The Cat and The Tortoise

This morning’s Camera Confidence group needed something a little different today due to one group member having a job interview this afternoon. We needed to focus on what it takes to talk about yourself to a small group of people and the mindset you need to make sure the nerves don’t get the better of you.

Being positive means acknowledging that negative exists and working your way around it. Giving a presentation sounds scary but when you realise this just means talking about stuff you already know then it isn’t that bad. Factor in the idea that you’re only stood up a metre or so away from where you were sat and it isn’t too scary. The table and chairs are the go to safety nets for everybody but it doesn’t mean that you need them to talk about the excellent photographs you’ve taken this morning.

Some people interview well because they’re naturals at presenting themselves. The rest of us have to work at tricking our brains into us appearing more confident than we really are. Knowing what triggers your nervousness and finding ways to combat it is the slow and steady way to success.

We gave the group free rein on what to photograph so that everybody was presenting something they felt strong, confident, and happy to discuss. Seeing your own photographs on the big screen and presenting them to others is easy when you’re sharing stuff you know is already great. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a cat you’ve found, or a stone tortoise, or things that make you happy, or people who influence you. If you work with what makes you feel strong then you’re already a success! Well done Melin. Fingers crossed with the job interview this afternoon!

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Cake, Coffee, Cameras, and Confidence

For today’s final workshop at Seion Newydd in Morriston we asked participants to take photographs on their own themes and present them on their own to the group. Camera Confidence is a four week long journey which helps people tackle their comfort zones. Presenting stuff by standing up in front of a group of people you hardly know is the ultimate goal, and boy did our group achieve it!

Participants have said today that they now have the ability to take a chance on new situations and not worry about things not working out. Some are even looking at enrolling for college courses that interest them with the aim to start a new career. Others are planning resitting exams, looking for new jobs, and seeking help with the challenges they know they can’t face on their own. Previously their inner doubts held them back and being scared of failing stopped them even trying. Now we have a wonderful group of positively minded people ready to face any challenge they set themselves. Our shy strangers have developed into firm friends and I’m sure they will continue to support each other as they move forward with confidence.

We’re about to start this course in Bonymaen (Swansea), Penlan (Swansea) and Sandfields (Port Talbot) in June and we can’t wait to see how our new participants rise to the challenge. Congratulations to everyone in Morriston today who excelled at their presentations today. You rock!

The Pattern Maker

Last weekend I wrote about all sorts of progress I’ve been making with my art which I can’t share with you. My art has taken on a more commercial twist with me making lots of props for music videos, shooting music videos, taking photographs whilst scouting for locations, as well as shooting publicity photographs for clients. It’s great stuff and I’m making art almost round the clock at the moment. The catch is that I can’t openly share progress until a lot further down the line once the PR companies have had their fix and launch day appears magically on the horizon.

So I’m sneakily sharing this today. It’s the detail of one of four masks I’ve made in the last fortnight. I made little maquettes first out of Barbie heads and Blu-tack so that I could plan exactly how each mask would look. I’ve then made each full-sized face from air-drying clay and then used these as a pattern to papier maché over. There has been lots of waiting for clay to dry, and paper layers to dry. Then finally I’ve removed and destroyed the clay pattern leaving just the paper shell to paint. 

I’ve never done anything like this before but I knew it would be really easy to get something unique and interesting. I invoked memories of those weird five minute Eastern European animations they used to fill airtime on TV when I was little. The result is other-worldly, uncanny, and just plain horrific. Exactly what the client asked of me. 

Trash Tales

It’s dark, miserable, and damp. There’s rubbish wherever we look, so what could possibly make us smile? All trash has a tale to tell and we found ourselves wondering where bottles had appeared from, where cans were heading to, and why black bags were queuing on the pavement.

It’s easy to feel down and not notice the detail as life passes you by. It’s easy too to look at your local environment and talk it down. Thankfully our Camera Confidence group here in Melin are learning how to see the world differently and gain a new appreciation for life, even if it appears rubbish sometimes!

Show and Tell

Would you employ this person? On the Camera Confidence course we’re always looking at ways to improve the way we’re perceived by others so that we can make ourselves more employable. We discussed eye contact, posture, and how we present ourselves so that can improve the way we come across to others. We considered how doing research before an interview can make us more confident. Knowing how to appear at your best, even if you’re crying inside, can make the world of difference.

With all this in mind we created photographs to highlight the skills and qualities we should have, along with those we wish we had. We played with ideas on distance and focus, responsibility and fun, personal and professional, all so that we could challenge our comfort zones and make ourselves aware of how we can come across to others.

Each pair of participants then stood and presented their pictures to the group, and explained what qualities their partner had which would make them employable. I’m just reading that last sentence back to myself because it’s key to the whole course. I mean, it’s massive! How many people could say they’re happy working with a complete stranger, standing up in front of a room full of people, talking to and making eye contact with the group, and getting ideas across? Camera Confidence is empowering a group of wonderful people from Morriston to achieve just that.

Covert Progress

I used to write here every day with tales of progress with my art but these days I tend to leave it a few days between writing. Sometimes this is due to laziness but lately it’s been because I can’t tell you what I’m doing.

Sometimes I’m commissioned to make things for other people and due to the nature of the make I’m sworn to secrecy until the release. For example I’m currently making some masks for… hmmmm…. which will be used in a promotional video for…. uh. I’m also working on some photographs for… yeah…. and storyboards for ….mmmmm. Then there’s the album artwork for… uh huh… and some ideas I’m throwing around for …. um. So you see I’m very busy with stuff. I can’t even give you a release date for any of this because… and … hmmm….. I’m also collecting footage for… ahhhh… which is a long term project which will probably happen around Autumn.

So what can I show you? Some doodles from the margin of one of my sketchbooks I suppose. As long as I cover up the name of …. ah ha… and hmmmm. And it’s not like any of these will give away any of that anyway. There you go. Covert progress!

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Themes on the Melin

Another new course began today at Melincryddan Advice Centre in Neath. Camera Confidence is proving to be a really popular course with people wanting to improve their own self-confidence whilst out taking pictures.

Themes today included Transport, the Natural World, People, and Buildings. We all agreed that the results made it look like we were all on vacation in Neath! Having fun in your local environment and seeing it through fresh eyes is just as important as going somewhere new and being a tourist. Having the confidence to try new ideas and explore is what the course is all about.

This week I did most of the talking as we looked through everyone’s best images. As the weeks go by I’ll be handing over control more and more to our participants so that they gain the confidence to talk, present, and demonstrate their skills in front of small groups of people. This will be fun!