Two years ago, roughly around this time, I quit my job.
About 6 months before that I had bought a suit and got a proper job in recruitment as a knee jerk reaction to a freshly failed long term relationship. I knew that I hated recruitment within a few weeks but persevered and lied to myself that I would get into it.
The problem with lying to yourself in the middle of an existential crisis is that it's only a matter of time before you snap. All it took was two music festivals in 3 weeks and an ill advised night of ketamine use in a tent, and I was done. It turns out that turning your brain to mush doesn't help you maintain your coping mechanisms in a stressful working environment...who knew?
Two days later and I was driving home from my first day back at the office at roughly 10-am, dumbstruck with a mixture of horror and relief at what I had done. I was out. I had done it in true 'fuck this shit I'm going home' paperwork scattering, dramatic style and it was as fantastic as it was stupid. Now what?
Two years later I've just finished my first busy summer as a wedding photographer. I'll be honest - it's not my full time job - although I do want it to be. This summer and the 9 weddings in 8 weeks has convinced me of that. The trouble is - it's also all of the weddings I've shot this year. Not enough.
The situation I'm in right now is not one that I like to brag about. At 31 years old I've had to move home with my parents so that I have the time to try and make this business work. If I had the financial burdens that only working full time could meet I wouldn't be able to do this. I know I'm lucky in that regard - but man - saying that I live with the rents at 31 sucks.
I work two night a week at Travelodge so that I have some sort of guaranteed income. When I say nights I do mean nights. 11pm till 7am. It's amazing how quickly working a couple of grave yard shifts turns you into a nocturnal animal. I can't get to sleep before 4 in the morning now. Not ideal when I'm trying to fill my days with business building goodness but at least I'm not working full time.
Why am I telling you this?
I've nearly finished editing my final wedding of the summer. After that I'm going to start concentrating on getting myself booked up for next year.
I'm going to charge £800 per wedding.
I'm a confident photographer. I have faith in my work. I know I have a genuine love of photography and story telling. I believe my work is timeless and not influenced by fads or trends or wedding industry approved filters and all that crap. I produce work for people who appreciate good photography that will stand the test of time rather than the limited life-span of a wedding blog's approval.
So why £800? Bit low isn't it? What's the catch?
There isn't one. I live with my parents. As much as it pains me to say it I have no bills to pay aside from what I spend on equipment, insurance and travel. I may as well use this time to give people a more affordable chance to have quality photography at their wedding. I can afford to be cheap for now.
Before I raise my prices (and I will raise them) I want to experience a fully booked year. My (possibly terrible) logic is that keeping the price low will help me do that.
If I do one a month alongside the night shifts in 2018 then I'll have more than enough money to invest back into the business for 2019 alongside all of the contacts and word of mouth that I will have built in 2018.
I don't expect to be earning the big bucks this early in my career. I'm not going to take any short cuts to get there.
I am on a journey that started the day I sacrificed my independence to work towards a life worth living rather than simply getting by day to day doing the same old shit just to pay the bills.
If you let me into your lives for just a little bit you'll be helping me towards that goal hugely.
In return I'll tell your story to the best of my ability and provide you with an heirloom that you can pass down and down until your grand kids are bored shitless with them.
It's not even a leap of faith, right? - I've spent the past two years building a portfolio that should prove that. Just have a look around the site.
Now it's time for phase two of the master plan. Let me know if you want to be part of it.
Just keep an eye on me if it's a festival wedding.