2022 was a complex year. Work was scarce. The grants from the government went away but unfortunately COVID-19 did not. In order to protect the last few months of a terminally ill relative I had to turn down work. It meant a lot to me that my clients understood and also commissioned me later in the year when I no longer needed to shield.
Every job I could do was a joy to work. Time away from the camera gave me a real sense of purpose and focus when I returned to it. For years I’ve been trying to pick a niche area of photography to specialise in because it was the done thing. “Jack of all trades but master of none.” That kept bouncing around in my head and I kept stressing that I had to be a master of one specific topic of photography. That stress was holding me back from embracing who I am as a neurodivergent person. When a photographer recently told me that the full quote is actually “Jack of all trades but master of none but oftentimes better than master of one”, I realised it was ok to really be myself.
What I came to understand from working this year was that my ADHD loves variety, and my autistic side loves to learn new things. Working with museums and arts organisations gives me a lot of variety, and a chance to work with a diverse range of people, which can open me up to new ideas or simply provides a safe space to work.
A variety of work is good for my mental health. I can use my camera to help people, support causes I respect, go places I would maybe not normally go or forget to go to due to being distracted by ADHD shiny things, and most importantly make money to feed my cats and keep them warm.
Even familiar places can bring new and wonderful surprises. On a particularly clear night I photographed the stars above the Liverpool waterfront in a way that I’ve never captured them before. (See featured image up top)
I got to spend the day documenting Dr Julius Garvey’s first visit to Liverpool. An inspiring man, he is the son of Jamaica’s first National Hero, and major 20th Century Human Rights Leader, Rt. Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. I also got to listen to Janina Ramirez talk about important women through history that most people have never heard of, but you’ll have heard of the man in their lives because… the patriarchy. I got to meet Khaleb Brooks, a young black trans artist whose work discussed the price of a man’s life during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Their work was later displayed at the Martin Luther King Building. I was also honoured to be asked to photograph former President Nelson Mandela’s eldest daughter Dr Makaziwe ‘Maki’ Mandela and his granddaughter Tukwini Mandela visit the Museum of Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum.
The ISM (International Slavery Museum) installed a new work of art by female survivors of modern day slavery called the “Freedom Quilt”. It is powerful work.
The year took me around Liverpool meeting new people, learning new things and seeing hidden wonders. Archaeologists were uncovering stories on the banks of the River Mersey. In a secret location I got up close with a large object collection which ranged from bikes to tunnel cleaning machines. In the summer I wandered the Baltic Triangle in search of new angles and interesting mixes of colour and form to update their architecture portfolio. On the hottest day of the year I was up early to photograph the Lady Lever Art Gallery before the temperatures became unbearable. Thankfully the temperatures cooled and I was back out photographing around the Royal Albert Dock area for the Waterfront Transformation Project by National Museums Liverpool.
My friends at Dorothy launched multiple new pieces of print work this year and they also built an amazing exhibition around crime thrillers. I loved working with their video game poster. It’s hanging up behind me in my studio.
Lastly, I was commissioned to photograph multiple LGTBQ+ events. I was not only photographing them but they were my first LGBTQ+ events I attended as an out non-binary person. In the summer I covered the ‘Homotopia X NML’ event at the Museum of Liverpool. A night of poetry, art, vogue, music, theatre and dance. Later in the year I was commissioned by Homotopia to photograph “Queer Punk is Protest”. A punk gig that was loud, powerful and a lovey safe space to spend a few hours. My last queer gig was the Homotopia closing party where in the blink of an eye a musician whipped out a keytar from out of nowhere and performed a futuristic funk and soul solo.
As the year ends and I look back on work I was commissioned to produce, I’m happy and hopeful. More of the same in 2023 please and thank you.