Business: a Day in the Life of a Freelance Photographer
Even with the economic downturn, there are ample opportunities out there that can be explored, potential businesses to be formed and lives that can be changed. There is one area that has not been fully explored and that is the area of the arts. I know sometimes when the arts are mentioned, there is sometimes a derisive sigh and the walls of indifference go up. It appears the arts seem to be at the bottom (or near the bottom) of the business food chain, although things are fast improving--just ask the Arts Council in the United Kingdom (www.artscouncil.org.uk) Yet art is part of our everyday lives from the person that designs your website to the guy that took those amazing wedding pictures. This factoid is the first of a mini series, dealing with one of the most popular areas which combine arts, creativity, business and being a part of people's special events. What am I talking about? I am talking about the freelance photographer, of course.
Being a professional photographer appears to be a very attractive business and lifestyle. When you are a freelance photographer (much like anyone who works freelance), you set your own hours and jobs, and do not have to answer to a boss. It all sounds very good in theory, but the reality is very different. Photography is a very demanding and competitive sector - not only financially but in terms of the jobs and money. When you are used to collecting a regular paycheck, self-employment can seem a huge step. Turning photography from a passionate hobby to a thriving business can be a step too far for some . . . but not all. If you do decide to become a photographer, then you have to be prepared for the variation, the 'everyday-is-something-different' state of things, the busy-ness. There is no such thing as a 'standard' day in the photography business. In order to whet the appetite, I decided that the only thing to do would be to go through what a typical day in the life of a photographer entails. So here goes.
Before all you people out there, jump up and down and tell me that I am wrong, that it is not like that at all, I am only speaking from what I have gathered from my personal experience and my own research. So here goes . . . .
Morning - there can be no slouching because this is when the more mundane, 'business' stuff tends to be done. So you could be doing anything from marketing online to answering emails to dealing with the business finances. If you have a website, then this will be the time to update it, upload pictures or even respond to any blogs (if you have one. I suggest them, they are a great way of keeping in touch and getting information). So make use of this time wisely.
Lunchtime is usually non existent for the freelancer (though this is not always the case). This is the time when you visit any clients or go on any jobs that you have been booked for. Lunch will probably consist of a hastily-eaten sandwich, either on the road (to a shoot) or maybe in front of their computer. Clients will come to see you either at your home or at your studio. Working from your home reduces overhead costs and it also helps the client if they are in an environment where they are comfortable. Now if you are on a shoot, what happens on a shoot depends on what type it is. For example, if it was for a wedding, then there will be much time spent organising the guests and the bridal party to get the shots that they need. However, if it is just a simple shoot (family, loved ones, friends), then it is less complex but still may take some time until a shot is produced that the photographer and the clients are happy with.
Dinner/Evening Time - depending on how much work was done in the afternoon, the photographer may be doing one of two things - either still out on a shoot or doing what I call the 'post shoot' activities. This could be anything from developing pictures to airbrushing. This can, sometimes, be the hardest part. Deadlines have to be met and this may mean long hours, only to have an early start in the morning.
Have I scared you off yet? The life of a freelance photographer can be long, tiring and frustrating. However, it can also be full of fun, creativity and the satisfying knowledge that you are helping people capture key moments in their lives. If you are still passionate and are sure that this is the career path for you, then go for it! There is absolutely no reason why success should elude you...In my next Factoid, I will deal with the practicalities of getting started; for today, I just thought I would ease you in gently...
Take care and God Bless readers, writers and budding entrepreneurs . . .