2022 Narrative International Photography Awards
By Rebecca Bradley
It's easy to look at the work of an incredible photographer and fall into the comparison trap, forgetting, they too started somewhere. Every journey into the world of photography is so unique and filled with a multitude of valuable lessons.
Georgia Verrells, a Melbourne based wedding photographer, captured our attention, not only for her incredibly emotive imagery but also for her dedication and passion to her craft. We wanted to hear about her journey to photography and what keeps her inspired and how she stays in her own lane.
I started off working at a financial firm in London when the change towards photography came (I didn't even realise it yet) I was stuck in a rut of doing the same thing every day and became deeply unhappy. I became used to the routine and knew that something needed to change. Slowly, I started to adventure out in my one-hour lunch break, catching a bus to a museum or just exploring. I would get lost and love it. I craved change and, when I broke up with my former partner, it was more of a push to find a break in the routine. It wasn’t really a leap of faith; I had basically got to a point in my life where things needed to change and so I saved up for half a year so that I could support myself on my three month trip around the States. I actually stumbled across Kevin Russ’ photography work and emailed him to get a bit of advice on traveling; it was his words and our friendship that initially inspired me to quit my job and travel around the States and which speed-balled my love of photography. I found this bit of writing that I wrote when I decided to leave my job and London:
“I remember when I first moved to London from this small town south of Sydney where my mum/dad lived. Every time I walked out and adventured around London my eyes couldn’t keep up with what I was seeing and experiencing. I spent so long just taking it all in.
But soon enough it all just became ‘routine’ it was totally normal to me.
I barely even noticed that I worked a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace. I didn’t realise that the national gallery was around the corner or that I could just walk to work instead of taking the daily tube to work where all you see is bored people going to work, the corporate life.
Along with the masses, it began to irritate me when I had to wait more than four minutes for a tube. I’d so quickly forgotten I came from a place where the only way to get out was by a train that ran every hour (if that) and sometimes it just didn’t show up or at the very least there was track work or the train was just late just because.
And that homeless guy a few streets from work I passed almost every day, it no longer made me upset like it used to, as I struggled to understand how he ended up there. How person after person would walk past him like he did not exist. He was just another part of my surroundings, a piece of the furniture in my life.
I got up. I went to work. I went home. I went to bed. And then the process started all over again. A continuous cycle of routine.
I was really comfortable. But I wasn’t happy.
But I’d also stopped seeing. Stopped hearing. Stopped feeling.
And now it feels as though I’ve come full circle. It’s as though I’m seeing London for the very first time. And it’s far from comfortable. I’ve started again. I take a different route to work almost every day. I actually leave my office in my lunch break. Yesterday I went to the national gallery and looked at amazing pieces of art. Last week I caught a tube to the Natural History Museum.
And it hits me that, as I start this trip, this is what’s ahead of me now. Months and months of constant new beginnings. Each time turning up in a new place and starting again. Finding my way. Making new friends. Constant discomfort.
And I wonder why I, or anyone, would want to put themselves through that when the comfort of life as we know it and our daily routine make everything so easy.
But it’s through the discomfort that your eyes begin to see again. That your ears begin to hear. That you start to take notice and really begin to feel. Each of your senses begin to reawaken and you’re deeply affected by everything around you. You rediscover your passions and the causes you know are worth fighting for.
Its warmth lures you in. It wraps itself around you and pretends it only wants to protect you. Before you realise what’s happening, everything has become so comfortable that either you can’t remember what life was like before the comfort or you’re too scared to break free.
I’d challenge you to think about how comfortable your life is?
How much of the world around you do you notice?
How alive are your senses?
And what small thing could you change right now, to bring a little more discomfort and a little more life to your world?
Discomfort hurts. But comfort kills.”
I photograph because it’s my outlet, it engages me and lets me show the world how I see people or places. I want to share that with the world. I love that a camera can capture something in a raw medium, something that can become a tangible object and makes someone feel something. For someone that has battled with depression in the past, it was a way to get myself out of the house and push myself. I fell in love with taking photos and, in a huge way, it saved me.
When it came to Weddings it just kind of organically happened, after travelling and falling in love with the art of photography I brought my camera back with me to where I grew up in Australia and moved to Melbourne where I began studying at RMIT in communication design, whilst here I had friends who started to get married and asked me to document their day, I did for free and then other friends would ask and it kind of spiralled from there. I owe a lot to my friend and fellow photographer Adrian Carmody who is an amazing photographer himself he actually sold me my first full-frame camera that was his for next to nothing. He pushed me and saw something in my photos from my travels and said I was a documentary-styled photographer... I think I laughed at him, I had a problem calling myself a photographer for a long time but he kept encouraging me and it just all fell into place very organically.
I find I'm often inspired by the world around me, what I see on tv, in the city, in nature, music and in the people around me. It's so so important to have a strong network around you for mental health as well as to share your work with especially with wedding photography as most work on their own. I'm lucky I have that with a small group of fellow photographers where we share our work regularly and help each other out. I think it is so important to share your work and see others work to grow and get feedback but at the same time not to copy other photographers work or their style... Otherwise, you will never develop your own style or learn where your style can take you. I think reminding yourself that you are you and your work is your own and appreciating others for that as well rather than comparing your work to there... I guess that's what helps me to stay in my own lane and not compare myself.
We hope you enjoyed and felt inspired by this piece by Georgia, we certainly did. It's a good reminder that it's okay to change the direction you thought you were going to follow. There are so many valuable insights to take away from this, but the most important one, strive for happiness, not just comfort. If there's something that will bring your more fulfilment and happiness find a way to pursue it!