Working from Home into the unknown

Day One.

I’m splitting this post into two because there are essentially two different types of days for a Busy Wedding Photographer.

let me explain:

One day could be anything. I might be photographing a newborn baby, or driving to a consultation meeting, or Taking pictures of food for a catering company, or even actually shooting a wedding!

Another day could be sitting (or standing) in front of a computer screen from dawn to dusk, editing recent work, answering the phone/emails, more emails, and running the day to day business. This is what I’m calling Day One.

This is a typical run through of that kind of day…

6:30 a.m.

Wake up. The alarm is set for 7, but I’m usually awake before then. I don’t know why, but it might usually have something to do with my 3 children. The girls are nearly 7 years old and my son is nearly 5, which means that they’re now pretty good at getting themselves up. This morning, for example, they were down at the kitchen table drawing pictures, quite happily getting on with it. In any case, I know what day I’ve got coming up so I like to get up fairly early and spend a bit of time with them before school, even if it’s a bit chaotic. I drink A lot of tea to get this done.

7:30 a.m.

Gym, depending on the day. Mondays will be straight to the office to catch up on the enquiries from the weekend, so Tuesday I’ll get to the Gym. Now this is hard work for me – I haven’t had a massive history of sport or fitness in my life so I have to really find the motivation to go – I found that when the kids were babies that I just found that I didn’t have any energy, and hitting the Gym fixes that. All good so far.

It had another positive effect though, that I wasn’t really expecting. Having such a focussed exercise regime improves how I can approach the rest of my day. It forces me out of the headspace that is either work (office) or family life, and gives me a chance to step back and helps me prioritise. If I’m feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s because I haven’t been to the gym.

It’s as boring as you’ll get, and I don’t bang on about it, but I wish I had worked it out years ago.

Busy Wedding Photographer

9:30 a.m.

Office. More Tea. (Ed – I’ll stop going on about tea right now, but suffice to say I probably get through 10-15 cups of tea in a day. No Caffeine after mid-day is the best tip I can give you if you also have such problems).

My office is set up as a kind of portal. There’s my offline office, and my online office.

Offline is editing, album design, and printing. There’s always a lot to do, so I have to split my day into chunks, usually dictated simply by the calendar. Typical chunks would be something like 2 hours editing, an hour filling print orders, and a couple of hours working at preparing blog images and website backend. I usually have an allotted time refining content for this website.

Online is emails, social media, and blogging, and social media. Blogging is the big one, and I have to schedule in an amount of time on certain days of the week. Sometimes they’re quick and sometimes they can take a long time to get right, so I have to be strict about the time and stop within the schedule if I haven’t quite finished. It then shifts over to the next time slot that’s in my schedule, otherwise I could spend all day every day writing blog posts.

Emails are massively important to me – it’s my first port of call and often the first contact I have with new clients. We tend to get booked up 12-18 months in advance of the wedding and because of this I make the enquiries and getting people secure in the diary a priority – for them and me. It enables us to get organised and there’s a nice balance throughout the year.

Emails can also suck up time, or something comes in which means I have to drop everything, so even though I like a schedule to be rigid I have to build in flexibility.

Colourful working from Home picture

1:00 p.m.

Lunch. Carrie and I work in the office together nearly every day, so we’ll use lunch time to have a ‘lunch meeting’. Generally good to get away from the office for half an hour or an hour.

Busy Wedding Photographer

Afternoon.

I might have a client meeting in the afternoon, which will mean jumping in the car and bringing along my bag of goodies to show clients. It’s a really nice part of the day so I’m really up for a meeting. I can’t do them every day, of course, so I tend to book them in for Wednesdays and Thursdays, sometimes back to back. It doesn’t always land like this, and mostly people can only do evenings, or we’ll do a Skype thing. Face to face is always nice though.

If no meeting, I get stuck in to production again. I seem to be at my most productive in the afternoon so I give myself some free time to catch up on the things I maybe haven’t finished. There’s also a little room for extra curricular activity here, for example I’m starting up a Podcast very soon, and that has been something that I have had to heavily get in to – it’s very technology driven and needs a lot of research. It’s taken a lot of my attention to get up and running, and now can be given it’s own time slot somewhere.

I’ll work through until 7pm or 6pm if I think I deserve it!

Evening

I try to switch off so that I can enjoy more time with my kids. I like to cook – it’s usually the best way for me to decompress after pushing hard on production all day. My head is still swimming, or I’m thinking on Blog posts, or maybe approaching something from a new angle.

Once the kids are in bed, it’s time to kick back, though sometimes my head is still in work mode. I’ll spend time on social media, usually Twitter, and I might type some website copy in front of the TV. I like nothing more than going to bed early and reading! I’m THAT interesting! I have a Kindle which I love if only for the fact that there are no distractions – no internet browsers, no twitter, no Facebook, no website editing! Just words on a page.

I live and breathe photography, day in/day out so I try hard to really put it away until tomorrow. It’s not an easy balance to achieve, but every time I get this right I know about it because I always come back to it with a fresh perspective. Time away is just more important than procrastinating in front of a computer screen. Hence the gym, which I know might be already a regular thing for a lot of people, but to me it’s a revelation.

Getting it right.

I’m known as a busy Wedding Photographer, but it’s actually impossible to be so without tying down the office stuff. It took me a long time to get these office days right. Like probably most people I assumed in the beginning that being good at Photography and being passionate about it was all that I would need to do to be successful. For a while it probably was, or seemed like it was, but I soon worked out that running a business and being good at that was almost more important. I’ve been doing this for long enough to have worked out what works for me. Straight forward routines and (what must be to some) boring schedules make it easy to be efficient, and also easy to see when and where I’m being more productive. Being more productive means that I can come up with new ideas for projects, and it also means that I am still improving all the time. Simplifying how work gets done makes it easier to solve the problems that can actually then be turned into goals.

Getting Day One under control means that Day Twos are possible – but that’s a different story!

At some point I’ll shut down and go to sleep. I’ll want to get up early in the morning.

Night Sky after a long day at Work

Sweet dreams… xoxo

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