#DailyLife | Blog 068 | Location Motivation Procrastination

December 31, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

I've finally been upgraded back to full 'Office' status once again! What do I mean? Well, prior to my relocation to Derry ~ Londonderry, I lived in and around Banbridge and Newry in the beautiful County Down, Northern Ireland. There I focussed on learning my trade as a photographer. I even managed to snag a position as a full time Staff Photographer for the local newspaper, which gave me daily access to the wonderful lives of the people in that area. I also got to write small stories to accompany the images I produced, which was great for my creative writing skills, and I'm really thankful to my good friend (and then editor), Alan McVeigh who now has his own Whisky Channel on YouTube.

My then home, had an under-utilised garage which I'd turned into a working office/studio to do various model and commercial shoots, as well as working on the day's images before sending them over to the paper. After an amicable breakup with my girlfriend, I started a new relationship with my now wife Kathy, who is a nurse from the North West, which is where I find myself now ("Have cameras, can travel"). When we moved in together, we initially remodelled her garage into a studio/sleeping area for when my children came to visit. However, they much preferred the living room sofa beds to the garage, so I turned it fully into a studio/office to do my editing. Then, as I started to strip back what I wanted to focus on, I found that I didn't need all the space, and could easily work just off my laptop in the back of my van. The garage then became a play room, then an office again for me when I briefly worked for a tech company, and for the last nearly two years it's been a Beauty Parlour for my wife's business, during that time I have been working out of the motorhome, or on the end of the kitchen table.

Motorhome OfficeMotorhome Office The motorhome was fine, but a bit of a pain in the ass when I had to pack everything away to actually drive the thing anywhere. So, I sort of migrated to the end of the kitchen table for easy access to the kettle and biscuits, where I've been for the last 6 months. Just tinkering away at this and that, writing, editing, surfing, buying loads of crap again, and chatting to family. All the while being thoroughly distracted by the goings on in the house. I'm the worst for being distracted!

Anyway, my wife wants us to work on a new project together, and she's going to be doing a bit of working from home too with her current job, so, we've remodelled the summer house in to an office. I say "we", I mean ME. I repainted the walls, put up some new shelving from Amazon (purely decretive, let me tell you) added a few fake IKEA plants, threw in some IKEA desks and chairs and boom, we have an office!

The Summer House

First it was just a normal room with an L-Shaped Sofa in it to look out over the Foyle and Donegal, and I think we sat in it twice, maybe three times having spent nearly £3,000 building the stairs, framing, deck and the structure too. Then, it was a beauty treatment room, and now, it is the new home of Darron Mark Photography (and wife).

I love coming up here now. I finally feel like it's a proper space, away from everything and everyone. The views during the day are just bliss. I'm going to get some extra lighting fitted to the handrails that lead up to the office, as the solar ones are great in the summer, but suck in the winter as there just isn't enough light to charge the batteries in them, so mains power is a must or I'll break my neck in the dark. The wife says I should just buy a torch, but she has no imagination!

I've sourced the downlighter I want to buy, mainly because they're able to hold GU10 bulbs, which also means I can link them to the SmartHome setup I have, I've bought a couple of tester bulbs from GEEK.com, then should be here in a few days to see how they work with Amazon's Alexa system. If they do what I hope they'll do, then the garden will be a multicoloured affair for sure this winter!

The WiFi just about works, it's a strong signal to the extender, but the distance to the main hub is the problem. Running CAT5 would probably be pointless and ugly. So, it will just have to do, I say that, but I do have my eye on a tasty new, more powerful extender, once funds become available, I'll probably try and sneak it past the wife.

2020 & Beyond

I've been buying new containers for the camera gear, something with wheels. I loved the first one so much that I now have two of them, and they're great. The reason for it was ease of moving my gear from the car to location without having to carry them on my back, my excuse being that I'm old!

Having recently filmed on top of an Irish Fort for local singer Conor McGinty, it was fair to say I feared for my life as my heart was beating through my ribs ascending the damn hill, whilst carrying the gear. Which reminds me, I must check their strength out in terms of being used for seats during my bouts of short breath, I really must join a gym or something..?

I've even found some snazzy Camera Pouches for the more expensive gear to sit inside these tool chests, for more protection, they should be here in the next few days.

In one travel box I have the smaller cameras and accessories, and in the other will contain the larger video camera and my stills cameras, plus lenses and chargers etc, and, if I can, I'll squeeze in the drone.

I recently start building up my showreel for going forward, trying to use as much footage from this year as possible, however, I quickly realised I've not got enough footage that I would say is worthy. Which is where my 'Procrastination' issues have kicked in. I've been learning a new part time career as a carer for various organisations that I've simply not focussed enough time on my passion, which is travel and photography. I'm now a fully qualified carer, and the people I support are wonderful. The reason I took this route was to simply maintain a basic income that would cover our family expenditure during the lean times, which is what winter is for most photographers, especially the ones that are more wedding focussed, it's very lean. I didn't want to go back to a full time tech job again, they just drain the life out of you, so giving something back to my community through some part time work that is more rewarding for my soul as well as being able to cover a few bills is a great way of freeing myself to do other things that I'm passionate about, which leads me on to the next event we'll be working on next year.

Selling the Motorhome

Fiat Benimar MotorhomeFiat Benimar Motorhome It's just too damn big! My wife and I really thought we needed something with a shower, toilet, hot water etc etc. However, when you've a huge motorhome sitting at the side of your house and you need to go to town, but you'd prefer to get the bus, you have to rethink your strategy a little. We regretted selling our last motorhome almost immediately, and dabbled (as you know) in some self build dramas with an Iveco Daily, which I slowly realised I didn't have time for whilst working full time.

So, we rushed out and bought this bus. It's a great van, it's just not practical for our daily needs, which is why we're selling it for something a little smaller.

We've done a few festivals in her, living a comfortable existence but we know what we really need, and it's not this right now. So long as it has a means of powering a laptop for basic editing on site, a comfy bed, and a fridge/cooker, I think we'll be good with that.

The vehicle we're hunting for, is... A MAZDA BONGO.

I know, we've owned one before, however, that was strictly an 8-Seater bus with a bed in the pop-top roof. We slept in it ZERO times. It wasn't converted in anyway shape or form, it didn't even have a coolant sensor fitted, which goes to show how basic it actually was. The bodywork was mint! Our hearts just weren't in it though.

I've thought about going down the VW route, however, they're just so expensive! For good reason obviously, but we're not going to need that level of investment. We just need a daily vehicle that primarily I can sleep in, and have space enough to do festivals a few times a year, and use the motor every day if need be. This will be my bus, and the wife can use the family car.

The next Bongo must have the following items:

  • AC/DC Inverter (enough juice to power a MacBook
  • Gas Cooker & Fridge (I edit better with a beer in easy reach)
  • Sink (with optional external flow (not a deal breaker))
  • Pop-Top Mattress
  • 12v USB Sockets
  • Coolant Sensor
  • Diesel Heater (would be nice)
  • Solar Panels (again, would be nice)
  • Tow Bar
  • Rock & Roll Bed (if it has seat belts, that would be awesome, but not a deal breaker)
  • Be under £7,000

Bongo on the BeachBongo on the Beach Bongo on the BeachBongo on the Beach Bongo on the BeachBongo on the Beach

We've a few maintenance items that need to be sorted on the Motorhome before we put it up for sale, which are scheduled to be sorted next week, and whoever buys it is in for a treat, as we've maintained that bus the whole time we've owned it, she's in great shape (unlike her current owner).

I've a few Bongos saved on my Gumtree account, hopefully one or two of them are still available once we find a buyer for the motorhome, but we're in no rush as yet, so long as I have something in place by Spring, I'll be happy.

Anyway, that's me for 2019, it's been a fun ride with lots of ups and downs on the career front, but as a recap, here's what's been happening in no particular order:

  • Quit my full time job
  • Went on holiday to Benidorm with friends
  • Retrained as a carer
  • Retrained as a massage therapist
  • Went on holiday to Bulgaria
  • Buried our new puppy Winston who sadly took ill
  • Made my first proper music video
  • Gained my PfCO to fly my drone commercially
  • Helped my son move to Glasgow for his new career
  • Felt my heart melt when my granddaughter had her 1st Birthday
  • Played Santa

Take care everyone! Have a wonderful New Year and I'll see you all on the other side in 2020.


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