Have we always had such an urge to review the year that's just been? To summarise everything, picking our highlights and low points? It seems like every newspaper and website is looking backwards - folding down 2014 into a few key grim world events - and they have been REALLY grim this year - or viral articles or outfits or celebrity weddings (or depending on what you're reading, sometimes a mish-mash of all of them, which feels unsettling). And if they’re not looking backwards, they’re reaching forwards, discussing what's on the horizon in 2015.
That's not to disparage these kinds of features - for they often give over space to stories that have spent more time in the shadows than deserved, or allow celebration of what’s yet to come.
Yet I’m particularly fascinated by the compulsion to chart and document and capture all that's happened in the preceding twelve months. It's partly an easy way to generate content - and makes commercial sense. Fashion websites can stuff their homepage with galleries; blogs can round up favourites; newspapers get the chance to return to pivotal events. It’s also a point to dwell on personal achievements and experiences, or to flag up the best writing/ photos/ other forms of creative output you sent into the world in 2014.
Perhaps we've always had this kind of obsession with time though, the desire to quantify and condense life events. It seems natural. A kind of drawing of breath, giving space to process what's been happening. We like to slice our experiences up into these increments, marking the passing of each year with simultaneous retrospection and promises to be better, do more, improve this, and cut back on that in the months ahead.
I don't make New Year's resolutions, as a general rule. I respect people who manage to stick to them, or use the transition from December to January to galvanise change, but it doesn't work for me. Instead, I make my resolutions throughout each year - as and when they feel appropriate. Whether it's making alterations to what I eat, committing to a particular project or altering my outlook on something - when it feels right I'll try to apply as much self-will as can be mustered. Doesn't always work, but part of the process is not deeming yourself a failure if the plan goes awry. It’s the trying that’s important.
Do I have goals for 2015 though? Yes, absolutely. Big ones. Really big ones. But they’re not all going to kick into action the minute the clock hits midnight later today. Instead they’ll be incremental, hopefully the culmination of some bloody hard work - and a sprinkling of opportunity.
It's really easy to trot out trite things about New Year, new opportunities, new challenges. I hope that for all us those things and more are waiting out there - but it’s bloody tough right now for so many people. So instead, let 2015 be what it is – and maybe we can hope for courage and serenity (and effective campaigning!), rather than happiness.
And if not quite that, then at least let's take a note from Kate Tempest’s instruction to the crowd at her dizzyingly great performance in Oxford: to all “cultivate some radical fucking empathy.”
These photos are actually from one marvellous highlight of 2014 that I failed to post about at the time. I worked on an incredibly fun shoot for Emily and Fin’s AW14 lookbook, indulging my love of vintage-style dresses and pretty patterns to my heart's content. It was a bit of a dream team collaboration, with brilliant Laura Alice Hart taking photos, Ashlyn Gibson doing the styling and Nadine Wilkie on hair and make-up. What better than to lounge around with battered books, old cameras and bunches of flowers? I thought that the glittery details made it all the more perfect for an NYE-themed post.