the night job

Photography

The beginning of 2015 was mostly about finding a new place to live (and then working out how to pay for it), but once that was all sorted and I was back to working 5-day weeks the universe decided that was a great time for me to get back into photography, it seems like I spent all of August to November hunched over a computer editing! It’s been so much fun (and hard work) and it’s been great seeing all the places my pictures have ended up.

Miss Behave’s Gameshow

I’d seen Miss Behave’s Gameshow a few times already, where the lovely Amy is the titular demagogic ringmaster and my good friend Harry the whirlwind sidekick in tiny pants. Watching how they riff off each other and conspire in plain sight was such a joy. I’d taken pics for them the previous last year and this time they asked me back to snap all their shows at the awesome London Wonderground.


Throw a pose…no one will realise you've broken your heel ☎️ stunning by @purenift #mbgs

A photo posted by Miss Behave (@stillmisbehavin) on

There was lots of hanging out backstage, dodging out of the way of Briefs Boys‘s costume changes (who were performing out front while Amy and Harry prepped their show), learning where the best shots came from, wondering how in the hell I’d taken thousands of photos, and many nights finding the best shots to use in time for promoting the next week’s show! Was fun to see my snaps show up on a couple of reviews as well as the social medias of the venue and performers.

Push the Button & RVT Future

I’ve done a some club photography for Push The Button in 2015 and before, and while they normally just end up on Facebook, recently some have been fronting the Future of the RVT, a grass roots campaign which has been successful in getting the historic pub and venue listed. On the back of that some of my snaps have ended up on BBC News, the Evening Standard and Dazed Online, so that’s nice.


A photo posted by Dan Govan (@purenift) on

Douchebag

The other place I regularly do photos for is Douchebag at The Star of Bethnal Green. For this Halloween they had a photo of mine in Time Out to promote it!


A photo posted by Dan Govan (@purenift) on

Halloween Douchebag is regularly one of my favourite nights of the year , the pics from the last one are on there now. I love the night, the photos and the vibe of them but sometimes Facebook does seem like a hollow place for all that work to end up sometimes.

All Stars At Sea: Europe

Ok so nobody really *invited me* to take pictures on the drag cruise, though Al & Chuck asked to use my snaps from the last cruise I didn’t realise they meant in perpetuity or I’d have asked for some money! Without a proper mandate I can be even shyer about snapping people but having so many amazing queens together was a great opportunity to practice and get some beautiful photos of their performances as well as all the scenic day trips.

Where next in 2016?

I’m excited to take my new Olympus E-M5ii to more places to practice the kind of events and documentary stuff that I love so much. Inspired by 2015 I’d love to spend the full month in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival shooting performances, and do something at Glastonbury and Yo Sissy in Berlin. It would be great to come up with some projects or different outlets, but for the moment I need to clear my backlog!

Next step will be redoing my website with a focus on photography, but until then there are plenty channels for #content; Instagram for regular picks of pics, Twitter to follow my curt ramblings, Tumblr for an overview of everything I’ve papped recently, or *ugh* Facebook.

whichisnice

Happy New Year and thanks so much for reading!

Nomadic photos

Photography

Where to put my photos seems to be a perennial question. I’ve stuck with Flickr for a decade now but uninspired by their sudden redesign I’ve finally ran out of patience. So where to next?

I’ve been getting into Instagram and Twitter more this year, I had high hopes for Instagram particularly as it’s for photos and very social, and while it’s great for seeing what people are up to in a managable way, it’s not actually great for “photography”. There are two things that I’ve noticed getting a lot of traction: photos with a minimal or geometric esthetic that are very arresting even viewed at a small size (beautiful but not really me), aaaand selfies. I’m pretty conflicted that my favourite pictures I’ve ever taken get way less love than an offhand selfie, but every medium has its quirks.

I’m loving Twitter for its immediacy, ambient psuedo-socialisation and aspirational followings, but it’s not great for photos as they quickly float downstream.

Facebook is decent for circulating pics around friends, but I kinda hate the rest of it. All it’s good for these days is logging on once a day, liking various algorithmically-approved “I got the job” type life milestones, contributing to the conversation thread that got most comments that day, then logging out. Time-sensitive statuses like “I’m on my way” or “does anyone want to go to the cinema” only seem to pop up a day or two later. It’s pretty frustrating and I’m not investing anything into that weird-ass ecosystem, I only stick around for the events.

So I tried pastures new and set up a very LTTP Tumblr. The system seems to be afflicted with the same Yahoo curse of frozen development that Flickr suffered under for so long, but on the plus side there’s a lot of control over theming, and surprisingly the limit of 10 photos per album is proving a productive constraint. I’ve put selections of my photos up there from the last year and a half, and eventually they’ll go back to at least 2012. I’ve only been tinkering with it for a few weeks so I don’t grok it at all but for the moment it’s serving as a pretty nice portfolio.

So yeah, click some links and look at some photos!

my first backbone.js

Interwebs Photography

Cross-posted from metabroadcast.com

I’ve worked with a few javascript MVC frameworks before, but I’ve never used one to build something from the ground up. It’s been really interesting not only because of that but because I was working on something that had already been fleshed out in the proof of concept stage, so I figured it would be fairly straightforward to lift the bits that we wanted to keep from the old code.

BUT NO!

the journey

Normally with the scripting I do it mainly involved finding out how to do something, doing it, and fixing the edges. But with setting the foundations for a larger piece of work it’s important that things are done the right way, just working isn’t enough. Naming conventions and coding standards are assumed.

A good place to start is splitting all the JS into separate files, one each for models and collections and all the various kinds of views but even that’s not mentioned in most Introduction to Backbone tutorials for more thorough reading backbonejs.org is a great resource but hardly a breezy read at 30,000 words. But it doesn’t talk about how to organise your code either, nor the difference between a panelView and a PanelView, and the documentation for Handlebars is similarly fuzzy in places.

That seems to be an inescapable problem with these frameworks, the thing itself can be as lightweight as a feather but their documentation is never as fun to keep up to date as they evolve organically from many contributors, leaving redundant third-party guides littering the interwebs like Ozymandias’ discarded sandals.

But where was I. Ah yes, standards. So basically to gain The Knowledge in a decent amount of time and be sure that the foundations I was laying would remain mostly useful I had to pester the resident Backbone savant Luke into nodding sagely or cursing with scorn when I did… Well most anything really.

conclusion?

I don’t really like it. There’s no neat little functions to comment and then build into something larger, everything has to be wired into the the wider framework, data bouncing back and forth between views (explicitly thrown and explicitly caught), there’s repetition of code as you write similar functions in different views, you need to have 3+ files open to see what any given thing is doing, and at the end of the day you have to call in a litany of javascript files into the html; nails down a chalkboard for any self-respecting frontender.

Maybe this is just counter to my dev philosophies of going with the grain, maybe there’s another MVC that’s better suited to how I’d like to work, maybe I’m just doing it wrong. But in spite of that we got something working according to the right standards and conventions and that’s a testament to the power of communication. And Luke’s patience.

over to you

So what’s your favourite framework? I’ve worked with Angular and Ember as well as Backbone and they each feel very different, enough to make me think that there might be one out there that I’d get on with just famously. (Though from what I hear on the twitters, React doesn’t count.)

‘just’ html

Interwebs

Cross-posted from metabroadcast.com

As a front end developer I’ve always operated in the weird no man’s land between web design and software development, doing work that can mostly be described as tinkering and jury-rigging. Years ago it was mostly making the app look like the design, making the design fit the copy and wiring the copy into the app. These days it’s more making sites work at every width with varying content while still being in line with the designs, or putting together a prototype app that brings new functionality in an intuitive manner.

The field’s been expanding in all directions since I started out, but people outside the bubble still think the work is as simple as an image tag. I can think of a few reasons why: it’s mostly human-readable, what it produces is entirely relatable (everyone has opinions on design), and it’s also gotten more involved since a lot of people last tinkered with it.

But the more interesting angle is that dabblers and tangential technologists only see the problems once they’ve already been solved, so I had an idea to introduce a shorthand analogue to the most common technologies used to make websites and find a new way of looking at some dear old friends.

design == decoration information architecture

On top of looking cohesive and presentable your page has maybe 1 second to load, and then about 3 seconds to communicate that it’s both authoritative and informative. When people are sniffing for data they’re super impatient. Javascript on the other hand…

javascript == programming decoration

In terms of the front end, the core functionality should always be there without JavaScript. It’s the single largest point of failure in delivering a web page by a long way. So hopefully it’s mostly DOM manipulation, progressive enhancement and micro interactions to make the UX smoother and more intuitive. Of course if you’re using a bunch of frameworks it’s a different story.


html == markdown semantics

It’s not enough to just transcribe the content inside angle brackets. On top of fitting the design we also need to think about how it linearises when accessed via a screen reader or if CSS fails, and how it’s going to be broken down by google spiders for some SEO goodness. But at its core it’s ‘just’ naming, which everyone simultaneously agrees is easy and very hard.

css == pretty colours mechanics

Every web page is a mechanical system, where you nudge things one way or the other by floating, positioning, transforms, margins or paddings and then stack it all up like reverse tetris, in spite of the fact you don’t know the lengths of the contents or the width of the browser window. As a nice illustration, the units I’ve used recently are px, %, ems, rems, vmin/vmax, and vh/vw and there are plenty more. It’s all about understanding what is built relative to what, how those change in relation to each other. Having studied mechanics at uni they feel very similar. Just with much less maths!

Hopefully this has given a bit of alternative non-technical insight into what these much-used words can mean in different situations in modern webdev. It’s not just front end of course; “just” is a word that should probably be excised from the workplace altogether!

Getting up early for a conference in another city is always an unwelcome jolt, though a train ride through a crisp early morning can be a nice novelty. Besides Oxford was lovely once I got there; the jQuery UK Conference I was there for hidden down a pretty canal. It’s got to be one of the largest I’ve been to too, with two tracks to choose between, and far from centring on the specifics of jQ the talks ran the gamut from ES6 to CSS, and those were just the first two!

Dave Methvin: ES6 is the answer! What was the problem?

I saw a very similar talk at jQuery 2013 by Brendan Eich and couldn’t follow any of it so it was very encouraging that I not only followed this time, but got pretty excited about ES6′s forthcoming features. The main take home was swap out all VARs for LETs and CONSTs, use a transpiler to let you use lots of nifty shorthand, and stroke your beard and talk about the Temporal Dead Zone because it’s an actual thing. I’d reccomend watching the video!

Mark Otto: Modular css

It’s really interesting seeing the high-flying careers of CSS specialists; Mark works at github, used to work at twitter and doesn’t know any JS or jQ! He had a lot of tips for architecting the front end of large systems, and though most of it wasn’t new as I’d seen a couple of talks by Harry Roberts lately, it was still a good refresher. Some examples included keep a simple class structure (no ids!), use a block-element-modifier naming convention, don’t chain and my personal favourite: Don’t mimic the html structure in classes.

I didn’t agree with all of it but he had some very interesting things to say about reporting on CSS with Parker or CSS Stats, and has some great front end resources like Code Guide, WTFHTMLCSS and others.

Bodil Stokke: Reactive game development

Bodil pretty much just live-coded Robot Unicorn Attack right in front of us, except with a My Little Pony collecting coins and avoiding haters. It was using ready made assets and some frameworks but still very cool!

Rosie Campbell: Designing for displays that don’t exist yet

From the BBC’s R&D department Rosie gave some great insights into their work on a more connected world, the web of things we’re always hearing so much about. She took us from where we’ve been to where we are, and to what’s next, screens so huge they cover the wall; smart wallpaper! The ultimate embodiment of the connected home. Her tips on this kind of blue sky thinking: design for UX rather than technology, use constraints, stay device-agnostic, and watch a lot of sci-fi.

Alice Bartlet: Bin your <select>

I love the work of gov.uk with accessibility, pragmatism and having a real-world impact so it was a treat to see Alice take us through some of their processes and user research. Long story short a surprisingly large minority can’t use select boxes at all simply because there’s no analogue on paper forms. It’s a great study on challenging a pointless anti-pattern, as simple text fields hooked up to a date parser are much more usable to every level of computer literacy. Talk recommended!

Andy Hume: Resilient front ends

We put a lot of time and effort into the known qualities of 404′s, but there’s another outage that happens just as much, one due to an unreliable connection, particularly on mobile. Andy’s solution is a resilient web. Nobody has JS when it’s loading, so does it catastrophically break or fall back gracefully? The classic real-word example is when an escalator breaks, it automagically becomes stairs!

Philip Roberts: What the heck is the event loop anyway?

My favourite talk of the day, on the mechanics of what’s actually happening in the JavaScript underneath all that pesky code. A bunch of points that had come up at work recently were all explained and I was so transfixed I didn’t even take notes. Talk recommended!

Rich Harris: Dismantling the barriers to entry

Very interesting talk about how coding can affect the world, from a journalist that learnt to code in order to do his job better. Rich spoke about how the web isn’t democratic because everything is too hard, so he’s building a framework called Ractive that’s incredibly easy to use, and might put us all out of a job. Hurrah! Seriously though a humbling and thought-provoking talk.

Alex Sexton: Hacking front end apps

This was the second talk in a month I’ve seen about how horrifically insecure everything is. It makes me want to give up banking online all together. Alex basically blamed web developers, because we should be secure, but it’s hard. Eesh. From content injection to ridiculously simple css-based timing attacks it’s pretty scary. The solution, apparently, is to black-list everything and work from there? Be closed by default instead of open. Sad times.

Ben Foxall: Real world jQuery

The talk title was totally inappropriate as this was all about the standard Foxall live-demo magic, achieved via a webpage that the audience were invited to visit on their phones. Basically Ben performed a bunch of tricks using the collective phone APIs which was totally neato! …But you might have had to be there.

The videos are online!

I’ve already linked to my favourite talks but the rest of them are online too, including the seven more from the other track that I didn’t see, and will be catching up on soon. Many thanks to the people at White October for putting on such a show, this one’s going in the calender for next year!

web conferences for 2015

Interwebs Photography

Cross-posted from metabroadcast.com

In 2014, unshackled from the time constraints and employer oversight of full-time employment, I was able to attend a few conferences and workshops(*), including 2 and 3 day affairs where I had to book a hotel and everything. It was quite fancy but I’m not sure I got the full experience; listening to loads of interesting speakers is great but it puts me in a pretty thoughtful and introspective mood, which isn’t great for chatting to strangers at after parties. It’s great getting all the ideas and taking photos but as I’m paying for it all myself now I should look for a decent ROI…

So this year I’m trying to cut down a bit, but there’s still some I’ve been to before, know are good, and given the option, just can’t resist!

reasons: london

The spiritual successor to Flash On The Beach, reasonsto felt a bit stretched out over 3 days, so I’m hoping the 1-day version might be a better fit. It also helps that it’s 20 minutes walk from where I live.

jquery uk

A 1 day 2-track conf out in Oxford, last time I went there was an impressive breadth of scripty web nift, from performance to sockets to promises to ECMA scripts 6 to (obviously) the pros and cons of jQ itself.

responsive day out

I loved the first Responsive Day Out; at the time I was neck deep in the theory and practice of those disciplines, but also the fast-paced format was relentlessly interesting, plus it was one of the cheapest confs I’ve ever been to! Bless Clearleft. I wasn’t able to go to the second one because it clashed with Glastonbury but this year’s doesn’t! Hope I can get a ticket.

ampersand

This was another surprise hit for me in 2013. I wasn’t expecting too much even though typography is adjacent to most everything I build I was worried it might tangent off into print and physical media too much but I needn’t have worried. The speakers just blew me away.

The dates are already starting to pile up! Though I still plan to steer clear of multi-day conferences I will keep an an eye out for Full Frontal and dConstruct, two brighton conferences I’ve enjoyed before. I hope there are none I’m missing, the tickets for these things can sell like hot cakes!

(*)Confs & workshops I attended 2014

  • MK Geek Night All Dayer
  • London JS Conf
  • CSS Architecture For Big Front-Ends with Harry Roberts
  • Mobile Photography with Dan Rubin
  • Reasons to be Creative
  • dConstruct
  • BIRDIE Conference
  • The Web Is

The Drag Cruise

Recaps

What’s a Drag Cruise anyway?

So for those that don’t know, there’s a show called RuPaul’s Drag Race; reality TV in as much as a group of people compete in challenges and one is eliminated each episode, but the people competing are all drag queens so the tropes don’t do it justice. They are all performers, entertainers, lip-syncers and make-up artists as a baseline, and usually some combination of actors, seamstresses, singers, comedians and rappers on top of that.

The Drag Stars At Sea cruise featured 18ish of the more successful queens from the show – including 3 out of the 5 winners. On top of being on a cruise ship stopping at a different port more mornings that not, there were also shows from the queens, the same people that fans have been watching (and stealing catchphrases from) for years. We also partied with them at night and waved at them on the stairs or at the buffet. It was surreal.

The Queens

I’ve taken ages to write this because every time I try to wrap my head around it all it blows my mind. I’m familiar with the idea of drag personas being separate and distinct but I’ve never seen it so up close and in so many, it was like being on a boat with a troop of performers working through their schizophrenia. Some are the same in drag and out, some are polar opposites, some more outgoing, some paradoxically less so, it was fascinating.

On the first night alone we (ok, mostly my chattier partner Dom) had pretty long conversations with Darienne, Alaska, Mariah, and Sharon. Every night out there were some absurd moments on the deck, like Dom sitting between Alaska and Detox, holding court and telling everyone how I threw him in the fire that one time…

Basically the queens were split into “Super Lovely”, and “Didn’t really speak to”. Darienne and Mariah were deserve a special mention though; just shockingly nice – legit some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and full of banter for everyone. Shangela, Detox, Adore, and Manilla are awesome party girls. Sharon was hilarious but prickly at times. Didn’t so much talk to Latrice, or Bianca, and only chatted to Pandora while probablytoodrunk but again with the Super Lovely. Alaska’s basically my fave and her understanding smile warmed my cockles.

The blow-by-blow

This trip was going to be epic. It’s easily the most money I’ve spent on anything, so I doubled down and got a posh hair & beard trim on the day before, booked a pre-flight hotel and a business class flight. (It was my birthday! #treatyoself.) Business class lounge etc was lovely. (Overlooking the fact my laptop was dusted down for drugs twice and I had to fill in a bunch of forms #racialprofiling.) Breakfast on the flight was just like the awesome airline meals I remember as a kid, but with more champagne.

Venice was ridiculous. Pretty, pizza, prosecco, and much paddling. High tide meant we had to wear waterproof over-boots, but it was all super-lovely, as was the hotel. Getting to the ship was epic stressy as I didn’t work out exactly how that was going to happen, but I needn’t have worried.

Once on and settled into our room we bumped into old friends Chris and Gareth and caught up, and at one point we turned around and there were half a dozen ru girls out of drag chatting with their various people, but that proved to be par for the course.

That first night was the masquerade ball, but I was still feeling shy so only took my pocket camera. It was hellishly packed as the muggles took up a lot of room, sitting and watching the pomp of queens in full drag and dozens of fans in various states of glitter and masks. Things got better once they went to bed though, unlimited drinks did flow, and we got enough space to dance, so we did.

Next morning we awoke to sunny views of Dubrovnik. Apparently the ship travels at night then stops outside the destination and waits until morning for a dramatic arrival. The hungover logistics to visit the old city was an effort but it was well worth it: Lovely time, lovely place, great weather, great company.

That night was a “Michelle and Friends cabaret show” with actual singing. Michelle compèred and did Sondheim, Jinx and Alaska were obviously amazing but Willam was excellent too (her shtick is pretty busted but she is so not). Bendelacreme did a great comedy act and Sharon was good too, though the highlight was her falling flat on her ass. After that it was more drinks at the Viking lounge, though less crowds and costumes than one of the official parties.

Next day was a “relaxing day at sea” which was just as well because I had slept terribly. I went to find friends for sanctuary and sympathy so sat at a table with Gareth and Chris, but I was so tired I didn’t realise that Jinx and Sharon were there too crowing about something awful so I actually had to leave. The day was spent in recuperation. I should have investigated the spa but the whole concept is alien to me so I never went in the whole time I was there. That evening was a Shangela show which was hilare and flawless (srsly she killed it), followed by a more traditional lip-synchy drag show.

We failed to get places on the Ephesus tour so bummed around the ship the next morning as the port town of Kuşadası looked uninviting. Soon enough it was time to prepare for the White Party, Kieron, Dom and Robin got ready in our room and so bolstered by three drag queens on my arm I finally took my camera and flash out and it was pretty awesome. It was the first time we saw Bianca resplendent in drag, Detox looked absurdly amazing in orange, and Adore pulled some amazing lip-syncing hairography to Super Base that I was thinking about for weeks. I didn’t get nearly enough good pix given all the material that was around but I was still quite hesitant with it.

Next day we found ourselves in Santorini, so we hopped on a boat to shore, a cable car to the top of the village, and went for a relaxed wander. We headed back for lunch and a carb nap but I was crashing bad, beginning to feel the effects of unlimited cocktails and buffet. Dom brought me little bottle after little bottle of water from the bars because it was so hard to stay hydrated there. I’d recovered enough for more shows though: from Jinx (& Major Scales) and Pandora Boxx where they struggled to stay upright during the only real rocking the boat did. Manila came and sat on the arm of my chair and asked how we all were and we got talking to Bendela about tipping and such; so surreal. It was an early night for me though. (Which is to say about 3? The clocks seemed to keep changing so it was difficult to keep track.)

Another morning, another destination, this time Katakolon Greece. We gathered in the ship’s theatre before heading off to the buses that took us to Olympia, birthplace of the Olympics. The museum there was pretty cool, the ruins were mostly a series of low walls, but the real star was the torrential rain that trapped us in the museum, creating waterfalls and ponds all around us. After a quick browse in the local town (fridge magnets yay) we hopped back on the bus satisfied with a job well done, though we’d missed the Olympic field that was probably the main point.

Again we arrived back in time for lunch and slept between lunch and dinner. (There was only enough time for 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night so we had to get creative) and after dinner another round of dragging up for the Black Party! This time I was feeling a bit more comfortable and less worried about being obnoxious with the camera, so between that and Dom introducing everyone to Petron, I don’t remember too much but did take plenty of photos for once.

The last day was mostly hangover. A bit of on-board shopping, watching some kareoke, having a final dinner, then to the main event; the big drag show on the big stage with real lights! It was so much better with some real space and proper lights, and everybody killed it with Shangela & Latrice as stand-out slayers. Later when I went to bed Dom gave my drinks pass to Manilla. True story.

On the 8th day we travelled. We had to be up at 4:30am to be the first off the ship, the clocks changed twice, we waited in a stairwell with all the queens, and Dom reeked of booze and garlic. It felt a lot like the tribulations of getting home after a music festival; exhausted but with grim determination, except the trip was longer and there was entirely less mud.

Learnings?

We got the select drinks package for about a couple of hours of bad wine before upgrading to the premium, similarly we went to the main hall for a bland and glacially-slow dinner before we started patronising the buffet. We paid for wifi and maybe shouldn’t have. We didn’t pay for water bottles and maybe should have. We had to get our keycards replaced twice. And I should have taken the big camera everywhere.

I wasn’t sure at first if we’d repeat the experience, as I don’t think we were sold on cruises in general, but as the next one is leaving from England it’d be rude not to wouldn’t it? So we’re doing it again in October, but with different destinations and a much bigger ship.

self-taught front-enders

Interwebs

Cross-posted from metabroadcast.com

Back when I was at uni the web was relatively young, so while there were a load of courses for software development or graphic design there was nothing at all for web development. Unsurprising then that myself and and every front-ender of the time were self taught.

What is surprising is that that’s still mostly the case. While both the roles of software developer and web designer have changed at a manageable place (insofar as the latter is analogous to graphic designer), the in between that is front-end development moves so quickly that by the time a university curriculum on the subject can be approved it’s already time to re-write it.

So even now most front end developers (…creative technologists, front end engineers…) are self taught, and there’s a lot more to learn now as the number of technologies and tools has exploded. Thankfully so has the number of online resources to help: On top of the hundreds of blogs and youtube tutorials there are specialist sites like Code School, Codecademy, TutsPlus, Tree House, I’ve never been great at learning from books, so this interactive approach is awesome and much of it is free!

pros and cons:

There are upsides to being self-taught; it implies being something of a curious self-starter with a passion for Making It Work, and it starts a lifetime of learning habits and self-improvement that’s vital in the fast-paced world of front-end.

However I’ve found there can be downsides too: having learned a lot through trial and error I often lack the vocabulary and jargon to discuss programming, even when it’s just describing what I’m doing. Similarly when talking about design I learned some of what works, but rarely why, which is unfortunate as much of the design workflow in this industry is back-and-forths with clients.

Asking around at MetaBroadcast I’ve found a few fans of Coursera and khanacademy both for independent self-teaching and for supplementing traditional methods so it’s certainly not just front enders tap into this growing industry of remote learning!

2015 resolutions

Photography

Last year my aims and resolutions were all based around the pretty big change of going freelance, and it’s been (and still is) a ride but my hopes for 2015 are a bit more general.

  • Work at least 15 days a month. Probably need to hustle for new work to keep the learning curve steep, but hopefully not yet.
  • Save. Lots.
  • More effort into Instagram: better pics, more interactions, just get involved. Ditto twitter.
  • Chat shit. Catch up. Stay in touch.
  • React more quickly, honestly and in the moment about what I feel, think and want. And seethe less.
  • Look after myself with mystical skin unguents, vitamin pills, check-ups at dentist and doctors and such. (It’s been years.)
  • Fix my body too. It’s never going to be a passion of mine, but I’m in my 30s now…
  • Maybe pave the way for more dramatic self-fixes that I’d never have considered before, like gym or counselling…
  • Learn how to run my cameras in manual. While drunk. I had so much fun snapping parties and cabaret last year.
  • Get more practised shedding the cold London introvert mind-set, particularly at Glastonbury or the cruise.
  • Sriracha sauce. Cooking. Facepaint.
  • Move this site. Boring task that’s been dragging for a year.
  • Do more unexpected stuff.
  • Feel good.

2014 has been a pretty terrifying year if you look at the news. Or maybe we’re only being made more aware of the horror? Still, from Ukraine to Ukip, Ferguson to Ebola, the No thanks vote, #Gamergate, Yewtree, Robin Williams RIP, to everyone going apeshit for icicles it’s all ugh. So I’m going to get seasonally solipsistic and just write about what I know: Me me me.

It’s been ridiculous; I’ve had the definite sensation that 2014 was where I went off-script, which is strange as I didn’t have the merest semblance of a plan, never mind a script. In my early 20s I was ashamed that I always I had no clue, so in my late 20s I had it all down. Now in my early 30s I’m clueless again, but I’m glad.

The biggest change was going freelance: a much steeper learning curve, more money, and more time off to worry about a lack of money. At the moment I work two variable part-time jobs which takes some of the uncertainty out of it, but that could all change at the drop of a hat. It’s been worth it though: being so much closer to the design side, super quick turnarounds, getting sites live in days/weeks instead of months/years, and as a bonus most of my work’s now in JavaScript which has long been the awkward gap in my skill set.

No longer needing to get sign-off for conferences I went to more than usual: 12 Devs of Winter, MK Geek Night All Dayer, London JS Conf, a workshop with Harry Roberts, Reasons to be Creative, dConstruct, BIRDIE Conference and The Web Is. A whole week away in Brighton thinking beautiful thoughts and a few days in Cardiff was lovely but I’m not sure multi-day conferences are my bag: I don’t do networking and costs of hotels and trains adds up.

2014 also seemed to be the year of Drag, starting with seeing DWV at The Meth Lab in Camden, the first time I’d seen any Ru girls in the flesh. I’ve been back a few times since as they shipped in more queens from across the pond, but I saw way more on the super surreal Drag Race Cruise; puttering about a ship with a gaggle of ridiculously talented and fully realised performers working through their various dissociative identity disorders, while the ship puttering about the Mediterranean, stopping in a different city every morning.

Elsewhere every party was a wig party, everyone started drinking Prosecco instead of water, and in unrelated news my 30′s finally caught up with me and now hangovers are EVIL. Glastonbury was about as as awesome as I’d hoped, it surprises me in new ways every time. Caught the end of the Edinburgh Festival, because whynot. Took pics of Harry and Dom performing at Bristol Pride, because whynot. Taking pics of Harry and Amy at Miss Behave’s Gameshow was a real treat. I spent my birthday in Venice with Dom instead of whichever club du jour which was a big change, as was spending Christmas with his lovely extended family, eating ALL. THE. THINGS.

It’s been a ride, but with everything that was going on and the relentless pace of work I’ve felt overwhelmed a few times. While it’s been great stretching myself I guess it’s inevitable I find some of the edges; my crashes have been messier and I’ve fallen behind with photos, blogposts and generally seeing people way more than I’d like. So I guess that’s the start of the list of things to work on in 2015!