Every freelance journalist's goal is to stay busy. To have enough work to pay the bills, yet still have the flexibility to make your own schedule.

With this success comes a downside. That "freedom" desired by so many staff journalists will fade away in conjunction with your success as a freelancer.

Going back through every photograph, video clip and project of 2010, I noticed a steady decline in personal work. While oil spills, sporting events and commercial work kept my calendar filled, there were few days where I took a camera out for me, instead of a client.

While the mix of work and pleasure will always be a factor; every photo shoot is pleasurable but still work at the same time, there are few times where I can go shoot to just shoot.

One of these rare occasions was at the conclusion of my internship at The Miami Herald. I was already in South Florida and Key West was only a few beautiful hours away on U.S. Highway 1.

Four days at the Blue Parrot Inn did a world of good for my eyes. After watching the cities on the Gulf of Mexico slowly drown in a sea of oil for months, I needed a happy reprieve and Key West was the answer.

I've been asked if my job is ever lonely. The constant travel. Changing cities weekly, or daily at times, can have ups and downs. By the end of my tenure at The Miami Herald, I wasn't as much lonely as I was needed a break. Not a break from photography, but a break from assigned work.

Photography is not, and should never be, work. 

Too often do I come across photographers that complain about how terrible their job is. I understand times are tough and we all can't be shooting the front-page photo of the paper or the exclusive story, but to truly make this "job" enjoyable, you have to make every shoot the most important one.

But as success creeps in, you can pick and choose your assignments, especially as a freelancer, to make your job as enjoyable as possible. Yet, even if you got to work the biggest and best stories every day, you still need a break.

No one should ever complain about success, and this blog post is not, I'm simply stating that it is increasingly important as your business grows to take time to work for yourself. To go shoot that sunset and not get paid for it.

Looking forward, I can see that 2011 is going to be much busier than 2010, just as 2010 was much busier that 2009. Any freelance journalist who has growing business must make sure to make the best out of each assignment, but take out time for their own well being. You can take care of your health, your house, your cameras and your family and friends; but rarely do we focus on taking care of your mind. Time off for your mind is just as important as icing your knee after that extra tough football game or bandaging the latest work-related injury. 

All of this talk of well being has time and time again made for better work.

Some of my favorite pictures were shot for the most important client I've ever worked for.



Always on the move,

- Steve

1 Comment