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Fear

Today I woke up from a nightmare. I get stress dreams now. I never used to but now I do. Yay? Last night I was dreaming that I was commissioned to do a coporate job in London. I couldn’t easily get across town as the flyover had been dismantled. While I was on the train I was panicking that I was actually meant to be on a job in Liverpool instead of the London one. That part is actually true as I really did have a job in Liverpool today. When I got to the location in London I realised all I had was a 28mm fixed lens Leica and I was doing an awards ceremony. I basically had to stand on the edge of the stage to get good photos. Nothing was ideal. I was late for the portraits part too. It was a total mess. Luckily I woke up.

I arrived at todays real location, the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, early and ready to go. I had a feeling I’d forgotten something which I assume was due to the dream. I had considered bringing everything just in case but I knew that was stupid. I had the cameras and lenses I needed to fulfil the brief. Camera straps? Nope. Totally forgot them. It was a relaxed job so I wouldn’t need a camera strap. My client arrives and we chat about some of the jobs I’ve done in the cathedral. I tell her about the real scary times I’ve tried to go into the bell tower and get photos. It’s a huge dark space that I once tried to defeat in 2001 and failed. I was only able to redo it in 2009 because I kept my eyes my shoes and took one step at a time while talking to friends all the way up. It’s a real treat when you get to the top. Amazing views for miles on a clear day. The 7 flights of stairs in that space are really hard to take.

View from the top of the Liverpool Cathedral

Today was not that. Today was documenting an old people’s dance group. Nice eh?

The dance instructor arrives and explains we’re going to that exact scary space for at least 1 hour. I’m not just passing through it. I’m there for an hour. My client asks if I’ll be ok and like a true professional I say “I’ll be fine.” What’s the alternative? I let down a client? Nope. Not happening. I’ve hung out of a helicopter with the door open while over the River Mersey and I was fine then. I had this. Mostly. I’d see if I could have it.

Inside the Liverpool Cathedral

One lift. Some stairs. Mentally blocking any thoughts of “On the other side of that is a 7 story drop”. Another lift. We arrive. It’s as I remember and feared. I walked into the space and tried not to look up. I really didn’t want to know where I was. After a few minutes I started to slowly look around and get used to this space that I’d be working in for the next hour. It was intimidating. You’re acutely aware of your position in the building with every step. It’s obviously perfectly safe and its just my mind running wild with anxiety. I kept telling myself that. I kept looking around slowly. Eventually I did acclimatise and was able to get the photos my client needed. I even started to play with the space and wished I’d brought more gear.

So today I awoke from a nightmare to face a real nightmare and I survived. Maybe I even grew a little and I’m better for it. This is why I love being a photographer. I get to go places I’d never normally grow and let them change me for the better. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Other than eating chocolate of course.

By Pete

Photographer and part time Spider-man.