It’s taken me 21 years to work out what makes me happy. I thought for a while it might be money. “Without money you can’t afford to get yourself where you want to be”, I told myself, and believe me, I’ve heard that countless times from teachers, friends, family. But the easiest path to money is a job in London, in an office, in a grey building, with grey people. Somehow, people seem to find that lifestyle addictive, it gets people hooked and before they know it, those 20 something graduates who saw a job in a London office block as a means to an end are now turning 40, wondering where the spark that first drove them into the city to seek their fortune has gone.
So no, money’s not top of the list.
A while ago I was told that if you put your heart and soul into something you’re passionate about, eventually you’ll become a master of it, and a master of anything is worth paying for. Luckily for me, I’ve got a passion for photography. Well, it’s part passion, part addiction really. I don’t leave the house without a camera, I spend all my spare time reading about photography, watching videos about photography trips, flicking through albums online, trying to find examples of work of the quality I’m aiming for, for inspiration. I don’t think I’m ever going to take a perfect photo, or become a master of the art of photography, but I’m going to spend as much time as I can pushing for those standards because I truly believe I can get close, even if it takes me 50 years. I don’t think enough young people these days think about what they actually would love to do with their lives but I know that if I spend the rest of my life trying my hardest to do what I love everyday, I’m not going to regret it.
So then I had a little think…
What makes me happy is surprising myself. Climbing to the top of a mountain to see what’s on the other side. Getting up at 4am, waiting for what the sunrise will bring or staying on top of a mountain at 2000m after sunset to catch a glimpse of the milky way. Dropping into a scarily steep downhill track or sending a bigger jump than I’ve ever attempted. Deciding to make photography my main source of income…
You don’t often get a surprise in an office. And when you do it’s normally followed by an ordered assembly in the car park, five minutes of fresh air, bit of relief that it was just a drill, then back to the grind.
I’m talking about the surprises that make you feel alive.
Being a photographer in the outdoors, every shoot is different, the surprises are non-stop. Even when I’m sat behind a computer, I’m excited by editing, searching for new ideas to make my work stand out from the masses, itching to get to the next location I’ve just discovered.
I’m writing this because for the first time in my life I can’t wait to get stuck into the new year. I’ve got trips planned all over the world, from Norway to New Zealand, to some of the most incredible landscapes on the planet and the thought of being able to capture the best photos of my life genuinely gets my heart beating. I appreciate that I’m lucky to have this as an option but I say to anyone that its worth sitting down with yourself for a while and having a think about what makes you tick. Whatever your passion is, find as much time for it as you can in 2016 and see where it takes you, at least you’ll be doing what you love. You never know, you might surprise yourself.