You’d have my sympathy. If I even had any.

Right now, I’m lying in bed musing the fact that I don’t have to do the school run today. I’m not entirely glad about it, given the reasons why it’s not happening today. everyone in this house is ILL.

The Mr has barely recovered from his cough, I’ve just developed my own cough, sore throat and stuffy nose, and The Smalls…well. They are on fine form. Isaac has so much Facial Orifice Fluid, he cant keep up with it and it drips off his chin. I’m not even kidding. I’m talking actual dripping off his chin. And he’s just developed The Cough.

Noah is old hand to The Cough, and has had his cough for maybe four weeks now, and has been on an inhaler for over two of those weeks. Same thing happens, every single winter, every single year. He develops The Cough, and we spend every night willing him to sleep, while he spends every day too tired to do anything (but not too tired to whine a lot.).

Now, obviously, if someone is ill, I can offer some sympathy. But not much. I grew up in an environment where to be honest, I only told my mom if I thought I was reeeeeeaally ill. Like, “up-chucking my guts” ill, “coughing so much I can’t breathe” ill, or “2 of my fingers have been hurting and swollen after that basketball game and I caught the ball funny, they could possibly be broken oh it seems they are oh well” ill. (Turns out they were only fractured, but the biggest clue had been trying to play my cello and realising my left hand was kinda useless. I felt I could suddenly justify why my scales and studies sounded quite shit.)

So pretty much, I’m of the STFU and GTFOWI* camp.

One of the dangers with this is I can often seem like a cold hearted bitch. I’m really not! I’m just not good with pity; I don’t always get it. And so the trouble (and frustration and – oh of course – good old Mom Guilt) begins when my own to kiddos are poorly.

When they’re ill, they become restless. When they’re restless, they don’t sleep at night. When they don’t sleep, I don’t sleep. When I don’t sleep, I make Satan look like a pussy. Now normally, they both sleep through with no fucking about at all. They’re really good! But when they want to play up, omfg they are pains in the ass. Isaac insists on playing with everything: the light switch in the bathroom, the night light on the stairs, the toilet roll, his bedroom door, his bed, talking loudly to himself, laughing loudly to himself – you name it, he’s probably done it.

Tie that in with his (natural) feeling of not wanting to be left out (which means he forces his cough every time Noah naturally coughs), means, in short, dude ain’t sleeping.

Noah is the opposite. He doesn’t get out of bed, because I have made it perfectly clear what will happen if he keeps doing so (the world will explode, everyone will die, and he’ll be the only person left behind on his own forever. And then after forever, a shark will eat him). (…I’m kidding, but in short, I’m still pretty strict.)

So he has a different tactic. He flips and flops around in his bed, generally fussing, but not quite enough to land himself in trouble. And then when he’s done that for 30 minutes, he tries his next tactic. He calls and calls and calls (“Dad-dyyyyyyyyyyyyy…”) until he’s worked himself up into a frenzy. Which happens impressively fast. Needless to say, I’m a cynic and refuse to be baited, “Noah calm down and go to sleep” is all he’ll get from me. The Mr will fuss, have a chat, and respond in person to every whine and call.

You can see why Noah is smart enough to call “Daddy” and not “Mommy”, eh?

So last night they were both in full force. Isaac was horribly unsettled and Noah spent most of it crying complaining of stomach ache and ear ache. Both of those I can understand. My view is “go to sleep so you can feel better in the morning”, which of course they always do (though still coughing, obvs). This morning they aren’t going to school because, while they may have coughs and runny noses etc, I think they’re at the point where actually they do need to rest properly if they’re going to get over this shit.

Weirdly, I think one of the reasons I hate keeping them home is knowing they won’t get a perfect attendance record. It pisses me off that kids get penalised because of their immune system. Which sucks. I also hate them coming to the idea that being ill gets the, a day off school which means staying home to play; I’ve seen Noah pull this stunt a couple of times before. (Again, cynic? Me? Why yes, thanks.)

I just wish I could show a little more sympathy. Instead of feeling like I’m raising them in The School of Hard Knocks, I’d like to think I could cuddle them easily and say “there there, don’t worry, you’ll grow another hand, I know it hurts that it fell off, but I promise, my baby, you’ll be ok” instead of “you have another hand don’t you? Stop bloody whining and go do your homework.” maybe one day it will come. Maybe one day I’ll soften up a bit.

Until then, ignoring the Mom Guilt and will be feeding them breakfast and packing them off to their grandparents as usual.

Mamma gotta work, innit?

*Get The Fuck On With It

Patience. I has none.

ArrrgghhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

I have impatience. I have it BAD.

If I’m honest, when I’ve set my sights on something, it takes a phenomenal amount of patience for me to either a) make it happen, or b) sit back and wait for it to happen. Needless to say, I’m rarely one who sits back and waits for it to happen.

My wedding photography, I think, is starting to come on ok. I’ve got some reeeeally nice weddings booked in for next year, some VERY different to the ones I’ve done this year, which is great. I have nothing at all against the weddings I’ve done so far; I’d like to think I did a reasonable job with them. But I think I have a certain style, and not many of them have been my style. Which is no ones fault.

However, right now, I already have the twitchies for my next wedding which isn’t until March (though 2nd shooting in Feb), and, well, I want an awesome wedding. I want it now. I mean the wedding where quite frankly, I have free reign on the photography. Everyone chilled, group shots, if any, done the way I style them (laid back and FUN), a couple who would spend all DAY in front of the camera given the chance, a venue so cool and funky, yet stamped and styled with the couple’s tastes, done the way they want it, not because someone else suggested it, or because everyone else is doing it.

My eyes have been opened to the different styles of weddings, and so far, everyone (obviously, to some extent), puts their mark on the day. But I think I find myself longing for the couple who are like me; who quite frankly just don’t give a shit about what anyone else is thinking, and are happy to throw caution to the wind, let their hair down, go a bit crazy and really enjoy themselves.

It’s a tough one, because everyone’s wedding is styled to them, NOT me, and I try to remember that. I try to remember the importance of how important and special THEIR day is, TO THEM, because it’s THEIR day, NOT MINE. I guess…I dunno. I guess maybe I actually just want the chance to enhance their day through the photos, rather than “just take the photos”. I want the chance to show couples how awesome and amazing they can look; I want the couple to see their photos and think “FUCK YEAH! Damn we look HAWT and AWESOME and also FUCK YEAH!” I’m not saying I can entirely DO that through my photos, but I’d love it if the couple saw that potential, in me.

I think, at the moment in the world of photography, there are many photographers who want to be, and indeed are, Rock Stars, possibly. It’s like, some kind of trend. It kind of feels like, if you’re not a Rock Star Tog, then no one really knows who you are. Now strangely enough, I don’t necessarily want recognition, like a Rock Star, (let’s face it; my days of stage performances are LONG GONE), but I DO want to be seen to have the same capabilities as some of those “Rock Star Togs”. I want people to see me and think “yeah, ok, she’s not big and famous, but she sure as hell can take a decent photo with the best of them”. I would love it if people saw my work and thought “Hmm…I like where she’s going with her photos, maybe she can do something with ours; let’s give her a chance”. I don’t want people to see my work and think “Yeah, she’ll do, we’ll settle for her”. I don’t think that’s what people are thinking, I certainly hope not in any case, but, well I guess I just want to be given a chance.

I would take photos of weddings every single weekend without if I knew that by the end of it I had reached the standard I am trying to attain. As ever, typical me, I’ve set the standards high…but sometimes I wonder if I’ve set them high enough. I hate being told “No sorry, you’re not good enough”, or that feeling of just not being accepted because I’m not of the standard of others. But my (im)patience dictates that I must try out new things NOW, and keep improving NOW, yet am unsure of how to do that when opportunities don’t seem to arise as often as I would like, and the opportunities I make pretty much hit dead ends.

I’m a stubborn asshole, I know I’ll keep going. But geeeeeeeze I hope I don’t hit a brick wall and see no way past it.

It’s not easy being you, or me.

These last few weeks (months? I have no idea of time scales right now) have been an immense ball ache. Mostly in terms of my photography, but it seems to have spilled over into this world too. I went through a mahoosive rebrand of JMP, completely changing my logo, my site, my design, even my style of photography, EVERYTHING. In fact, the only thing which hasn’t changed, is the business name (although that might not escape quite so easily in the future).

It shouldn’t have been so difficult, but it really was. Why? Because I was trying to reflect me, in the entire brand. I didn’t want to give it to someone else to do, a) I can’t afford it, and b) I’d have been the most pernickety bastard and never been happy with it. (And c) I only have myself to blame when it does all go to shit, instead of contemplating yelling at someone else. Which is never pretty.) And the hardest thing in trying to reflect my entire self and true personality in my brand, is I have seriously had to remember who the fuck my target audience is.

I spent ages asking other photographers “what do you think of this?” and ” does this work?” without actually appreciating the fact that THEY ARE NOT THE ONES I AM TRYING TO APPEAL TO. I took far too much time telling myself “be different, be yourself” and then panicking over the fact that my site looked very little like other sites (and even more ironically, spending ages looking at other sites and becoming bored because they were all starting to look the same to me).

The thing is, people, including myself, often fear something different; are scared of change; don’t like when someone sticks out. It’s human nature, innit? I get that. This blog right here is fine example of that. I’ve had my moments over the years I’ve been blogging where people have a dig because they’re scared of what I do. But that’s fine! I’m not writing to please them! But it turns out it’s a similar scenario with my wedding photography.

I’m trying to appeal to a particular type of bride, one ideally similar to myself. Now, that should be quite straightforward, but um, I’m not entirely sure who I am. Still. No, this isn’t some kind of deep and spiritual shit, far from it. Seriously, I have no idea who I am. I know who I want to be (stylish, funky, cool and manageable crazy) and I know how I come across (fucking insane and slightly messed up with little sense of anything), and I have no idea idea how to merge all this into one, acceptable, feasible ball of appeal.

Ummm….

The logo I have created is manageable, for me. Big bold colours, yet simple and easy. And obvious. And flexible. (Name, camera, done. Obvious, no?) The site isn’t quite where I want it to be, but I don’t think it ever will be; I think it will always change, much like myself. And that’s ok. But trying to convey myself through a real business? Fucking hell, that’s no easy shit. but it has to be done. I’ve been very aware of the brides enquiring, and whilst they’ve all been lovely, many of them are soooooo different to myself. Not necessarily in terms of styling, but attitude to photography, life, fun, everything. All the other stuff. One thing that I do think is awesome, is that some of my best couples have come from twitter. Not my stuffy old @JayMountford account, but actually my @cosmicgirlie account. Why have I enjoyed them so much? Because they’re booking me for ME, AS WELL AS the work I do.

I’m a package. When you book my business, you book me. My personality. My attitude, my energy, my enthusiasm, everything. Not just my camera. And sometimes that’s hard to remember, as I keep thinking I should go into some kind of “Professional Mode” whereby I’m really sensible and serious, and trying to Do The Job Properly. Thing is, I do an even better job when I’m being me. Or at least, when I’m not trying to be who or what I think other people think I should be.

Holy shit this is way more confusing written out, than when it’s in my head, not helped by Isaac reading Thomas the Tank really loudly, complete with sound effects.

Anyway, I’m wary of my identity. I’m wary of people saying shit like “no you shouldn’t mix your business and personal world”. I’m conscious of working in a certain way and turning off clients. Thing is, clients are booking me because of ME. And I won’t book them all. And that’s fine, because if I WAS booking them all, I think I’d be doing something wrong. But I guess this is one of those “leaps into the unknown”, where I slowly but surely let more potential clients know who I am, and what I’m really like.

It’s time to stop pleasing other photographers, and time to start giving more of a shit about what my clients think. Because ironically, that’s the time when I’ll start to enjoy my work even more, and start to please myself. I tiny group of other togs have been helpful as anything, and there’s no way in heaven or hell my business would have come this far without them. I wish I could offer the same to them, but as they’re all already way ahead of me, I guess I’ll just have to pass it down, rather than pass it back up. I don’t know if others agree with the whole thing of trying to be yourself rather than being an industry standard; I’m trying to shake that off now, mostly because it sucks.

Maybe I’ll stop sweating this shit, accept that I should indeed just be myself, and stop listening to the noise of everyone else. Especially as the variables from everyone else are infinite. AND THEY ARE NOT ME. Filter the advice needed, shake off the bits I don’t need. Everyone has something to say. But they are not me. Of course, when my business falls on it’s arse and I have no bookings at all in a few years time, I’ll come back to this post and eat it, no?

Hell no, it’s not time. Yet.

Last week, I picked up my cello for the first time in 14 months. I took it to a rehearsal I was assigned to photograph, though I left the cello in the car. It wasn’t a full rehearsal, it was just the strings, but the lovely conductor had invited me to play, if I wanted to.

So yeah, the cello sat in the car for a few hours.

I soon realised I wanted to take the cello out of the car, having photographed all I could under the circumstances, but I still wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to actually play it. So I spent maybe 15 minutes trying not to work myself into a frenzy, then took my cello out and sat down.

Of course they were all really welcoming; I couldn’t have asked for them to be lovelier about it.

But it felt weird. It didn’t feel wrong, but it didn’t exactly feel right.

I mean, I could still play, and all, but playing felt very detached, almost alien to me. There was little emotion in what I was playing (didn’t help that it was Mozart, who quite honestly, makes me want to ram my bow in my ear until it comes out the other side, and then move it back and forth desperately hoping to make my own music), and there was that immediate, weird sense of playing because I had to, rather than playing because I wanted to. It didn’t feel crap, but it didn’t feel good.

I think I was always one who never wanted to conform to the dots on the page.

I think this, because I do still want to get my cello out. I don’t want to play for anyone, I just want to play. I don’t know what, but that’s all there is to it. The danger there, though, is that I’ll get to the point where I’ll want someone to hear me play (lord only knows why), whether solo or orchestral. Perhaps because that’s all I know.

I’d love to get back into playing with a band, but so much of it was mundane, and the ONE band I adored playing with stopped performing shortly after I left.

I wondered if picking up my cello and playing again would be like slipping on a pair of jogging bottoms, you know, the favourite pair you’ve had for about 10 years, which you put back on as soon as they’re washed and dried, because they’re comfy; they’re your shape; they’re just right for you.

But it didn’t feel anything like that. Not at all. I’m not surprised, but I’m…I think I’m a little disappointed. I wanted to want to play. It wasn’t there. the spark is still dull.

I wonder if it will ever come back in full force?

Stop being an ungrateful cow and hush your noise.

Soooooooooo we’re pulling the boys out of their current private school. If we keep them in, it’s safe to say that they would be the most educated homeless kids in the area.

Which, I’m pretty sure, defeats the object somewhere.

(I can hear the whispers now; “Omg she’s whining about not being in private school? Welcome to the real world. Geeze.”)

Anyway, I’ve spent far too much of this week crying, because I knew it was coming. Actually that’s a lie – I have spent far too much of the last 24 hours crying because that’s how recently the decision has come to light. It’s not all about being upper class and living some kind of dream life. I don’t care about keeping up with the Jones’ because I know can’t do that personally. But I’m seriously fucking worried about the future of Noah and Isaac.

I have set high standards. Very fucking high standards. And what’s more, is that their (current) school met and surpassed my standards by far. Which means I raised my bar to meet them. So my standards are, uh, seriously fucking high.

The boys have a childhood. but the balance of their childhood along with their academics amazes me. The things they’ve learnt, seen and done. The things they want to do. The things they want to know. The way they learn. The way they just behave. The way they are.

A very wise friend of mine told me they didn’t get all that from the school, they’ll have gotten it from me. But I’m still terrified. I’m terrified of letting my standards slip. Of letting Noah and Isaac down, of not helping them maintain the level of excellence they currently have.

When I spoke to the admissions and financing lady person at the school, even she pointed out how they would most likely be much further ahead than children in state schools. Now, this sounds like I’m being an epic snob, but frankly? This pleases me. Not from a “my kid is better than your kid” attitude; I couldn’t give a shit what the next kid is doing, because they are not relevant to me. But what DOES concern me staying ahead of the game of life. Of being able to maintain a standard that, when they reach adulthood, is going to see them being incredibly level head yet always reaching goals.

Being successful. Wanting to achieve.

Am I being a snob? In someone else’s eyes, probably.

Do I want the absolutely fucking best for my kids, to give them what I couldn’t have, to educate them in a way that couldn’t be afforded for me too, to give them a grounding and sense of self that will secure them confidently for the foreseeable, well beyond their years?

Hell yes.

I don’t know what the next stage is. We’ve missed all the deadlines for state schools, and I don’t know what the fees are for other independent schools. Home schooling is not an option. I can only hope that my determination (read: stubborn attitude) to succeed in life is nested within The Boys.

They’ll be ok. I know. I think.

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