The kettle is done, you gently pour the warm water into your mug, as the water gently pulses into the rising love affair it has with physics you begin to smell the warm essence of the beverage you’ve chosen to intake during your read of my latest post.

That’s right guys, it’s a big one. (That’s what she said).

A few months ago a friend of mine had told me about this show called “The Photography Show” hosted at the NEC in Birmingham. I had no idea what it was, what to expect or who I would meet. All I knew was I nearly didn’t go because of how tight money was.

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Linville told me to apply as a member of trade and I should qualify for free tickets. A few hours later it looks like “Chanel” was right after all, I got an acceptance email. This was the first time a business as large as Future Publishing had taken a look at me and said: “Yeah this guy is professional enough to qualify as trade”.

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To say I was excited is an understatement. I still didn’t even understand what I was even doing, I just thought I was going to hang out with a friend for 4 days and look at nice new technology with the odd educational class thrown in for good measure.

Well, the day approached quickly enough and I’m sure that my bosses hate me by now for taking the time off that I do for all this photography stuff haha!

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So there I am, hiking bag on my back, camera around my neck, badge on trousers. Waiting for Linville. Eventually he strolled in as the queue began to shuffle into the hall. This was it, my first ever, event, as a professional photographer. Amazingly for us ComicCon was on next door!

535213_1570144573297280_2277342176787599368_n(Instagram): Donrhule.

As we strolled through the hall I got to know Linville a little, an honest man, more reserved than myself and a little better at what he does than myself. He told me about where he was from, how he moved, about his child and breakthrough with his studio etc. He sounded like he was on the move but had just hit a bit of a wall.

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The first day I went to catch a talk on the Super Stage talking about how to find your professional voice on Instagram. Honestly, I found the talker incredibly passionate (Dan Rubin), honest and no doubt excited to share his story, I just took very little from it that I either didn’t know before or that I could apply to myself.

It seemed to boil down to the key point of this “Be an early adopter to new tech / social media outlets”. Which was almost a difficult pill to swallow, that there wasn’t really any solid advice for what the title had suggested. Would I consider the talk a failure?

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Not at all, though I perhaps would have titled it “How I found my professional voice on Instagram” rather than “Finding your professional voice on Instagram”. Funnily enough as I was eating a Subway on the steps of the NEC I caught Dan running out of the NEC with his suitcase (looked like he was late!).

I wanted to shake his hand and say thanks for his story and time, but I was hands deep in mayonnaise. I’ll shoot him an email instead perhaps.

On the first day we found the company of Udi, Richard, Amber, Roderique, John, Thomas and Simon. A crossbreed of staff ranging from Independent Photographers, Amersham Studios and DIYPhotography Blog / The Image Manipulation Store.

12804863_10207655750986222_3584356938139761868_nPhoto by Richard Terborg’s page (If you know the credit, let me know!)

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Those guys rule, they just GET IT. They get life. Or at least they get life how I think I get life. The banter, the generosity, patience, intelligence, talent etc… These guys made my first day and evening at the NEC one to remember.

I felt at home, surrounded by great people, far more talented than  myself, though in my defense the buggers are a lot older too! Mwahaha!

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I didn’t know any of these people upon meeting them (other than Udi / Linville) and Udi introduced us to everyone, the rest is history. Simon… one of the most genuine people I’ve met in a long time. If any of you have ever seen the comedy show “Community” Simon is literally The Dean. I’m not even joking. Even his laugh is the same.

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I half expected him to come out and start calling me Jeffry or Winger. I think his highlight of the entire NEC was ordering a cheesecake and getting a milkshake served by the waiter as “A Surprise”. HAHAHAHAHA I still cry about it now.

This was Simon’s reaction….
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..Fucking priceless.

From left to right you can see Richard, John and Amber (also all lovely people!) more on Richard later..

So after a hilarious first day and a cracking meal I remember walking in to the arena on day 2 seeing Darth Vader followed by 300 Storm Troopers…. That’s not a joke. I was just, torn between admiration and laughter.

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From here on out my recollection of which days things happened on are all a blurry mess so let’s just treat this not as “Day 2” and just, “At the show”. Cool? Cool!

I stopped by the SmugMug stand to meet up with a dear friend of mine for the first time “Pratik Naik” or as I like to call him, “Patrick”. And believe me, the amount of people who looked at me in confusion when I called Pratik, Patrick was exactly the reaction I was hoping for. I find stuff like that hilarious.

Speaking of epic talks…. Lara Jade’s 10 Year Evolution was mind blowing!

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First up on the stand was the wonderfully talented Bella Kotak discussing the importance of presentation in the industry. Man, she kicked ass! Her site looked amazing, her work made me feel like an amateur and her sense of grace in answering my questions was a pleasant hit.

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I’ve always felt like she wouldn’t like me, or at least the first few times. I think I’m too outgoing by nature and too unfamiliar with the softer graceful pace in which Bella has. It’s a flaw of my own I need to work on. Though in time I’m sure I’ll be the kind of person who can connect as softly 😉

You NEED to go and check her work out:
12745518_950251728345477_5720507409575949625_nPhoto by Bella Kotak.

Next up was Patrick with his talk on how to communicate with people in the industry, more precisely that of retouchers, what they look for, what to ask for etc. I also met a coworker of Pratik’s called David Neilands who also does amazing retouch work! Turn out he lives right next to me hahaha!

Again, an amazing website, flawless work and a sense of grace that comes with an age above 25. I’m hoping it hits by 26 or Lara Jade is kicking my ass way too hard hahaha!

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Ah, let’s face it, I have a lot of growing up to do. Which has been hard growing up with a loud, loving mother and a self doubting intelligent father’s genes pushed in for taste.

I also had the absolute pleasure of hooking up with PixaPro, Gavin Hoey, Andrew Baum and PHOTR from which some CRAZY shit has happened.

PixaPro and myself have a killer tutorial coming up with one of their 300cm C-Stands (this thing is KILLER) so keep your eyes peeled for that! Thanks for the trust and killer deal Yang!!!!!

Gavin, I still need to drop an email!

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Andrew… Man, what a pleasure. I literally cannot wait to hook up and see what we can create, it’s going to be a blast!!!! And check this out for crazy…

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I also met a guy called Simeon Quarrie who owns/runs Vivida… WHAT A DUDE! His talent for cinematography is insane! Go check out their work online! (Picture below).

10603511_10153410886886393_994210801701459703_nAbove photo by: Kabz Raviraj.

196386_10151438462781563_165759004_nPhoto by: Simeon Quarrie.

So, I saw this chick I thought was pretty cute so I wondered over for a chat, my ice breaker being that I noticed they were selling a stand I returned (today) made by PHOTR. Don’t get me wrong the stand was killer for the money, and I LOVE their reflectors / backdrops I just got unlucky with my stand as the bag broke while I was touring London on the fashion shoot with Marcus White.

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Turns out this chick not only works alongside PHOT-R at the event but she also used to live by me AND she knows most of my friends… GOBSMACKED. Shame she lives in London! *waves at Kaya*.

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I also met the lovely Sian MacManus, who is a KILLER model from Essex way! Not only did she hook me up with a shoot with male model Alfie Wicks (Via Jera Inc Models) next month but she doesn’t look half bad behind the lens!!!

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Before I bring this to a conclusion with a deeply personal, critical thought on myself. I wanted to drop a thank you to every single person I’ve met at the show. You guys have literally no idea what it means to me to meet you all, you’ve given me hope and a fire in my belly to go out and kick some serious ass.

Linville. Thank you brother.

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Also this pic above was taken on the show floor using a Westcott Flex Light, AND Peter Hurley digged it! 😀 hahaha!

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And lastly (before the conclusion piece) here are a few shots from the day, with thanks to Mosaic Models, Jera Inc Models and Jess Wright MUA (Shot during Lara Jade’s mini-workshop)!

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So back to Richard Terborg. Let me paint the scene: I remember hitting my hotel room on the 2nd night and just being hit by this wave of sadness.

I just felt so overwhelmed in meeting everyone that I started to panic about how I came off, I don’t feel like I have found myself yet in order to 100% nail how I would like to be perceived. So instead I’m just going by my gut and heart and hoping for the best.

12027775_10206514059804656_7590502494820201523_nPhoto by Richard Terborg.

All we can do is be honest to ourselves and keep going forward, I’ve no interest any other way.

I dropped Richard a message and it turned out he was not only awake at 11pm but his hotel was literally 30m down the road from mine. I offered him pizza and we walked outside. Richard graced me with his story, his thoughts, his future plans and his time.

He made me feel hopeful and that it’s OK to feel like shit, it’s OK to feel run down and low, because it’s the price you pay for the ultimate highs! The guy’s a damn superhero.

156362_1087809844615512_9210135891380522981_nPhoto by Olympus NL.

Shared with me some hilarious stories and moments as well as some serious reality checks. I remember standing there hearing him say “Just ask the universe for it and it’ll give back, but you gotta work for it!”. And you know, I’m not into anything outside of science and factual data but perhaps this once… Perhaps this once he’s onto something.

1251_1087811467948683_6114635937705234162_nPhoto by Olympus NL.

And now for the take away piece:

Something I wanted to draw a line under for myself here was the realisation I had upon meeting Lara Jade. A hard working, incredibly passionate woman, full of grace, confidence and a clear sense of direction and style.

Meeting Lara was actually something which kicked my ass, not because of fame, her beauty or her incredible work.

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Lara kicked my ass because she made me feel like I mattered. Like I stood a chance at success, like she actually stood there and listened to what I was saying. It wasn’t just “MmmHmm’s” and “Yeah’s”, it was communication, honesty, commitment to the cause of connection.

She has every reason to not give a shit about someone like me, a 25 year old guy from the middle of nowhere, with no clear artistic direction, no income, nothing to offer to her career, network, contacts. Yet she stood there, and she spoke to me like I mattered, like I was worth something.

I’m actually welling up right now thinking about what that meant to me. Hearing her mum talk about how Lara has been treated by people in the industry, her frustration, wanting to quit when she felt like she couldn’t take it anymore etc. That’s me. That is me.

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I connected with her mum  over these stories she so wonderfully shared with me. I feel incredibly indebted to her for placing as much trust in me as she did. I couldn’t ever share those stories and moments with anyone, it’s so special to me it feels like a sense of trust you never want the light to die on.

The most painful aspect of meeting Lara was realising that I had forgotten myself. I had forgotten that I’m supposed to be a Professional Photographer and not just a person making friends and connecting. I think back over my time at the show and feel like I gave an impression I hope I can improve over time.

The most notable was being lost in conversation and finding myself stood in this beautiful hotel that wasn’t mine, it hit me in a wave of dread that somehow, this 25 year old guy who nobody knows anything about had just followed someone back to their hotel.

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I think back to that moment and I feel a little sick at the impression that must have made. I wish I’d have had the experience and consciousness to say goodnight just a little sooner to catch myself before it was too late to break the comfort.

Perhaps I’m overlooking, over reading, but from 7 years of depression and reading people, I think that even if nobody involved in that walk would ever say it. I stayed a little too long. Lesson learned.

With that said, I received an incredible gift when I got home. From a man I hold dear to my heart Mr Jeff Rojas, check out this book and what he wrote:

“Joseph, Sometimes, you make me worry about you. Lol. Thank you so much for your support and for your shenanigans. They’re very much appreciated, Cheers mate!” *Signed Jeff Rojas*.

So maybe I am over thinking it… But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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I think it’s just the underlying tone of being around people who are successful, it breeds people who want in, people who want to suck the worth and value out to get ahead themselves. Whereas for a kid like me, growing up in a town where he has nobody to hang out with etc, I care so little for what I can get from others when I can give them all I have instead.

If I can make you laugh, feel inspired, empowered or even just keep you ticking over, I’m doing my job. I’ll never connect with dishonesty, secretive bullshit or ulterior motives. Life’s too short, just tell it how it is.

So, Miss LJ. Thank you. For many things. You’ve started wheels in motion you may never have thought you would have. I owe you for that. Thank you.

Thank you for advice, thank you for inspiration, thank you for patience, thank you for your time, but most importantly; thank you for helping me find another piece of me I’d lost a while ago to a broken heart.

Pizza’s on me.

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Links:
Alfie Wicks (Model): http://bit.ly/1Upi6Ki
Amber Scarisbrick (Photography):http://bit.ly/1RknZWd
Andrew Baum (Smugmug): https://www.smugmug.com/
Bella Kotak (Photography): http://www.bellakotak.com/
Brett Harkness (Photography): http://brettharknessphotography.com/
Dan Rubin (Photography):http://danrubin.is/
David Neilands (Solstice Retouch): http://www.solsticeretouch.com/
Don Rhule (Cosplay Walking Dead): https://www.instagram.com/donrhule/
Jeff Rojas (Photography): http://www.sajorffej.com/
Jera Inc (Modelling Agency): http://jeraincmodels.co.uk/
Jess Wright (Makeup Artist): http://bit.ly/1XSm0cf
John Aldred (Photography): http://www.johnaldred.com/
Kaya Cheyanne (Cincera Productions):  http://www.cincera.co.uk/
Lara Jade (Photography): http://larajade.co.uk/
Linville Belle (Photography): http://www.linvillebellephoto.com/
Marcus White (Music Production / DJ): http://bit.ly/1pLCisN
Mosaic Model Management (Modelling Agency): http://www.mosaicmodels.co.uk/
Peter Hurley (Photography): https://peterhurley.com/
PixaPro (Hardware): https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/
PHOT-R (Hardware): http://www.phot-r.com/
Pratik Naik (Solstice Retouch): http://www.solsticeretouch.com/
Richard Terborg (Photography): http://www.richardterborg.com/
Roderique Arisiaman /Dracorubio (Photography): http://dracorubio.com/
Sian MacManus (Model): http://bit.ly/22KjxE6
Simon Ellingworth (Amersham Studios): http://amershamstudios.com/
Simeon Quarrie (Vivida): http://wearevivida.co.uk/
Thomas Ludwig: http://bit.ly/1T98DoD
Udi Tirosh (The Image Manipulation Store): http://bit.ly/1NOCET9
Westcott (Hardware): http://www.fjwestcott.com/