Progress Journal | Impatience and Improvement

Portraits by  Ami Ford

Portraits by Ami Ford

It feels like only yesterday that I was sitting down to write February’s progression journal. In some ways it feels like not a lot has changed in a month, but on the flip side I think I’ve made a lot of helpful observations. Especially in these last few days. 

Progress in terms of booking in clients and building a steady body of work has been slow. I’ve found that a lot of jobs will come in all at once, or last minute, and sometimes they’ll be cancelled or rescheduled just as quickly as they initially landed in my inbox.

Now, I know this is normal. I have only been doing this for a few months and I fully appreciate that the process of becoming full-time freelance human does not (and will not) ever happen overnight, or even in the space of a year (or many more) in most cases… But, I would guess that, due to the hyperdrive-paced world we live in, if something doesn’t happen immediately it can almost start to feel like it’s not working altogether.

Portraits by  Ami Ford

Portraits by Ami Ford


Building a start-up and going freelance aren’t set in stone, nor do they come with a tell-all step-by-step guide. It’s something that I need to work out along the way, and tailor to suit me. Like many others, to figure out where I fit in, I have chosen to surround myself, via feeds and timelines, with people I admire and aspire to be like. Yet, I am starting to see their success as *the* benchmark, and am comparing myself to them as a consequence. No matter how many times I tell myself that successful photographers have been working specifically to get to where they are now for years and years, even decades upon decades in some cases, it seems as though this isn’t a good enough answer to reassure my overactive brain.

One particular self-criticism I have picked up on is regarding how fast I edit. I seem to punish myself for not being able to deliver images within a couple of hours, a day, or as fast as other photographers. I work 9am - 6pm (if not longer) every Monday to Thursday as an Editor, I’m delivering 100+ images in most cases, and am trying to uphold a work/life balance, but this all feels more of an excuse than a justification. And I think this all comes back to the fast-paced nature of the world, and the impatience that comes along with that.

I know I can meet goals and deadlines for a fact - I did it at school, at university, and do it every day in my job - and, yes, whilst I would like to be faster, I’m fairly speedy in my photo delivery given everything else I have to juggle. Because this has taken over my thoughts in March, it’s really clouded my mind, stalled my work, and stumped me when it comes to deciding how to move forward. 

I am grateful I have come to this realisation though. It has made me see that I need to return to the values I set out for myself when I started on this journey; to go at my own pace and put my wellbeing first. When discussing all of the above with my therapist, we came to the conclusion that it would benefit me to work on the business side of things - as this is not where my skills currently lie. With this in mind, I think April will be a great time to refocus, reconsider, and rework the plans and ideas I have. I want to stay, and slay, in my lane.

Portraits by  Ami Ford

Portraits by Ami Ford


To kick off a positive month, I want to give myself a pat on the back and appreciate my successes so far. In just a couple of months I have become far more experimental and inquisitive, which has led to me using angles and heights I wouldn’t have thought to try out previously; all of which have added a level of interest to my images. I have also tweaked aspects of my editing style, to help me move closer to a style that defines my work. Overall, I’ve seen a huge improvement in the quality of images I create, and I’m really proud of that.

Oh, and before I go, I have to give A BIG shoutout to the endlessly talented Ami Ford for making me look like a total badass babe in these shots, despite us being in the most sweltering building in the UK at the time. Thank you, Ami!

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Progress Journal | The First Bump in the Road


I ended my last progress journal on a total high. I had just shot Ella, who was a total star to shoot with - we chatted our way around Portobello Road and Notting Hill, having a laugh as we went, and she even kindly treated me to a spot of lunch too - which I’m super grateful for! And I came away with 50+ images I was totally stoked with. 

Entering that shoot, I felt pretty nervous. It was the first I had done with someone I hadn’t met before, and, as I lived with crippling social anxiety not so long ago, wasn’t sure how things were going to pan out. Thankfully my fears quickly shifted to make room for a bigger desire; to get the most out of the experience and create images that we were both thrilled with.

From having such a positive experience, understandably I was already itching to get out and shoot more! Aaaand that’s when it all went a bit tits up.

A couple of fun self portraits from one of three sets I took this month.

A couple of fun self portraits from one of three sets I took this month.

I am LOVING playing with movement!

I am LOVING playing with movement!

Starting February, I roughly had around one shoot a week booked in. As I am currently still in a full time job, and trying to live a balanced lifestyle (as explained in my previous progress journal), this felt like a good place to start... But then the heavy snow appeared, and the first shoot was rebooked. Then a client’s work schedule changed unexpectedly, and the second shoot was postponed. And then sadly personal things happened, so the third client had to reschedule too.

Cancellations were something that I had always anticipated, and knew were going to be a part of this career. Situations change, shit happens, and life can just be completely out of our hands. I get it. I totally get it. And, to be honest with you, I’m seriously grateful they all rescheduled, when they could have just cancelled altogether... but, it still sucked and left me feeling a little blue.

When I am so early in the game, wanting to get as much practice in as I can, to sharpen my skills and build my portfolio, knocks like these hit a little harder than I would like them to. That being said, I have learnt a couple of lessons to take forward - which is the most important thing! 

The first being that, whilst I know I’ll never be able to stop myself from getting my hopes up, I do need to find ways to soften the blow when cancellations happen. Two resolutions I’ve found so far are: rescheduling with the client as quickly as possible, so there is another date to work towards, and then, in the meantime, making the most of dry, bright weather to experiment with self portraiture. I currently have so many ideas for what to shoot next bubbling around in my head - even if I am terrified about the Summer-like weather in Winter.


And the second solution is to start implementing a non-refundable deposit fee. I know a bunch of full-time photographers who use this as a contingency for cancellations, and if I’m going to pursue photography as a full time career, I’m going to need a bit of protection against financial losses. I’m also hoping this will dissuade people from contacting me to arrange a shoot, and then flaking after I begin to discuss pricing - which ultimately costs me time, and slots for clients who definitely want to work with me.

Thankfully I do have a happy note to end on though! My final shoot of the month was a complete success, and it was my first ever paid portraiture shoot too - woohoo! Lucy and I shot four outfits in a couple of hours, and utilised different areas of a single location to give each look a unique backdrop. Being creative, thinking on my feet, and joking around throughout was a total joy, and I’m thankful to Lucy for booking in with me... And being up for trying some silly poses! 

The shoot was exactly what I needed, and put me back on the right track. Fingers crossed March will be a better month for me…!

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How I found my passion and how you can too

Portraits by  Kaye Ford

Portraits by Kaye Ford


Chances are, if you clicked on this post, it’s really important to you that you find a path that makes you happy. As someone who felt unsure about where they were going for years, and was absolutely desperate for anything to point me in the right direction, I get where you are coming from. It’s scary. It’s unknown. It’s frustrating.

I tried a whole host of things to work out where my passions lied. I revisited old hobbies, gave new things a go, I even forced myself into activities my gut was trying to dissuade me from. It seemed as though I went round and round in circles; full of energy but no idea where to invest it. I thought I was going to explode.

It wasn’t until I stopped searching outwards, and began looking inwards instead, that I started to make real progress. I know, I know, sOoOo mushy. But from this experience, I found that my passion was something that already lit a fire inside of me... And now I’m going to show you how you can find your passion too!

What sparks joy? What do you love?

The internet may have gone a little wild with the Marie Kondo memes since the release of her Tidying Up Netflix series, but the sentiment of observing what ‘sparks joy’ and holding on to it works in this scenario too. So much so that the first step in finding my passion was reconnecting with myself, and thinking about what brings me joy. This allowed me the squash the feelings that finding the path I wanted to pursue was out of reach, disperse the franticness I felt over the overwhelming choice available to me, and really focus my search down.

To start, grab yourself a piece of paper or start a fresh document on your laptop, and divide it into three columns. Title the first column “Things”, the second “Activities”, and the third “Important”. 

Under the first column, list every single Thing that you find joy in. And when I say Thing I’m talking favourite artists, actors, bands, TV series, films, YouTubers, places, colours, cake… And so on. This doesn’t have to be a definitive list, but, like all of this exercise, getting everything out of your head and on to paper will make it easier for you to get an overall picture of yourself and where you are at. 

In the second column jot down all the Activities that you enjoy doing. Now, Activities can involve physical activities, such as sports and travelling, but this also encompasses everyday activities too. By this I mean: popping to your favourite coffee shop for a hot chocolate, spending hours people watching, buying yourself fresh flowers on payday, researching hashtags for Instagram, writing reviews on the latest cinema releases, slipping into fresh bedsheets, walking on crunchy snow… Basically anything that involves you doing something, in or out of the house. 

Then in the final column, take note of anything that is Important to you… Do you live for your family and friends? Is self care your main priority? Are you a frequent date-nighter with your partner? Is living as ethically as possible a big part of your lifestyle? Do you volunteer for any LGBTQIA+ groups? This is the space to make a note of anything you feel strongly about, that shapes you or influences your choices.

Whilst we can easily rattle off our favourite TV show of the moment or musician in a heartbeat, it’s unlikely that beyond our childhood years - where fan-projects were MY JAM - we have actually taken the time to consider the things we love. And when I say love, I mean the sort of love that fills you up from head to toe, and makes your heart do that warm and fuzzy thing.

This exercise is an important reminder of what you love, and, in my experience, seeing it all laid out in front of me, made me feel so much more assured of myself. And don’t forget; cross over is cool. Don’t fear writing similar things in each of the columns! In fact, it is actually quite useful, because it helps you…

Portraits by  Kaye Ford

Portraits by Kaye Ford


Find consistencies; what have you loved for a long time?

Now your lists are complete, review the Activities and Important columns and highlight all of the linked or similar points within them. From doing this, you may observe a couple of themes, or perhaps one theme that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Once you have found all of the consistencies, split them up into these themes, and rewrite them as new lists. It is vital to do this as it will help you decide on the area or field your passion falls into. 

For example…

  • Books and Reading
    Activity: Reading Books.
    Activity: Perusing bookshops for hours.
    Important: Prioritising meetings with the book club.

  • Being Outdoors
    Activity: Going hiking and climbing on the weekends with my partner.
    Activity: Spending time researching at rural cottages for trips.
    Important: The annual family walking holiday.

To find the field your passion falls into, concentrate on the theme you find yourself drawn to the most. If there is one you can pick out straight away then that’s great, but it can become really easy to overthink this bit. I got stuck in a loop for months and months by second guessing my instincts. What helped me break this cycle was looking back over my life to find consistencies there too.

I asked myself: “Is there anything I have always done or come back to time and time again?” - I knew that if I had chosen to keep up a hobby or interest for a significant amount of my life, it would have to mean a lot to me and would have likely brought me a lot of joy over time. This led me to photography!

As this was so telling, it’s time for you to take your new list of themes and look back across your life. Have you always been an avid traveller, keen cinephile, eager bookworm, total foodie, passionate sportsperson, or maybe even a dedicated follower of fashion and beauty? Listen to your gut and let it lead the way.

Once you’ve put your finger on the theme you love, you will be able to…

Portraits by  Kaye Ford

Portraits by Kaye Ford


Make it personal: How can you turn your interests into a passion that suits you?

At this point, you should know what you love, what you have loved for a long time and the theme they fall into. A path may already be revealing itself to you, or perhaps the direction you would like to head in is becoming clearer. It’s also likely that whilst you have your chosen theme, you may not see a way to jump in, or build the ideas within it into a long-term pursuit - possibly even a career.

To work out whereabouts to get stuck in, it’s time to give your chosen theme centre stage, but consider the other themes in relation to it. By doing this, you can take everything that is of value to you and find a way of weaving them together to end up your personalised passion! HUZZAH.

For me, the Activities and Important columns revealed Photography as my biggest overarching theme, but other areas I felt strongly about were…

  • That I work best alone and am self motivated, but appreciate the time I spend with people. I also enjoy learning about them and their stories.

  • That, because prioritising my wellbeing is important to me, having the opportunity to balance and plan my own schedule would be incredibly beneficial.

  • That I express myself through creativity and helping others. From writing to drawing, I like to experiment by bouncing between art forms, and I find putting together resources rewarding.

This let me identify that I wanted to work on my own and for myself, so I could manage my own schedule, but take photos of people. And also that blogging and creating content was something I loved too. This then made me consider intertwining photography and blogging; by using my blog and socials to share my work, career change experience along the way, and what I have learned about photography to inform, entertain and educate others... And that was it. I knew my passions were portrait photography and photography-related content creation.

So, that’s how I found my passion, and I hope you did too! I’d love to hear your findings from completing these exercises, so be sure to get in touch via Twitter to let me know how you got on and where you are heading next.

[Record scratch] Hold up. “What’s the point of the Thing column, then?” I hear you ask… Well, besides it being a helpful tool to reconnect with yourself and settle in to this exercise, it can be a great way to find inspiration for your aspiration too.

Consider why you are drawn to the things, people and places you are. Do you want to follow in one of your idol’s footsteps, take aspects of their career into your own, or possibly even work with them? What is about their ethics you want to emulate? Is there a niche somewhere within it all that you want to tap into? Could your favourite colours be the colour palette for your new business venture?

Use your findings to help you work out the next steps to take, and plot out how you want to thrive in your passion.

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Progress Journal | Pursuing portraiture

Portrait by  Kaye

Portrait by Kaye

The first time I took portraiture photographs, outside of a bunch I snapped for my Mum’s work way (way, way) back when, was in Summer 2018. On a whim, I rounded up a group of friends during golden hour, and we shot in the fields near where we live. That single decision, and the session that followed, sparked something off inside of me and that was it. I wanted to pursue portraiture.

Between then and now, I have been scheduling in all the practice I can get. From shooting on the fly at Pride and at night with Luke, to continuing to work on my skills with Rosie, Eleanor, Rowena, Gregg, Lizzie and Ella; who all kindly let me take pictures of them! I am learning, and gaining more confidence, every time I shoot… Even if I do feel the fear that I will walk away with no usable photographs beforehand - something that has never happened.

January has already been an exciting month for my me, but things are just about to get better. February sees me doing my first ever (not one but two) paid shoots! It has been incredibly heartwarming to receive good feedback about my work on Instagram, through comments and direct messages, but having people go out of their way to book in and put their confidence in me, is such a boost. To have this happen so quickly is helping solidify that this is the right path for me. Which is making me feel ALL OF THE THINGS.

Portrait by  Kaye

Portrait by Kaye

At this point, I really want to continue practicing whenever I can - sorry in advance, friends and family - in order to experiment and improve. I would also like to grow my social media networks in the hope my work will reach more people, and to put together some physical materials I can give out when networking. The biggest barriers I am facing at the moment are directly impacting my ability to do the aforementioned though. The cost of travelling for shoots, rallying up people I know, and making time to work on my socials and networking are all areas that I need to work on.

When I am not working my full-time job as a video editor, I am balancing my time between the above, spending time with loved ones, and taking the time to carry out self care. As someone who struggles with mental illness, it’s vital that I take my time rather than push myself to the limit, and hurt myself in the process. So, as much as I would love to shoot, and shoot, and shoot, it just isn’t the feasible or healthy option for me. But, that’s okay.

From not knowing what I wanted to do last year, to feeling dead-set on making freelance photography a thing, I have already made such huge strides - none of which I should, or want to, overlook. To continue improving and progressing, I feel as though my next steps involve taking what I have discussed on board, and then building it into a workable plan. One that allows me to manage my time, achieve what I would like to, and stay afloat. I’ll keep you posted with how that goes!

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Why Portraiture? Talking Career Choices and Finding my Passion

Portrait by  Kaye

Portrait by Kaye

At the end of 2018, I enrolled in on-going talking therapy. Despite making great strides in overcoming social anxiety and managing depression, I was in a slump. I was exhausted, I had lost my drive and I felt lost. If 2017 was the year of riding high, 2018 (for the most part) was the year of coming down.

In these sessions, we spoke at length about my chosen career path in film and television production. Whilst I am grateful for what I have, I am unhappy working in this field. The lifestyle clashes with my personality, the structure messes with my wellbeing, and, ultimately, the work itself leaves me feeling unfulfilled. 

It was rough to say those things out loud and let myself finally begin to accept them. I had studied to work in this industry for five years. At one point I was working three jobs so I could get my foot in the door. I got involved with some incredible work experience opportunities, which I will be forever thankful for, and feel so lucky to have had... but my love for working in the industry had revealed itself as more of a lust.

I was disappointed in myself. I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. I felt like A FAILURE.

Portraits by  Kaye

Portraits by Kaye


Further sessions came and went, but somewhere along the line, the conversation turned to photography. I told my therapist about some photos I took with friends in the Summertime, after getting a seemingly overnight itch to try my hand at portraiture. As I explained the buzz I felt when going over the photos from the shoot, I could feel myself lighting up all over again. I may have gone into the shoot as an excuse to spend time with friends and try something new, but I came away from the whole experience beaming with a pride I hadn’t felt in years.

It was this conversation that caused a weight lift, after spending months feeling stuck. Doors I closed way back in my teens, in the belief I was destined for different things, were suddenly bursting open, and the contents locked away were starting to make sense years down the line.

When I was in Junior School, I took photos of friends and family on a Polaroid OneStep, and overtime gradually upgraded through cameras to a Canon 60D; which I used when studying A Level Photography. As a kid I was naturally drawn to programmes with actors in over cartoons - hellooo That’s So Raven, The Amanda Show and Zoey 101 - and as an adult, this interest has blossomed into learning more about real people and their stories. So much so, I chose to specialise in Documentary filmmaking in University. And, even though I chose not to pursue Photography in education, I never stopped taking photos.

This realisation has given me a whole new lease of life. And whilst I initially had no idea where to start, I suddenly have a clear idea of where I want to go. I want to go out and shoot.

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Goodbye 2018

Portraits by  Luke

Portraits by Luke

2018. You’ve been a year full of unexpected people, events, and things. 

2016 and 2017 were whirlwinds. I received a new diagnosis that made sense of so many years, worked through another round of CBT, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone - all in an effort to tackle depression and social anxiety head on. I reconnected with old pals, toured around the UK to meet the friends I had made online, and flew solo to America to travel around Arizona, California, and Nevada with a bunch of strangers. I kicked major ass.

2018 dragged. I neglected the goals I set myself in January, and am ending the year with them incomplete. I stopped throwing myself into the hobbies and exercise routines I once enjoyed; noticing I was constantly competing with myself to do more, rather than finding happiness in actually doing them. And I spent months feeling completely lost and unfulfilled. At a glance, 2018 sounds like a dud year, huh?

I thought so, until I reflected again; looking past the initial idea of achievements I could check off a list. I soon came to realise that 2018 has been a year of looking inwards. Particularly through on-going, open-ended, talking therapy I started a few months back. 'My allotted worry time’ as I like to think of it, has caused me look at aspects of my life, that have troubled me for years, in a whole new light.

I have found that I am terrified to disappoint or upset those closest to me, and so always put their feelings before my own - no matter the toll it takes on my health; that I am unhappy in the career I have chosen, because it just isn’t the right fit for me; and that I worry. A lot. These realisations have caused me to action changes in my life. Including stepping away from A Film Club for the foreseeable future, focusing all of my energy into working on my portraiture, clueing up on how to overhaul my space and style, as well as trying to make time for myself.


I believe this has played a part in strengthening some of my relationships in 2018 too. I went on trips with Eleanor, Emma, Luke, and Lauren. Partied on at gigs aplenty with friends and family - including reliving my teenage years with Lizzie, at You Me At Six’s Take Off Your Colours 10th Anniversary tour - and started a ~ romantic ~ relationship with my now boyfriend. All of which have helped me to slow down, and live in the moment more. I am lucky to have the people in my life that I do.

The last time, or should I say couple of times, I wrote about life stuff, I felt like I was floundering with no direction. I felt stagnant, lacked a drive, and feared I was slipping into unhealthy habits. The whole experience, and related feelings, bothered me immensely. I wanted to know where I was going, and I wanted to know it now.

But, from the lessons learned in therapy and time spent with loved ones, I can see that a successful year does not always mean reaching huge milestone, after huge milestone. That actually, understanding my priorities and working to establish a balance between moving forward and rest, will help me make the choices that subsequently lead to progress, and reaching those milestones. And that, no matter how small, an achievement is still an achievement

I may not feel ‘found’ just yet, but I feel like I am heading in the right direction, and closer to myself than I have ever been. I am excited to see what the new year brings. Roll on 2019.

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#the31dayclearaway is a decluttering activity and method, with the aim to decrease the number of possessions owned, by thoughtfully disposing, donating, recycling and selling them, over a 31 day period.

In the hopes of creating a small decluttering community, I will be hosting this activity via my new lifestyle-oriented instagram @sianlives, throughout January 2019. Whether you are at the beginning of a decluttering journey, a seasoned minimalist looking for a refresh, or just someone wanting to put their possessions in order, everyone is welcome to join in. And, depending on the level of decluttering you would like to do, there are two ways to get involved; The Overhaul or The Tidy Up.

The Overhaul is for those who feel like the amount of things they own is starting to overwhelm them. For this option, the amount of items that are cleared away corresponds to the day of the month. I.e. 1 item on the 1st, 2 items on the 2nd, 3 items on the 3rd… All the way up to 31 items on the 31st.

The Tidy Up is then for those who find themselves surrounded by bits and bobs, that have worked a way into their possessions over time, and want to give their space a spruce. This option involves clearing away 1 item a day, for 31 days.


Over the last couple of years, I have become increasingly interested in decluttering, intentional living and minimalism. Even more so after I noticed that clean, tidy and simplistic spaces have a positive impact on my mental health. Being in a space where I know exactly what is there, and where everything is or belongs, gives my stimulated mind one less thing to think about - which, when living with anxiety and depression, is a dream.

Even though I have significantly decreased the amount I own over the last year, donating bags and bags of clothes, books and more, I still have a fair bit left to do. Struggling with hoarding in my younger years and early teens has had long lasting effects on my ability to remove things from my life with ease, but I feel like this activity and method will set up my 2019 off on the right track. I can’t wait to get stuck in!

As I had such a wonderful response to this, then secret, declutter-with-me method on Twitter, I decided to get things underway a little earlier than initially planned, by getting everyone clued in now. A big thank you to Lizzie for helping come up with the name, and to everyone who expressed an interest in the method. Keep your eyes peeled on @sianlives, and I’ll see you on January 1st to get started…

Will you be joining #the31dayclearaway? Let me know on INSTAGRAM and I WILL keep you notified!

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Barmouth Bound

After wolfing down a Sainsbury’s meal deal in a car park, and setting off an hour or so later than initially planned, Luke and I headed for Barmouth.

Once we left the motorway and began weaving through the Welsh countryside, I pulled out my camera and began to shoot. As we sped past the built up foliage, rolling hills, and all-round beautiful scenery, I couldn’t help but think about my Trek America trip last year.

We began in LA and wound up in San Francisco, detouring to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and (my love) Yosemite along the way. The entire trip was magic, but the imagery from the drive out of Yosemite National Park has stuck with me so vividly.

I can still see the setting sun’s golden light flicker through the gaps in the forest canopy, as we travelled down the winding roads back to camp. The comforting sound of Grizzly Bear’s Two Weeks easing the need for conversation. Our bodies, tired from hiking, moulding into the van’s seats as we drifted in and out of sleep.

This leg of the journey to Wales felt reminiscent of that drive. Everywhere I looked I saw the blue, green and yellow tones all warm and orange-tinted again. This consistency making anywhere feel familiar, almost like home... Road trips are just good for the soul, dude.

On the whole, I feel these images perfectly capture the nostalgic, and somewhat ethereal vibe of our journey to Barmouth. Especially when it comes to subject, composition and grading. But, if I was to take them again in attempts to improve, I would be interested to shoot with a Neutral Density (ND) or Polarising filter, just to find out what difference this would make to bringing out the details of the sky.

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