Do you remember your first day at school? Or, for that matter, do you remember your first day in any new environment where you knew no one and it felt like you were on show all the time? Were you afraid that you will somehow fail to fit in? What if you made a mistake? What if they disliked you? What if...? If you happen to be the risk taking, outgoing, extrovert type with no worries in the world then you won't know what I am talking about so you'll find it hard to connect with the 'first time' feelings I am hinting at.
For some of us, every new situation and new environment are a source of anxiety and self-doubt. I am in the category where putting myself out there takes a bit of effort. I see it as taking a (calculated) risk. Sometimes I win and come away with great new friends or connections; sometimes I walk away with a battered ego and loads more self-doubt...
Given the self-disclosure above, I want to share something lovely and good that I took a chance on yesterday. I have been instagramming for a while but never ever went anywhere near a meet, partly due to bad timing but also due to a huge lack of confidence. After all, I am one of the 'mirc' generation - do you recall the first chat rooms? - that went online to meet new friends and sometimes went out for dodgy meet-ups that never went quite right. Joining the instameet was a bit like my teenage self following a 'mirc' lead and I just wasn't prepared to put myself out there all alone.
Armed with courage from the fact that this could at any time be construed as a photography walk-about with my nearly teenage son and his friend, teaching the boys some useful skills, off I went to the Igerssurrey WWIM16 Painshill Park meet. (WWIM16 stands for the 16th annual world-wide Instagram Meet and highlights that the event was a little bigger than monthly local meets). We were late arriving and so once we spotted everyone else I had to make a decision whether to join the group or carry on as we were, since we were already having fun. Luckily, confidence boosted by the boys’ presence, we made ourselves known. What followed was an easy going walk-about with like-minded people who proved to be far less scary than my over-active mind had created an expectation for. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and my thanks go in particular to the organisers, Ati, Steve and Yash, who looked after us impeccably. The talent out there is unbelievable; the result of meeting these wonderful photographers is that I can now point you (alphabetically) to some fabulous Instagram feeds via the profile photos below (please click on each photo to follow the links).
I am also pleased to show you a few of my favourite photos of Painshill Park taken on this occasion and some taken on a couple of previous visits. For those wondering, the landscape at Painshill Park was created in the 18th century by Charles Hamilton. He took inspiration from Renaissance art and his grand tours across Europe (essential part of a gentleman's classical education at the time). Hamilton himself was a painter, plantsman and designer. Needless to say I love the romance and moodiness of the landscape, which I hope I managed to convey in my photos.
There was plenty of encouragement for the boys’ photo-taking too on our walk which worked wonders for their confidence. They are both looking forward to another meet, just as I am. In the meantime, as soon as I get their go-ahead I will share some of their work by way of an update to this blog.