3 Month Update

It has been 3 months since I left my old job to become a full-time landscape photographer. As we move into winter it is a great opportunity to look back and to reflect on the progress that I have made so far.

The view north east from Yew Crag towards Pooley Bridge

Lifestyle

The first thing that I needed to deal with was the change to my lifestyle.

After the concerns that I wouldn’t be able to generate enough income to support myself my main worry was adjusting to a new way of life. What if the reality of life as a full-time photographer was vastly different from my expectations?

I needn’t have worried.

Although it is still early days I am happy to report that I enjoying my new life immensely. It really is as rewarding as I had anticipated it would be.

I can honestly say that I haven’t thought about my old job once. That has to be a sign that my decision to move on was the right one.

Home Life

Mrs Sale and I were both aware that is was going to take time to adjust to me being at home all the time.

Being able to spend more time together was the primary reason for leaving my job and setting up my own business.

Our marriage has always been strong but if anything the change has made it stronger. At times it has felt like being newly married.

Unfortunately in the last three months we have had some difficult family issues to deal with. But where as in the past we would have had to deal with them separately at least this time it has been much easier to support one and other.

Photography

One of the driving forces behind my decision to go full-time was the freedom to devote more time to developing as a photographer.

To begin with I took full advantage of this and was out shooting 5 or 6 times a week. However, inevitably as we move into winter I have found that I am getting out less and less.

This is partly due to the decision to start building my business earlier than I had initially planned.

Criticism on Social Media

One of the things that I was not prepared for was the criticism that my photography has received on social media, particularly YouTube.

There are many people out there who feel that the standard of my photography is not good enough to be a professional photographer.

This goes with the territory although I will never understand what a photographer would ever hope to gain from criticising another.

For the record I am very happy with my photography at the moment and with the rate at which I am improving.

Stable Hills on the edge of Derwent Water at the foot of Walla Crag
I am happy with the standard of my photography and the rate at which I am improving
New Beginnings

In order to chart my progress as a photographer I have decided to produce a book every 3 months. These will act as a retrospective documenting my journey and hopefully providing inspiration to others.

I have finished the first volume, titled New Beginnings, which chronicles my first 3 months as a full-time photographer.

I am currently waiting to receive a proof copy. If everything is in order it should be available to buy on Blurb before the start of the new year.

Hand of Man Project

In order to give my photography some direction and purpose I have started a new project.

Titled the “Hand of Man” it aims to showcase the positive impact that man has had on the Lake District landscape.

Once complete I hope it will form the basis for my first exhibition and an ARPS panel for submission to the Royal Photographic Society.

Progress has not been as good as I would have liked. However, as I have been busier with 1-2-1s and workshops than expected I can’t really grumble. πŸ™‚

Ullswater in the Lake District viewed from the road that passes the Duke of Portland Boathouse
I have been busy with workshops and 1-2-1s so have made little progress with my “Hand of Man” project.

Business

It was originally my intention to spend the first 6 months adjusting to my new lifestyle and building my portfolio.

However, after just 1 month I felt ready to start building my business.

The move from amateur to professional photographer is the biggest challenge that I have ever set myself. It is a challenge that I relish!

1-2-1s

1-2-1s have been the biggest success story since starting my business.

Providing 56% of my income not only are they my biggest earner but they are also the most fun!

Without exception I have enjoyed all of the 1-2-1s that I have run so far. I have met some wonderful people and surprised myself at just how much I have been able to help them with their photography.

It has been a fairly even split between providing photography tuition and location knowledge.

This will continue to be an area that I will focus on into 2020.

Landscape photographer David Jenner on Low Fell
1-2-1s have been a big success for me in my first 3 months as a full-time photographer
Workshops

I made the decision very early on that I wanted to continue to run workshops with other YouTube photographers.

I am currently working on a schedule for 2020 that will include workshops in the Lake District and Cornwall that will be co-hosted with James Burns and Tom Peters.

We are starting small, offering 1/2 day workshops that we will run at weekends. However, as this side of the business starts to grow we will offer longer, more ambitious workshops.

I feel that they are competitively priced offering exceptional value for money.Β  Despite this they still account for 16% of my income so far.

Tom Peters on a landscape photography workshop at Great Staple Tor on Dartmoor
I am planning more workshops with James Burns and Tom Peters (pictured here on the left)
Prints

If the teaching side of my business has been successful the print side has not.

So far print sales account for just 2% of my income.

However, I hope that this is simply because I haven’t done any work on it at all. I haven’t added any new photographs to my store in nearly a year!

In 2020 I need to start to develop this side of the business.

The view north from Loughrigg Fell in the central Lake District
I haven’t been promoting my prints – this shot of Windermere from Loughrigg Fell taken in November 2017 remains my biggest seller

Social Media

Social media is extremely important to the promotion of my business.

Since going full-time I have seen growth on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

However, I am still to develop a clear strategy for promoting my business. As it is not clear what I want to achieve it is impossible to gauge the success.

I am aware that I may have to develop a whole new approach and change the type of content that I am creating for each platform.

YouTube

YouTube is the only social media platform where my strategy is clear.

Since going full-time the purpose of my channel has shifted slightly. Through my videos I aim to demonstrate my:

  • competency as a landscape photographer
  • competency as a teacher
  • knowledge of the Lake District

There seems to be a lot of interest in my journey from amateur to professional. As a result I have seen an increase in the number of views that I get on each video.

Before going full-time I would expect between 2.5K and 3.5K views on a video in the first week. That has doubled to between 5K and 7K.

This has had an impact on the amount of money I make from ad revenue. I am now in the position where I am generate enough to trigger a payment from Google every month.

At the moment YouTube accounts for 26% of my income.

Targets

As I look ahead to the winter I have set myself the following targets:

  • Overhaul my shop so that all of my latest images are available to buy
  • Refocus my content for Facebook in order to promote my prints
  • Publish my first photography book
  • Capture enough high quality images to produce my second photography book

 

13 thoughts on “3 Month Update”

  1. Hi Chris, I think one of the reasons your move from amateur to professional has gained a lot of followers is our interest in the journey from A to B, from limited skill to a lot of skill through doing. You can see that in other YouTube Chanels on different subjects where amateurs from all walks have a passion and take on some amazing projects learning as they go. I’m amazed at the number of subscribers some of them have eg https://youtu.be/qEhl1ieo4pQ 127k subscribers and 120k watched this video of these boat builders at work !!
    Yep, I’m optimistic for your Chanel Chris there a lot of us out there interested in photography.

    1. Thanks Chris. I have been considering starting a channel on another subject but I there is nothing else that I am as passionate about as landscape photography.

  2. Good luck with the ARPS Chris. Have you already done the LRPS or are you going straight for the ARPS? In some ways I feel it’s almost easier to put together an ARPS as the photographs are all on a set theme whereas the LRPS has to be a variety of genres that still gel togetheras a panel. I just narrowly failed to get my LRPS due to one image but will be resubmitting soon πŸ˜‰

    All the best for the future!

    1. Hi Les – no, I haven’t done an LRPS yet. Because the “hand of man” is so heavily themed I thought it would work best for the ARPS. I understand that I have set myself a huge challenge and I do expect to fail (at least at the first attempt) but fear of failure has never stopped me before!

  3. Congratulations on being happy with where you’re at professionally and personally. Not many achieve that on either front. You know I fully support your turning professional. I had thought I would set up a web page and sell prints once the last of my income (my pension) started coming in but I have changed my mind. From the few prints I’ve sold, it has become clear that selling prints is a lot of work, particularly from the road. The same with maintaining a web page. So, at least for now, my plan is to do neither. I really don’t even want to keep selling them the way I have been.

    Looking forward to following your journey.

    1. Hi Theresa – have you considered “Fine Art American”? I don’t know much about it but my understanding is that they manage the whole process for you including printing and shipping. They just pay you a commission. Might be worth considering.

  4. Chris, fantastic update on your first quarter and it seems you are moving forward at pace and with a plan, love it. I would say that you have moved from aspiring amateur to noveau pro, it’s great when we find jobs that we love doing and are fun, one less stress in life.

    Love the fact that Google are now having to pay you, even if it’s Β£1.50, a bag of jelly babies and some scraps from the chippy. Nice breakdown of you income streams, I’m sure it will build nicely though 2020. Keep on trucking (?)

    Oh and stop using that Duke of Portland Boathouse shot, it’s really good and makes me wish I could go and re-shoot mine from June. πŸ˜‰

    1. Hi Justyn, I still think I have a way to go until I think of myself as a professional. I suspect I am 18-24 months away from having to rely on my savings to pay the bills. But I am off to a good start. Sorry if I keep using the DOP shot, so far it is the only one that I would consider good enough to make it into the “Hand of Man”. πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Chris,

    It’s great to see you feeling good, enjoying yourself in your transition and starting to see some development in your business side. I think you have the right approach to this and it looks to be working. From what I have seen, selling prints is challenging but you have some good work. Have you thought about trying some small local exhibitions to showcase and build some awareness?

    I don’t understand the social media critics, I believe there are just people who relish sitting back and criticizing others. It’s easy to say ignore them but tougher to do. You are getting on with it and putting yourself out there. I think the workshop side and growth of your channel shows people like what you have to offer.

    Keep it up and good luck!!

    1. Hi Allan – I am chuffed that you think that I have some good work, that has put a smile on my face. πŸ™‚ I am planning my first exhibition. I have just raised enough money (via Ko-Fi) to buy a load of frames to that might be happening sooner rather than later. I think the criticism that I get just goes with the territory but I will never understand what a photographer would hope to gain from criticising another. I just find it baffling.

  6. While I didn’t have any doubts, I am pleased that you are happy with your progress of your journey. Great news about your 1-2-1’s accounting for such a high percentage of your income. I have quite a bit of experience with teaching and coaching and I know a great instructor when I see one. You are a natural at it mate–keep it up!
    I am quite interested to hear more about your upcoming exhibition. It seems that your Ko-fi fundraiser is a big success which is a tribute to your core group of followers. I’m sure you will fill us in as the time comes, and I am looking forward to hearing about it.
    Are you familiar with photographer Dave Morrow? He has a decent sized YT channel (40K+) and while most of the content is instructional in nature, it is excellent. Dave is a former engineer who quit the business world in 2015 and is now a full time photographer. His most recent blog post is titled, “Why Your Photography Business Will Fail & How to Succeed Instead”. It’s a long post and I don’t agree with everything Dave says, but I think there is a lot of truth in what he is saying. You might find some of it useful.

    1. Hi Jeff – yeah, I am just starting to plan my first exhibition. Early days yet, I don’t even know what sort of venue I am looking for yet. I don’t know Dave but I will look him up. The video that you mentioned sounds very interesting. Thanks for the tip mate.

  7. Hi Chris,

    Enjoyed your honest review of your first 3 month as a professional and enjoy your YouTube videos, hope the progress continues to grow. Will be following your progress avidly.

    Dave.

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