Just over a year ago I left my full time 9-5 to pursue a career as a photographer. My first self imposed goal was simply to make it through a year, give this a shot come what may and then re-evaluate the sense in the whole thing.
Thankfully I am pleased to report that a year on, I am still here, still surviving, still plugging away, though with many more grey hairs and a far more ridiculous sleep pattern!
Video shoot with Make Sparks for their song ‘Apollo Apollo’
This post is slightly overdue, largely because I wanted to take the time to write it properly, with time being a valuable commodity at the minute. It may on the surface appear a little self-indulgent, but I wanted to have a bit of a retrospective of my first year.
While I was working in a reasonably ok job, fairly well paid, not demanding all my free time etc, it was consistently leaving me unfulfilled. I was well aware that it wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long term, so when the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy came up after a company transfer, I jumped at. Well, I tiptoed toward it hesitantly, after much back and forth, working out if it was the right thing to do. My eventual logic: I wouldn’t have another opportunity to take this plunge; if I was ever going to do it, now was the time; I’d rather try and fail than never try. And with all this in mind I talked myself into signing the single sheet of paper, and it was gone. All security of a regular monthly income disappeared, but (trying not to sound like a total moron here) a whole new world of opportunities to do something for myself.
Fashion shoot in Bath & Snowboarding in the Campsies
I had been working as a photographer on the side for a while previous, so I had a bank of work lined up, but not knowing what would happen after that, in a months time, was pretty terrifying.
With the benefit of (a little) hindsight, I don’t think I would have ever been fully ready, or if anybody ever feels ready for something like that. People ask me fairly regularly if I regret leaving work, and I can honestly say that not for a single moment has there been a trace of regret in my mind. By no means has the past year been a care-free breeze of an existence, quite the opposite in fact. But even when I’ve been down to the last tenner in the bank, chasing invoices so I can go for shopping, I’m still frankly aware that it is the route that I have chosen rather than one that is being dictated to me, and in that itself there is an immense comfort.
Make Sparks dressed up and The Twilight Sad on the cover of The Skinny
Promo for United Fruit
My social life has also become a second/third/fourth consideration to work. I’ve regularly had to cancel on people or change plans last minute when a job comes in (and still do, rent is rent, after all) but I’m enormously thankful to have such an incredible group of people around me that are perpetually understanding.
One of the biggest projects I’ve been involved in has been Detour, a monthly online music show, of which the fourth and final episode will be in front of you shortly. While I’ve been involved in some way or another for the past few years, this new half hour show has been a step up for us all, and has truly tested me, and I think the others involved. There are no claims from any of us that it’s anywhere close to perfect, but I’m immensely proud to have put something out in the world that I’ve been a part of making with some great friends, with some great bands.
Kobi Onyame / Biffy Clyro / Miles Kane
Aside from the music photography which is the focus of my website and this blog, there has been a number of much less glam jobs ticking me over. As any self employed photographer / writer / artist etc will probably know (but not necessarily admit) there are a number of jobs that you need to do to keep the whole enterprise ticking over. Some of these things aren’t necessarily what I pictured when I daydreamed of being a photographer, but they are the day to day reality. Thankfully, as time goes by, they become more infrequent as the core work becomes more regular.
Ben E King / Arab Strap / Ashley & Pete
Talking of core work, this summer has probably been the most fun few months of my life. Between a hectic festival season, some amazing new clients / publications and an array of stunning weddings, I’ve been kept blissfully unaware of the lacklustre British summertime. So much so that the anniversary of the plunge passed me by as I sat in a Detour production meeting (yeah, believe it or not, they actually happened!).
So, it has been somewhat of a roller-coaster. There have been many, many downs, even more highs, but not a single regret (other than maybe the poor attempt at a 365 which disappeared after my American trip 2 months in).
Hector Bizerk / Ryuki Akira
Big props to a few people (Ally, Weaver, Ben, G, Claire, Iain, Becky, Erica, Craig J, Dave Taylor, Muslim, tmNeil, pops, everyone that’s been in front of my lens and mostly my maw, and my beautiful assistant Emma) for being wonderful in helping me along the way.
I am a long, long way from where I want to be, but I am delighted that I am at least on the path.
I’ll report back with my next state of the nation in another 12 months.