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Trust Your Gut Instinct

17 Oct 2022
One of the international speakers coming to this week's Semi Permanent Aotearoa highlights the importance of sticking up for yourself and other important tips for creative success.

Semi Permanent Aotearoa will descend upon Wellington this week (19-21 October) with a wealth of inspiring creative minds sharing their insights and challenging perceptions.


One of the many international speakers making the trip is Australian photographer Liz Ham.  With more than two decades of experience as a photographer, Ham’s work straddles the genres of social documentary, portraiture and fashion - infused with nostalgia and narrative, often exploring ideas around identity and subculture.


Ham took time before coming to share her experience with the Semi Permanent Aotearoa audience to give The Big Idea some advice to her younger self - things she knows now that she wishes she knew then.



Gut instinct


This I think is the most important thing… When I was 22, I didn’t do a lot of this, and found myself doing a lot of things for other people all the time, and generally putting myself last.


When I think back on it - if i had spoken up early and clearly, things may have panned out quite differently.


This applies to everything in your life from career, dynamics with colleagues to personal relationships. If it doesn’t feel right or good try to speak up and say no, or make the changes you need.


Almost every time I have had a bad experience on a job, I can remember having had that icky feeling early on and wish I had just said no then!


Get out of your comfort zone


It’s great to challenge yourself - not a lot of people want to do public speaking or see themselves lecturing or teaching but it’s an excellent way to organise your thoughts and reflect on your life.


It’s really rewarding to make an impact on others and feel as though you have been able to impart any wisdom or inspiration.


I never thought I would do anything like this or teaching for example - I say, try teaching! YOU may learn something!!


Liz Ham in her early 20s. Photo: Supplied.


Get organised


Keep notes, diaries, idea maps, business cards and contact details - I try to jot down all the details I can remember from shoots including lighting maps and information, the names of crew etc… you always think you will remember in the future but trust me, you will not!


File things away systematically, back up your work. Try to keep duplicate back-ups in storage at your mum’s place too…


Turn to what you know - or what REALLY intrigues you


I have found that even when I am at a loss for what to photograph - or have run out of inspiration - if I turn my camera to something close to me, the ideas will develop from there.

It's really challenging and sometimes a bit alienating to start new, cold projects about subject matter that aren’t close to you.

So photograph what you know to gain more insight into it - that way, you may become an expert in it.


Feed yourself


Please be kind to your body.


Feed it with water, and good food. Get into nature as much as possible. Dance and enjoy music.


Feed your mind with amazing literature and poetry. If you must watch screens, watch DECENT films! 


Written in partnership with Semi Permanent Aotearoa (19-21 October in Wellington) - to hear more from Ham and the other international and local speakers, click here for details.