Year of Change - 2012 In Review

On the sands of the Kyle of Tongue, Sutherland.

A Year of Change

This year has been a pretty interesting year for me personally. It's also been a remarkable year in terms of my photography. It's largely been a year of two halves - the first six months, I had an absolute blast, did some amazing things, and was generally a very happy camper. 

Being a miserable bastard really does make you more creative.

For various reasons, the second half of the year was not quite so much fun. I've generally felt terrible, stress has went through the roof, and there have been many, many days where I really have though 'fuck all of this'. Something interesting has happened though. I've shot better stuff, more of it, and completely rethought my approach to what I want to say with my images. Whether it's through a natural progression of my skills that would have happened anyway, or whether being a miserable bastard really does make you more creative, I can't argue with the results.

High points of the year included an amazing trip to Sutherland, at the most northerly extremes of Scotland, to climb Ben Hope - the most northerly Munro. In unseasonably glorious May weather, four of us took this long trip, the furthest north any of us had been. The walk itself was comparatively short, but the scenery was truly breathtaking. I've yet to see anywhere else in Scotland that left me so dumbstruck with awe.

Other high points included a brilliant mountaineering trip to Buachaille Etive Mor, by D Gully Buttress, finishing on Curved Ridge. No proper images from the trip - as I did not have my SLR, only a few crappy phone pictures exist of this brilliant day.

On Beinn Dorain

Equally brilliant (and totally different) were trips to the Arrochar area with Rory and Steven, in wonderful conditions - and a very physically punishing day out - and a solo winter trip to Beinn Dorain. I can never quite decide if I like solo trips or not. I love the solitude of it, and the chance for introspection. On the other hand, good company is brilliant, and adds safety. Ultimately it comes down to practicality - if people are able and willing to go with me or not.

I've also properly started down the path of music photography. It's been very demanding work, probably the most intense shooting I've ever done. The learning curve was brutal, as I pretty much got thrown in the deep end, with my first gig being metal A-listers Iced Earth. Thankfully, I seemed to - if not swim - at least avoid drowning. I've shot many gigs since, and built up a fairly sizeable portfolio of work, which should hopefully lead to more opportunities for bigger and bigger publications. 

Low points of the year included a messy relationship breakup, and all of the associated, nasty fallout, that sent me into a complete tailspin for a while. It was completely unexpected, from my point of view, and I can only liken it to sustaining a massive blunt force trauma. For a while I thought I was kind of 'set', and had you asked me even the day before it happened, I'd have bet my bank account that nothing was going to happen to that relationship. It's probably been one of the biggest factors in casting a pall over the second half of the year. Onwards and upwards though, you get on with it - which I have done, and I'm incredibly excited about the future!

Fear Factory, at the O2 ABC, Glasgow

I've also had a couple of injury scares this year, from a bouldering fall where I landed funny, and a much larger (30-40ft) leader ground fall. The latter was a true emergency case, with a spinal fracture heavily suspected. I dodged an almighty bullet with this one, although I do now have some long term damage to my left foot. I'm still awaiting proper physio to see if the damage can be repaired. Psychologically though it was a massive deal, and I have never felt truly comfortable climbing since - although I have been back at it many times. I'm absolutely determined that I'll get over it, but the psychological injury seems to be more serious than the physical one.

Other worries, like leaving university for the 'big bad world' and a dearth of paid work have contributed a handsome dose of stress to life. I've got solid plans though, and although they haven't come together yet, the plans are good and should work.

Looking at where I was, this time last year, there are evident changes. I'm not as happy, as a person - and that's something I'm still dealing with and digging my way out of. I feel much more grown up though, as a person. I've had to make hard decisions, think seriously and realistically about things, and I feel creatively I have come on leaps and bounds.

In all a mixed year personally, but photographically a very good year. Let's see what 2013 brings. I wish you all the very best in the new year, and ask you to keep an eye out for what I'm doing, because I have plans for this year!