Sunday, December 21, 2008
Random Acts of Kindness
Over 25 years ago, way back in 1982, I was sent, by a picture agency, to cover the launch of a British TV 'soap' called "Brookside", at the modern, Liverpool housing estate in which it was set and filmed. I was, in every sense of the phrase, a "fledgling" freelance photographer and felt totally out of my depth, surrounded, as I was, by photographers from almost all of the British national daily papers and large circulation magazines.
At one point, during the day, I turned up a bit late, to photograph actors Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston (who, incidentally was brought up in the small town - Prescot - in which I was born and raised) who were posing as "man and wife" outside the house their characters "owned" on Brookside Close. I was fumbling with my camera so much that all of the other photographers in the press pack had finished shooting Ricky and Sue, before I had even taken my first photograph. I stood there, forlornly watching the stars walk away from the set, when (I'm not sure how) Ricky Tomlinson noticed me, and called across to his co-star "hey Sue, this lad hasn't got his pictures, come back and pose again for him, please" which she did, most graciously.
I've never forgotten that small, random act of kindness from Ricky Tomlinson. I didn't really thank him properly at the time, but I do make sure I mention it to friends, whenever I see him on TV - usually in the hit show The Royle Family (which also features Sue Johnston).
The Chinese have a saying: "may you live in interesting times", which is meant to be a curse - with "interesting" being a euphemism for "not good". This year, as a professional photographer, was very interesting indeed. But not all of it was bad. New friends were found, and some were lost. New work was found - including the opportunity to fulfill a life-long ambition as a travel book photographer - but not all of it was as glamorous as I might have dreamed. Some people treated me extremely well and others were downright rude, didn't pay me or even bother to return emails or phone (occasionally, the same person did all of those nice things!) All-in-all an interesting year. A mixed bag of surprises (good and not-so-good), triumphs and tribulations.
Amongst the (modest) triumphs is this blog - which I began in August 2008, as a means of killing time while holed-up alone in hotel rooms, during travel book shoots. I've now made 74 posts, and almost kept my promise of writing a new post three times each week (which is harder than you might imagine!)
I am thrilled that even though it has not (yet) made the top 100 of most-subscribed-to- photography-blogs (I'm working on that) it does have subscribers and gets about 100 hits a day - sometimes many more - and I've had comments and emails from new friends all over the world. Now that is incredibly interesting - and in some ways, very kind. So thank you all for your support for my first year of blogging. I hope you'll stick around for 2009.
The thing I remember most about 2008, though, are the small acts of random kindness that people still bestow on me. A encouraging email, a text message inviting me for coffee, and sometimes even bigger gestures. I know who you are, and I'm very grateful, thank you.
I'm off to my small home-town of Prescot for Christmas - and I hope I can offer a few RAOK's myself, or at least make a decent roast turkey for my father!
I'll be back on January 5th - and I look forward to your company for the professional rollercoaster that 2009 will (no doubt) be.
Nollaig Shonasach agus athbhliain shuaimhneach
Merry Christmas - and a Happy and Peaceful New Year
p.s. If you could encourage your friends to visit - so that I can break the 5000 "unique visitors" target before Jan 1, 2009 - I would consider it a serious RAOK on your part! Thank you in advance!
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