Terminally Talented

The long version.

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BUT WHAT ARE YOU ALL ABOUT?? WHAT’S YOUR STORY? WHAT’S THE DEAL MAN? WHO ARE YOU?

Man. How far back to start this……

It was the late spring of 1984 and a child, a beautiful baby girl was brought into the world….. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I suppose I’ll start where it matters. I always had this grand vision of how my business was going to go. It was going to be HUGE. But before I had that vision I was a mum with a camera. And before I was a mum with a camera I was a teen under employ as a photo editor in a studio. Now when I got that job I thought I was only going to be an assistant, you know, run errands, make coffee, clean, do filing, all that jazz. -jazz hands-

 

 

 

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Instead I wound up put in front of a pc. You know the ones. HUGE, dirty white CRT screen, and equipped with slow ass stone age Photoshop. I began learning how to edit, how to make epic mistakes and started editing photos digitally for the boss tog. The photographer I was working for was making the switch from film to digital and we were digitally editing scans of images on film alongside low as low MP digital image files. In JPG. (JPEG snow! So much jpeg snow!)

Photoshop was BAAAAASSSSSIIIICCCCC. Skin smoothing was done with the clone tool, content aware fill of any sort was non existent, dark and white vignettes were all the rage, and sepia was like So.Perfect! -fangirl moment-. Oh and don’t forget the obligatory old suitcase shot near railway lines for every-single-wedding. Compositing wasn’t a word yet, and the history brush was used religiously to create selective colour images- which were all the rave!

While I was working there I was asked by a relly if I would attempt to photoshop some horses into wedding photos. I did my first composites then and I was hooked; and would you just look at them! >>>

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And I suppose you could say the love affair started there. It didn’t matter the kind of photo, if it needed editing I’d do it. Honestly, if it didn’t need it, I edited it.  Then came marriage and babies and with those, their photos. I needed to be super slim in my wedding photos so did the editing myself. I was a size 10, what the hell was I thinking? haha

I used a Fuji point and shoot that had made it’s way around my family members. I knew NOTHING of actually taking photos outside of pressing the shutter; which was just a button to me. What’s a shutter? No idea how to shoot in manual. Didn’t even know that was a thing. Didn’t know lighting. Probably was shit at composing, I can’t remember. Although check out that horizon <<<

None of these things stopped me shooting avidly at friends weddings and sending them edited photos later. Or standing my sister in a paddock wrapped in a white sheet, middle of the day, full sun, nice beautiful pregnancy belly out to see. Shadows.Bloody.Everywhere.

 

 

 

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Then came my babies and the need for a ‘real’ camera. I still didn’t know how to use one outside of auto though. A friend of my then-husbands had a canon. So I got a canon because I knew I had someone I could ask questions.

I opened my first business as a Hair & Makeup Artist. Facebook page here I come! Shooting all of my hair & makeup jobs and posting them to my new business page to bring in more clients…. and one day came an odd request in my inbox.

“Hi, I’m Ashley and I am getting married and would love to hire you for our hair & makeup. Would you also do the photography for us?”

-blank face-           -freak out-         -what do I charge-      -omg-       -I must be good-    -no I’m not good enough-      – shit how do I shoot in manual-

“Sure! $500″

(not verbatim, but you get the picture)

KIARN TODAY- WTAF!!!!

 

So yep I started the way no photographer should start. I took a wedding, asked a friend about shooting in manual a few days before it, took this couples one-time-only-big-important life event documentation into my hands,  shot it so nervously it’s not funny, had issues with flash bouncing of fog and silhouetting my subjects, edited them to perfection (ha), and sent them off.

-no breathing-   -freak out-

They loved them!

-oh my lordy big sigh of relief-

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And so the decision to actually learn how to shoot was made.

Now I’d say the rest of the story is pretty boring really, but my life has never ever been boring. I had to learn everything before I could decide if it was a skill or genre I liked/needed. I was a “natural light photographer” who didn’t know lighting for ages. -eyeroll- I named my first serious photography business endeavour “Natural Beauty Photography” and I couldn’t decide what I loved, I just wanted to be every photographer for everyone. So I shot everything. If someone asked I said yes.

I learned pretty early I hated family photography. You know, say cheese, formal kind? ICK! And babies???? I couldn’t get my own to sleep let alone someone else’s, without the added pressure of photographing them. So I hired someone else to do the baby snuggling and I took and processed the photos.

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I started learning more and more about not just shooting, but also editing. Technology was starting to speed up and opening so many more doors that made the artist in me salivate. I started shooting concepts with models instead of just clients, and this is where I found my place with photography. The thing I love, and that lights me up. My jam.

I hit so so many hurdles. I learned so many things the hard way. I shared liberally and didn’t always remember to cover myself legally. I had photographers/models/clients take advantage of so many of my shoots, my talent, my time, and my heart. Some hanging around for the credit that came with my creativity. Some intentionally misleading me for their own gain. But through it all, not only did I find what I loved, but I learned so many valuable lessons.

And eventually realised my worth, the importance of what I had to offer, and to safeguard myself always.

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Meanwhile I was still editing the same way I had been since the start. I had a peer say I was the Photoshop queen, which was rescinded after finding out how I did it haha. I was told that my editing would never make it into Vogue. Had it described derogatively as “that blue thing you do” (totally making that into a preset name). I had accusations of copying what were actually my concepts. I had online bullying, slander, and libel. I had so many things to learn. The world can be a shocking place. And I started wanting to save every other photographer from the mistakes I had made and learned from.

I eventually started acting/working as if what I could do held value (even if I didn’t always believe it), and wouldn’t accept being used for my talent. I worked with models that knew and demonstrated they saw the value in my work too and stopped working with those who had no desire to give back. I stopped allowing all of those people/accusations/shitstarters space in my head. I started to cover my butt thoroughly, operating my business like it was a business, not just fun.

2014 I switched from Natural Beauty Photography -which no longer made sense for what I was shooting- to just being myself. An artist. Kiarn. It was getting busy. I had opened 3 businesses in consecutive years, breaking even each year. Hair & makeup, photography, and a styling biz. Things were on a roll…..

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My health though? It had started a roll all of it’s own.

I had been struggling with pain most of my life with no explanation. I was always the one to be the 1/50million to get a strange illness, symptoms, or med reaction. But, I’d started having what were called ‘complex migraines’ (now understood as Hemiplegic Migraines) two days before my daughter was born in 2011. I lost around 1/4 of my usable vocabulary. I started having painful, debilitating migraines almost daily. So many years of so many tests. No known cause. Come the beginning of 2014, and an attempt at getting fit believing I was only sick because I was overweight and unhealthy, I joined a bootcamp. That bootcamp was the last straw for my fighting body and triggered a flare of intense body pain that lead to being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. With that came an immense personal struggle with my existence as such an ill person. That has never ended, and never will. The end of 2014 saw my inability to take bookings reliably, and the need to shut down the business. How could I morally, ethically, take peoples bookings if I couldn’t guarantee I was even able to walk, talk or see that day? I couldn’t.

2014-2016, an end of a marriage, pain that was guaranteed to worsen with age, a new relationship and I was in a completely different world when it came to my photography. It was done as a release, as therapy, when I was able. It was missed dearly on days I couldn’t even hold the weight of the camera. It still is. I still didn’t think my work had any merit worthy of any more than posting them to social media, but I didn’t care as long as I was able to do it. I had my kit stolen at one point and shot on my iPhone anyway. My health continued to worsen.

My art pieces during this time were always reflective of my struggle.

 

 

 

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So many times I would have a flare of symptoms and at the end of it, have to get used to what was now my ‘new normal’; the new daily symptoms, health, ability and life. I watched my then partner, whom was also a photographer, and our four children growing up and was shown a different side of capturing our kiddos that ignited a love of documenting the every day. All the moments despite my struggle. All the happiness despite all the pain. Since then the love of this photography style has been burning alongside my love of my artistic works.

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Take a deep breath for the next paragraph.

I lost 9 babies/pregnancies due to my health over 7 years. The end of 2015/16 saw the loss of my 2 children to their father as he convinced the courts my health was too large an impact on my parenting abilities. Followed by my partner leaving, 2 suicide attempts, one coma, my mum fighting breast cancer, a return to my partner, his lung cancer diagnosis, changing my entire world around to be his carer, discovery of years of cheating, finding the strength to stand up for what I deserved, walking out, homelessness, my entire camera kit bar one lens stolen, his passing, an inability to see my kids without permission from their father, and what has been the hardest fight of my life to get back on my feet. Starting to see my kiddos again. Figuring out my health and how to work with it, manage it and still live. To learn what it’s like to be a person who actually wants to live. Build a kit from scratch with very little funds. Start to shoot some new things, capturing every moment of my children while they were with me. 2017, I started to share again, to teach my skills to others in the industry who could make use of what my body couldn’t cope with.

Then at the end of last year… in a a house full of black mould, my health declined to dangerous levels, emergency accommodation was sought and now we are here. Woah.

And here I am still without the ability to always hold my camera, still unable to walk some days (currently couch bound writing this), words are often scarce, with only slight brain damage from it all. And I feel like such a waste! All of this knowledge in a useless sack of painful human flesh. So I have started sharing again. All of the resources I have now available to those who are actually able to use them. My brain open to picking. An intense desire to have all of this knowledge in the hands and minds of those whom can use them!

I am still super sick. Unless a cure is found that will never change. But I’m living, loving, sharing, and creating. My body may not work some days, but I can still talk. So I can share. I have an awesome team of professionals in this industry behind me so that I can fulfill requests for my talent. I’ve built up a light weight, oddball kit I love shooting with. I can shoot, I can create, I can have someone shoot for me if need be. I can deliver beautiful weddings again with heirloom art pieces. I can capture all your families moments. Shoot new art and stock on good days. And I have started to put my art out there!

So new website. Different me. Better Art.

All my resources. All my art. All my life.

And for all I’ve been through, I wouldn’t change a thing.

-Kiarn

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