My First Week as a Full-Time Photographer

Having made the decision to go full-time as a landscape photographer my first week has been a long time coming. Oh but what a week it was!

Monday 2nd September 2019

The day has finally arrived. After months of preparation my first day as a full-time photographer is here.

This week my aim is to visit places that I know well for sunrise and spend the rest of the morning scouting new locations.

I started with Tarn Hows. As I drove through the darkness I passed through numerous rain showers but nothing was going to put me off. Not today!

Conditions were perfect when I arrived, a thick blanket of mist covering the tarn and the surrounding hills. I headed up the hill that overlooks the tarn hoping to get the classic shot looking down from above.

As the mist lifted from the hills in the distance I was presented with an stunning view of Arnside. I quickly grabbed my first shot as a full-time photographer.

The first shot I ever took as a full-time landscape photographer
As the mist cleared the hills around Tarn Hows were revealed. It was a truly magical moment.

When I was finished at Tarn Hows I headed to Black Fell. As I set off it started to rain, lightly at first but getting progressively heavier as I closed in on the summit. I got absolutely soaked and loved every minute of it.

I was absolutely buzzing when I got home. It won’t always be like this, I realise that, but while it is I am going to make the most of it.

Tuesday 3rd

I have been over-whelmed by the huge number of messages that I have received since announcing my decision to leave my job.

It took me all night last night to respond to the comments on my Instagram post and I have only just finished replying to the comments on my blog post.

Everyone has wished me luck. If I have learnt one thing in the last twenty odd years it that regardless of you hard you work we all need a bit of luck every now and then!

This morning I headed to Crummock Water. Conditions were not great. More rain to contend with. But I am getting used to these conditions. In fact I think I am getting quite good at them. Who needs light eh?

In my first week as a full-time landscape photographer I was treated to some typically dreary conditions
This is might not be an award winning photograph but it is an accurate reflection of how the Lake District looks to me 80% of the time.

After getting soaked (again) I decided not to climb Rannerdale Knotts as planned opting to bugger off home instead.

As I drove east conditions improved so much that by the time I reached Penrith I had made the decision to climb up to the Beacon.

I have been planning to visit it for a while now but never seemed to have the time. Clearly I don’t have that excuse any more.

I took a few shots, none of which were any good, but on the way back to the car I pondered if it might be a good location for a spot of astro photography?

Wednesday 4th

I got on the scales on Sunday and had the shock of my life. I didn’t know numbers went that high! More on that in a moment.

I started the day at Manesty to the south of Derwent Water. The plan was to shoot the sunrise from Great Bay but I arrived to find the foot path under 2 foot of water.

I am starting to realise that I need to be flexible. Nothing ever seems to go to plan.

Fortunately I didn’t need to look far for a composition, the River Derwent snaking past towards the lake.

In my first week as a full-time landscape photographer I learned the lesson that I need to be flexible
I do love an S curve. The River Derwent as is snakes through a flooded Manesty on its way to Derwent Water.

I was finished by 07:00 so decided to head to nearby Sale Fell.

Part of the reason for my decision to leave my old job was to lead a more active life. The years of driving a desk have not been kind on my waist line.

I want to get up into the fells as often as I can, starting on the lower peaks and working my way up as my fitness improves.

Thursday 5th

Met up with a mate of mine, Steve Bennett, at Loweswater this morning.

We were treated to a beautiful sunrise before we headed off for a walk in the fells, shooting the breeze as we went.

Steve and I first met at the photography show in 2018, an active member of the community that has built up around amateur landscape photography on YouTube as anyone.

It is this community that has given me the confidence to take the next step in my journey. Every like, every comment, every word of encourage bringing me closer to my goal.

It is more than likely that you too are part of that community so thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

The community that we are part of is something that I am extremely proud of. The support and encouragement that we get from one and other keeps us all moving forward in our journey as photographers.

Some of us are further along that journey than others but we keep moving forward. Together.

For some of us new doors are opened and exciting opportunities present themselves. For others our skill as photographers grows as week in, week out we tune in to our favourite channels.

I have benefited from this community more than most. It is a debt I am determined to repay.

In my first week as a full-time landscape photographer I was treated to some wonderful light
You don’t get sunrises like this every morning. Steve and I were in for a real treat on Thursday morning at Loweswater.

Friday 6th

I met Steve at Derwentwater this morning. The forecast was not good and so I tried to think of a location that offered some shelter.

As I headed west I drove though some pretty foul weather. I was surprised therefore that it had stopped raining by the time I arrived at the small carpark at the foot of Catbells.

It might not have been raining but it was still overcast and very breezy. No sunrise and no reflections then.

I expect that part of being a successful landscape photographer is the ability to match the location to the conditions. With that in mind I was quite pleased with my choice.

Otterbield is well known for the gnarly old tree growing sideways out of the rock. I have always felt this composition best suited moodier conditions.

At the end of my first week as a full-time landscape photographer I had to endure some pretty poor weather
Not great light at Otterbield on Friday but an opportunity to practice a classic composition never-the-less.

Once we had finished we decided to take a walk south alone the shore. I was keen to continue my efforts to get more exercise.

As we set off the heavens opened. My 4th soaking in 5 days. I am going to have to get used to this.

Or get better waterproofs!

Saturday 7th

Steve and I met up with James at Yew Tree Tarn this morning. We are thinking of hosting our next workshop there in November.

Before we headed up to Holme Fell we were treated to perfect reflections on the tarn.

I found a composition that I like and focusing on the famous wheel grabbed the shot. I did consider focus stacking at the time but in the end convinced myself that it didn’t need it.

In hindsight I think I was wrong.

What do you think? Do you focus stack?

On Saturday I met up with my good friend James Burns for a shoot at Yew Tree Tarn
In hindsight I wish I had of focus stacked this shot of Yew Tree Tarn so that the trees in the background were sharp.

When I got back home I had a message from Tammy Mellert.

Simon Burn, David Griffiths and Tim Day are in Canada and she is planning to meet them at Niagara Falls. She is VERY excited.

Sadly it seems poor Tammy has injured her back and is now going to miss all the fun.

I often feel sorry for my friends in the US and other parts of the world. The community is so heavily biased towards the UK that opportunities to meet other vloggers are rare.

It is a double blow for Tammy. I must think of a way to cheer her up.

 

38 thoughts on “My First Week as a Full-Time Photographer”

  1. Well done Chris
    one of the frustration I had when I lived in Cockermouth was being at work all week in great weather and then seeing the rain clouds build for the weekend. But you do have to go for it. I recall being 100% determined to get out after a long period of grotty weather and when I got to Buttermere you could not see Haystacks. But as I gritted my teeth and started out any way the cloud base started to rise and it kept rising so by the time I hit the top it was almost clear. A sandwich later the cloud was high up and the rest of the day I had full visibility. It would have been so easy to say ‘sod that’ and go home, but I was soooo glad I didn’t.
    You haven’t said how you intend to earn your crust. Would be interested to hear more on that.

    1. I am certainly enjoying being able to shoot whenever I want. Knowing I can always go out tomorrow means that I rather enjoy the gloomy conditions. Any one can get a good shot when the sky is on fire but you have to work harder on overcast mornings. I will get to how I am going to make a living soon but for now I am just focusing on building my portfolio and raising my profile.

  2. Congratulations Chris on starting your freelance adventure and I am sure you will succeed. Your photography skills are second to none! If it is of any interest I did three things when I started my photography business many years ago. Got a receipt for everything I bought, got a business dedicated phone and kept a detailed record of all business car milage, ( HMRC used to allow 45p per mile, not sure what the current rate is)

    Best if luck

    Les

    1. Thanks Les, that is great advice! I’ve wracked up a few miles already but no more than I would have commuting to and from Scotland. I need to get my head around all this admin, along with 101 other things! 🙂

  3. Congratulations Chris on your first weeks work. your persistence has been rewarded with some great photos despite the weather, I do agree that focus stacking at Yew Tree Tarn would have been better although its still brilliant, I suppose if in doubt take all even if you don’t use them.
    All the best on your new career.

  4. Hi Chris,

    I’ve been following your blogs for a few months now and really enjoy them. I’m visiting the Lakes in Late October/Early November and looking forward to taking some photos. All the best with your full-time endeavours. Regards Nick

  5. I suspect that, like here, better waterproofs are a must! As a full-time photographer, you can even deduct them as an expense on your taxes . (At least you could here – not sure about that there.) I highly recommend spending a little more and going for waterproof and windproof. It just makes life outdoors in rainy climes much more pleasant.

    1. Thanks Theresa. I have got to invest in some proper outdoor clothing, starting with some new boots. Look after you feet and they will look after you! 🙂

  6. Hi Chris,
    Congratulations on taking the plunge. Glad to see you have been getting out and about, even if the weather hasn’t been brilliant. Thankfully you can capture very atmospheric shots when the weather isn’t brilliant or we just end up having to “Embrace the Grey” as a friend yours once challenged us to have a go at. Looking forward to catching up soon.
    All the best
    Mark

    1. Thanks Mark, it feels great to be pursuing my dream. Still have no idea if this is going to work but I am certainly up for the challenge. Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

  7. Well done Chris, I especially like your Thursday image and can feel your blood pressure lowering from here 😀
    If you haven’t already I’d pop onto Gary Goughs latest Vlog, he talks there about what sells , I found it really helpful and introduced me to a whole line of photography I hadn’t thought about previously. You also talked about your 6D on Instagram, I guess any further purchases would be a tax deduction (would be here in NZ) so that’s got to be a bonus for your “back up” camera . Cheers Chris

    1. Thanks Chris, I liked that one too. It was an amazing morning but at times the sky was just too colourful. I think you have to have an amazing scene to balance and amazing sky and because it was my first time photographing Loweswater I was trying to keep it simple.

      I haven’t seen Gary’s video but a good friend of mine, Simon Burn, is mentoring me in how to take images with publications such as magazines in mind. It feels like a whole different approach but one that I am sure will pay off if I can master it.

      One thing I definitely won’t be doing is buying any more gear for a while. Strict instructions of Mrs Sale. Well, perhaps a new bag…

  8. Way to go Chris. Sound like a full on week, even if it was a wet one. I’m sure you had a huge amount of fun doing so. I have no doubt that you will succeed. Your last image could definitely have done with a bit of focus stacking, either that or really make that foreground subject the real centre of attention by totally blurring the background. I do hope you are vlogging these amazing expeditions, it would be awesome to follow you on them!!

    Cheers

    Tim

    1. Thanks Tim, I went back to Yew Tree Tarn yesterday and grabbed a couple of shots, one focused on the background and one on the wheel, so that I could blend them together. I have to say I much prefer them. You can see the result on Instagram or Twitter.

      I am filming most of my shoots at the moment. I am working on another that follows me throughout an entire week. Hopefully that will be out next Tuesday.

  9. Thank you Chris! You did a fine hob if cheering me up and keeping me company that afternoon. There will be other opportunities to meet my UK friends and see you all. I seriously need to move there lol….

    1. You would love it here Tammy. There is a constant supply of other photographers to go out shooting with every weekend. The UK is definitely the place to be if you are an amateur landscape photographer at the moment.

    1. Thanks Andrew. I know there will be highs and lows, I am expecting them. The support that I get from my friends in the photography community was a huge factor in making the decision to attempt to turn professional. I know they will be there to pick me up with things inevitably go against me.

  10. Hi Chris, Congratulations on becoming a Pro Landscape Photographer 😊 I was a pro landscape photographer for 46 years. Perhaps I can provide you with some suggestions you might want to consider. In todays world you have some great advantages with Internet Access, YouTube, Social Media sights and a number of Pro Photographers out there that I didn’t have. I taught photo workshops and sold my work at seven art galleries in the Northwestern part of the USA. Here are some of the things you might want to consider:

    • You already have a YouTube channel that is growing and several social media sites, keep them current.

    • Consider talking with some of your friends like Julian Baird and other pro photographers for advice.

    • If you haven’t already found your photography style, try and determine what it is with help from others.

    • Master all the photography techniques like HDR, Focus Stacking, Long Exposure, Using Hyperfocal Distance, and any other techniques used in landscape photography.

    • Practice, and practice more on getting your Composition techniques down.

    • Practice your photography techniques such as using ND Filters, Grad ND Filters, Wide Angle and Telephoto lenses, etc.

    • Consider widening your skill sets a little to include photographing Seascapes, Waterfalls, not just landscapes.

    • Consider multiple scenic location like National Parks, not just the Lakes region.

    • You might consider leading Photo Tours instead of Photo Workshops at first until you feel confident to lead Photo Workshops.

    • Leading Photo Tours, you’re not teaching, just showing your clients scenic locations for the opportunity of getting a great photo. Setting-up transportation, hotels, meals, etc. and include this in the cost of your photo tour.

    • Just remember, you don’t need to have the best Pro Camera and Lenses to teach landscape photography.

    If you have any question please contact me: richard.higgins@naturesvision-photography.com

    1. Thanks you Richard for such a extensive reply. Advice like this is like gold dust particularly coming from a seasoned professional such as yourself. I have sent you and email address each of the points that you raised in more detail. Thank you once again for taking the time to leave such a helpful comment.

  11. It looks like you had a very productive week! One of the things that I have been trying to do is to look out for saleable images while shooting what I normally shoot at the same time. Hopefully I can build up a nice library eventually 🙂

    1. Thanks David, I was discussing that very concept with my good friend Simon Burn only last week. Simon is a very successful commercial photographer and is coaching me in shooting with publications like magazines in mind. It is good to have mates that are so willing to share their knowledge with you.

  12. Nice video, and description of your first week. Good luck, and I will keep watching to see how this pans out.

    You need somewhere to sell your images – perhaps look at Thomas Heatons stuff.

    Also buy a campervan – and then sleep near to where you shoot, although Shap to most lakeland places isn’t to far.

    Dave

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for leaving a reply. I will be relaunching my shop soon, I have licensed all of my existing work to a third party and will be doing limited edition prints going forward. I might even offer a few super duper single edition prints! 🙂 Not sure about a campervan if I am honest. I am 6 foot 5 so I’d have to have my feet sticking out of the window.

  13. Hi Chris, I really enjoyed the YouTube video and reading your Blog about your first week experiences. Thanks for that. I want to wish you all the best for your journey and courage and strength for when the going gets tough. Cheers and all good things from Switzerland. Neil

    1. Hi Neil, thank you so much for leaving me a reply. This week has been a real rollercoaster. I did not expect my video to do nearly as well as it has done. But if YouTube is going well my photography is not. It has been a bad week but I knew this would happen and I will not let it get on top of me. I jest need to keep plugging away. Cheers!

  14. Hi, Congrats and believe it or not I myself did the same thing,
    I resigned from my job as an inventory manager from an online store in Pakistan on July 29th,
    went on job in August to handover duties and providing training to next guy till August 31st and then got free on Sep 1st for Full time photography.
    I am already happy with my decision, sure its gonna be hard financially speaking at first until getting any spot light but watching your recent video of Sept. 10th, 2019 inspired me more to stay on this path to pursue my passion and give time to family, as I did the same thing as you in about same time 😀
    So thank you for sharing your experience 🙂

  15. Thanks, much appreciate it 🙂
    Mostly in nature/landscape and product photography but trying to work on long exposure shots and portraits too, curently working on sorting old photos and getting some new ones to build up my portfolio site as previously I was randomly post photos on 500px and instagram due to lack of time.

  16. Chris, in short good for you.

    In longer form, I don’t see what you’ve done as either brave nor foolhardy, I see someone who is doing what they believe will help them & their family to thrive and survive.

    I can’t give you any photography advice as to coin a phrase ‘I’m reet average wit’ camera, me” or about running a business as I’m a plain employee (although recording mileage and putting your new walking/camera gear as tools of the trade and therefore business expenses to claim the tax is important).

    However, in my job as a Systems Engineer our company has been putting a lot of effort into all our mental health, equipping us for the stress of the workplace, difficult clients, lessening the grind and having fun. We’ve spoken about brain physiology, mindfulness, the amygdala, the cortex and happiness, it’s interesting but too much for this post. For you, the impact of moving to work by yourself will probably be less human interaction and consequently hours of no communication, although initially this might seem lovely, it takes its toll.

    Can I suggest you find a mentor to bounce your career path ideas off, they don’t have to be a photog, maybe they’ve done a massively successful career change, but it can help focus. Secondly buy a massive whiteboard, plan what your goals, tasks and time, it’s easy when there’s no plan to just drift, structure helps people thrive. Lastly don’t forget your brain, I’m sure you won’t isolate yourself, you have a YouTube channel, but it can be harder than people see on the outside.

    Apologies, if there’s any egg sucking in this, maybe start a NE indie photog coffee morning – no cameras, just chat.

    For me, luckily I love my job and the people I work with so it helps but doesn’t stop me, plus I live on the back of the Malvern Hills so don’t have to fight city life, just Grannies in tractors!

    I look forward to seeing a very happy Chris in the videos.

    1. Hi Justyn, thank you so much for leaving this extensive comment. It’s full of useful advice many of them little gems. One of the biggest concerns that I had about going full time was the loneliness of it all. That is why I want to start work on my teaching business as soon as possible. Hopefully that way I won’t go for too long without a bit of company out on the fells.

      1. Chris,
        Sorry about War & Peace, apparently I’ve been told by colleagues (& my wife) that my ability to generate professional waffle and twoddle is unparalleled. From watching you this week on social media, you seem to have the drive and the plan to make it work (I stand by my comment about getting a whiteboard, even if only to draw Smurfs on it). Well planned hard work tends to generate its own luck so I look forward to your Lakeland domination of photography.

        Justyn

        1. Thanks Justyn. I do have a plan and it does begin with generating as much interest in my journey as possible. I hope to inspire others, not to become professional photographers but to aspire to do what they love, whatever that might be.

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