2019 was a big year for Hannah Todd Photography. After a very challenging year or so in full time employment I made the difficult decision that it was time to leave the company I worked for and focus my attention on my photography full time. A leap of faith, taking a chance on myself and trying to strike a much better mental health balance than I had managed for quite a while trying to juggle working for someone else and building my business.
For years I have focussed on photography in my spare time after finding a love for it many years ago (more about that some other time!) Juggling an international sales job with fitting in shooting and editing was never easy, but it gave me the building blocks I needed to understand the industry and hone my skills for the genre I loved shooting.... Dance! I always loved shooting with dancers. Their grace and skill never fails to amaze me and seeing some younger dancers blossom during shoots and over the years I have photographed them has been probably the biggest gift I have had in my life.
In March 2019, whilst still in my job (and also planning for my wedding), I was offered the opportunity to attend Move It Show with the incredible Drew Tommons (https://www.virtuosodancephotography.com - go and check him out, he's pretty good!) Drew had become someone who I consider now a great friend and was always on hand to offer me advise, and give me the push it seems to finally take the plunge. After 3 days of watching him shoot, helping out on his stand and getting the opportunity to not only photograph some of the amazing performances but also an incredible class by Brandon Lawrence of Birmingham Royal Ballet my brain was RACING! Thoughts of full time photography had been stirred and with a working environment I had fallen out of love with for various reasons awaiting me when I returned to the office, it was hard to ignore the feeling. But sensible head kept rearing itself with a vengeance! "What if it doesn't work?" "What if no-one likes your work and wants to pay you?" "You're not good enough like Drew...." So back I went to the office shelving the idea as just that, a dream to come back to later in life maybe.
The months went on and with a fab wedding and honeymoon I was feeling refreshed..... but within 2 weeks of being back in the office I had hit the wall I had feared coming for a long time. My mental health was at rock bottom and I just couldn't take it anymore.... My notice was wrote and now all I had to do was hand it in.... queue a few more weeks of ups and downs but after my husband said enough was enough.... I did it! Wow! What now?! All the doubts resurfaced but as they say.... "Once more into the breach....."
And wow.... what a feeling! With my dance community friends now told what I had done and where I wanted to go with my business, the feeling of love and warmth was OVERWHELMING! Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE rallied around with support and best wishes for the future. Bookings even started coming in and I realised that with the faith of my friends behind me, I could totally do this!
Over the last 6 months of the year I have had the privilege of working with so many incredible people. From Jazz Peters trusting me with her headshots ahead of some pretty HUGE auditions, to Kate Dining helping me organise mini session days with her customers. Schools from the North East booking in for mini sessions days with their students and also booking me to cover their annual shows, things have been incredible. Don't get me wrong, there are quiet times and all the doubts are still there for sure, but one thing I know now is that the people in this industry are just amazing. Drew continues to be a guiding light for me, encouraging but without blowing smoke and keeping me level. Suzi Bird (https://www.suzibird.co.uk - another stupidly talented lady you should all check out!) has provided many a giggle and virtual chat keeping me smiling even though we are miles away. All inspiring me to be my best self and continue into the future with my head held high and the fight to make Hannah Todd Photography the best it can possibly be.
October saw me take over my own small studio space, right in the heart of Newcastle City Centre. It's become my haven. A place I can work and create and really make my own, even if furniture building has provided not only a few mental but physical scars in the process. As the space is part of the Baltic company, I am surrounded by other amazing artists and creatives and can enjoy a chat over coffee rather than just sitting working from home and talking to my cat! Although, he has helped with many business decisions I must add! I can't wait to grow more into my space, shoot many many more things and welcome more and more people into the space to create memories that last a lifetime for us all.
Now I'm back from Christmas and New Year, sitting in my studio writing this, I am excited for what is to come in 2020. I have no doubt it will be hard at times and it will test me, but for the first time I don't think that scares me.... well not enough to run away anyway. I'm looking forward to the challenge, trying new things, putting myself out there and hoping the universe rewards me. Thank you all for following my journey, and I cannot wait to meet more of you in this year and beyond!!
"She believed she could.... and with enough hard work.... SHE DID"