August 2011 ... marks the start of my professional photographic journey.
It was the first time I worked for money. The first time I created the brief. The first time ..
2 years later I was a full time photographer ... in the last decade I've
Invested in hundreds of hours behind the camera. Bought 3 cameras, 7 lenses, 5 flashes and other paraphernalia. I've taken almost 500,000 images ..
It can be lonely ... but you can make great life long friends I've been my own boss for a decade. I choice I made, I could have easily stayed in my old career and found a new job. Working in isolation is hard and it's easy to get down hearted or run out of ideas. Some of the people I've worked with, taken precious photos for and have been infront of the lens time and time again have become great friends. Some of the people I meet at business networking groups have been a life line for collaboration and ideas. Without them this would be much much harder.
Editing is the hardest thing .. choose what the client will like not what you like You need to learn a lot about what the client likes and shoot / edit for them. Sure you have a style, that's in part what made them choose you but there is also an aesthetic to meet. An expectation to be full filled. Imagine taking the latest release from your favourite band and hearing something completely unimagined or different. You need to challenge the viewer, but not too much.
Pricing .. it's an art form in it's own right Without a doubt the hardest thing creatives do is run a business and at the top of that is pricing. Know your worth, understand the value of what you do, get clear on the costs of running the business and what you want to take from it. Charging £150 for a 3hr session and all of the images won't feed hungry mouths for long. So charge what you are worth. Be prepared to loose clients, you aren't for everyone that's true but the tribe will find you.
I do this because I love it .. not because there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow Very few artists are rich ... we don't drive Ferraris, have a separate holiday home. In fact we barely take holidays. I love what I do and I know that I always will. It's taken a lot of sacrifice across all of my family to get here. Long hours, 7 day weeks, 15 or 16 hr days are regular ... but the parties I've been to, the moments I've captures, the lives I've changed it's all been worth it.
It's about 5% taking photos and 95% something else I still get asked the question .. So what do you do Monday - Friday? Like 6000 images from a weekend of shooting will edit themselves. New clients are just knocking down my door. Admin is done by the magic admin fairies. Promotion just happens. New ideas and ways to shoot are sent to me in a dream. Oh and this blog .. well I can tell you no one else wrote it but me.
Personal jobs are important for the sanity When you take a hobby and make it a business suddenly the thing that took you away from the 9-5 is no longer there, and we all need distractions. I need personal project to develop my style, try new ideas and just have fun. The studio is my happy place and I love it there .. I work on maybe 6 personal projects in a year. Sometimes that can be where my best work is. It's where I learn new tricks and ultimately grow and develop.
In photography light is the most important thing to control When you walk into a room, see it in shades of light and dark and place imaginary people and props into specific areas you are living in the the Photographer's Matrix. Whilst getting settings right, poses in the right place and all of the the other things are important .. it's light. Using it to your advantage, uncovering things, hiding others and generally crafting it, it's where the magic lies.
Sometimes it's time to put the camera down I'm guilty of over shooting ... I know that. I've seen great people talk, watch fantastic events unfold and had clients and models that need to be comforted during a session. Sometimes just put the camera down and be in the moment is the most important thing.
Simple nearly always wins the day Keep it simple ... it will be a winner. That is all. Know why you are using multiple lights. What is a setting change doing. On a shoot you don't have time to set up 6 lights, tweak them and set them just so. At a wedding with 35 family members in portraits get the job done and move on ..
There is always someone to learn from .. make friends with other creatives I work in a competitive market. There are lots of photographers where I am, some of them are not very good some of them are very very very good. I don't compare myself to any of them. I've learnt long ago not to beat myself up for not 'having that idea' or 'I wish I had done that' moments. It is what it is ... some of the best times I have had are in teaching other photographers and seeing them grow.
This list could go on and on and on ... I have maybe 10 more bullets to put down. I'll save those for another day.
Ten years ago .. well I took some photos for some friends who were kind enough to pay me. Two years after that I went full time and thought I'd be lucky to last a year but I'd have some fun along the way. Get a midlife crisis out of the system. What I've learnt is that I'm a constant creator, and idea generator and sitting still isn't for me. I love to learn and as long as there are new things for me to deliver I'll still hold a camera ..
If you are one of the several hundred people that have stood in front of my lens a sincere thank you .. it's true to say that in this profession maybe more so than many others, without you your faces, events and families to take pictures of I wouldn't be here.