At some point in the last month I managed to make it through my first year in business. I am not sure exactly when this was as I am not great at remembering dates, I forget most of my friends and family birthdays each year (sorry) and I am not a “this time last year” kinda person. It was also a very flowing move into the profession which kind of happened by accident and in a bit of a blur. Nevertheless, at some point last week I realised that I have been working as a professional photographer for over a year. Now, that is not to say I have only been doing photography for a year, far from it. I believe I am about into my 6th year of owning a camera. However, I now finally feel comfortable telling people that I am a professional photographer. Which is a very new thing for me. I always felt a tad embarrassed using that title to describe myself before. Now that my work is closer to a standard that I would be happy with, I don’t feel as daft using that word.
I am not great at writing blog posts, so I will keep this pretty short (proof reading it now, not so short after all) . Looking back over the last 6 years, and the last 12 months more specifically has been very useful to me. From working out of my bedroom with a borrowed camera and photographing friends to having a studio, more gear than anyone really needs and shooting book covers and advertisement campaigns for large brands. I have made so many mistakes, ignored so much good advise, but I have made it through to the other side. Hopefully a bit wiser and a tiny bit less hot headed. It is also worth noting that I am nowhere near I planned to be when I set out. I found the commercial photography world by chance through a blog post and a last min booking a few years ago. Turns out that it is the perfect place for me!
Like most people, it started off as a hobby and then slowly got a bit out of hand until I ended up leaving a “real” job in London in order to follow my passion and basically live like a child for the rest of my life. Which to me, is the dream.
If you follow me on social media, you are probably seeing the highlights of what I do. These shoots are what makes my life what it is and keep me on track. What you don’t see though are the harder times. So I guess I want to acknowledge that it isn’t all roses . There have been some really big struggles, sleepless nights where I have thought about giving it all in and going back to the 9-5 world. Clients that have pushed me to my limits to create work for them that I didn’t think I was capable of producing, moments of self doubt. At least one a month I convince myself that I don’t know how a camera works the night before a big shoot. Thankfully, on the day I have always pulled through and delivered the goods, often surprising myself. Perhaps the self doubt is what keeps me sharp and stops me from making mistakes. Either way, it is always there and I don’t suppose it ever gets much easier.
Despite all of this, I could not recommend following your dream enough. If you think this is the lifestyle you want and you do not have the commitment of children etc. Just go for it. There is no shame in failing. You don’t want to be sitting in your retirement home muttering to yourself “I wonder if I could have done that”. Giving this a go is by far the best decision I have made so far. It was overwhelmingly scary, and at times it still is, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
In the last 12 months I have travelled all over the UK, and to Paris, Normandy, Sicily and over the rest of 2015 I have 2 more really big trips planned. The 5am alarm clocks, midnight finishes and catching a 2 hour nap in the studio are all worth it when I get to sit in a cool cafe with friends in the middle of the day and relax or when clients phone me up to say “We need images/video, do what ever you want and make it your own”. I have met some amazingly talented musicians, writers, business people and personalities. Throughout all of this I have also had massive amounts of support from my friends and peers. Photographers are a great bunch. It is not often that you can sit down with rival businesses and have a beer and a chat as friends. DWC, Rob and Rob, Paul, Angie, Hitesh, Pugsy, Ben and Edd from the Orangetree, Phoebe and James to name but a few, have been a constant source of information and comfort for when things have not been going as planned or when I have been doubting myself.
I have spent a stupendous amount of time on trains lugging gear around and trying to find cars large enough to fit the increasing amount of gear into for jobs. I have probably drank more coffee than any human should do and developed a love for doughnuts that my now ageing body can’t really cope with.
Moving into year 2 I am in a very different place to year 1. The people I am now working with come from a very different background to my initial set up. We have just registered a new ltd company in order to offer our editing services out to the public and other professionals. It will be great working with my friends James and Janak on this project. My client base is also very different to what it was when I started. This is allowing me to be a bit more picky about which photo and video shoots I take on.
So a big thank you is due to all of the people who have worked for me, with me and who have booked me to shoot for them. I am eternally grateful that you have enabled me to carry on with what I am doing into a second year. Lets hope that the hard work keeps paying off and I can be writing a 10 year blog post in the future.
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