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Posted in : Featured / General Blog on June 27th, 2012.

Right now, I should be sleeping in order to be ready for an early departure to Scotland.  I had planned to spend a week staying at Scone Palace near Perth for the Scottish Game Fair, shooting portraits of falconers with their birds and working dogs.

Instead, I’m sitting here on my computer at 4:15am, having coughed myself awake an hour or so ago (I fell asleep around 5pm yesterday, so I’ve had a decent session in the land of nod).  I’ve had to back out of the above trip due to a rather nasty chest infection that’s knocked me kinda sideways.  I’ve also had to reschedule two shoots that were planned over the last few days (fortunately, neither were time-critical, otherwise I would’ve been hiring and sending replacements to cover for me).

Let me just say, chest infections REALLY suck!  Especially ones that leave you pretty much bedbound for a week.

Have I let my current debilitated state get to me?  am I just moping around the house feeling sorry for myself?  No.  Well, mostly no, I’m obviously a bit bummed that I’ve had to cancel two shoots, and that I won’t be able to make it to the Scottish Game Fair, but there’s always the Falconry Fair next month.

Last Wednesday, I was still feeling pretty good.  I had a photographer friend over from Nottingham, and we’d planned to go spend the day in the Lake District with a model I’d worked with before.  We were both shooting digital as well as film.

I’m glad I developed my rolls that night, I don’t think I could bear standing at the sink for an hour or two developing a bunch of film right now – and as wonderful as my wife is, I don’t think she’d have been willing to do it for me, although the constant supply of ice cream she’s provided over the last few days to sooth my throat has been invaluable!

So, I’ve had those images to be working on, and the film is all scanned in now too.

As a side note, feeling close to death turned out to be a little bit of a blessing in disguise.  Thursday evening was the beginning of the amazing three and a half day Don Giannatti workshop on creativeLIVE, most of which I would’ve missed had the next few days gone as originally planned.

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Despite having to watch most of the workshop on my iPhone in bed, it was an extremely informative class from one of the best instructors currently out there.

Product photography was something I briefly did a few years ago, but not to the level that Don’s been doing it on a daily basis for the past several decades, so I found it a very valuable insight into his world, and has actually given me some ideas on different techniques I can apply to my portrait work, as well as confirming a few ideas and concepts I’d had regarding shooting products.

If you didn’t manage to catch the class when it was live, I’d definitely suggest heading over to creativeLIVE and purchasing it, especially if you’re serious about product photography.  There are also many business tips and methods included in the workshop that can apply to pretty much any area of photography (or to pretty much any business out there really).

Given the way I was feeling by Friday morning (virtually overnight it kicked in pretty hard, and I was waking up about every 30-40 minutes through the night coughing and spluttering), I knew I wouldn’t be right for Saturday’s shoot.  I contacted the model I was due to work with to find out she’d not been feeling so good either (there must be something floating around in this area at the mo).  Fortunately, this model is a good friend with whom I’ve worked before half a dozen times or so, so we mutually decided to reschedule for another day when we’re both feeling up to it.

My current condition actually ended up not being a factor in Monday’s shoot.  As often happens, the weather beat me to the punch.  The first week of summer has been true to British form, so it has been raining pretty much non stop.  With the River Lune’s banks being close to overflowing locally (in some areas further up the river it already had), that pretty much put a stop to proceedings anyway.

You might think that a bit of flooding would help if you’re planning to submerge somebody in the River Lune.  Of course, it also increases the flow of the water, and the weather being what it has, the temperature isn’t the greatest.  Not the best combination to ensure subject safety!

So, that’s all my plans gone to hell and my time pretty much cleared out for a few days, so what to do?

Well, aside from having some extra time that I could put into processing Wednesday’s images, Don’s class gave me a lot of things to think about (and, thus, research!).

It’s become one of those times to revisit the constantly evolving business plan.  If you’re looking to make money from your photography in any kind of serious capacity, you do have a business plan, right?

Even if photography is just a hobby or a “weekend thing”, from which you wish to make just enough of an income to help support your habit, you’ll still need to declare that income, and having a proper plan in place helps to prevent upsetting the tax man, and gives you an idea of what you’re worth (just because you’re not full time doesn’t mean your work is worth any less if the service and quality is just as good!).

As a consequence I’ve been able to find a couple of new suppliers that would enable me to save a little money on each job, as well as find a few new potential income sources for my work.

I’ve taken a long hard look at my portfolios and the rest of the work I’ve produced over the last couple of years to really try to nail down what I’m best at, and what I really enjoy doing the most.  I’ve learned that what I’m best at isn’t what I enjoy doing the most, and that neither of those things are necessarily what will potentially earn me the most income.  So, priorities are going to have to change somewhat over the coming months.

One thing I’d been putting off for a while was sorting and mapping all of my location scouting photographs.  Now, during a meeting with a client, I can quickly bring up a selection of photographs of various locations within a given area for location portrait shoots, along with a map to work out  meeting places and a schedule for the session.

I’ve also had the time to be able to have a proper go at cleaning up my social networking accounts a little.  Removing a few things, connecting with a few new people, and making some possibly important contacts.

While I may not have been able to stick to my original plan, I have been able to keep myself busy, despite spending most of the last week in bed.  Even when you feel like you can’t do anything, there are always things that you can be doing to improve your craft or improve your business.

The wonders of modern technology allow us to get a lot done very quickly.  Mobile phones and laptops both give us a connection to the world while we’re tucked up and resting in bed.

So, the next time you get the sniffles, don’t just sit around the house feeling sorry for yourself.  See it as life giving you an opportunity, some more time to sit back and reflect, research, and maybe do one or two of those things you know you really should do, but you’ve been putting off due to being too busy.


  • Header image courtesy of Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine.  Used under Creative Commons license.