I have this photo of me when I was little (it’s actually my screensaver at the moment). I am about 7 years old, I look happy, a little bit cheeky, a skip in my step and loving my life. We had just flown back from a little Island we called Arid Island, which is just across from Great Barrier and where we holidayed with family friends. This time around was an adventurous one. I’m a little unsure exactly why we flew back, but I am guessing it had something to do with the old dodgy looking boat we went over in.

Anyway, this photo, it always brings me great joy of my childhood. The fun times we had as a family, the happy little girl I was and so many other fond memories.

However, somewhere along the line I lost that confidence in life; I became nervous when people spoke to me, I didn’t like many things about myself and I always shied away from the camera, to the point that I only have one photo of when I was pregnant with my first daughter. My Uncle took it and I was all in black, so you can’t really tell I am pregnant.

There were many things that paid tribute to the way I was feeling (as I look back now). The words spoken by others, actions I myself chose to take and other situations out of my control. It wasn’t until my daughter was nearly three that I had had enough and really started to think about life, and how I wanted it to go. I packed our bags and we headed off to Palmerston North, 10 hours away from my family, where I studied photography, the one thing that had been simmering in the back of my mind for 6 years.

During this period of full time study I not only worked hard to get great marks, but I also worked hard on myself to become a better person, the best mum I could be, and to be the best version of myself.  And I have not stopped. To this day I still work on myself and I will continue to do so. I still have moments where I pull back and shy away, but I do my best to remind myself that I will only miss out on life if I don’t snap out of it.

I now have the confidence to speak to people with a smile on my face; I am happy with my body, as it has been strong enough to carry four delicious babies; I am better at not allowing words of others to effect me and I NEVER shy away from the camera.  I want my kids to stand tall, to smile, and to believe in themselves and know they can do what ever they set their little hearts too. So it means me being the best role model I can be and guide them in the best way I know how. I want them to have photos of me, and with me, so together we can share our story.

Photography has been a huge part of my life and it has helped me through many stages and today I am happy to say photography is what is making me a better person, a better mum and allowing me to be the best version of myself.

Do you have a photo of yourself that takes you back to a great time in your life?

I suggest you find it, print it out or pop it on your computer. Use it to pull the good feelings it gives you and take you to where you want to go and who you want to be.

This is your life, you only have one, make the most of it, be happy and be who ever you want to be.