Finding Your Happy Place

This is another article that I wrote for CameraCraft magazine and it was therefore written mainly with a professional photographers audience in mind.  However, I’ve included it here on my blog just to give potential clients a brief idea of our history and how we came to be working exclusively in product photography.  It also gives me a space to show just a few of my non-product ‘just for fun’ images!  Here’s the article

I was recently asked to complete a questionnaire for my children’s secondary school.  One question that stood out for me was when asked to prioritise the importance of non-academic areas.  The criteria ranged from school facilities, security, choice of subjects, exam results, control of bullying etc.  It wasn’t easy to come up with a top priority, until I spotted the happiness of child answer.  I was heartened to see that when the results came out 86% of parents agreed this was their top priority, for as long as the child is happy, all the rest of the areas would likely follow.  Happiness, or positive feelings like enjoyment and fun, promote learning and leads to greater achievements.  

Like most professional photographers, I started my journey because I enjoyed being behind the camera.  Although I dabbled in various styles of photography early on, I quickly realised that my ‘happy place’ is in my studio shooting products where I have complete control over lighting.  I’m a perfectionist at heart, so the chance to spend hours or days getting a single image just right is enjoyable and fun to me.  I’m sure that a wedding or event photographer would find my approach limiting and boring.  Their happy place being at a crowded unpredictable event, the excitement being in not having full control over the environment or subject matter of the images.

So like that old quote says “do something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in life”, right?  The catch is that you need to pay bills sets in quite early on.  We soon begin to realise that shooting simply what we enjoy is not always going to fit the clients brief and consequently pay the bills at the end of day.  The reality is that in the studio this week I have shot over a hundred images of sundials mostly on a plain white background.  Last week it was shoe laces! 

This is the reality of life. The important thing is that at times, I get to fill up my happiness jar with an exciting advertising campaign or another challenging product.  Shooting for competitions is another avenue I use to fill my challenge quota.  However, there are definite dangers in this approach to self fulfilment.  As Iain Poole, recently wrote in the Jan/Feb issue of Cameracraft, it’s all too easy to become obsessive over competition results and creating that gold winning image.  I have most definitely fallen into this trap on more than one occasion.

So what’s my answer, I believe it’s simply taking time to shoot for fun!  Getting outside my comfort zone and shooting things around me.  None of these images are going to win any prizes and they are certainly not to a saleable standard but they’re ones I look back on and smile, and they’re the ones printed on our walls at home!  From time to time just picking up the camera to shoot something that makes you laugh or happy is important to retain the love of the job.

So in short; do more of what makes you happy, wether that pays the bill, wins any prizes or not – you’ll still be learning along the way.

This article can be viewed in the May/June 2022 Cameracraft magazine, which is produced in association with The Guild of Photographers.