Millie Battershill's Day Off
I’ve recently graduated from university, where I studied Photography. I do not want to be a typical fresh out of education twenty-something but since I’m currently having the realisation that I’m kind of an adult now and should probably do something with my life, I suppose I’m just that. A slight crisis about what I introduce myself as is something that comes hand in hand with this. I’m not a student anymore. I’m a graduate, I suppose. I cannot help but wonder if in ten years time when I have only a degree to my name it’ll be inappropriate to still call myself a that. How long is it until I’m simply unemployed? As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry about that. A few months of filling out applications and I find myself with two jobs.
Now, I haven’t landed my dream job yet, of course. Being a creative person means I can imagine quite vividly an almost perfect situation that I’d love to be in right now, unfortunately, life doesn’t pay any attention to my ideas. There’s still a long way to go. I attempt to work towards that in my spare time. The plan was to spend my days off working towards being a photographer or an artist or whatever it is that I will eventually end up as. Except, more often than not on my days off I find myself sitting on my bed wasting time and merely thinking about everything I need to do. So, here we are; it’s time to take those days when I’m not earning money in an actual job and get to work.
This day off, you find me on a Monday. Actually, on Monday you’d find that I overslept and struggled with having any motivation. I’ll get to that later. No, you find me on a Tuesday, where I had actually woken up at a respectable hour. Due to a recent lack of inspiration, I figured I’d go somewhere that I would call ‘easy’, by that I mean there is no planning involved. I’m out of bed and I’m on my way.
I’ve been thinking recently about familiarity, mainly in relation to places. Therefore where I end up on this day seems to be very apt because it is not somewhere I’ve never been to nor is it a place I know like the back of my hand. It’s basically a muddy path down to a secluded beach, or The Warren, if you want to call it by its proper name. I’ve visited this beach a couple of times, both to simply take the dog a bit further afield than the local park.
In terms of familiarity, I’ve been considering whether or not knowing a place is important for a creative mind. As someone that likes to explore, a new place gives the perfect opportunity for getting lost and stumbling upon something better than expected. I used to often go to unknown beaches to shoot my photographs. I used to shoot landscapes; it helps to know your locations, but this never bothered me. Perhaps I’d find myself with some bleak, grey photographs of nowhere special. It’s the journey though, I think, that inspired me, the act of walking through somewhere new.
This brings me to motivation and inspiration. Things, which I find I mostly have in uneven amounts. If a high supply of perfect proportions comes to you easily then you are very lucky. I think most creative people will agree starting something new is difficult, especially when there’s no more university deadlines looming to frighten you into working. So, where does inspiration come from? For me it comes from many things, but it’s frequently the places I visit that inspire me. Despite visiting a place I previously called ‘easy’, I still see things that give me that twinge of inspiration. I imagine it’s different depending on your medium but for me it’s a feeling that tells me “you have to take a photograph of that”, and so when I arrive home I have an SD card containing a lot of new images. To be perfectly honest, most of them will end up left in a folder on my desktop. You know, the work you did a long time ago that would be dusty by now had it actually been physically created rather than digital. I blame my motivation issue for that. However, there are a few photographs that I deem acceptable, perhaps it’s their colouring or their subject, and quite often it’s the depth of field, but that’s beside the point.
I may spend the rest of the day feeling just as unmotivated as I was previously, but now I can live with the knowledge that I actually went outside and took some photographs today. I understand, it’s not a huge achievement; nevertheless as I said previously, it’s difficult to start something new. As it turns out, my own work can inspire me greatly. The photographs I shot encourage me to do more, they aren’t of anything particularly interesting but sometimes it’s simply the act of doing the thing you’ve been putting off.
I’m back to the beginning now though, needing to start something new, needing to go and shoot something new. That’s the thing about being a creative person; your work is never finished. There’s always something more you could do.
It’s time to plan whatever might be next. I have slightly more inspiration now but mostly I have come full circle. I find myself asking the question I’m sure many people ask themselves after a project is finished “what now?” As I have established, I don’t have the answer. It’s a question I have, however, become quite familiar with.
Words and images by Millie Battershill