Last week I took part in ‘InspiresmeWeek’. The week was a joint project between Workspace Group and the GLA that got loads of London teenagers some top quality work experience placements.
Workspace Group have loads of entrepreneurs and small-business-owners working from their venues, so by teaming up with the GLA and three Mayor of London Academies they gave students as young as 14 the opportunity to spend a week doing really cool things - like photography with me!
I got involved with InspiresmeWeek as I turned 41 recently, so I thought having a sprightly young helper around the studio might be useful, as my back isn’t getting any younger and there’s lots of stuff for Cary to carry...
Only joking. I loved the idea of the project as there wasn’t anything like it when I was 14. I am so thankful for every piece of advice I got when I was a youngster, so I thought that if I could give a teenager a helping hand, it could only be a good thing.
My helper for the week ended up being a complete star. Me and Elif Mazi, a girl who’s doing her GCSEs right now and hasn’t quite reached the ripe-old-age of 15, got up to loads of brilliant stuff last week.
Elif told me on Monday that she wanted to be a journalist. She was chatting away about her aspirations to me and my mate Ben, as we collectively consumed 4 brownies, 2 cups of tea and a scone. Elif wants to be a music journalist. That’s cool, I remember that I used to dream about being a music photographer! So how could we help her on her way?
Later that day, I had all of the students who were doing their placements at the Clerkenwell Workshops down in my studio! It was just a spur-of-the-moment, ten-minute-long thing, but I just thought: how many of them would’ve seen a photographer’s studio before?! I ended up talking to them about what they wanted to do. There are some really passionate kids out there! Good luck to all of them.
By Wednesday I was being interviewed for Elif’s brand new blog. She wants to be a music journo, I take pictures of pop-stars for a living: match made in heaven?
Elif did a top-notch job of interviewing me. She asked me about how I came to be what I am today & about my experiences as a photographer so far. Take a look at the interview in full here, it’s well worth a read!
On Thursday I took Elif, and another work experience student, Melek, to a shoot for AXA Insurance.
Both of the girls had to wake up at 5:30 so they could get to my studio in Clerkenwell in time for an Addison Lee car to ferry us across London to AXA’s London offices. It’s just like the Apprentice!
When we got to AXA, both girls gave me a hand to set up the shoot-space, and helped me out all day. As I shot forty quirky staff-portraits in Part Two of AXA’s London shoot, the girls were fantastic throughout. They also had a little meeting with Gemma Chadwick at AXA about Marketing, which is something really nice of AXA to have done for the girls, so thank you! In amongst all that, they posed for a cheeky photo: http://tiny.cc/no203.
They were such a pleasure to work with last Thursday I let them go home an hour early (don’t tell anyone, yeah?)
Another really surprising thing to have came out of Inspiresme Week is that I won an award!
At Inspiresme Week’s closing ceremony - which was a lovely little do down at City Hall, I gladly popped on my my best whistle and polished my shoes - there was an award for the ‘Best Business.’ Low and behold, I won it. I am very grateful and surprised! Thank you to whoever made the decision, but I must say that everyone who participated in the project was part of something really useful that made a big difference. If Inspiresme Week rolls around again next year, I’d do it all again!