Autumn...time to evaluate
I sometimes wonder how much control I really have over the paths I walk. There's always a choice ... and ultimately I can always say 'no' - which is something that I'm not afraid to do.
Wolf Photography started as Wolf1964 in 2002. Originally the company was setup to sell photography. I was living in Cornwall then; a beautiful place where the energy of the Earth was easier to access and creativity flowed. I'd had a couple of exhibitions in the County and had developed a following and made a regular income from my photography.
Unfortunately, certain factions made it impossible to continue living there and I moved back to the Midlands in 2007. The decision wasn't taken lightly and my children were involved in the process. They could both see that one person in particular was making life very difficult for me and that I had to get away.
I continued with my photography but wasn't able to make any contacts because my condition (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD) had worsened and I was having great difficulty coping with the condition. They say moving house is supposed to be stressful ... but I wasn't prepared for the extra levels of difficulty that I experienced on this particular move. I found myself mentoring some photographry enthusiasts that I met along the way, particularly other disabled photographers with mental health problems, so I started to develop resources to assist them.
I experienced a complete breakdown of support mechanisms from the NHS and Social Services and became very isolated. Out of the isolation and subsequent anger another level of creativity was set free: my poetry. I'd been writing since joining the Royal Air Force. I can still laugh at some of the juvenille stuff that would probably make it to the category of 'love-sick-juvenille' ... but then it changed in 1983 to feelings, thoughts and expressions that were building up inside me from serving in Northern Ireland. I released Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran in 2010. I don't remember sitting down and consciously saying, 'I want to write a book'.
Before selling my photography commercially, I used to load them up for anyone to download on 'Webshots' ... until two friends that worked in the NHS told me that I should be selling these images and that they would like to buy some. I remember being home off work sick with the flu and writing the first website between bouts of fevered sleep. The same happened with my poetry; many people had seen it and said I should be published. Poetry's a very personal form of expression though and I was always unsure about exposing my soul to the public. The anger caused by the NHS and social Services got the better of me and I put the first book together. I didn't want to use a publisher though as I wanted total control over my work because I've lost faith in the commercial machine and people where money is involved. Society had become less honourable, less honest and more greedy. There were now more people willing to step on each other and steal ideas rather than work honourably and network with each other properly. Common decency was, and still is, in decline. So I setup 'SnowMoon Wolf' as a publishing company. SnowMoon Wolf is the 'medicine name' that was given to me by a teacher of the old ways.
Some time during 2010 I found myself walking a different path with regards to my art. Profit was never top of the agenda. I was happy as long as I could finance the act of creating my art. I became aware of how powerful a medicine creativity was in helping me to cope with my disability and I wanted to share that with other people that are disabled artists. In the later part of the year 'Wolf Photography' became a 'Not For Profit' company. I decided that the primary aim was to inspire, motivate and assist other artists and disabled artists by setting up various resources for them to use. the services were supplied under a 'Moral Contract' - which simply meant that if they found something of use that they could use, they could purchase a book or a print to continue to help fund the project - providing they could afford it.
In 2011 I became aware of the different levels of Intellectual Property (IP) abuse that take place and put together a resource for artists to help them protect their creations under the heading RespectIP! It provides tips and techniques on how to protect your IP and helps to make you aware of companies that abuse IP, as well as those that assume full rights to your IP and use it any way they see fit without paying you a penny.
The more I delved into the world of publishing, the more I likened the scenario to swimming in 'shark infested waters'. People wanted money for tasks that hardly take any time and effort; in short they were preying on our ignorance ... charging rediculous amounts of money for things that we could do for ourselves in a matter of minutes with some guidance. I refined my publishing methods whilst preparing my second volume of poetry (The Way of the Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran) and released a book to assist people to self publish their own printed and digital books: SnowMoon Wolf's guide to Self Publishing. It's a small title and very cheap but every now and then I can make it available for no charge through Amazon Kindle.
In 2012 I setup a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) section to my site to further help artists to hep them to promote themselves on the internet. Having a website is fine but we need to make ourselves searchable - primarily on 'Google' as it's the primary search engine on the globe. This section of the website gives people some hints on how to setup their web pages to make it easier to climb the Google ladder.
I also setup a series of free presentations and workshops for different sorts of groups. They cover everything from presentations on my photography to enabling sessions for aspiring travel and wildlife photographers ... and advice sessions on how to protect your Intellectual Property.
Apart from the above, work is continuing on the exhibition that will take place in November 2013 entitled 'Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'. I started putting together plans for the exhibition a few years ago and have a really good feeling about it.
The project feels 'right' now ... and complete. According to the teachings of some Native American (or First Nations people) the 'medicine' of the Wolf is that of Protector, Pathfinder and Teacher. All of these elements are reflected on the website now, with it a new-found purpose that allows me to contribute something to the greater good.
I've never had an arts grant or any other form of financial assistance for this project. Everything is self financed. So, if you have ever purchased any of my art or poetry ... thank you ... because you made all this possible.
I'll continue to develop my art personally and professionally ... and hope to take others along the path with me ... even though we may never actually meet in person.
Villayat 'SnowMoon Wolf' Sunkmanitu