Your Photography Career – Freedom vs Security
Collezioni copyright Carla Coulson
Ever felt like running away to join the circus? Whoops… I actually did.
I am sure many of you have been overcome with feelings at some stage of wanting to just pack it all in and run off and do something you love? Kiss your boss goodbye forever, toss your high heel shoes and tight skirt in the bin and slam-dunk the bundy card forever.
I crocodile wrestled with this feeling for years (the packing it in bit)..and then eventually my world imploded and I left.
I was having a chat with Francesco (super cute hubby) the other night (yep he wants to join the circus, I am thinking Lion tamer) about him eventually switching careers.
My darling architect is studying to be a Geobiologist (study of the earth’s and man-made energies and it’s effect on your health) and he always feels there is never enough time in the day/night to study what he loves and yearns for more ‘time’.
We got into a fabulous discussion about Freedom vs Security and I am the first person to support his eventual career change but baby everything has it’s time.
We both agreed that it ‘appears’ the more freedom you have the less security you have and vice versa. I had plenty to say on this topic about making your ‘freedom more secure’.
Francesco is a tiny bit green with envy each day as he leaves home to go to his day job and leaves me to get on with my work day. I secretly think he thinks I swan through the day from one coffee to the next , kick back on the sofa with super kitty but you all know that isn’t so.
Francesco doing a happy dance in Greece copyright Carla Coulson
Let’s look at some concepts of:
Someone creating the work for you
Times not yours
Settling for a job you don’t necessary love
Work your own hours
Do the work you love
No boss or office politics
More free time
No regular income
You need to find clients and create the work
Bookkeeping and accounts
Find a balance between not enough and too much work
Work on your own
Of course these lists are stereotypes of what Freedom and Security mean to the individual but it has been my goal from the beginning of my photography career to make my career and life as ‘secure’ as possible.
I too crave security. There are many things that come with freedom that can be unsettling like not enough money to pay the rent (been there- scary) but there is nothing so rewarding as doing something you love.
Here’s How I Did It
1. Structure/Work Routine. Once I had my photography skills at a good level and wanted to start working I created a ‘work’ routine. I decided on when I would start work each day and when I would finish and this gave my day, week and life a sense of structure. Even in the beginning when I didn’t have clients there was still a lot to do like have a great portfolio, understand who would be my clients and research them and how to get in touch with them and I started putting together my own stories. Create a structure that suits you and the way you want to work. Ask your friends and family to respect this and not to just drop in or call whenever they feel like it.
2. Invest in the longterm/Regular Clients. When I started working with magazines my goal was to work with the same magazines over and over again so that they would become regular clients. I knew from having a business that a regular client was worth gold. I worked with one magazine that pretty much gave me a job each month during the year over a period of almost 10 years. This worked out better than even I could have dreamed of. The other magazines I worked with gave me a job on a regular basis let’s say 3 or 4 times a year over a period of 10 years so you can see already how a pattern of security was building between my 6 favourite magazines. I also worked with other magazines on a not so regular basis as one-off clients. Think about who could be your long-term client and how you can reach them and build a lasting relationship.
3. Income Streams. One of the reasons I started doing books other than for the love of it was to create additional income streams. The great things about books if they sell well is that they can go on selling for years and create an income stream from royalties. When I published Italian Joy thanks to all you kind folks it was a success so that heartfelt book kept selling and selling and even today almost 10 years later I still receive income from it. I have collaborated on 3 other books and written and photographed 3 of my own so together they have been another patch in my ‘security blanket’. Think about what kind of income streams you could create such as selling prints, e-books or ideas.
4. Market Your Work. It can be hard as a photographer or creative to put yourself out there but I knew from the beginning I was only going to survive if I marketed my work. For me this meant getting in to see key art directors at the magazines I loved and eventually publishers. This was one of my goals in the beginning and I have continued to market my work throughout the years by regularly visiting my clients when in Australia, meeting new contacts and getting involved with social media. Even if you don’t want to work with magazines you can apply this to what you do want to do.
Other ways to make changing your career more secure
Transition – this is one of the most under-rated of all the fabulous moves you can make. Start preparing your career move long in advance, use your steady income to buy equipment, set up websites and create a social media profile. Start doing jobs on the weekend if you can and when you build your confidence and client base, go for it.
Savings – Make a budget of how much you will need to live on for a year or two and work towards having that money set aside before launching your career. You will be free from financial worries in the beginning and can concentrate on being creative and getting where you want to go.
I hope this helps any of you feeling insecure about giving up your day job and flying over to the other side. Leave me a comment below and I promise to get back to you..
“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” Chuck Palahniuk
Please share with other freedom fighters! x