Lockdown

July 06, 2020
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Lockdown Thoughts.

I think it is important to write something about the past few weeks while I have been off work due to the 
lockdown, which still continues as I speak today.

In fact, this starts before the lockdown when the virus was still an unknown but growing rapidly. We went to Tanzania for a week this was on 28/02 then came back and being off ill for a week. Not able to return to work until I had been clear of symptoms for 2 days. So, 4 days on the road and a week working from home and then.

Stop work. Do nothing.

Since the last week of Feb, I have officially worked for 2 weeks. That’s 13 weeks of trying to keep my mind active and body from growing literally growing, outwards.

March.

Officially at work for a week from when the lockdown was called to the end of March doing bits and pieces sorting some stuff out but the last day was more of a twiddle my fingers no customers to call no orders coming in what do I do.

April.

The first full month of the lockdown. Not allowed to go out except for urgent things and an hour’s exercise. Given that the min I walk is for 2 hours this was a bit of a bind. Started with some weight training but this got tiresome and finally got to the stage. I had to go for a decent walk. 4 am start absolutely no one around. No dog walkers no teenagers’ parties on the riverbank just me and the sunrise.

This became a pattern up early with my camera long predawn walks I have got to like this over the months and will miss it. 

The weight training dies a death, never really liked it anyway. After 3 weeks got bored with it so came the PM walks. Starting at 1.30 2 pm they could be anything up to 10 miles. There is a however though, and, this was the volume of people who also had the same idea.

I have been walking this path for 23 years and I have never seen so many people walking. Funny but serious how we all gave each other the 2 meters distance except for the joggers. They went past at any distance they felt like. Also, there was a massive increase in the number of bikes on the riverbank. Now there are just bits where they have fallen of and their riders did not notice.

Now, we have housework in the morning hoovering and tidying up and walking in the afternoon. With camera. What you have to think about is this fledgling business I am starting to try to become a professional landscape photographer. It came to me that I needed to up my exposure. We are into the latter stages of April now. Things have settled down into some sort of routine.

May.

Am I going back to work? No is the answer still on Furlough. Research starts into how I can improve with Instagram so I begin to look at Youtube videos from people who say they know what they are doing and how the algorithm works and what is needed.

Instagram

Hashtags seem to be the way forward and I spend a couple of afternoons in the garden with my laptop running through the various hashtags I can use to get my images noticed. They can’t have too many postings to them, but they can’t have too few. What’s too many you ask? Who knows. Provided they keep your image on the page for more than a fraction of a second.

Monitoring is important so I set up a spreadsheet to keep track of what is happening. This has grown from something quite basic to something much bigger.

Then we have the time of day and which day to post, respond to DM within an hour, thank everybody for following, make sure that the content is good, and follows a theme. The upshot? An extra 150 followers. Seems a lot of work and I am hoping that there will be a time when I get followers without all this effort, but I doubt it.

Walking is still going on with an average of 17000 steps a day which is just over 8 miles. At least this keeps me sane even if it is crowded. On one section of the bank, there were 5 little gatherings of people. This happened in 2 different sections of the river. At least the dawn walks are free from this. During this month Fstop bags contacted me asking if I would write a blog for their website. Never been used so I don’t think they will but at least I wrote it and more than that was asked.

Mental health.

This has been difficult I must say. I don’t have the issue of finding a job as I have one but this has led to me trying to find things to do to keep me active. Also trying to find things to do to keep my mind active and alert. It is too easy just to stay in bed and do nothing.

Being a salesman I have to be self-motivated and find things to move forward with hence all the work done with my new website and Instagram. But there have been times when I could just not be bothered, and my sleep pattern was going awry.

No shops to visit all the little normal things I would do I can’t do, and this puts a strain on your mind. There have been ups and downs sometimes the can’t be bothered can be cured with a walk or some music sometimes not.

Having been down this route before I now monitor my thoughts. No not in that way, it’s not thought police! It’s not an issue it’s just learning to recognize negative trends and looking for triggers, then doing something about them before they get to be an issue. Think of it like this.

A negative thought can bring you down a bit then you get anxious about being down and then another negative thought comes along and makes this worse. It is breaking to the circle of this downward spiral of bad makes bad which causes bad and then things can get out of control. You become anxious about being anxious and it becomes self-sustaining. If you can break this, not easy, Your halfway there.

On the whole, I have dealt with it OK, I am not saying that I am impervious to the longer-term effects but now shops are opening and there is more of a sense of freedom and the ability to do more normal things it should not be so hard.

The big issue with me is knowing that I do not like the job I am doing and wanting to do something else but not being able to, for all the normal reasons. I am not, however, going to let this lie I am going to do something about it.

It’s 4.25 and I am standing in the middle of a field. It is not particularly cold, but I have just walked here so the exercise will keep me warm for a while. The sun is not up yet but it is starting to light up under the clouds like a mini-explosion.

The epicenter is where the sun is and the clouds are the expanding gasses are flowing outwards. No one would believe the colours there are in the sky at this time of the morning and no one normally sees them or if they do just ignore them as they pound their weary way to work. I am here now with this spectacular vista. Another day is being born and I’m there with my camera to record it.

Or it could be the mist that is rolling over the fields and river the sun lighting up rays through a tree. Or highlighting a bird in flight.

Being there is just so fantastic, it takes a day to recover so only once or twice a week but still awesome. I am where I want to be.

If you want to stave off the worse effects of how lockdown has an adverse effect get up early and revel in the sunrise. Only not where I am. May comes to an end and the lockdown is easing. Instagram is starting to perform through all my hard work.

My son has officially moved out now. He has not been here since lockdown started but all his stuff was still here, now he has moved this away as well. Just the Two of us now back where we started over 30 years ago. Same dreams, more money better cars, more stress, but still children at heart.

June.

Am I going back to work? Please no, please yes. I don’t know. Officially the non-essential shops open on 15/06 but my boss does not know, they want to see business come back before they bring production in, then us. Who knows;

This is the problem, not knowing when this enforced break will end? I have been quite happy with the time off I have done a lot of things. Everything is set up to move forward with Richard Rawlings Photography.

Every single time I have gone out with my camera I hope and pray that this could become a full-time paid job. Just me my camera and the wilderness. Sometimes it hurts I want it so bad, but I have to be realistic the bills still need paying and that won’t happen without a job, photographic or otherwise.

Today is June 16. I am still waiting for the inevitable call back to work that will end this glorious period of ” freedom”, to do what I want when I want, and the only stress is the bit I put on myself to get things moving. The hardest part of this is not knowing whether it will end tomorrow or next month please let it be next month, tomorrow.

These goals are in place now. I have no clue, how I will achieve them, none whatsoever, but that is the fun finding a way to get there. Know what the outcome looks like so I can tell when I have achieved them helps, but how to actually do it. Total blank…

Things I know I have to do.

Exposure.

Get my name out there. Interact with other professional photographers to get my work known. This has started with all the work I have done on Instagram over the past 5 weeks and this work is starting to pay off.

The likes and engagement on my images were falling away this has now turned a corner and both are starting to go up. It will not be a smooth climb, but a climb is still a climb. I also have some respected photographers flowing my page now as well which is a good thing.

Improve.

Everything, images, post-everything become better than I am now.

Get out more.

Let’s be honest if I don’t get out and take the images then I can’t improve, and no one has anything to see so the exposure goes down and I am on a hiding to nothing and may as well give up.

 

The highs and lows of Lockdown.

Lows

Crying. Sitting watching TV and crying for no reason, alright it was a sad program, but I have seen it before, but it has happened a couple of times. Aware it is happening so this is good.

Can’t be bothered? We all have days like this, just don’t want to do anything so don’t.

Irritability. Just sometimes want to shout, no one has done anything wrong and certainly nothing they have not done before countless times, but it just gets on my nerves today and in an hour’s time everything will be different.

Uncertainty. Knowing would be better than this limbo. It is a limbo that can’t move on but can’t stay here.

Highs.

Setting clear goals. Where do I want to be what do I want to do? Good. How will I get there? No idea  I know what success looks like though.

New Website. Still needs fine-tuning but awesome.

Instagram starting to perform. Good monitoring in place.

Developing workshops.

House is clean.

Cooking.

Getting up early. A short while ago I asked the question of how I can get up early and drive for 2 hours to do a job I don’t particularly like but not get up for me. Well, I can get up for me and now this will happen on a regular basis.

A new vehicle that’s big enough to take tents and equipment plus all camera gear as well.

Planning of photo trip to Africa next year, this may not come off, probably won’t but I have tried.

Let’s be honest though all the rubbish that has happened in the last few months none of us have got through without a few ups and downs. Hopefully more ups than downs but it is important to recognize them and most importantly.

 

Be kind to yourself.

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