Our next guest blog comes from Dan Barker, of Dan Barker Photography.
He speaks honestly about how he came to be a photographer, and the transition from working full time for an employer to becoming a self employed photographer.
When I hear people say “it’s risky starting your own business or being self employed” I can’t help but think “not as risky as being in a job you hate your whole life”. And when they say “I’m just doing this job for the sake of my kids” my take on that is “the best thing I can do for my kids is set a good example and that means following my dreams”.
It’s hard of course, but they say nothing that’s easy in life is worthwhile. Weekends spent working when I could be playing with my children make me question what I’m doing, but you have to keep the faith and remember that ultimately you’re trying to change things for the better.
Photography found me a few years ago in my first year of marriage. My wife had a ladies clothes boutique and we decided to take it online. I took the opportunity to buy a decent camera and volunteered to do all the product photography for the website.
Looking back now I think I’d had this internal desire to try photography for a while. So this was the perfect excuse. We bought some cheap and cheerful lighting, employed the services of a photographer friend, and I read ‘Photography for Dummies’ cover to cover! The shots came out well and orders soon started coming in.
The tough economic climate combined with starting a family meant that something had to give. So we decided to close the business and I returned to the work I’d been doing for 7 years previously, in the Aerospace industry. I knew this would be the quickest way to provide for the family, but I also knew it would not fulfil me and my desire to work for myself and be creative.
At the same time, I began helping a local wine shop with their product photography and this immediately grew into paid work.
Fast forward a couple of years and things are building in momentum. I’m very much in the transition stage at the moment, so working a full week, then devoting evenings and weekends to building a business. I’ve been lucky enough to have brilliantly varied work come my way. From clean and crisp product shots, to lifestyle and interiors, sports events, wine tastings, birthdays, portraits and weddings.
I’m thankful for my day job at the moment, even though it’s not my passion or providing the lifestyle I’m working towards, it’s enabled me to build things slowly and surely, without putting financial pressure on the photography work. In this way, it’s possible to be a bit more selective with the work I take on and at the same time, work out which areas I’m attracted to.
The variety of work is key, as you never know when the skills learnt doing one type of shoot will come in handy for another. For example, at weddings I love capturing details that the bride (and possibly the groom!) have spent months preparing. This is part of their story, so aspects of product and lifestyle photography come into play.
Personally, I find it a real buzz being able to turn what I see in front of me into a two-dimensional image. The challenge of balancing all the aspects of light, composition and emotion into a single frame and trying to improve every time is what I relish.
Do you have time to read another?