Photographer and Blogger, Jade Craven.

“I love capturing the history of Geelong before it disappears,” local photographer and blogger Jade Craven tells me in our interview over email. Jade has always been drawn to nature, and she started practicing photography when she lived close to Balyang sanctuary. Glenn, Jade’s boyfriend, would borrow the camera and eventually bought one of his own. In 2015, the two started to take more pictures of the Geelong CBD and Glenn’s photography was featured on the Visit Geelong and Bellarine blog. The Revitalizing Central Geelong initiative started around this time, drawing more people into the CBD. Jade suggested turning the photographs into a blog called Geelong Street Photography, and now they feature 800 posts from the past 5 years documenting the changes in Geelong.

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Jade is behind the camera on many beautiful photos of the Humans in Geelong Expos, and has volunteered with HuG since 2017. “I was tasked with photographing members of the local Syrian community and the wooden boat they had been working on,” Jade recalls. “I was there when the group broke out into a spontaneous dance. It was so awesome to see the joy on peoples’ faces and be able to capture it.”

Another side project of Jade’s is Geelong Street Art, a tour through Geelong’s artwork and the stories behind each piece. There was so much history behind these artworks Jade discovered that warranted its own website, to honour the work of graffiti artists. Jade plans to experiment with other types of visual storytelling, such as drone photography and videos. This project aims to combine information and photography to highlight the rich history of Geelong and its buildings.

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In addition to photography, Jade also runs a mental health blog, Anxious Creative (formerly Get Off My Chest). “I started Anxious Creative to explore the intersection between mental health and running an online business,” Jade had a successful blog about social media and content marketing between 2009 to 2011 and freelanced until 2015 when her migraines became so severe, they disrupted her work. In this field of work, the common advice is to just work harder without consideration for those managing chronic illnesses.

At the time, Jade was living with severe anxiety disorder and chronic migraines, both of which caused cognitive impairments. “It’s only now that I’ve found the right anxiety medication and no longer get migraines that I can see just how disabling both illnesses are,” Her blog posts have focused on her social media work and issues arising in 2016 when her medication stopped working, and she plans to delve further into the disability experience in future blogs.

Jade’s advice to people currently in isolation due to COVID-19 is threefold. First, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. “Some people are giving well-meaning advice to these people to leverage their extra free time,” Jade says, such as trying a new skill or fitness routine. “This is great in theory, but it ignores that our current reality is something that is extremely anxiety inducing.” Instead, Jade suggests that we focus on what we can control. That anxious energy can be redirected to things such as maintaining proper social distancing and being educated about the virus and its symptoms. It is normal to be feeling anxious right now, and taking care of ourselves is important.

Finally, Jade urges us to show compassion to yourself and others during this difficult time.

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Story: Stephanie Downing. Photos: Jade Craven: Syriacs dancing Expo 17, Rone’s art on the now demolished Cement Works, Flashmob Expo 18.