South London Photographer: Stress, being a ‘working’ mum at home during half term and learning “Art”

So, here I am feeling panicked.  I am waiting on one final image choice to come through from a recent corporate client so I can edit and order it by midday, ensuring they have it in time for a launch.  If it doesn’t happen in time they won’t have their products and I’ll feel like I’ve failed!  My children are only semi-dressed and I am feeling guilty that they are not outside enjoying the sunshine I know will probably be gone by the time we leave the house once the deadline for the corporate job has passed and I get on with the job of being a mummy on half-term.  The stress the children induce is nothing compared to this…. Oh, I must sound like an idiot.  None of this stuff is really stressful compared to being a doctor or a fireman or something like that.  Calm, Sarah-Jane!  For goodness, sake.  So what if things beyond my control go awry?  I’m certainly doing my best surrounded by screaming children who are trying to kill each-other because they need to be outside rather than indoors,  have had too much screen time and somehow found sweets squirrelled away somewhere so are all filled up with sugar to boot!   The last two years have seen me gradually go from a full-time mum, to a mum studying and eventually to a mum working and also trying to fit in some study time too.  The kids are patient with me sometimes.  Other times they are quite understandably furious and accuse me of loving photography more than them, which makes me feel horrible but when they are yelling at me and not being 100% appreciative of all that I do for them I find it hard to disagree.  At least photography doesn’t yell at me, tell me I’m awful, a rubbish mum and forget that I spend a good deal of my time picking up after it, washing its clothes and cooking food I’d rather not be eating for it.  But only sometimes… most of the time I know they are the best things in my life and I’m extremely lucky to have them.  Life is them and often, let’s face it, my photography is all about them in one way or another, whether it’s taking photos of them or trying to build a small business so that I can support them as I’d like (with the help of Mr. X of course!)

One of the most important aspects of photography is the art side of it.  I want my commercial photography to be influenced in a huge way by the art side of things, much of which I’ve picked up through the studying I’ve been doing.  But online college isn’t the only place I learn.  I am connected to a bunch of really interesting people on Flickr too and one of them, Michael Szpakowski, is involved in art education himself. However, he has some concerns about ‘teaching art’ and the subjective nature of it. He has instigated an online discussion and I think some of the statements he posits are really worth thinking about and I know he will welcome any points of view from other people – so if you have something to say or feel strongly about anything he says, do join in the conversation.  You can find the document here.   To be honest, I think much of what he suggests is worth considering whatever you’re teaching.

For me, art education is really working for now – but I tend to do my own little thing and use the structure of the course as a guide.  Learning about art is tricky and filled with all sorts of ups and downs but I wouldn’t be without it, although I’m sure the children would love it if I gave up any work, study, anything that wasn’t to do with them in their eyes and just ran around wiping up after them forever.  Maybe I’m being unfair -perhaps they just want to me speak to them now and again…

So, the midday mark has arrived and guess what?  I got the images in just in time – with 3 minutes to spare. My computer stopped working and my wifi crashed.  But somehow I sorted it out in time although of course we’ll have to wait and see it everything arrives on time… Eeeeek!! Work, art, family – it’s a nightmare sometimes.  But of course, that’s all to do with me not being a little more Zen… Ah well, that’s me!  It all works itself out in the end. I’m certainly not the only mum with young children trying to do several things at once.  We all are one way or another.

Enjoy the rest of half term.  I’m off to have lunch with my boys and grab a large glass of white wine with it too.

Image (c)sarahjanefield 2015

Image used in an assignment for my studies where I’ am learning about the ‘art’ of photography. Can you learn ‘art’? People often question my desire to study and my children may be happier if I weren’t studying as well as trying to build a little business. Is what I’m doing a waste of time or is it worth delving into photography and my own abilities to explore, develop and grow into an artist? Get involved with the discussion by visiting the link in the body of this blog post.




South London Photographer: A New Year and a son who runs an airline

I am aware that publishing my usual Sunday afternoon blog on Monday morning makes it slightly later than usual – but the feral ones were with me yesterday afternoon and I was dragged to the cinema to have my heartstrings pulled my those manipulative people at Disney. I have however been very pleased to hear from readers that they enjoy my blog and look forward to it arriving in their inbox or popping up on their Facebook page so apologies. I have just wrestled the computer off Son No 1 who was most disgruntled as he apparently takes his imaginary online airline, of which he is the CEO he tells me, far more seriously than I think I’ve taken anything in my life.

It’s a very good thing, in my mind at any rate, that the beginning of the school term beckons – although according to Son No 1 he’d be much better off being home-schooled or even unschooled. According to me that would be a disaster and he can carry on dreaming.

So back to normal before long: only a new normal in a new year, which will strangely feel just like the old normal.

This is the time of year I habitually ask myself where we’re going to end up living. I don’t think I’m the only Londoner who teases themselves with the perennial question of whether to leave the city for some countryside idyll where children apparently run around outside all day with the wind blowing in their un-city-sullied locks. But this year I probably need to think about it more seriously about than ever before.

Why Boris, why have you engineered a situation where millions of tiny unaffordable flats are built and then sold off to investors so that the people who actually live here are forced to ask themselves periodically ‘what on earth are we going to do about a home?’ and then have no choice but to leave the city that is their home?

With this in mind I went along with the boys to look at a bigger flat around the corner and I won’t bore you with the grisly details but we left having the familiar conversation about where we might end up going if, or should I say when we have to leave London. And as we do I remind myself of a key chapter from The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and W Keith Campbell (published by Atria 2009) which says very clearly – don’t let your children make major family decisions.

So, I mustn’t, mustn’t leave the profound life changing and all-important decision about where we all move to a 10 year old. Even if the 10 year old is under the impression that he’s at least 34 years old and in charge of an airline based round the corner in the playing fields surrounding the local gym.

“Where shall we move to?” I ask the 10 year old. His answer is always the same.


“Why? Why? Why Son No 1?”

“There are two really cool train lines….” which he then goes on to describe to me yet again. I can’t repeat it here as this is about the time I switch off because my brain has been battered enough over the years with tales of trains and train lines, real and imaginary as that form of transport was the obsession before his airline company took over.

“And,” he adds, “Pewdiepie lives there too!”

Pewdiepie for those of you not in the know is a YouTube celebrity whom Son No 1 should, no doubt, not be enamored by as I’m certain much of what he bangs on about on the Internet isn’t age-appropriate but then since I seem to be on the verge of leaving a profound and major, life changing decision to him perhaps it’s all a little academic anyway.

“I’m not moving to Brighton,” I say. Nothing against Brighton as such. Some of my best friends live there. Actually just friends but you get the point.

“Why, mum? Why? Why?”

“Stony beach,” I say. “It’s not for me. I like sand.”

“OK, he says. Yorkshire!” I know this is because another well-known YouTuber, for that is what these YouTube celebrities are called, didn’t you know, lives there and has nothing to do with my brother being there at all. Yorkshire at least would be a good deal cheaper, I think.

After seeing the grisly flat we wander slowly home to my lovely flat that is nevertheless far too small and I remind myself of Affleunza by Oliver James (published Vermillion 2007), a book I read some years ago but which I can’t quote from because all my books are still in storage for various reasons but there’s no-where to put them in my tiny flat so perhaps fortuitously (but still… “You hear that, Mr. X, my books are still in STORAGE!!”): and how the desire to always have bigger and more is ultimately not very healthy at all.

It’s a shame we really don’t fit in the flat we’re currently in though. I’m ever so happy there and those who know me will understand that what I don’t have in space is very much made up for in other priceless ways.

I wonder how Boris Johnson and his family will feel if I knock on his door with my 3 boys in tow (one of whom is a CEO, mind) and let him know that we cannot afford to live anywhere and have so decided that we’re moving into his rather lovely London home. Do you think he’d mind? I expect he’d say “Why, Sarah-Jane? Why? Why?”

“Well… ” I’d answer, and then I’d bang on for some hours about tiny expensive flats being built and then sold off to investors only to sit empty while real Londoners are forced to consider leaving London. “Why, why, why???”

For those of you looking at moving out of London, Life After London’s site is full of useful information.

This week I have posted some photographs from a corporate job I did just before Christmas where Peter Sissons hosted a seminar aimed helping companies who are considering moving offices – it was very interesting listening to all the pros and cons and I was able to apply some of the arguments for and against to my own little life.

All images (c) Sarah-Jane Field 2014