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Bonny Snowdon 00:06
Hello, I'm Bonny Snowdon, ex-corporate person, a mother turned successful artist-entrepreneur. It wasn't that long ago though that I lacked the confidence, vision and support network to focus on growing my dream business. Fast forward past many life curveballs, waves of self-doubt and so many lessons learned and you'll see Ignite, my thriving online colour pencil artists community, a community that changes members' lives for the better and gives me freedom to live abundantly, whilst doing what I love and spending quality time with my beloved family and dogs, all whilst creating my best artwork with coloured pencils, and mentoring others to do the same. But this life wasn't always how it was, for me, it used to only exist in my imagination. I've created the It's a Bonny Old life podcast to help increase people's confidence, share mine and my community's experience and hope through fascinating personal stories, champion the other amazing humans in my personal, professional and membership community, and create another channel through which I can support others to realize their dreams. If you're a passionate colour, pencil artist, or an aspiring one, who's looking to create their best work and a joyful life you love, you're in the right place. Grab a cuppa and a custard cream. Let's get cracking. Sometimes things happen in your life, which changes everything. My next guest had an accident in 2018, which meant that she has had to completely rethink how she lives her life. I'm a huge fan and even more so since chatting to her and I'm honestly so, so honoured to be speaking to the amazing photographer Tassie Brown. I am just over the moon that you agreed to chat to me because I'd like to know a little bit more about you and what you do. But your photographs are just inspirational.
Tassie Brown 01:53
Thank you so much. I was so surprised that you would ask me. I was like why?
Bonny Snowdon 01:59
Oh, no, gosh. Honestly, I think people are going to really, really want to listen to this because I know so many people who use your photos for fantastic art, but your photos are just amazing and I'd really like to know a little bit more about you as the person behind the camera, basically.
Tassie Brown 02:24
Yes, the one that would like to stay behind the camera most of the time.
Bonny Snowdon 02:31
So, have you always taken photos?
Tassie Brown 02:34
Not really. My father did. My father was an amateur photographer. So, when we were on a holiday he would be photographing, and I will always be looking at him. So, when I was about eight, I got my first camera for my birthday and I started to do the same when we were on a holiday. I just took snapshots and it was an analogue camera actually. I am that old and it was just mainly for fun and in 2004, when I got my first digital camera, I really started enjoying macro photography, all the little flowers and things and during vacations and when we were abroad, I would just look at all the little flowers and trying to photograph them and that's a bit where my photography, passion started. The first camera was really like a four megapixel with no zoom camera and eventually, in 2012 I went to Tanzania with my mum and I had a digital zoom camera with like 30 times zoom, started photographing animals there and that is really where my animal love started.
Bonny Snowdon 03:51
Yeah. Oh, gosh. Honestly, I mean, you take an awful lot of pictures of big cats, which are just, I mean, they are incredible for capturing their personality as well as just the beauty and everything. Is that big cat your sort of passion?
Tassie Brown 04:08
Yeah, I would say yes. But that's not really true. I really, really love all kinds of animals. But I do have a thing for the eyes. They've got just those stunning eyes and they just look into your soul when they look at you and I just love that.
Bonny Snowdon 04:30
When we see your photographs, they are incredibly detailed and really, really close, they seem close up. But I'm guessing that you've got the equipment to be able to get I guess quite safely away from them without getting up into comfort?
Tassie Brown 04:46
Yes, I'm always in a very safe distance. There's always either glass or fences between us and I usually go to zoos to photo photograph and yes, you can ever get too close, it's always safe. There is always extra barriers when there are big cats, so it's always safe. But I do use a very nice Canon cameras and since 2016, I have my Canon 100-400 zoom lens and that one really is fantastic.
Bonny Snowdon 05:20
You can get it. You seem to have sort of like almost like a rapport with these cats as well. You seem they've all got names and everything, which I guess they have when they're in enclosures, and zoos and Safari parks and everything like that. But do you have your favourites?
Tassie Brown 05:39
Oh, that's such a difficult question. Yes, I have favourites. Basically, I have another favourite every day. So, when I'm at a safari park, and then there's the lions, and one day I have the lion, Anton, which I photographed very regularly. He really has been my favourite for many, many years. But then I saw another lion and I was like, oh, he's handsome too, and started photographing him and then that's my favourite and when I'm at the tigers, I go like, oh, oh, there's two tigers. Which one is my favourite? I actually don't know. I like them both. So, no. I switch every moment. Just the one that's in front of my camera is my favourite. There is one little. Well, she's not little anymore. But one cheetah that is very dear to my heart. Because she was named after me. Her name is Tassie. She was born in 2017. So, she's already five years old now. But I've seen her grow up from a little fluffy baby to the lady she has become now and she's really dear to my heart.
Bonny Snowdon 06:46
Oh, gosh. Do you have one particular zoo or Safari Park or whatever that you use or do you tend to kind of go to a few of them?
Tassie Brown 06:55
Well, there is a bit different now. 2018 I was in an accident. But let's just say that 90% of my photographs was taken before the accident and then yes, I lived very near safari park, Beekse Bergen, in the Netherlands and that is where most of my photos were taken. Most of the lions and the Siberian tigers were taken there and the cheetahs were also taken also there. But I did like to go to various zoos and parks also just to see different kinds of animals like the snow leopards or the orangutangs. They didn't have Sri Lankan leopards, which I love very much. I used to visit one zoo that was just a 35-minute bike ride away from my home. So that one I was pretty much every week.
Bonny Snowdon 07:54
Right, and the accident. I mean, obviously, I don't want to talk about that if you don't want to, but the accident has that kind of stops you doing as much as you want to do?
Tassie Brown 08:02
It did. It changed my life completely, basically, from being away from home, most of the time instead of being home, turning into somebody who's pretty much always at home. It is post-concussion syndrome is what it's called what I have now. Just from hit on the head and that means a brain injury causing many, many symptoms, making it very hard for me to be outside to be around many people, to be around sounds, to be in a lot of light. That's very hard.
Bonny Snowdon 08:48
Yeah. But you've pushed through, you have your son.
Tassie Brown 08:55
Yes, some amazing things can happen when you're at your lowest point. I did meet my husband after the accident. Really, he is such a wonderful and amazing person who just saw through my disabilities and, so the person that I still am, even though I have my limits. Yeah. So that was really amazing and he helped me through. We even go to some zoos, sometimes not for days, but just for a couple of hours and I even get to photograph again, we really built that up from scratch and he helped me and brought me through and then also the little boy came into our life.
Bonny Snowdon 09:39
Oh, amazing. We're able to talk today because you've got a little bit of childcare this afternoon and, well, it was quite funny, actually, wasn't it because you messaged me like, Bonny, I've got a free afternoon. Can we Zoom? I was like, yeah, and then my electricity went off. My eldest son got the hoover out and blew a fuse.
Tassie Brown 10:03
Amazing. But here we are now, it worked.
Bonny Snowdon 10:08
We are and I'm just so, so happy to speak to you. So, you're still taking photos though but not quite as prolifically as you were?
Tassie Brown 10:18
Yeah, from twice, sometimes three times a week to once or twice a month and from days and days that end to just a couple of hours and hoping that there will be a special moment in the little bit of time that you are there. I'm just giving all I've got. I've got a very limited energy. I'm tired pretty much all of the time and when I get home, I need to go to bed as well and rest. The main problem is that my information processing through my eyes is too slow. So, when something exciting happens with animals, when they yawn, or when they do something funny. I'm just always too late.
Bonny Snowdon 11:01
Gosh, right. That must be really frustrating.
Tassie Brown 11:06
It is but I tried to focus on just the portraits and on the faces because when they sit still, I can still manage.
Bonny Snowdon 11:18
But how absolutely fantastic that, yes, dreadful things happen and I'm so sorry about what happened. But from that, meeting your husband, having a son, still be able to kind of get out there even though it is a little bit more limited. I mean, that's really, really inspirational.
Tassie Brown 11:37
Yeah, it is. I'm still surprised. So surprised when I look at the first time, I went to the safari park where I used to go weekly, I went with my mum, just I think about three months after the accident and I was already, I'm not sure for the right English word. But I think it's the brain fog started just before I went into the park. So, brain fog, overstimulation, I'm not sure what the right word is to use. But that is what happens. My brain just goes whoosh, and it's completely full and I get exhausted straight away and that's what happened the very first time I went there, and I was like, okay, this is useless. I'm never going to go back again. It's not going to work. So, to look where I am right now and just fight, fight, flight, and try, try, try and it will work eventually and I think that is the same in your job.
Bonny Snowdon 12:35
Yeah, I mean obviously, things are incredibly different for you and I think having that strength to be able to keep going because, it could have been very easy for you to have gone, right, I'm never going to go back there again and I'm just going to just not even try.
Tassie Brown 12:57
No, there was no option for me. The love for these animals they all have a special place in my heart and I just love seeing them. There was no option not to go back. I just had to keep on trying and my best friend, Mariska, who's also very generous in giving all her photos available for reference. So, we've been working together for quite a while as well. But she works at the safari park where I used to go to a lot and she helped me get back there as well several times just to try it, just to give me a little privacy, so without the other people and just to try and photograph again. The first time, I think that it was a year after the accident. I tried it again and it was about half an hour and I just almost collapsed like I can no longer walk. I cannot even lift my camera, I cannot even look through my camera, my eyes hurt, everything hurts and that is so weird when that happens. But still I saw the animals and I was so happy over the moon that I could just do that and experience that feeling again. That was really amazing.
Bonny Snowdon 14:12
Yeah, fantastic and is your husband a photographer?
Tassie Brown 14:16
He is, yes. We photographed together but now when we go to use, he usually takes care of our Son, Tiago and I get to photograph so, that's just too sweet of him.
Bonny Snowdon 14:33
You have sort of like a business model around your photography, don't you, where you allow artists or whatever to buy a license to use them?
Tassie Brown 14:46
Correct. Yes. Basically, my husband made a website for me because I can no longer use the computer and it was a lot of work to offer them individually to all the artists so he made the website. We offer our images on that website. There's also some of his work on there. But we are both too busy to upload much more than there is because we have many, many more photos. But some of my favourite work is already on there.
Bonny Snowdon 15:18
Honestly, it's, I've spent hours and hours and hours going through all of them. I've bought two licenses from you and I'm just waiting for that little bit of time where I can have a couple of weeks where I'm not doing anything where I can actually produce a piece from them.
Tassie Brown 15:40
I cannot wait to see it.
Bonny Snowdon 15:43
They are just incredible and I know that a lot of artists, they really rely on amazing photography to be able to then produce a piece of artwork for an exhibition or whatever and to be able to have that resource is just fantastic.
Tassie Brown 16:01
Yes, it is. I'm really amazed that so many artists choose our photography. There are so many amazing photographers out there. But I have to admit that I'm really picky at my own work as well. They really have to be crisp; they have to be sharp, otherwise, I will not post them. I see other people post images that are really lovely but just not sharp and I feel embarrassed when I do that. I shouldn't but I do because sometimes the emotion is worth so much more than the Christmas. But I know for some artists, the Christmas crisp is most important.
Bonny Snowdon 16:46
Yeah, particularly for doing realism and stuff like that. To be honest, I'm kind of getting into a little bit of out of focus stuff and in focus stuff and it's really difficult. I find when I draw, my brain takes over half the time, and just kind of wants to do all of this stuff and I'd have a hard time sort of switching it off going, no, I'm not doing that. I want to do this and when I look at an out of focus piece, my brain wants to make my hand draw in focus, so it can be a bit tricky.
Tassie Brown 17:26
Yeah, I know that. I have some photos that I really love so much, but they are just a bit grainy, blurry, not good enough for my liking. But they are really gorgeous photos and I'm like, yeah, if somebody could just draw that, then I wouldn't have it. You know what I mean? It is so hard when you are a photographer and you want to capture a moment and it's just not the way you were hoping it.
Bonny Snowdon 17:59
Honestly, your work is just absolutely beautiful. It really, really is. Well, everyone who follows you thinks exactly the same. They're just incredible. So, as you kind of, I guess, progress, sort of month on month on month, do you find that you're getting a little bit more of your past back like you were saying when you first kind of came out after the accident, everything took an awful lot longer, and you really couldn't do things for very long. Are you finding that you're sort of able to do things for longer as the years go by, is what I'm trying to say?
Tassie Brown 18:41
Some things yes but that just took a lot of practice. There are many things that I still cannot do. Like I cannot use a computer, which is quite hard for a photographer who likes to edit their photos. Just looking at a computer screen for about 10 to 15 minutes makes my eyes go tired and really weird things happen in my brain. So that is really hard and also, I cannot watch TV, things like that. So, I'm an audiobook fan these days.
Bonny Snowdon 19:13
Yes. I'm a big fan of audiobooks.
Tassie Brown 19:16
Yeah, they are amazing. It's been four years almost now. So, you get used to things that you can no longer do.
Tassie Brown 19:23
You find your new you, don't you?
Tassie Brown 19:34
Yes, you sort of find a new version of yourself and I know I'm not where I hope to be. There's still some progress that can possibly be made and there's still some rehabilitation options that I have. But at the moment, my main focus is my son. It all became a bit too much a couple of months ago, like working on my recovery and taking care of a one-year-old and I just decided that he is my main priority at the moment and the rest will happen hopefully when I get some more peace of mind and for now, I'm just enjoying my boy and my husband and sometimes the occasional visit to a zoo and that works for me and now, the COVID lockdowns are a bit over some family visits as well that I miss it so much. They are very hard for me as well, I must say.
Bonny Snowdon 20:41
Do you have a big family? Are they quite close?
Tassie Brown 20:44
I have a very small family. Actually, it's just me and my mom and her partner and of course, I have some nieces and cousins and family like that, cousin is the right word. Sorry. I always have to think when I'm talking in English and it's been about, I think, well, a couple of years that English was normal for me to speak in. So, it's a bit harder than I thought it would be.
Bonny Snowdon 21:14
I think you're doing amazing. I mean, honestly, anybody who can speak more than one language is just unbelievable to me. It's just fantastic.
Tassie Brown 21:25
I'm trying, it's hard for me to think and look for Dutch words sometimes. So now, having to do it in English is double as hard. But I'm trying. I'm trying. But yeah, I have a small family. But they mean a lot to me and it is very hard to meet because a conversation like this also takes up much energy. So, you can imagine when people are face to face and here and you just want to spend as much time as you can with them. Well, even 20 minutes is enough for me.
Bonny Snowdon 21:58
I know, when we spoke and I asked you if you do this interview, you were saying can we can we kind of keep it sort of quite short, I do totally appreciate that this kind of thing is exhausting. So, we won't go on much longer. But I just wanted to say thank you so much for talking to me. Because not only is your work inspirational, but also kind of talking about your story as well. I don't know whether you put your story out there, because it is a hard thing to talk about, and I'm so grateful that you've talked to me today and you've managed to find a little bit of time to talk to me. It's just, honestly, so lovely to speak to you.
Tassie Brown 22:44
Thank you and it was lovely to speak to you too. I'm honoured that you really wanted to ask me for that.
Bonny Snowdon 22:50
Bless you. I won't take up any more of your time, because I know that it's tiring for you and I just want to say thank you so much.
Tassie Brown 22:59
Bonny Snowdon 23:02
Oh, it's an absolute pleasure and I hope we get to chat again very soon.
Tassie Brown 23:06
Yes, I hope so, too. Thank you.
Bonny Snowdon 23:09
Thank you so much, Tassie. All right. Speak to you soon.
Tassie Brown 23:12
Thank you. Bye, bye.
Bonny Snowdon 23:13
Okay, bye. I really hope you enjoyed listening to this episode of my It's a Bonny Old Life podcast. If you did, I'd be so grateful to you for emailing me or texting a link to the show, or sharing it on social media with those you know who might like it too. My mission with this podcast is all about sharing mine and my communities experience and hope by telling your fascinating personal stories, championing the other amazing humans in my personal, professional and membership community and to create another channel through which I can support you to realize your coloured pencil and life dreams. If you haven't done so yet, please help me on my mission to spread positivity and joy throughout the coloured pencil world by following me on my socials at Bonny Snowdon Academy or by getting on my list at bonnysnowdonacademy.com, and remember, I truly believe if I can live the life of my dreams doing what I love, then you can too. We just need to keep championing and supporting each other along the way in order to make it happen. Till next time