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The Connections We Make Through Life

12 May 2021 | slow & simple

Vanessa Simpson is a photographer living in rural Somerset. Slowly building her photography business and looking back at the path that lead to where she finds herself today, she realises how the thread of her life’s encounters and events remind her of the game of connecting the dots. 

‘As a child I was always fond of the ‘dot to dot’ pictures that came in activity books and my subscription to ‘Twinkle’ magazine, I enjoyed connecting the sequential numbers with my wobbly lines until slowly the outline of something vaguely recognisable showed itself.

It seems to me that life is really much the same in many ways, I suppose some of us have a clear picture in mind when we embark upon something, but I’m confident that for many of us it is simply a process of figuring out where the next ‘dot’ is and working our way towards in our own style – be it wobbly and uncertain or confident and direct. Now in my 50s I can look back and see all the ways in which the many aspects of my life are connected to one another. 

The power of connections relates of course to everything, the sciences, medicine, languages, the arts etc. but it is personal connections that are the most powerful and pleasurable in my mind.’ 

Vanessa Simpson sitting on a coach

‘The last five years have seen me forge a wealth of connections with people whom I have found something in common with through my business and social media. I sometimes laughingly describe Instagram as ‘Tinder for middle aged women looking for friends’, indeed I have had the pleasure of meeting many women in real life whom I first encountered on social media.

Playing ‘dot to dot’ to trace how I’ve met people online can be fascinating; establishing shared tastes, interests or aesthetics, who it may be that has motivated or inspired us, or the relief in knowing that others struggle with the same feelings; these commonalities are the bedrock of friendship.

I am nothing if not a late bloomer (an extreme example of slow living perhaps!) and my route to becoming a photographer is a wonderfully rich and tangled web of people, experiences and insights. A course led to a workshop, which led to an Instagram account, which led to a conference.  Which then led to a business, a blog, a website, workshops and ultimately a change in direction in order to embrace the slowly won realisation that it was the making of the images and crafting the words for my business that I enjoyed more than the work itself.

From each of these experiences I have maintained links with women who have inspired me, taught me, motivated me and supported me as I’ve pursued my fascination with photography.

Maybe the old adage that ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ need not be taken so cynically, but rather as a suggestion that we spend less time telling people the things we think they need to know and more time getting to know them.’

sugar glazed apples on a stick

‘I think women in particular are very generous in the way in which they weave threads amongst their communities in order to help one another. I know that I have benefitted from just this, and I often make introductions between people whom I think will be interested to get to know one another. This advocacy of each other is what nourishes the businesses of makers, creatives and small slow living enterprises.

Our desire to step away from a frenetic life often results in our working alone, responsible for being ‘everything’ a business requires; in advocating for one another, creating connections between like minded people and sharing the products and businesses we love we can contribute to our collective success, so let us be generous and take the time to do so. I’m reminding myself that ‘what goes around comes around’ and perhaps one day someone will recommend me to a friend!’

Vanessa Simpson is a photographer making meaningful, sensitive portraits of people in their homes and gardens for families to treasure. She has a special interest in photographing older people.

www.vanessasimpson.co.uk | @vanessasimpson.co.uk

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