By Darren Stones
As 2008 draws to a close, I'm taking a brief interval from my studies in Professional Freelance Journalism with Cengage Education. At this time of year, most people need a break to refresh - I'm no different as I'm a bit buggered.
The tutelage I've received from well-known Australian journalist of 46 years, Simon Townsend, has been gratifying. Simon's continued support and encouragement is inspiring me to gain confidence in my ability as a journalist, writer, researcher and photographer.
The Professional Freelance Journalism course requires me to successfully complete 16 assignments before I gain my diploma. To date, 10 assignments have been submitted, in which all have been graded the highest grade possible - an A. At one point I thought I'd received a C grade for an assignment, but that was an administration error that was soon rectified.
There's been times during the course where I've had to seriously contemplate my approach to assignments. All assignments have required weeks of reading tutorials, research via various methods, in-depth story development, writing of drafts, planning and executing photojournalistic-style photographs both near and far from home, conducting online, email and face-to-face interviews, and importantly contacting my tutor Simon for advice, guidance and support.
I feel I'm becoming more confident in my ability at this caper and believe that good things are ahead. It isn't an easy course - neither is getting a gig. It's making me call on all my energy, and at times I just need a break so I can step back, evaluate and pursue the set tasks with a refreshed mind. That's when I go and take photographs for stock and editorial purposes, and potential gallery exhibitions.
Having been a painter and decorator for the first 23 years of my working life, I'm finding the transition to my chosen vocation to be extremely challenging. I'm not rushing the process as I'm in it for the long haul - that decision was made a long time ago.
I've had minor criticism directed towards me at various times in the last few years, for no good reason, however I've successfully shaken those negative influences from my life and continued to press forward positively by surrounding myself with people I respect and trust. Gladly, my contact list has grown and I've met many new friends.
Anyway, as 2008 draws to a close, I feel content with my achievements during the year. The people who have assisted me in recent years are truly cherished. If it wasn't for them, I would have probably gone back to painting houses. Fortunately for me, I've connected with good honest people. The various tutors and confidants I have are giving me strength. And of course my family are No. 1 in my eyes.
Above, is my own personal favourite image for 2008. This is my father pointing to the spot where his father's headstone should have been laid in 1987. Dad discovered on 11-11-2008 that no headstone was ever arranged and laid at the grave site. That situation has now been rectified by him. Dad bawled his eyes out just after I took this photograph.
Thanks to those who have taken time out to look at and comment on my work in 2008. Much appreciated.