When the idea of starting a membership programme with paid members was suggested to me, I found myself doing that familiar thing we all do when faced with something uncomfortable - I plugged my ears and shut my eyes.
I've written in this digest of my trials and tribulations and the joy of finding a career in the creative arts through breakdown; but one of the residual elements that has plagued me ever since is a low self esteem - a kind of imposter syndrome.
I still find it difficult to look in the mirror and say to myself: “You are a photographer.” Sometimes, when I see my photography in a book or a magazine, I think that it must have been taken by somebody else.
It’s an odd condition.
I still find it difficult to look in the mirror and say to myself: “You are a photographer.”
I deal with it by seeing it as a gift - a way of keeping me grounded and a method to ensure that my work is the best that I can give.
But, when I think of the membership programme, my gift becomes a millstone around my neck. It makes me extremely anxious.
My unease stems from several sources. Firstly, every fibre of my being whispers that I am unworthy and incapable. Secondly, I fret that my valued acquaintances and connections may perceive me as having sold out to some unscrupulous entity. Thirdly, being English, I feel that engaging in such endeavours is simply not within my cultural DNA. And finally, if I am to be honest, I am afraid of falling short.
What lifts me up and out from all this is the cadence of this digest. The regular ebb and flow of overnights in the van, the visits to places that nourish, and the writing up of the digest itself. Above all, the sublime pleasure of sharing my discoveries with others, and the satisfaction of knowing that my words have made a positive impact on people's lives, is simply indescribable.
I have lost track of the number of people who have reached out to me to share their transformative experiences after visiting locations from this digest. This fills me with an unparalleled sense of joy, making it all worthwhile.
The environment has changed massively for a specialist photographer, and the pure and simple aim of the memberships is to give my absolute best in return for a financial lifeline to the future that enables my camper-van-camino of discovery to be shared through the Genius Loci Digest.
To this date the membership has increased to 41 members and I’m so grateful and thankful. The membership is the base of a lovely, warm and connected community that cares and cossets me through my discoveries in Woody. It is also a vital ingredient in the hot bowl of steaming broth that is this digest.
When I'm capturing the beauty of an inspiring location through my lens, I can't help but think that Woody, my camper van, isn't powered by electric and diesel, but by your membership subscriptions.
"The membership is the base of a lovely, warm and connected community that cares and cossets me through my discoveries in Woody."
As well as the Genius Loci Digest and the Membership goodies, my ultimate aim is to give something back: that the memberships will grow to a level that will allow me to provide a regular service to community heritage that can’t afford professional media.
Reaching 40 members has triggered the first search for a heritage asset to photograph for free. Reaching the next goal of 50 members will trigger another free project. Members will get to interact with the process of photographing these sites.
So, on this (kind of) anniversary of setting up the membership scheme, I want to say a huge thank you to every single member, present and past, that has helped keep Woody on the road and projected the places, content and values of this digest into the public realm.
If you're not a member and would like to see what it's all about check out the benefits here.
Andy (and Woody)