Trials and tribulations 1…..

This is the first in what I intend to be a series of blogs looking at the changes I’ve encountered since I decided to give up my old day job, take redundancy and early retirement.  I’m hoping it won’t be negative reading, because that’s not my experience of my new life at all.

Going full time with my photography has brought some surprises.   I thought I was ready for the move, completely prepared and up for all of the challenges the change would ring to my life.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, wedding photography in particular is a very hard market to break into, and I certainly wasn’t expecting instant success.  So it has proved.

In the beginning I carried on pretty much as I had been doing when I was part-time.  Lots of private and personal shoots mere mixed with paying events, mostly weddings and family occasions.   I undertook some training, ventured to Hungary and later in the year I went to the Swiss and Italian lakes on a road-trip.  It was a great start, but pretty soon I realised one thing, and that was that eventually my photography was going to have to support my lifestyle, or my lifestyle needed to change.  Things were not sustainable.

Gradually those changes have started to take effect.  The first casualty was shooting for fun.  I used to do a lot of model work, which allowed me to practice and improve various techniques.  I particularly enjoyed working outside in the elements with ever changing backgrounds and lighting conditions, as opposed to working in a studio where everything is much more controllable.   Sadly I just can’t shoot for fun now.   Models need to be paid, they have a life to live too, and I won’t insult them by trying to offer TFP.   I need the potential to earn something off my model shoots, so photographing for stock was an opportunity that opened up.  Of course, it’s not quite as easy as that.  Nothing ever is, is it?

Shooting for stock has limited the number of models I can use.   Some of those I’ve worked with in the past are signed to agencies, so can’t sign the model releases that I need to be able to use my images on a commercial basis, unless I pay the agency’s commercial rate.   I could use the images editorially, but ethically I don’t think that’s right unless the model is aware of my intentions.    That leaves me with models that aren’t signed, and there are plenty of them, but without meaning to be unfair, I have to choose carefully.

Shooting for fun then is non-existent for me now.   There’s a host of other things that have changed too, and I’ll be looking at those things in subsequent parts of this series of blogs, but despite things which can at first sight appear to be be negative, I know that I’ve made the right decision to go full time.  I wouldn’t change what I’m doing now for the world.

I’ve included a link to my wedding website below, however that’s another thing that’s going to change in  a big way.   More about that in the next post!

Mel Pettit Wedding Photography


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