We always joke that everything at Studio G revolves around coffee, but actually that's not too far from the truth. Let me tell you a tale of two coffees.
The first was two years ago today. I (Lisa) was an average portrait photographer with a dream of opening my own photography studio. I could think of a million
reasons excuses why it wouldn't work, but for some reason my husband and family all seemed to believe I could pull it off. In search of 'common sense' I met for coffee with my most grounded and sensible friend, Robert. But instead of telling me I was being ridiculous, he offered to become my business partner. Clearly he saw something in me that I didn't, the same something that my family must have seen.
That story, and what happened next, are well documented - we ended up jointly running Studio G Photography. We didn't exactly all live happily ever after - establishing a business has been far more difficult and time-consuming than either of us anticipated. But if we knew then what we know now, would we still have done it? I can only speak for myself, but my answer would be a resounding HELL YES!
Fast forward two years and we have been back to the scene of that fateful coffee meeting this morning for a small celebration and a catch-up. This morning the talk has mainly been about a massively ambitious project which, if we pull it off, will fulfil another of my lifelong dreams. And you know what? I think we'll do it. If you believe in yourself you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Anything. Last week I walked across hot coals because I told myself I could.
The thing about dreams is, the more you fulfil, the more you get. But unless you take action your dreams will never become reality.
When I opened the studio I didn't consider where it might take me. But almost two years on, my photography has improved by leaps and bounds. I am mentored by Olympus' Principal Photographer, Damian McGillicuddy, I am on the brink of starting two very big projects that two years ago I would never have thought possible, and the studio is building partnerships with several local charities, allowing us to give something back to the community.
So the moral of this story is dream big or dream small, that's up to you, but take some action towards making those dreams come true. Take a step, or take a huge leap of faith like I did, but do something because no matter how hard the road is, it will all be worth it.
Oh, and if you fancy donating a little something to Tameside, Oldham and Glossop MIND, in recognition of my fire-walking heroics, here's the link to my Just Giving page. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/StudioG
Thanks for reading,
- Photographing the family of a very famous footballer – and not realising who he was until after the shoot
- Our first commercial photography deal with Housing Units
- Lisa being shortlisted for Best Start-up Business in the Network She Business Awards
- Starting a mentoring programme with world-class photographer Damian McGillicuddy, which has been incredibly challenging professionally and personally
- Working with Around Saddleworth magazine, and helping them to mark their 25th anniversary. Not to mention supplying some of our special brand of magic for the Christmas front cover
- A photographic trip to Dubrovnik
- Developing an exciting new brand – Fairytography – and some stunning pictures enhanced by Fairy Magic
- Small Business Saturday – being selected as one of only 100 small businesses nationwide to feature in this annual campaign – including a trip to 10 Downing Street!
It's late in the day, but I couldn't let World Mental Health Day pass without a blog. For me, and millions of others, every day is Mental Health Day - we live with it our whole lives. But while today everyone is talking about tackling stigma, I would like to go one further. I would like to stand up and applaud everyone who is living with this bizarre, fascinating and diverse collection of symptoms.
Some of the very best people I know live with depression and anxiety. They don't just survive, they are warriors. I try my best to celebrate my condition. I've had it almost all of my adult life and, although some times have been nothing sort of horrendous, overall I would not change it, especially when, with the help of medication, I keep the black dog under control.
My depression does not define me, but it does make me a more sensitive, caring and perceptive person. I am a better person for my struggles. But what's more, I see around me a selection of strong, empowered women who have fought their own battles and, on the whole, are winning. Several friends, like me, have found their lives crumbling around them, but instead of giving up, have built whole new lives and are now building their own businesses. A daunting prospect for many, but when you've stared the black dog in the face and punched him on the nose then pretty much anything is possible.
I am massively fortunate to have a business that I love, that affords me the honour of photographing some of those amazing women who inspire me. Their stories are their own to tell (or not), but I am humbled that they agreed, without hesitation, to having their portraits included in this blog.
Sharon, Natale, Susan and Sarah, I salute you. You inspire me and I am proud to call you friends.
Today is World Mental Health Day: day when were encouraged to think – and more importantly talk – about mental health. Here at Studio G we are very aware that one significant factor in mental health, particular for girls and women, is poor self image.
Everywhere they see images of slim models with flawless skin (frequently air-brushed, of course), and hear constant reinforcement that the way for them to be successful in life is to look good, by which is meant look like the (male dominated) media say you should look. Remember the old song? Stay young and beautiful, if you want to be loved. It might sound old-fashioned now, but todays messages are no different. And it starts early.
Take, for example, the Disney Princess. From Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, through Belle, Ariel, Pocahontas to Rapunzel, and most recently Moana, they are all portrayed as beautiful, able bodied and nearly all white. And of course pre-occupied with falling in love with their prince.
So what is a girl or young woman meant to take from that if they are, say, black, not conventionally attractive or have a disability? What if they are questioning their sexuality? So we were very pleased indeed when last week Disney published their ten Principles for a Modern Princess:
Care for others
Dont judge a book by its cover
Be a friend you can trust
Believe in yourself
Try your best
Never give up
The list is more notable for what it doesnt contain. No mention of looks or appearance, orof the importance of finding/keeping your prince. These are principles that we would all do well to live by, and are all within our own control, unlike our genetic inheritance. So next time youre telling the princess in your life how beautiful she is, tell her instead that shes kind, generous, a good friend. That way she'll believe in herself and her own beauty as a person, whatever she sees in the mirror.