A Day in the Life of a Photographer

When I tell people I am a photographer, I generally get quite a positive reaction – it certainly beats telling them I am an Accountant (which I used to be!).  Then almost immediately I get asked “So, do you shoot weddings?”  Which I don’t, or at least, don’t do regularly.   There are many misconceptions about what a Photographer’s day might look like so I thought I would do a “Day in the Life of …..” blog post.  I’m doing a typical Monday for this purpose ……..

6.50 am  The alarm hasn’t gone off yet but the cats are letting me know that it’s breakfast time so I’m up to sort them out.  I’m straight into my running kit for a quick half an hour round town before the rest of the family are up. I don’t manage this every day but if I have a day when I am likely to be at the computer a lot then it’s a good antidote.

7.30 am  I’m back in time to see the family for breakfast as the kids get themselves sorted and ready for school – the joy of teenagers being that I’m nearly redundant on this front; I just try to get a teensy bit of chat out of them before they disappear.

8.15 am  Time for a quick tidy up and domestic sort out before I am at my desk to start the day.

8.30 – 10 am  Check emails, social media and photo orders that have arrived via the website before starting on photo editing.  Weekends tend to be my busiest days for shoots unless it is nursery season (May and October), or unless I have had corporate shoots, so it’s not unusual for a Monday to be spent editing and sorting out photos from weekend shoots.  At a typical family portrait shoot I will take around 100 photos, at a teen photoshoot party  around 275 photos (I’m remarkably consistent!) and at a nursery shoot I could have as many as 500 images to process.  All these images need to be uploaded, backed up and reviewed in order to select those suitable for further attention.  Following a family session I would prepare a selection of images to show the client at a viewing session (usually within a week of the shoot) – and my favourite images would be edited in terms of lighting levels, colour v black and white, crop, special effects.  Depending on the shoot I may create a slideshow with music etc or need to spend time on detailed photoshop work to remove skin blemishes or other unwanted details.  All of this can be incredibly time consuming, but if it’s not too complicated then I listen to the radio as I go.

Mid morning    Definitely need a coffee and usually I haven’t got this far without several interruptions.  There are many advantages of working from home, but the downside is that it is quite easy for the day to be hi-jacked.  I take phone calls as I go and am pleased to be able to schedule in an afternoon headshot for a Sales Manager who needs one urgently for his Linked In profile.

Doorbell  Aha, the postman is there with a HUGE cardboard box.  Very exciting!  This’ll be the customer frames from a couple of family shoots a few weeks ago coming back from my supplier. I absolutely love getting the finished products back – I unpack everything to check it is all looking good and send some quick messages off to my customers to let them know their frames are ready for collection.

There is also a big packet of prints from a teen party a week or so that I extract, check and start to package up for my customers.  Each one goes into a folder mount and is double checked against the original order.  BY the end of the morning I have a big pile ready to go to the Post Office (one of my least favourite jobs).

Lunch   A quick lunch in the kitchen and a scan of the headlines to see what has been happening in the world.  I like something pretty healthy so that I can indulge later on!

Afternoon  Time to check the studio is set up for the headshot coming in before he arrives.  It turns out to be a very nice chap who is leaving the corporate world so wants an updated and fresh image for his social media/ Linked in profiles.  We have a great chat about all sorts of things as we do the shoot, and venture into the garden too for a bit of variety in the imagery.  He has a look at the images on the back of the camera and I have a pretty good idea of which ones he likes best but we agree that I’ll put them on a gallery for him to show his family later prior to final selection.

The headshot guy has gone so I immediately load his photos up and do a quick edit before creating a gallery for him and sending the details over.

4 pm    My daughter is back from school so time for a cuppa and a chat before she retreats to her bedroom

4.30 pm I have a customer viewing coming soon so I check the projector and laptop are all set up ready to go with the images from the shoot.  These sessions are sometimes in the evening to accommodate working parents but these people are coming at 5 pm which is a little more civilised.  Usually I allow about an hour for people to make their selections but this can sometimes take much longer, depending on how decisive people are.  And how many of them are involved in the process, all with their own opinions. I try to help as I can with suggestions of what I think will work best.

Evening  Viewing session, at the end of which I have a lovely frame order from my customer – that’ll be tomorrow’s job to prepare and send off.

Depending on the time of year, I can sign off for the evening.  During super busy periods though I might well find myself drifting back to the computer to finish some edits or package up some orders late at night.

Is it what people think?

I suspect that people think I spend most of my time out and about with my camera and then that (somehow?) these photos are miraculously transformed into beautiful finished products.  The reality is that there is a huge amount of time spent uploading, selecting, culling, reviewing, editing and preparing images in order to get to the final selection, and this means a lot of time in front of the computer.  Which I don’t mind – but the challenge for me is to be disciplined and not to stray – it is oh so easy to be distracted by a video about the latest fantastic photographic gizmo when I should be photoshopping!  But as Benjamin Franklin said, “if you want something done, ask a busy person” …. this is oh so true!

Comments

Great to read your post. How wonderful to be able to work so creatively … loved the shots that show it isn’t all glamorous but it sounds like you are very passionate about what you do!

What a busy day you have. Like you with events it is all the pre-planning of the event that takes up your administration time, not the running of the event. I think similar with you out taking shots except you have more work to do after the event! Keep it up.

Sarah Seymour - -

Sounds busy and exciting. A great way to earn a living. Challenging and creative and you somehow got in a run and family too!

[…] A Day in the Life of a Photographer […]

The trouble with Mother’s Day

So today is Mother’s Day when we can celebrate and enjoy all that our mothers have done for us … a time to say thank you, and spend time with those special people.  But I think it is easy to forget that actually, Mother’s Day can be a particularly difficult day for many people who may find the much publicised demonstrations of other people’s apparently blissful existence just one more reminder that their own lives are less than perfect.  We are all guilty to a greater or lesser degree.  We tend to be pretty good at posting photos on Facebook or Instagram of the beautiful flowers we received or the happy family gathering we’ve just attended (yes, I just did that), but are somewhat less inclined to press the “post” button to publicise details of the son who seems to have forgotten that it’s mother’s Day (and yes, I seem to have one of those too!)  Facebook and Instagram can present an incredibly one sided, sanitised, but somewhat distorted view of our lives where all the great moments are shared freely, while many of the challenges and disappointments are kept private.  Because there are indeed far more appropriate ways in which such emotions can be shared and resolved, and I am not in any way suggesting that we should start moaning on social media.  However, I do think there are many reasons why Mother’s Day can actually be a very difficult time for some people.  Women who would desperately love to be a mother, but who have not been able to conceive, or mothers who have lost a child.  Children whose mother is no longer alive.  What do you do on Mother’s Day if you don’t have kids ….. or they have forgotten and not prioritised the day …. and your own mother is not around?   Looking at social media on such occasions is not going to help to ease the pain of missing a loved one.

Growing up, I don’t remember Mother’s day being a particularly big deal – I think the rampant commercialism has probably had a part to play in exploiting the occasion.  I am now the same age as my mother was when she died of cancer, and even though that was 28 years ago, it remains an incredibly painful reminder that she has not been a part of more than half my life.  But what is a real shame is that try as I might, I cannot seem to find a photo of me and her together.  There are a few of me with shocking teenage haircuts with the rest of the family and one at my graduation, but none of the shots I would really love to have – of me and her together, doing things, chatting, laughing.

 Embarrassing family photo from 1975 in the Lake District

And herein lies the other problem with social media.  Great though it is for instantaneous gratification and sharing of the moment, the reality is that in ten years time,  it may be impossible to lay your hands on that i phone shot you took on the spur of the moment.  Photos, like many other things these days, appear to have become a disposable commodity.  We take, we post, we move on.  Who knows whether jpegs will be a recognised photo format in ten years time, so even if you can locate that old computer or tablet, you may not be able to do anything with those images.

So what am I saying?  Lots of things I guess.  Appreciate your Mum, because one day she won’t be here, and then you’d wish you’d done more of the simple stuff.  Remember the people who are finding today particularly hard. And get good, professional family photos taken and presented beautifully.  Framed on the wall to enjoy or printed in a quality book, but not just saved on a CD or USB stick that you might lose or be unable to access in the future.

Me and my daughter 2015.  Photo credit to Alexa Bailey Alexa’s website

Comments

jkaye - -

Thanks Susan, for taking the time to comment. It is easy to think we are the only ones in a certain situation and somehow knowing that this is not the case can make a bit of difference.

Susan - -

What an excellent post! I have a child who doesn’t contact me, grandchildren who don’t either, I lost a husband and a mother (lol different times), and yes, we even ‘lost’ a son.

Happy occasions can bring sadness – but on the other hand, if we reach out to those we know find these times difficult, we are blessed by sharing.

And that is a great point about not saving the photos on a CD or USB. I used to keep all mine on an external drive. Unexpectedly, it failed, and I lost never to be recovered photos of another son before he went overseas to live.

You show great consideration in your writing. Thank you, you have touched through my loneliness. Susan

This is so true. One of my plans for the Easter break is to select a few more photos for our living space and I’m really excited to have a look and select a couple. It is far too easy to file stuff away and move on to the next thing.

What an excellent reminder about what is really important, Jenny, and expressed from a compassionate viewpoint.

Ute Wieczorek-King - -

You’ve hit the nail on the head here Jenny! I too struggle with the fake positivity in social media and its impermanence and have written about it (even ranted I guess) in blog posts and facebook updates especially around Christmas time. And what I would give to have a proper photo with my mum too… Thank you for a thought provoking post!

[…] The trouble with Mother’s Day […]

Website photos

Recently I was involved in a really fun project to create some new imagery for a website that was having a face-lift – new website photos to go with a re-branding.  The company was Partners with You,  founded by Sally Hindmarch.  They are all about mastering the art of communication, and provide training to ensure that your communication is clear and effective.  During the shoot we were aiming for photos that demonstrated a range of emotions – this made for a lot of laughs as the models for the day did their best to enact everything from “bored” to “enthused” to “overwhelmed” and a few more in between.  Much laughter ensued under the direction of Vanessa Emery from Fuzzbox Design as we put our models through their paces.

It’s great to see the Partners with You site now live with the new imagery as well as huge banners for their exhibitions.

 

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Bucks Open Studios

Last summer I participated in Bucks Open Studios with a number of fellow artists. Bucks Open Studios happens across the county over two weeks in June, when over 200 local artists (from photographers to sculptors to jewellery makers to artists) open their studios to the public to showcase their work.  It is a fantastic opportunity to meet the artists and get to see and experience their work first hand.  I was part of Studio 24 with fellow artists Claire Burke, Jo Hanrahan, Jane Wilson, Trevor Crompton and Paul Bell in a wonderful garden setting in Beaconsfield with views over the open countryside.

I was sharing the garden studio with Claire and Jane, and in between visitors they were painting away which was fascinating to watch as a blank canvas was transformed before our eyes into a work of art.  Amazing!

Jo Hanrahan (landscapes below from Jo) was our fantastic hostess who very kindly opened up her home and garden during the two weeks to a stream of interested visitors.  The kettle was always on and freshly baked cakes every day kept our visitors refreshed as they explored the work of the artists on show.


Bucks Open Studios is running again for two weeks in June 2015.  Sadly I will not be exhibiting again this year but I am looking forward to the opportunity to visit other local artists – including of course those at Studio 24 – to see what they have on show.

 

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Location portrait sessions

Wonderful weather in the summer meant lots of opportunity to get out of the studio and enjoy the outdoors.  With autumn now upon us there are still some lovely mild days and the autumn colours will be looking fabulous for location shoots.  Some families prefer to have an outdoors family portrait session rather than the studio – this can work particularly well with larger groups, dogs and for families who prefer the freedom of the outdoors to the confines of the studio.  Every location portrait session will be different as the locations, weather, colours and light change according to the time of year and seasons, so it offers the opportunity for a truly unique portrait session.  I am happy to travel to local areas around Beaconsfield, including Amersham, Marlow, Chalfont St Giles, Burnham etc, all of which offer a range of different and colourful settings.

This family had four children and a young dog, and were keen to have their shoot in the local woods and countryside near Marlow where they often walk, so off we went.  Blessed by a beautiful September day, the setting was perfect and after some shots in the woods themselves we found ourselves in a lovely open setting with space for the kids and dog to run about.

 

Having the freedom of space on a location shoot can be great for letting children “be themselves” and result in wonderfully spontaneous photos, allowing the children to interact with each other in a more relaxed way than is feasible in the studio.

If you are interested in having a location family shoot then do get in touch with me to discuss where and when might be the best place for your session.  Your photos will be truly unique!

 

 

 

 

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