However exciting the prospects might be, getting a fresh start is not an easy thing to do. And, as it turned out to be in my case, moving to another country was no exception. Back to 2014, when E. and I got the first visas that allowed us to go to Ireland, I had no idea what that would mean to me. The ways it would change me, the challenges I’d have to face, the lessons I would learn… I have many stories to tell from the times I have spent in Ireland. Some fun, others exciting and some of them, well, full of hardships. But the stories I am going to tell you in these series are dedicated to the people I have met there, the places they brought me to and precious experience I gained during these times.
Today I want to start with Yve.
I have no desire to reminisce on the events that took place before May 2015. It was an incredibly stressful time for both of us, E. and myself. The time I would not like to get back to. These few months were the toughest and I would gladly leave them behind. But without getting back to them I would not be able to tell you about Yvette and the role she played in our enterprise.
We were surviving. No money in my pocket, barely some cash for food. No job, even though both of us worked very hard. Each and every day, from dusk to dawn I was practically glued to my laptop, building (or rather, let’s put it that way – learning to build) websites. One for myself and one for E. In between studying the basics of web development, I had to learn advertising, SEO, marketing – anything really, that could help us promote what we had to offer. And that could help us land a job to cover rent fees.
I sometimes forget to just stop and breath and take in everything around me so taking little moments in the day to step back and be mindful of all the good things is so important. – Yvette
The website for E was finished. She worked as a photographer back then, therefore it was an online portfolio – my first professional website. Funny thing, I closed it just a couple of days ago as we no longer have any use for it. There was no activity during the first few months. We did everything in our power to gain first clicks, activity, engagement, requests, calls and finally orders. Most of the payment for our first orders rarely exceeded 100 Euro per shoot. Sometimes it was even no more than 20. But we were determined to keep going. And jumping forward, I’ll tell you that E’s first solid shoots were booked only a year after the launch. When I say “solid”, I mean photoshoots with a budget over 500 Euro.
To promote E’s portfolio and skills we had to get more publicity. Collaborations were a good way to achieve that. And it so happened, that at this very moment an email appeared at our Gmail folder. It was a short polite message from a local blogger girl. She was keen to collaborate with a photographer and launch her personal style blog. In a couple weeks’ time (spent discussing particulars via email) she suggested a meeting. For a country where deadlines are postponed for months, or even years, where life is slow and knows no rush, arranging something in a couple of weeks was a “speed of light” event.
No wonder, after all the time working together professional approach turned into personal and later into a beautiful friendship.
Yvette was a polite, well dressed, neat girl with impeccable manners. Long auburn hair was a distinguishing feature and a “trademark” of hers. We sipped our tea discussing the ways we could help each other with work, promotion, photoshoots. Yvette was in need of a good photographer, we were looking for an opportunity to promote our services. It was a win-win situation. Even though I had nothing to do with photography, styling or photoshoots for that matter – at the time I was only building the websites and assisting on the shoots – Yvette was kind to include me into the conversation. An hour flew by. We said our goodbyes and agreed that next time we will see each other on a photoshoot. Which we did. Not once or twice, but since then almost every other month of living in Ireland.
Meanwhile, we have already changed several apartments as the rent was still a major concern. After the first place, we had to move out of our situation was not easy. But we found a temporary place to stay for a month – at a house of a makeup artist E collaborated with before. It was a room in a nice place not far from the city centre. But it was only temporary.
At that time, E and Yve kept in touch, arranging shoots and taking photos. With me offering any help I could, like being a shooting assistant. Holding the reflector, helping with props and lighting. Because of our joint work and E’s attention to the tiniest detail, we managed to achieve the highest quality of the photos at the lowest possible cost of production. We got incredible images, considering the level and budgets that we had at that time.
No wonder, after all the time working together professional approach turned into personal and later into a beautiful friendship. We started hanging out more, visiting each other. And we have even met Yvette’s family.
I remember Yve inviting us to her boyfriend’s place. It was a nice cottage away from the city, with a fireplace and Yankee candles all over the place, cosy chat and handmade soda bread. Next morning I woke up in an incredibly soft bed. After all the stress of moving places, paying enormous rent and living in questionable apartments, I finally felt at ease. It was then we were introduced to a small fairytale-like town called Tullow. To which we were bound to return in several months. But it is a story for another time.
Moving on to the end of summer, 2015. We have changed our apartment for the fourth time. We had to leave our short term summer rental and move out to a small room on the other side of Dublin. This place was the worst. Living conditions were truly horrific: a shower that did not work properly, weird smell, walls covered with mould, no broadband, no heating. And to top it all, a very suspicious owner. Something had to change then and there. We had a choice, to forget about everything and go back to our home country, or finally put all-out efforts into finding an affordable place and solid orders. We still had no money. We could pay for food and short term rentals, but it was not enough. Yvette was not paying for the shoots E did for her, as it was a collaboration. But she has found another way to pay E back. With true Irish kindness.
Though none of us asked Yve for help, she knew that something was off. And, without any further ado, she arranged everything in a matter of days. I remember her calling to tell that she had good news for us. They were not just “good” they were amazing, in fact. Within just a week Yvette and her boyfriend (who worked at a building construction company) pulled a great job helping us out. And since then everything got changed. Thanks to them, we could start a new chapter of our life in Ireland – an “okay” one. It still was not great, we had much to do. We still struggled with work, with getting money for food, or finding clients. But we had a roof, a bed, a working shower and new prospects. If it was not for Yve, we would probably just pack up and leave for home. All this would be impossible without her help.
Thank you, Yves.