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Some reflections on my first photo exhibition

Last weekend I held my first photo exhibition. In pretty much every way that's something of a triumph. 

The beginnings of it began this summer when I applied for some funding the Inverclyde Place Partnership from Creative Scotland's Emerge fund.

Myself and three other staggeringly talented artists (by which I mean they are, not that I include myself in that accurate hyperbole) each received bout a thousand pounds to pursue our project. 

So I set to work on A Series ofAwkward Poses: a photo documentary and interview project with creatives. 

The idea was this would allow me to document people I find fascinating,explore the ideas of the creative process and how inspiration works as well as hopefully acting as a resource for other creative folks to explore and maybe find some insights into their own work by reading about the challenges and success of other creatives. 

Worst case scenario, it'd be some nice pictures. 

So I undertook the project. I shot all the photos. Filmed all the interviews. Wrote all the commentary. Build the website. Single handed. It was a huge amount of work. But I'm tremendously happy with it. 

You can check it out here if you're so inclined. I'd be really appreciative if you did. 

It was a challenge, to say the least. Mentally it was exhausting. Logistically it was incredibly frustrating. My original 8 artists became 6. 4 of them have full interviews 2 don't because of evolutions in the projects process.  It still is pretty ambitious, but not as much as I would've liked it to be. 

The reasons for that are ten-fold. Work commitments, visits to the pub, illness, my own mental fatigue at times, second-guessing the quality of my work almost constantly and being made redundant and having to throw myself into freelancing while trying to pull it together all contributed.

It was really fucking hard is the point I'm getting at.

But when myself and my fellow artists had well over 80 people come to our launch and embrace the projects with such warmth...it was a wonderful reaffirmation that is was worth every effort. And then some. 

I couldn't have asked for a better evening. 

Though I could have possibly given a less obnoxious speech when it was my turn to present. But I hate putting myself in the limelight for what I did. This project is to highlight the incredible work of others. I love discussing the process at any time. I believe passionately in being transparent about it.  But I'm not into blowing my own trumpet. 

Or anyone else blowing it. That makes me really, genuinely, uncomfortable. Much easier to hide that behind a sarcastic sneer than be gracious about it I find...especially after a few glasses of red wine. 

The odd thing was, come the next day...I was on a pretty devasting emotional come down from my success. I felt lonely, bored and exhausted. What next? What was the point now it's 'done'? Took me days to pull myself out a pretty deep funk.  

Some of that is no doubt due to the impact of wine and whisky on my mood but a lot of it also is due to how fragile the creative process can be. Especially at its climax when something so all-consuming is over...all that's left can really be a sense of emptiness. 

Clearly, that's something I need to be more aware of. We're all prety fragile and even at the height of success it doesn't take much to stumble. 

As it stands, now I'm really excited to continue on with the project. There's even scope for some more funding, which is incredible to think of. With my head screwed back on, for the most part, I cannot do enough to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone who supported me through it. 

My largest thanks to my fellow exhibitors Christopher Patrick, Martyn McKenzie and Tiffany Broadfoot for supporting me through this and allowing me to present my work beside their own incredible talents.

Thanks also to Rikki Payne of Inverclyde Place Partnership for giving me the money and chance to do this in the first place.

And also Loxley Colour for providing me with first class metal prints. Can't praise them highly enough for the quality of their work and customer service. 

Insert final sarcastic comment here because the rest of this has been painfully sincere. 

photo storiesCalum McMillan