Amazing Grace the Photographer
We met Grace Davies recently at the Ocean Lab in Goodwick where she had a stall displaying her delightful photographs and we wanted to know more about her life and work.
At 21 years old, Grace describes herself as a proud gay woman, in love with all things Pembrokeshire She was born in Cardiff and her family moved to Pembrokeshire when she was a year old. She now lives in Cosheston
Grace says: “My dad has family in north Pembrokeshire and spent his summers as a child here, and my mum would often come to Tenby and Saundersfoot on holiday with her family too. It was a very special place to them both. When they met, they both talked about their desire to move and start a life here, so one day they bit the bullet. They haven’t looked back since. We were just meant to be Pembrokeshire people!”
How did she become interested in photography?
“When I was a child, my dad and I would spend every possible moment outside. Wherever we went, we brought paints, paper, pens and a camera. Being outside and appreciating nature was very important to us. As I got older I started to enjoy photography a lot more and eventually got my own camera at 13. I was so happy! I never went anywhere without it, I loved being able to capture the beauty around me. The cameras I use at the moment are my Samsung s9 and my Canon 1200DD.”
Grace is very open and honest about the value of being creative in relation to good mental health.
“I think one thing that is really important to know about me is how I decided to get into photography full time. I left college with no idea what to do, I felt a bit lost if I’m honest, I sort of fell into working a basic nine-to-five job that made me really unhappy. At the time, I was also struggling very much with my mental health. It took me a long time to admit I was struggling and I needed help, but when I did, I felt like a whole new person.”
In February 2019 Grace was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD. For years these illnesses had “crippled” her and she felt shut off from the world.
“It was like I was the only person to feel this way. It is very lonely living in a world that you have created in your own mind. For 18 months, I couldn’t leave the house unless it was for work. I was terrified of the voices in my head telling me failure to complete my OCD “rituals” as I called them, would result in serious consequences for my family. I would watch people around me live so freely and I couldn’t understand why I had all this responsibility to keep everyone safe.“
Grace was finally able to admit to herself that she needed help. As she sat in the doctor’s waiting room she told herself she could either walk into the surgery and tell the truth or end this suffering another way.
“I’ll never forget the feeling of walking into the doctor’s room and spilling my guts to her. She was the first person I had told about everything, just talking about it made me feel like a new person already! “
A few months of treatment and working on herself, and Grace was able to go out again.
“Now whenever I go out, whether that be the beach, the cliffs or even the shops, I take such a deep breath and appreciate my freedom even more. It was hard to believe at one time that I could ever go out and enjoy myself again. Now I don’t want to go back in, I just want to be outside all the time! Every photo I take, every place I go to, is a further step in the direction of my recovery.”
Does she have favourite places or things that inspire her?
“Every time I go somewhere new in Pembrokeshire, I declare it as my new favourite place! I really don’t think I could pick an all-time favourite. I would say my top five are Pentre ifan burial chamber, Angle Beach, Martin’s Haven, the Green Bridge of Wales, and Gors Fawr Stone Circle. I love that in Pembrokeshire there is such a mix of coast, countryside, neolithic sites and monuments. I would say I am inspired by my surroundings, every bit of landscape amazes me. I sometimes find it so hard to believe that one place can be so beautiful. So I always want to capture every part of that so others can see what I do.”
Does she have a favourite image from her own work?
“My favourite image I have ever taken is one of Angle. I not only love the picture itself but the meaning behind it. I took it last June when lockdown was slightly lifted. I was so desperate to get back to the beach. It was the most beautiful, still sunny day, the sea had the most incredible sparkle on it. I must have walked the length of the beach five times over, just taking it all in. it felt like a real turning point in our battle against covid. Looking back now it was only the start really but I love the feeling of hope I had that day. I remember taking the photo – I had my phone literally sitting on top of the water. I waited for a few seconds until the sun hit the water right, and then I got it. When you look at the photo you can literally see everything under the water, the rocks, seaweed, sea life etc, it is just so clear. When I look at that picture, I not only feel blown away by the clarity of the sea, but the freedom I felt as I walked back onto Angle after all those months of uncertainty.”
Any tips/advice for aspiring photographers?
“Don’t let anyone tell you there is no room for you in this industry. As recently as last month, I had a woman come right up to me and pull apart all my products/work, and tell me there’s enough photographers in Pembrokeshire already. It was a bit of a shock that someone could be so forward and critical, especially when they know nothing about you! My advice would always be: do what makes YOU happy, don’t not let anyone else’s negativity get in the way.
“I am hoping to do a lot more markets and stalls next year, I have recently done a few at St Davids and Fishguard, and I’m currently organising a Christmas market in Cosheston on 28 November. I am also aiming to do more family and event photography. I also have a range of 10×12 mounted prints, a large selection of keyrings, 10 Pembrokeshire greetings cards, 10 Pembrokeshire postcards with stamps, and in the next month i will be selling my 2022 calendars and my Pembrokeshire Christmas cards.”
If anybody wants to get in touch with Grace to talk mental health, prices for photo shoots, or any questions about products, here are contact details;
Phone – 07845 740027
Email – Gracecdavies@gmail.com
Facebook – Grace Davies Photography
Instagram – gdphotography_
PLEASE NOTE: All the images shown here are the property of Grace Davies and should not be reproduced without her permission.