I wasn’t always a photographer though. I had a very succesful 27 year career in software engineering before this. One day, back in 2008, I woke up and realised I didn’t like where my career was going. I was rising through the ranks of management and turning into someone I really didn’t like. I wasn’t myself anymore and worse than that, I really didn’t like my job. I was under a huge amount of pressure. My Doctor measured my blood pressure at 160/100 and advised a lifestyle change.
My job, my career, everything I’d worked so hard for was killing me.
I needed to get out. I needed to change career or I wouldn’t see my children grow up.
Everyone I knew thought I was nuts but here I am. This is the story of my journey. (Click to Tweet)
That morning I decided I wanted to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a professional photographer. I’d always loved taking pictures, ever since my 18th birthday when my parents gave me my first SLR, an Olympus OM10. It was an amazing piece of kit and opened up a whole new world for me.
Taking hobby snaps is very different from running a business. Shouldering the burden of feeding my family from the images I sold was a whole new ball game but I’d made my decision and this was the path I wanted to tread. That year I registered my first photography domain, QTImages and took the first steps on my journey. It was a dismal failure: I’d unknowingly stumbled across a major roadblock that every photography start-up faces: how on earth do you get customers?
Clearly my naive belief that all I need do was open an online gallery and bank the cash wasn’t anywhere near reality. Something had to change: me. I needed to rethink what I was going to do, how I was going to achieve it and most of all take a crash course in a whole heap of new skills.
I picked myself up, dusted myself down and forged ahead with a single minded, stubborn determination that I was absolutely going to do this no matter what.
Then came QTPortraits and with it a little success. That was huge. It proved I could really do this so I threw everything into learning the craft of photography. I took every course I could find, not college courses but workshops and seminars from successful photographers: people who’d actually made it and knew what it took to build a business from scratch. I read every blog I could find and wore my poor mobile phone out with the number of podcasts I was getting through.
One of those podcasts gave me a great piece of advice: if you want to improve your photography, start a blog. So I did and theLightMatters.com was born. It worked too. I found writing about starting a photography business really helped to improve my images and my business skills.
By now my drive to succeed was relentless. I knew I could make this happen and I was hungry for it too. I’d picked up a position moonlighting as the house photographer for a London-based model agency, my images were getting published and I was starting to earn a little bit of money too.
Then, in October 2010, my employer called an ‘all hands’ meeting and announced plans for a large number of redundancies. It was crunch time: do I continue with software engineering or follow my dream?
I chose the dream.
My last day at work was Friday March 4th, 2011. I didn’t actually make it in that day. Instead I was in the studio with 8 high fashion models on a shoot: lookbooks for two London Fashion Week designers and a line of swimwear.
The rest is history.
theLightMatters came about as I wanted to document my journey through a blog. I chose the name, quite simply, because I realised very early on that photography isn’t about having all the best kit. It’s about the application and manipulation of light. Sure, great kit helps, but it isn’t just about kit.
Over the years, theLightMatters has evolved to more than just a blog. I now want it to become a source of reference for anyone in the same position as I was in all those years ago: in a job they hate with a dream to do something they love.
I turned professional in March, 2011. I’ve made some huge mistakes and learnt many, many things along the way. theLightMatters is now a channel where I can share my experiences and let others like you learn from my mistakes. Being a professional photographer means more than just making great images. You need to know how to run a successful business and more importantly, how to market your services.
A bad photographer who is great at marketing will always get more work than a great photographer who is bad at marketing. (Click to Tweet)
Now it’s over to you…
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