For the loyal readers who’ve been with me from the start of this blog, I thought I’d give you all a quick update on how the transition to full time pro is going a few months in. In short: I’m enjoying it, but boy is it hard work. Even during the dark depths of my management consulting career, I don’t think I worked such long hours – and there’s no goof off time either, because you’re always on your own clock. I won’t lie and say that it’s all rosy; there are always days I wake up and worry about the pipeline, or collections, or sudden changes, or even being faced with a challenge that I can’t shoot – but I also think the reality is that these anxieties are normal, and if you don’t have them, then something is wrong (or about to go wrong) because one is being overconfident.
For the curious, here’s how my typical day looks – in this case, I’m using my schedule from 17 May, because I happened to flip to that page in my planner and can still read most of the handwriting:
7.00am: Wake up, hit snooze again.
7.15am: Alarm goes off again. I’m in that half-asleep-half-awake state thinking about what I need to get done for the day. I finally get out of bed when either antsyness (is that even a word?) overcomes inertia, or my wife starts getting ready for work.
7.20am: Poke the polar bear, who’s still sleeping.
7.30am: I’m at my desk and dealing with email. Thanks to the internet, messages arrive at all hours – a quiet day will see perhaps 20 emails when I wake up, over 50 on a busy day. And that’s having cleared out my email just before I went to bed earlier. Some stuff is from clients, some stuff is blog comments, some stuff is reader questions. And there are personal emails, offers for credit cards and personal enhancement pills buried in there somewhere too usually.
8.30am: I’m usually done with replying messages by now. Time to put an upload onto Flickr, and sort things into groups.
8.45am: POTD goes up onto the site, and any amendments that other articles require (I work about a month in advance) are made.
9.00am: Leave for breakfast with a client to pick up a watch to shoot.
10.00am: Back in the studio, begin setup of lighting for the shoot.
10.05am: Clean watch. Microfiber cloths to polish, and Rodico watchmakers’ putty to remove grit and dust from the cracks and crevices.
10.15am: Still cleaning watch. The more cleaning you do upfront, the easier your job is later in the retouching.
10.30am: Finally done cleaning watch; now handled only with microfiber gloves and a filtered blower is used between position changes to remove as much dust as possible.
11.30am: A break for the flashes because they’re starting to overheat; time for new batteries and a drink for the photographer. Download cards onto computer and run a backup.
12.45pm: Finish shooting, download cards again and run a backup. Charge all batteries, clean equipment and stow in dry cabinet. With ambient RH of anywhere between 65 and 90%, you really don’t want to leave anything out and run the risk of a fungus growing on it.
12.50pm: Burn disc of rough preview jpegs for the client to pick from. This was a rush job because it’s a foreign client that happens to be in town, otherwise I’d normally do things via Dropbox.
1.30pm: Lunch with client, delivery of rough images on CD, return watch
3.00pm: Quick coffee with a friend – the coffee is more for my benefit at this point – we share a mutual client (he’s a lawyer)
3.30pm: A serendipitous phone call reveals that another potential client is not only in town, but within the same 500m radius; I manage to squeeze in an appointment for 4.30. Rush back to the studio to get the iPad.
4.20pm: Arrive at meeting location, wait a little; find nearest and coldest air conditioning vent to cool down after rushing.
4.30pm: I’ve got a 15 minute window to pitch; it’s another watch client, so I take him to see the exhibition which fortunately still happens to be running. Turns out he’s seen it, liked the work, but didn’t realize I was the photographer. Note to self: ensure proper signage in future.
4.45pm: We go our separate ways, and I return to the studio/home/office.
5.00pm: Clear email and messages again.
5.30pm: Write an email to a prospective new agent-representative in Singapore; safeguarding the pipeline of future work is always the number one concern for any commercial photographer.
6.00pm: Call another client in Switzerland to follow up retouching details and payment; it’s a good time to call because they’ve had their morning coffee and aren’t quite thinking about lunch yet.
7.00pm: Some light browsing to see what’s news in the world of photography.
7.30pm: Time to think about dinner and spend time with the wife, who’s now arrived home and been patiently waiting for me to get off the damn computer.
9.30pm: Back online again to clear yet more email and write another post; by the time I’m done laying everything out, proof reading, adding images and so on, I’m beat.
11.30pm: Schedule post, look up my stats for the day (ooh, just noticed the site must have crossed the quarter million hit mark sometime in the last few days) and check the to-do list for tomorrow. Realize that on the to do list is ‘buy diary’ – I’m relying on a combination of memory, iPhone reminders and bits of paper, and it’s utterly useless for longer term scheduling.
11.45pm: Climb into bed, try to read a little before sleep; manage about four pages before dozing off. It’s bad if it’s an exciting book, because then I might read until 1-2am and not get enough sleep for the next day.
So, who wants my job? 😛 MT
Visit our Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including Photoshop Workflow DVDs and customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!
Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved