Love hate relationship with being a self employed photographer

We live in a world where it’s admirable, achievable and sought after to be self employed, especially as a photographer. You hear the same things:

You get to work your own hours!

Yes, you do. It’s usually 16 hours a day, 7 days a week… Your mind, being self employed, becomes programmed to think about work… so whether you’re being proactive with your work or whether you’re just thinking about it, it’s work. Work. Work. Work. YOU. DO. NOT. SWITCH. OFF.

You get a good income!

Because we work, relentlessly, never taking a sick day even if we’re running a fever, when we should be in bed watching Netflix with tissues and water. We’re on our laptops jotting ideas down, emailing, checking in on things, minimum that we do whilst we’re sick. And another thing. TAX. All the tax. The tax that every single person I know forgets about until December and then panics. Because who actually saves the 20% we’re supposed too? No one I know.

You love what you do!

Rekha Garton.jpg

Why do we subject ourselves to being self employed then?!

Yes. I love photography. But as soon as you set your passion and income together, the lines become… blurry. Your goal is to create income rather than creating for the sake of creating. It’s a very very grey blurry area that does not sit comfortably with me. I am less creative and productive that way. I procrastinate too much, I get very down and take things very personally if I have a tricky month of sales. Art fluctuates, rapidly. Trends, fashions, designs all change. It’s heartbreaking one month and the best month you’ve ever had the next. Exhausting is no longer a word that cuts it.

You can take a holiday whenever you want!

Yes. I suppose. But that money is coming straight out of my income, savings of which there isn’t much, also as a photographer, a holiday is just another opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on… every photographer is the same.

So yes if you find a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life OR you’ll actually work harder than anyone else around you, never take a day to yourself, forget how to relax, forget about any other hobbies that bring you joy, forget that not everything you do should be about your income… You’ll work late into nights, get up early, let the weather dictate how much you get done, probably forget to exercise and your holidays will not be about relaxing.

Why the hell do you do it then?

Because I have too. I need income. I’m good at my job and I don’t know how to do anything else. I wouldn’t want too either. Seeing my work on book covers in shops and even just online brings me a huge swell of pride. I can let me holidays go around my partners schedule rather than us having to organise it around each other. I can pay friends to model for me, help them out whenever they need it. It’s pretty good.