A year without a job… But not without work!
Yes! It has been exactly one year since I last stepped out of a workplace as an employee. At that moment, it wasn’t clear on how exactly I will get through the year. But, I had a clear plan on how I wanted to attempt reaching my goals. Yes, there were some surprises that came along the way.
September 15th, 2011… When I left for home from the newspaper office I worked for, there were lot of questions on my mind – Will I get enough projects, clients, and money to sustain myself? Would I manage to get enough work to lead a lifestyle that I was accustomed to?
But, the last one year of being a completely independent creative professional, and leading the life of a freelance documentary photographer and multimedia producer has been a busy one. It has been work, work, and more work. Of course, I had my share of fun too.
Six years back, when I left my job to change careers in the pursuit of photography, I had zero experience in what I wanted to do. But, it was the start that I needed. I never regret that start with no experience. It was that leap of faith, a shift from my comfort zone. I built a new life from scratch.
After five years, it was time for another leap of faith. This time I had experience, some clarity, and more importantly confidence, to support me as I went ahead with the goal of being my own boss in the business of photography and visual story-telling.
It has been a phenomenal year with a strong learning curve from real life experiences. There is now more diversity in the work that I do. I have applied my knowledge of visual story-telling to all possible areas apart from conventional editorial photography. I got to work with NGO, non-mainstream media platforms, corporate houses, and individuals. I did a range of assignments right from producing multimedia projects and short-films for Non-profit groups and corporates, to capturing fleeting moments at weddings. Traveled a lot, on work and also to present personal projects at festivals and public events. Won an accolade for a photo-story at a national press photography contest held in India this year. In the process of all this I got interviewed and featured quite a few times in the media.
As a creative freelance professional, I would like to say one important thing to all fellow freelancers reading this blog. You may be a documentary photographer like me, or a writer or even a musician. You are talented. But, remember that if you are making a living on your own out of your creative talents, then you are no different from an entrepreneur. The work that you do is a proper business. Your creations may or may not be tangible, but ultimately you are selling an idea, a service or a product to a market for consumption or patronage. So you have to put on the hat of an entrepreneur or a businessman. You have to create an identity for yourself, promote your work (nobody will do this for you), get noticed, constantly engage with your clients and patrons of your work, strike good deals, manage your accounts, and constantly innovate in your work.
It has been a tiring and equally fulfilling year of being my own boss. I think I finally deserve a holiday. A week after having reached this personal milestone, another milestone in life waits for me. This is a big one! I am getting married! And then follows a much awaited long holiday with my wife.
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