For many years I have been working as a part-time professional Photographer in the wedding, event and portraiture industry. I had full-time employment as an IT professional. The purpose of commercial photographic work was mainly to support my private passion for photography and to be able to purchase high-end equipment for this passion. About 5 years ago this passion resulted in another income stream where I undertook to share my knowledge by teaching my skills to budding photographers through a set of focused classes. Up to that point I rarely shared my private work and “projects” being too sensitive to criticism. A shared artists problem… But my students encouraged me to break through this barrier.
Since July 2019 things changed for me. I was retired by my current employer at the age of 60 due to the slump in the IT industry. in 2018, knowing that this could become a reality, I started to investigate how I can convert my passion into a full-time photography career. I developed my business plan with the help of peers and training and research to determine what I needed to do to be able to convert to a full-time photographer by June 2019.
My research led me to various options., to become a full-time high-end wedding photographer, develop my skills to become a free-lance photographer or see if I can get into an education position. The latter being my preference. Most of my research informed me to split my vernacular and my artistic endeavours. I formally registered my photography business but separated myself as a Freelance Photographer and educator in a personal capacity. I believe that this would allow me to hire and train other photographers on a part-time or full-time basis to collaborate in my wedding business venture and keeping my personal brand as a photographer and educator separate.
From the outset, I decided to let the MA develop my personal brand and practice as opposed to the Wedding photography business focusing on documentary photography. Photographing weddings is extremely demanding and I don’t see myself doing it for more than 10 years. By then I should be able to sell the business or run it purely as a business owner. During Week 2 where we focused on other careers in Photography, I was introduced to the different levels of professional photography. It confirmed that if I apply what I am learning in this programme I can move myself to do projects at the corporate level and choosing endeavours and projects that I love without compromising my income.
That being said, my love for photography was never driven from a commercial intent but my love for the medium. Developing training material has led me to undertake personal projects. Most master photographers are acknowledged for their personal projects rather than their commercial work even if they were great at it. e.g. Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Jay Maisel, David Goldblatt and many more. Personal projects kept them sane and committed to their work for there lifetimes. It is my resolve that the need to earn a legal tender won’t derail my path to express myself and kill my passion. I am still able to generate double my photographic income from part-time IT consulting, This enables me to be selective of commissions And allow me to focus my attention on worthwhile personal and commercial photography projects. the aim is to eventually free me from this “Golden cheque”. This income is also funding my MA. I aim to have this “long walk to freedom” co-inside with the completion of my MA.
I believe that I have developed my own style over time and continuously look for ways to improve and expand on it. Every subject has its own lessons to teach. and Personal projects and focused research has always paid off in my photography. Wedding photography has stolen has done what Michael Freeman predicted, The mundane and drive for income has stagnated my photography development and I need to as Jay Maisel recommend… “Walk slower” and learn again to appreciate and enjoy every click.