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Psychosis and Shaun the Sheep

I was recently working at Timber Festival in Derbyshire, photographing the event for the organisers. I had a "wish-list" from them but in between those shots I was free to take whatever I wanted.


I noticed that the writer Horatio Clare was giving a talk about his book "Heavy Light" and how he manages his own struggles with mania and psychosis. This wasn't on the wish-list but he was one guy I was keen to listen to and photograph, so I decided to pay him a visit.


His talk, as expected, was incredibly honest and he was candid about his own problems, but it was also optimistic and thought provoking, with a lively discussion with the audience.


After his talk I manged to grab him, admittedly I had to wait as he had a queue of people wanting to talk to him. When it came to my turn I flashed my media pass and asked him if he wouldn't mind having his picture taken, which he agreed.


I decided to go backstage where it was quieter and the light was better suited for the shot I wanted. Appreciating he probably eager to relax after his talk (and officially I wasn't asked to take this shot), I quickly checked my camera settings, told him where to stand and fired off 4 shots whilst telling him how much I enjoyed his talk. To be honest, I knew from the first shot I had a winner - I guess the other 3 were just "belt and braces".


Not wanting to take any more of his time, I thanked him and started to head off. However, he was keen to carry on talking and asked me about my work and my role here at the festival. We talk about photography in general and he told me stories about photographers he'd known as a travel writer.


After chatting like this for a while, he introduced me to the festival's Media Relations Officer Carol Roundtree and he suggested we all went for a drink in the green room. Mentally checking when my next "wish-list" shoot was and realising it wasn't for a couple of hours, I agreed.


So, this is how I found myself one Sunday afternoon going from a lowly volunteer festival photographer to sitting with a Media Relations Officer and a renowned writer and broadcaster chatting about mental health, creativity, nature & nurture, forests, trees, and Shaun The Sheep over a pint.


I've come to realise that opportunities come in all different shapes and sizes and had I not followed my gut I would have missed this truly memorable afternoon.

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