October 16, 2012
It strikes me that the phrase “work-life balance” was a lot more fashionable just a few years ago. Maybe it’s just my perception that it’s not used so much now, but I also wonder if it was more popular pre-recession, when it was thought the economic wonder would never end and people could carve themselves a bit more leisure time, be more flexible about the work hours they kept and spend more time with family, simultaneously expecting income to remain on an upward curve.
Then The Crash came and everything changed. You work longer to earn less. You work longer to keep your job and seem more indispensable than your colleagues and hope to avoid the chop when jobs are cut. Competition for jobs becomes fiercer and this is much the same for the self-employed.
Being a freelance photographer tends to mean my hours are set by my clients. Of course to a certain extent my hours are dictated by the effort I put into promoting myself which has an impact on how many clients I have. After that, it comes down to when my clients need me.
It’s sometimes quite difficult to explain to people, especially those in salaried positions, the reality of being a freelance, that although I’m self-employed I have very little direct control of my diary.
If I have no bookings I can do what I like; promote myself, go networking, meet new or existing contacts for coffee or go for a long bike ride. But this isn’t an ideal scenario. Networking and bike rides can be done flexibly, but aren’t paid activities. Naturally I hope having coffee with a contact will lead to paid activity, but networking is a long slog and not guaranteed to result in work. Cycling almost never ends in paid activity.
Anyone who works as a freelance, and I think especially photographers and writers, will understand that as far as work-life balance goes, you work when work is offered. And when work isn’t on offer, you work on finding it. Both involve work, neither activity involves the “life” part of work-life balance.
This is no sob-story though. I thoroughly enjoy my work, even if it can seem precarious at times. I chose early on in my career not to sell myself cheap, so my diary rarely bulges with commissions from clients wanting bargain prices over quality. I work with clients who appreciate what I do and are willing to pay fair rates for my work. This means I can earn a living without grinding myself into the dust. It may not give me a luxurious lifestyle, or money for many fripperies and “things” but it does give me occasional leisure time at times when in a salaried position I’d be stuck in an office.
I think I’d call that work-life balance. It has to be. It’s all I have.
September 11, 2012
I don’t know when Frome Amateur Boxing Club was built, but judging from its rickety exterior I’d say it was made from the spare timbers Noah didn’t need.
The shed that until recently housed the pugilists’ punchbags, weights and general paraphernalia stands precariously behind The Old Church School, the building where my office is based, and when any of the Studio 5 team steps out onto the fire escape for a breath of fresh air, it fills most of the view. Soon, though, it will be knocked down to make way for an extra 20 office units at TOCS.
I had hoped to take some shots of the last training sessions before the club vacated to new premises on a trading estate in Frome, but I missed the opportunity and one day found a note in the window explaining that the club had moved. A shame, but I did get to look inside the other week and took a few photos to record the passing of this upside-down ark of a building.
And so this week’s article is a mini gallery of some of the images I took. I hope you enjoy them.
July 10, 2012
Some of you may know I’ve been a regular at the Frome Farmers’ Market at Standerwick for some time now. I’ve been attending as and when my paid work allows on Wednesdays and Fridays (the two market days of the week) to create a photographic record of the workings of the market, the people who work, buy, sell and trade there and their interactions with the livestock.
This is an un-paid personal project which I chose to do because I knew I needed to keep my brain creatively active at times when I tend to be shooting lot of corporate headshots. I chose Standerwick because it’s close-by, so more likely I could get to it at short notice, and because it’s something that interests me.
When I set out to do the project I didn’t have any particular goal in mind except to get along there, see what’s what and see what would come out of it.
Now I’ve started to gather up a fair body of images I’ve decided to move things on a step and have started to look into the possibility of mounting an exhibition of the images. This is a first for me as I’ve never exhibited before, but the idea is quite exciting as it injects new impetus to the project and gives me an end-goal.
This isn’t something that’s going to happen over night and I still need to shoot more pictures in order to complete the narrative which has developed, but I’ve approached one or two likely sponsors (I can’t afford to mount this entirely from my own funds) and things are looking quite positive.
Through this blog I’ll keep you updated on my progress and of course I won’t be shy in announcing the location and dates of the exhibition. Sometime next year and somewhere in Frome is as far as I’ve got.
If any businesses out there would like to talk about sponsorship, or if any photographers with exhibition experience have any advice they’d like to offer, I’ll be delighted to hear from you. As the saying goes, watch this space.
May 8, 2012
For some time now I’ve contributed occasional articles to the Warehouse Express blog site where I’ve discussed topics as diverse as looking after your copyright on social media sites, the changing face of photography since 1945, fast flash synchronization, and using flip-out screens on compact cameras.
The flip-out screen article was inspired by my having bought a Canon G11 which has one such flippy-outie screen. Warehouse Express asked if, being something of a G-series fan, I would be interested in writing a review of the G1 X, Canon’s new, beefier version of the G-series cameras. How could I refuse? So they sent me one.
Having played with the G1 X for over a week now, I have to say… well you’ll have to read the finished article to know what I think of the camera and see the pictures I’ve taken with it, but I’ll give you some insight into how the review process is going.
I was a little daunted at first when I realised I was actually going to have to go out and take pictures with this camera, preferably ones I’d be proud to show and which would demonstrate its capabilities. I mean I’m always happy to take pictures, but I don’t like reviews that don’t really push the equipment or show interesting photos. Colour charts and pictures of buildings on a sunny day don’t really do it for me.
As luck would have it, the day after the camera arrived so did some heavy rain and local flooding (don’t worry, no houses flooded). I grabbed the G1 X leaving all other cameras at home on purpose and headed out to the affected part of town. The camera was going to have to sink or swim! Well, not literally; I don’t think buoyancy tests are a normal test for a digital camera.
Since then I’ve shot portraits, events, street scenes and I’m hoping to test the camera in the most difficult of lighting conditions, the Frome farmers’ market at Standerwick, which has been a long-term photographic project for me.
With a bit of luck I’ll have a total of about 3 or 4 weeks to really try this thing out, and once I’ve processed the images and written up the review I should think the finished article will go live on the Warehouse Express blog pages pretty swiftly.
Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to make a big song and dance about my first product review. I won’t let you miss it.
Until then, I will offer this sneaky peek at the picture set since the picture below has already been released for editorial use via Alamy Live News.
January 31, 2011
When Somerset-based document storage company Filebase changed its name to Filofile, the time was right for a new website and corporate photography too. And I was delighted to be contacted by an equally Somerset-based design agency Cognique to do the honours with my camera.
I met Filofile’s MD Simon Barber at the premises on a lovely Autumn day last year, he showed me around, and then while he was being interviewed for a video for the new website, I set to work gathering images that would populate the new site as well as promote Filofile through all their printed and electronic media.
When a company consists of not much more than a former cheese storage shed full of boxes and some security equipment, it’s not easy to come up with a wide choice of images, but I managed to pull some interesting shots out of the bag. You can see the finished website here, but I’d also like to show you some of the shots that didn’t make the website, but which will be useful to the company for their other promotional publications.