Just like you I have noticed there are affordable DSLRs compelling so many people to consider photography either as a part-time or fulltime career. Camera equipment can really be expensive, but photography is one of those businesses with a low overhead and once you have your own photography gear you can enjoy a flexible yet rewarding part-time job.
As you’d expect, to begin with things were quite slow for me so I used that time to develop my craft and learn as much as I possibly could. A subscription with Lynda.com and a ridiculous number of hours spent on YouTube watching anything and everything about photography. I loved the technical aspects of photography and I think that really helps with my interior and architectural photography. Once I felt like I was ready (which didn’t take too long) I was able to get my first job through the help of friends. I gave them the world and got paid peanuts for it, amazingly I still made a profit.
Profit was the key thing because I needed to make enough money to leave my part time job, dear god I hated my part time job. The work was menial, I was not being utilised properly in any way shape or form and I had so much more to offer, so I set out to create something for myself. Working initially as a part time photographer meant the majority of my free time was taken up by something I love.
One of the most prominent thing I kept hearing was how difficult the photography industry was and how competitive it is. It seemed like every other video had a warning included about how tough it’s going to be. Honestly I don’t know what all the fuss is about I haven’t found it difficult at all. Anything is difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you haven’t prepared a sound strategy or done sufficient research. Business fundamentals remain the same across all industries and I made it a priority to understand business before understanding photography. I think anyone who wants to set up their own business should do it because I can tell it’s an amazing feeling.
One of the great things about working as a part time photographer is that hopefully your part time job can cover your essential costs. This means the majority of your income from photography is extra income and can be used to properly develop a potentially thriving business. There is of course a pitfall in that when you have disposable income, fancy gadgets and shopping sprees starts to look very appealing. I know I've made a few questionable purchases and even recently I purchased a set of Bang and Olufsen headphones for £399.00!
Fortunately I was quite disciplined when it came to my company and I'm very aware of the affliction known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I can’t stress how important it is to manage your finances and remain strict when it comes to any purchases.
The main disadvantage of being a part time photographer is the lack of time. Just when you’re in the middle of doing something amazingly creative, you’re rudely interrupted by that deep dark pit of a feeling… tomorrow is another day at work. Sundays were probably the most heart breaking days ever. Managing time is essential when it comes to being a part time photographer. The week is split into two sections, days when you’re working and days when you’re at your job. Utilising any and all time is so important especially in the beginning, in my mind any time I was not working on my company was time wasted. I keep asking myself one question, “Is there something I could be doing right now to further my company”, the answer is always YES!
It’s amazing how much time can be spent procrastinating, looking at Facebook and Twitter feeds, watching random videos, stuff on Netflix and just surfing the net. Don’t worry this post does not come with a familiar warning because I procrastinate too and yet I still manage a growing company :).
I've now left employment and set up my photography company. I worked at British Gas and while the company may not have had the best reputation in the industry some of my co-workers were pretty amazing. I used to hate every minute in that place and couldn't wait to get out and do my “real job”. It was strange, when I was close to leaving British Gas, I suddenly became very thankful for having that job and realised how important it had been. Without having that part-time job, I wouldn't have been able to set up my company, so in short,...
Thank you British Gas.