Sustainable Prospects Week 1 - From Here To There / by Chris Chucas

This week we have been thrown back into the deep end with our professional practice module . Working closely with our module leaderAnna Maria Pfab . We took a look at some of the ways people become professional photographers. There has been definite emphasise on the assisting route with an interview from Will Hartley one of Anna Maria Pfab's futures.  My personal relationship with photography has been one consistent up's and downs and plenty of hard times.

 I've always loved photography, when i graduated my Ba Hons Photography from  Falmouth University  in 2012 i couldn't bear the thought of killing myself doing free work in London so i went to live and work in South Korea.

I've always loved photography, when i graduated my Ba Hons Photography from Falmouth University in 2012 i couldn't bear the thought of killing myself doing free work in London so i went to live and work in South Korea.

I'm currently working full time as a freelance  photographer and video producer so I feel like I have a fairly well versed understanding of most things. Where I want to excel and really develop with the course is in the editorial and art project realms of professional photography. Currently my main sources of income are from weddings and events. In the interviews and materials provided this week we were privy to Will Hartleys story. Will graduated his Ba from Newport and worked whilst pursuing personal projects for a few years after. He then moved to London and made it work by staying on a friends sofa getting a job in as an editor pr photographer in a studio and then slowly assisting for photographers bit by bit. 

 I've always loved film and moving image, I wanted to work with video on my Ba but I was not allowed. Since then I've embraced film and have shot a handful of  i  ndependent short films and documentaries  as well as  music videos .

I've always loved film and moving image, I wanted to work with video on my Ba but I was not allowed. Since then I've embraced film and have shot a handful of independent short films and documentaries as well as music videos.

This is a common story and when I graduated from my Ba around the same time I knew a lot of people who did something similar. I personally couldn't bear the thought of sticking around in the UK for a second longer so I took a job in Spain as a photographer for some events company. This turned out to be really bad and nothing like what was advertised. So tail between my legs I came home did loads of jobs because they were all 0 hour contracts with no security and finally got some money together to leave to become an ESL teacher in South Korea. I didn't really know what I was going to do I just knew I was fed up of the same old place ( UK )  luckily for me I kept shooting constantly. I'm really glad I did. As I went along on my journey after graduating I saw lots of my peers go to London and pursue the same type of situation as WIll's. 

 I've built up the my  wedding  and portait business to live of that income and supplement my art and documentary projects. 

I've built up the my wedding and portait business to live of that income and supplement my art and documentary projects. 

They'd all go down get a job doing bar work or waiting, and then try and get assisting jobs and build it up like he did. In reality most of them didn’t last more than a year because a lot of the ways into assisting jobs and gallery work where unpaid. While i'm not adverse to unpaid work and learning opportunities it seemed that a lot of people were taken advantage of. Most of them didn't last long. Those that did were usually bank rolled from there parents. I knew from this that going to London to kill myself doing unpaid work wasn't for me. Not only that when I would speak to people about the cost of living they would tell me horror stories of rent prices for small rooms the size of cupboards that would rent whole houses out in south wales. I moved back from South Korea with my partner an decided to focus on doing what I loved (being a photographer). Since then I’ve always shot personal projects and set up several small business’s specialising in weddings, portraits and commercial work.

 A portrait of me in Brecon, Wales

A portrait of me in Brecon, Wales

I think it’s important to diversify and also consistently sharpening ones skillset. Much of being a photographer (and video producer in my case) is that the actual production of work is such a small part of the business. I have to learn web design, social media marketing new technologies and codecs, building relationships with other business. It’s very difficult but i’m glad I’ve taken this route in my development, i’m glad i’ve worked hard for little pay in the beginning as it’s been all in my control. I feel a lot happier about treating myself badly than working for free for someone else. I’m now focussing on working more in the art and editorial fields and I’m hoping the Ma will help me transition into them. I think we all need to think about our well being a bit more. There's more to life than work. Working in London for big brands is not the only measure of success neither is the amount of money one earns.