That I am doing a job that is my passion and my hobby which I would be doing anyway, whether I am paid to do it or not! It opens up far more opportunities for me to pursue what I love, explore it on a much deeper level and let me get better and better (hopefully!) I also love the freedom of being my own boss and working for myself, although the pressures of finding the next project is solely to me.
- How do you feel on Monday mornings?
Now I am freelance, weekdays and weekends can blend into one another, I don’t mind when I work, as long as it fits into what I am doing. So Monday I feel very happy to be getting on with what I am doing at that moment. I certainly don’t ever get a Sunday evening dread!!!
- What makes you get out of bed each day?
The shoot that I am doing that day. I always look forward to my shoots as they are always different so you never know what to expect, what you are going to see or who you are going to meet. If I don’t have a shoot on that day, then looking for my next jobs and finding new opportunities will get me up. Or having to get my edit done – which I can sometimes lose motivation over!!
- How much planning has gone into your career?
I just knew this was what I wanted to do and got on with it. I have no business plan, I just followed my heart. Risky perhaps, but the passion was there so I knew I would make it happen, whatever people may have said!!
- How did you get to where you are?
I was lucky and had been made redundant so had enough money to keep me going for a while. I moved back home (in my thirties – my poor parents) and made sure I had very small outgoings. I assisted photographers, which was a great way to learn and make good contacts, as well as having to make them tea and carry their equipment. I then went for it and found my own stories and sent them to all the magazines. From my last career in film and my old boss who definitely always got what he wanted, I learnt you have to believe in yourself and go straight to the top. My first commission from a magazine was from mobile casino House & Garden – I couldn’t really go much higher than that!!
- What”s has helped you get there?
I was lucky that I had some redundancy money to keep me going and could live for free at home. But actually, I think it is the hard work of getting out there, finding stories and getting them into magazines. Once you start going then more and more opportunities arise. I spent months emailing and phoning everyone and anyone I could possibly think of and eventually the work started coming in. I had to go out searching for it, it didn’t just come to me! I think also having a good website helped a lot as that is where people go to see what I can do. It seems to do the job to convince them I can take photographs!!
- What”s been your biggest career achievement?
Getting my first ever magazine commission from House and Garden and then getting the cover shot too. I’ve haven’t done that again since!!
- What’s been your biggest career challenge?
I found it really hard at the beginning when I said I was a freelance photographer, people would often call me unemployed or make comments that I don’t work as they didn’t believe I could make a career out of being a photographer! That was really annoying. Also getting used to the freelance life of having some weeks with no work at all, but I always used that time to the full by finding more work. It used to really worry me – but now I know work will come in again and not to worry!
- What advice would you give someone looking to change career?
Just do it. Don’t delay, waiting for the right time, it will never come – you just have to go and do it. You may have to make adjustments to your lifestyle and live with no money for a few years, but that is definitely definitely worth it for the job satisfaction and happiness in life that you will get from doing what you love.
Emma Lewis is a freelance Interiors, Lifestyle and Portrait Photographer working for the top Interior magazines such as House & Garden, Homes & Gardens, ES Magazine as well as clients such as George Smith Furniture, Roca Gallery, Chelsea Design Quarter and Ochre.