People talk about work-life balance and while I know it makes me a pedant – something I’m exceptionally good at being by the way – I don’t see life this way. It’s all just life. I’ve been fortunate enough to find something that I absolutely love, that pays my bills, and that takes me around the world too. That’s not a job, it’s not work. It’s just a part of my life. I don’t see ARJ Photography as my “business” – of course, that’s what it is but photography started out as a hobby, that became an obsession, then a passion and it’s never changed from being exactly that, and I’m more passionate about it now than I’ve ever been, whether I’m taking photos of weddings, my kids or instagramming something random.
But of course life is a balancing act at times. Through the summer when weddings are coming thick and fast, I tend to spend most of my time either at weddings or behind my desk and that impacts on family time, making me feel super guilty. But then it gets to this time of year when it all quietens down massively and I can breathe out and play more hallway football, snakes and ladders and get very well acquainted with the sofa again, and hopefully get back in the gym and lose all the wedding weight I put on every year!! Sofa vs Gym – it’s a constant battle!
Anyway, I do have a life away from the wedding world and that’s what I’m sharing with you here. Another year in the life of my crazy and wonderful little family (you can see last year’s post here). This year I’ve been worse than ever at making the effort to take photos of my family, partly because it’s been my busiest ever year of weddings and also launching the NineDots workshops and gathering. It was actually the gathering that guilt tripped me into picking up the camera much more over the last month or so.
I never manage to edit my personal photos as I go along through the year, and always end up looking through them and editing them in December. This year I was truly surprised at them, remembering all the things I’d actually completely forgotten about – moments I would have absolutely no recollection of without the existence of these photos. It’s great as a photographer to have this realisation – to really feel the importance of photography on a personal level – to remind myself what it is I’m doing every time I pick up a camera – either to capture somebody else’s life or to capture my own. Photos enhance our short term memory, but are priceless for our long term memory. I love these photos now, but in 10 years I’ll absolutely treasure them and in 30, 40, 50 years they will become so important for us and our children in remembering these moments that would otherwise fade into vague memories or disappear altogether.
That’s what photography is, whether it’s on a proper camera (I use a Sony RX1R for almost all my personal photos) or on a phone camera. It’s a total cliche but each time you press the button, you’ve created a little piece of your own history. Something that one day might rekindle the most ordinary of memories and draw a smile or a nostalgic tear. That can never be underestimated. I plan to print a book of my favourite 100-150 photos from this year and catch up on doing the same for the last few years too. I encourage you to do the same. Pictures in electronic format are all well and good, but print them out and magic happens!
Anyway, I’m off for a mince pie. Merry Christmas to you and yours. See you in 2016! Here are about 50 of my favourite personal photos of this past 12 months, beginning with the time Felix met Bordeaux…