How I found happiness

I had become tired of the rat race and a change was needed

Where to begin...Like many of us who start out with a camera we dream of one day being paid to take photos of what ever we want, to never "work" again. To one day find our selves in that magical spot where we feel like we are just on holiday, but being paid for it.

In 2012 I studied half a photography course, I didn't feel like I needed to do the whole course as I had already been working for a few years in the film & television industry, but once I started the course I was slapped in the face with how little I really knew about cameras and fell in love with photography.

In the years to follow I managed to keep part time jobs that aloud me to spend the other part of my time working in photography, sometimes it would be months without photographic work, But I used that time to work on personal projects and develop my photographic skills.

Eventually the lack of money in my life started to bring me down, I was convinced that to be successful in photography it would require me to spend a majority of my time "doing business" and very little of my time actually taking photos. So I took up a full time job as a camera salesman for Harvey Normans. This was actually great for a very long time, I got to spend most of my days talking to other photographers and it gave me the money to buy my first house, upgrade my gear, go out for dinner more often, but best of all I was able to spend all of my spare time working on personal projects that I loved. And photographically I felt I continued to bloom, I became a finalist for NZIPP landscape and portrait photographer of the year, plus I was a runner up for Black & White photography magazines photographer of the year that same year.

Now more then ever I was in love with photography, I knew I was good at it. I still wasn't at a level I was happy with (and hopefully I never will be) but I felt like I could now explore. I was at a point where nothing made me happier than taking good photos...but if only I had more time.

For a few years I kept convincing my self that I need a certain piece of gear to do the next project, that I had to keep upgrading to the biggest and best camera other wise I wouldn't be happy with the photos I would take. So I worked, I worked hard, I became the store manager for Harvey Normans and the money was great... but I didn't get any happier. I kept hoping that one day I would find that magical place I talked about at the start where I would essentually be paid to be on a photographic holiday. But I wasn't doing anything to take it happen.

This is where my boss at Harvey Norman shined, one day I sat down with him and told him I wasn't happy, I wanted to work less, and that photography was what I loved. And he completely understood. I stepped down form store manager back to a general sales person, changed from working five or six days a week to only working four days MAX. I got back into taking more photos and working less. For those that feel they are working to much at the moment this is the sweet spot. Because I was spending more time doing what I love, I was coming to work happier and my general way of life picked up ten fold. For those that have a boss that will let them do it I put this moment down as the first and greatest step towards finding happiness.

Come 2015 I had been at Harvey Normans for a few years, and while stepping down to four days a week was amazing, I wanted more. More than I could realistically expect Harvey Normans to understand... But they did. I dropped down to what I called extreme casual, this involved working maybe 2 days a month, just on call to help out when needed. The reason being was to keep my foot in the door encase going full time photography didn't work out.


Finding the balance
I have the time, I have gear but life it seemed had done a 360 on me, I was now so stress about making enough money to pay the bills, like I new I would years ago, that I couldn't afford to explore as much as I wanted. I have a tent, sleeping bag and great boots but for every trip the cost of petrol was being weighed up against the importance of paying the next bill (I have a wife and child to support as well and I'm sorry photography but they mean more to me then you do).

So what to do... where to go... how can I find the balance.

In what I felt like was a complete long shot in the dark I asked the only surviving camera speciality store in Taranaki if they had a job for me. But not just any job "The Dream Job" I only wanted to work 15 hours a week, I didn't want to work weekends and I didn't want to work for minimum wage. And holy shit they said yes. Sadly this is the point where my casual relationship with Harvey Normans came to a end, they had been great to me but it was time for me to move on.

So hear I am working for French Photographic, The 15 hours a week is just enough to pay for my mortgage, and as long as I can find one photographic job a month to pay for the other bills I am set.

Full time photography
I had done it, thrown aside the shackles of working for the machine and I was free to make the plunge in living the photographic dream. I knew it was going to be tricky as I wanted to focus on landscape photography, maybe it is just the grass seeming greener on the other side but from where I stand it feels like there is a lot more money in taking photos of people (it seems thats what most people want, photos of them selves and family).

During my time working full time I had saved up enough money to pay for my mortgage for 40 weeks, this might sound like a lot but when you have power, internet, food and petrol to pay for as well this money started to disappear pretty quickly. Worst of all I picked the coldest, wettest winter in recent history to start. I honestly spent the first 2 months sitting inside, not taking photos, getting depressed. It was hard...

But I was determined, I spent more time cooking nice meals instead of buying nice meals, I had a pot luck dinner nearly twice every week with friends. These are a cheap, very easy way to have a great night and to find positivity in your life and it really helped keep my spirits high. Yes I had to drop my way of life from what I had become used to, I knew I would have to do it eventually but the transition was harder then I had expected.

Eventually the weather started to clear up a little, the temperature started to rise, and I started to explore....
Tipping the balance
If you have ever held your breath under water for as long as you can, until you felt like your chest was about to explode. That moment when you break the surface a take that huge first breath. How good it feels to breath again. This is how I felt.

I have removed finical stress from my life by finding a job that doesn't effect my photography.

I have (mostly) shaken free of the need to spend money on "things" when time is what makes me the happiest.

I have the time to explore.

And this is how I am tipping the balance.
Over the years I have built up a few followers on social media, Nothing huge but my followers are quality. I have friends who can double their Facebook followers in a matter of weeks but when they do a post they recieve silence. When I post a photo I receive enquires.

Just from posting so many quality photos, working on something (Landscape Photography) that makes me happy, from doing what I love, I get work and I sell prints. And the more photos I take and post the more enquires I receive, this is a beautiful thing.

Im not talking big bucks here, I am still earning far less than what I was being a store manager for Harvey Norman, but that balance is tipping. At the time of writing this, it is about 4 or 5 months since I left Harvey Norman and the following has happened.

I have travelled nearly every second weekend, to near and far. I have purchased one new lens. I have been low on money... But I currently have more saved up then what I did when I started (with the 40 weeks of mortgage savings). I get to walk my daughter to school nearly every day. I get to cook good food with good friends, The photographic work I am producing makes me happy and I am proud of it.

I AM HAPPY...

You may also like

Why Fujifilm?
2016
X-T2
2016
Airsoft (Fujinon 35mm f/2)
2016
Crankworx 2016
2016
NZIPP 2016 IRIS Awards
2016
Colour
2016
B&W
2016
Landscape Photography Tips & Tricks
2016
Portrait
2016
NZ Landscape Photographer of the Year
2016
Back to Top