When I first arrived in London with no ability to speak the language, I enrolled into a school called Bridge. This school was for children who could not speak English and for those who were kicked out from their previous education centres. The number of students was small but as you can imagine, we were a fun bunch.
After a year of studying English, Bridge decided to add a new subject to their curriculum. This is where media was introduced to me. As a visual thinker and learner, visual storytelling is something I got attached to very quickly. By the time I had to migrate school I knew that I wanted a career from behind a camera.
From there, I joined a variety of film clubs and was an extra on numerous professional productions in an attempt to absorb as much knowledge as I could.
After completion of my GCSE’s, nearing the end of my six form course in media, I had an epiphany. It had suddenly occurred to me that this is a portfolio based industry. Especially in production and more so if you aspire to freelance or form your own company. If I knew that this is what I wanted to do. If I was determined enough to study myself and spend more time with hands on my craft. There is obsoletely no need for a degree certificate that no one will actually request to see.
Besides nightlife, generic curriculum and mediocre equipment, the university had nothing to offer me. There is nothing that they can teach which I could not ask google or pick up from a good book. I don’t know about you, but I learn best on my own terms. So I chose the path of self-education.
I got a job and bought myself a production camera. Offered lots of free services and produced a vast variety of videos. As I grew my craft developed with me. I acquired new contacts and equipment so my productions got more complex. In 2011, I got together with some of my friends and we decided to form a production team together. Though we made some cool videos, we hardly ever seemed to agree on various aspects of our workflow and our company to be. So Matchstick Independent fell apart. All of us decided to go our own ways, yet we still calibrate for projects to this date.
Sometime after Matchstick my day job begun to put a tall on me. In January of 2014, I handed in my notice and left. I had no plan, I was just fed up. The following month I bought my first DSLR and I went to Scotland with some of my friends. This is where I began to fall in love with photography. The four of us spent 2 weeks wild camping, shooting videos and taking photos.
When I returned to London, it was time for me to get back to chasing the industry. But I felt different, I did not want another dead end job so I had an idea to buy myself three years which I could use to stay entirely focused on film and photography. The University of Creative Arts. It was the only university I could find that still educated their students with super 16 film as well as DSLR cameras. I convinced myself that this would be somehow different because I didn’t care about getting a degree, I had an alternative agenda and meantime, I could play with film cameras. So I applied. A week after my application, I got an interview. After the review of my portfolio, I was offered a place. But my place had to be deferred because a door into the world of television had opened.
I had previously applied for a job as a camera op and I got it. I began working for Collaborative Media and Executive TV on a freelance basis. A few times a week I would receive a brief, train tickets, hotel reservations, spending money and a camera to go and shoot a corporate documentary style video for some companies situated along some highways around England. Although few assignments were very exciting and my name was finally credited on TV – business channels, I was not entirely satisfied, I wasn’t doing what I aspire to do.
I was very grateful to have a job from behind a camera which paid my bills while I advance my knowledge. But, I knew that sooner or later I would be fed up of it, so this job was not going to last. I had to expand my horizons, I had to figure out a strategy and begin operating as a freelancer all round.
So, I would spend the following months studying business and freelancing. I had to know how to price myself for profit, how to get clients, how to establish my personal brand and all the things in between. The more I dabbed into it the more complex and entangled the net became. With a burden of a critical mind as mine, I found myself reading books and watching seminars on marketing, business, economy, the law as well as photography and videography. I did not seem to be getting anywhere and it all eventually got way too much for me.
I decided to take a holiday. Bought a ticket to Lithuania and before I left, I let my employers know that I was not going to be able to work for the following four weeks. I knew that, if I disappear for this long my employer is likely to find another camera OP but that did not bother me. I needed to get away, see my father whom I haven’t seen for over eight years, visit places I been to as a kid and do the things England had me deprived of.
The entire time I was there I would contemplate about my chosen career and what would be my next step. I was trying to make sense of all that I learned in the previous months and figure out my niche. More-so I was trying to find my ‘voice’. What am I about? What message would I send to my viewers? Nothing seemed to come to mind.
Then I met a girl. She offered me to come and participate at an event. The event was a pagan celebration of the September equinox. After helping to set it up, I would film and take pictures there. How could I decline? My pictures went up on the Krikragga official website and facebook page in their 2015 posts. This opportunity had shined a light on a possible niche I could pursue back in London.
One of the few ways majority of Londoners see as a good way to pass their free time is to get drunk at some club. Hence the events industry is massive. And every promoter wants photographic coverage of their events. But, I quickly discovered that most event promoters don’t care about the quality of the images, that or they just don’t see it.
To many of them, you could just submit the images from your iPhone and they will be happy. Hence, they don’t want to pay photographers because they know that students and graduates will offer the service for “exposure”. I quickly realised that if I were to make it worthwhile, I had to target more established and respected clubs or private events who seek quality over quantity and are prepared to pay. Either that or I find a secondary niche. So I tried both.
My secondary niche was headshots. More specifically, actor headshots and personal portraits. So, I created a business website, then used several social media platforms to target potential clients to whom I would offer my service. Once I started getting work shooting portraits, I allowed event photography to dwindle down. Honestly, clubbing and group pictures of drunken, loud ‘woo girls’ are not my scene. Instead, I got into slightly different sectors in events photography where I would cover the performers, musicians, sportsmen etc. That felt a fair bit easier on my sole.
Throughout all of this, I still knew that I am not where I want to be and I saw no path that will get me there from where I stood. In terms of photography, my three true loves are nature, wildlife and people. I want to tell stories that relate, inspire and educate.Chasing cash just took me away from that, it made me lose sight of what I believe matters. Instead, I was promoting things I don’t particularly care for or believed in. With this realisation, a preconceived idea came back to me with a vengeance. I could not sleep at night, and when I did, I dreamt about it… I believe I’m beginning to find my voice.
This is when I said to myself “Screw it all, I’m leaving. I’m going to save up some money and do what I think I should be doing.”
For about two years I was freelancing, but I was barely scraping it financially. Although that is how beginning looks for most of us, I did not want to continue full time. I have to leave ASAP. So, I went back to do some bartending for a more predictable source of income. That and a few shoots per month should help me save up a sufficient sum of money for travels and necessary equipment.
I have created this website to stay in touch with the world. I hope you enjoy the journey and my images, blog and videos-to-come, affect you the way I wish them to.