Things I Wish I’d known – Becoming a Full Time Photographer

Behind The Scenes, For Photographers

Becoming a newborn photographer has been an amazing career move, though not without it’s challenges. Professional Photo magazine asked me to write an article on ‘Things I wish I’d known’, and you can read the full article below:

Becoming a newborn photographer - Things I wish I'd known...
Professional Photo Magazine Article, June 2020, issue 172

Becoming a Newborn Photographer – The Dream

No boss. Flexible hours. Being paid to be creative. No endless paper work, (I didn’t get that one quite right).  Those were just some of the reasons pulling me towards leaving my teaching job and becoming a photographer. 

What I didn’t bank on was the loneliness within my work.  I was surrounded by warm and friendly clients and I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, so that element was great.  However, having no-one in the office/studio to share what we got up to at the weekend and not having anyone around to bounce some ideas off really got to me. I’m not a total socialite, I enjoy my own time, space and freedom, but it can be hard to grow when you have no community to push and challenge you.

Top survival Tip – Network

So my biggest tip to my younger self, and thus to you, would be to network. Not in a stereotypical business marketing way, but network to build up and develop a supportive community around you. And one where it works two ways, because you know, loaning Louise a battery charger when hers blew up just before a wedding feels pretty good too. 

On reflection, there is no way I would be where I am now, running a successful studio and teaching around the world, without the relationships I’ve made within the industry. The first time I was approached to speak as a photographer was for an industry association. I felt totally under qualified to speak to a room full of professionals, many who had been trading much longer than me, but they made me feel so welcome, and now nearly 10 years later I’m on their board of directors. I’ve experienced the same with almost every other association or even just gathering of photographers.

Don’t be afraid to cross genres too, some of my closest photography friends are street and wedding photographers, and industry suppliers, completely different to my world of newborns. We have a huge amount of transferable skills and knowledge, and we can be totally open without any competitive concerns.

ALL ABOUT THE PARTIES

It’s the coffees after photography events, the grabbed dinners at the end of the big photography shows, and the occasional late night drinking sessions that have often benefitted me the most. Here I’ve found fellow photographers opening up more, sharing pearls of wisdom and giving me guidance that I just wouldn’t have received otherwise.  

Over the years I’ve built a large bank of friends that I can share and loan kit with, people I can swap skills with, groups that will listen to each other if anyone need a sounding board. We’ve even held Christmas parties together, something that’s definitely less fun solo.

So yes, I totally understand that we want to guard our businesses, we’ve often built them from scratch, and we can get very protective of our creative ideas and  business concepts. But that doesn’t mean you need to go it alone; you can still build a team, think of it almost like independent colleagues if the idea of a photography family feels too kitsch for you. And I promise if you do, with the right sharing and nurturing, you will see all of your skills increase, both photographically and business wise.

So don’t be a total lone wolf….find your pack and grow together.

Helpful Links:

Professional Photo – Well worth the subscription, it’s a great magazine for all genres

Some of the associations I’m a member of that are worth checking out:

The Societies of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP)

The Master Photographers Association

And if you ever want to reach out for a chat or support, you can contact me here

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