There seems to be divided mindset between the freelancers and their freedom, and the other creatives with their security and benefits. My story has less to do with those things and more to do with getting the most I can out of my job, and keeping my passion for the things I love. Let’s take a bit of a step back into my past so I can walk you through to where I currently am and hopefully give some insight to anyone in a similar situation.
When I graduated and get my Certificate of Higher Education (HNC) in photography (a difficult time because we moved from Germany to Spain) I worked all of the time in various photographic studios. I started shooting weddings, portraits, and commercial stuff. It was awesome for that phase of my life.
I also did some minor design work for photographer, craftsmen, record labels, businesses, etc. I had “clients” coming in from “all” industries.
Then I decided to get my Bachelor’s Degree (B)² in Graphic Design… not a smart decision…
Someone will think that the relocation to Spain was easy… I knew back then that the relocating would kill everything that I had built in Germany where I had lived my whole life, but I knew I needed to make this move to both test my abilities and to learn something new.
It really inspired me seeing my family up and move away from everything they had known to get back to the place they loved.
So when I graduated in photography I knew that it would take some time to build a freelance presence in such a difficult place like Coruña due to the saturated market so my best option was to seek out a full time job and put my degrees to use. Luckily I found relatively fast studios that were hiring, got the jobs.
I continued to freelance in both design and photography in my spare time. It was tough at first, I was used to working all of the time, but never in a formal setting like an studio, so after an 10-hour day, weekends included coming home and doing freelance work was the last thing on my mind.
It took a lot of discipline and adjustment, but the biggest change was that I had to start turning things down, which I had never done before. It was actually pretty freeing to only have to take on the projects that really interested me.
Now, it is all about making enough money to live on, but back there I had the steady paycheck, I really only wanted to do work that resonated with me creatively. And the extra money coming in was just icing on the cake.
Settling into this groove was one of the best things I could have done for my career. In my experience, the clients that were the most demanding and difficult to work for, were also the ones that always tended to penny-pinch, lowball me, and take forever with payment. Eliminating those from my life freed me up to work for clients that actually seemed to value my work.
Every time the employment contract was not lengthened It was a low punch which basically means that every three or six months I need to find a new job or go fully freelancing.
I opted to look for a new job and booked the first quarter of the year with search projects. Heading into summer things started to become more apparent that if I wanted to pursue photography full-time freelance, I would need to get my own studio space, and I would need to become more of a salesman, putting together packages and having clients come in to view their images in order to persuade them to purchase more prints, and that is not me. I like processes streamlined, I like to create the process, the evolution… When it was clear that I needed to focus on building print packages, advertising and doing wedding expos, it also became clear that this whole thing just wasn’t for me.
That is just not who I am as a photographer. It hit me like a ton of bricks that if I continued down that path, I was going to end up hating the thing that I loved the most. I begrudgingly started looking for, what I thought to be nonexistent, the “perfect” job.
So unluckily I am still running from one job to another because no one offers a fixed position and prefer to hire freelancers… crisis they say… I wish we could pay you the full salary but…
All in all, I think I started writing this post because I know a lot of people that struggle with what they should be doing in life especially here in Spain. Yes, there are monetary needs that need to be met, but more importantly, you need to be fulfilled. I genuinely loved what I do during the day, and I love coming home to projects that I have hand-selected to take on. Having a full-time job gived me some freedom to do projects that I want to do. No longer do I have to grasp at straws with clients just because I needed to pay the bills. There is always a way that you can make that happen for yourself, even if you aren’t in the creative field. Figure out what makes you happy and make time for it. It is so satisfying when you do.
Now, this may not be the answer for everyone. It might not even always be the answer for me. We are constantly evolving and what was satisfying at one point might not be later on, and that is perfectly fine. Just be willing to adapt, and try new things because you never know when that next revelation is going to present itself. But for me right now, I need to get a full-time job because being a designer and a photographer all night and all day is what I want, and I have never loved photography more.