of positivity out there, sign up for the unknown, enhance your confidence by rising early, working late, creating and achieving, giving without expecting to receive and giving it an almighty lash. You might be surprised by how well things work out if you just give it a go.........starting tomorrow…