Turning Pro Part V ~ Support System and Balance

Turning Pro Part V ~ Support System and Balance


A few weeks ago I wrote 15 Tips About Turning Pro.  I thought it would be a good time to expand on some of those tips. Today’s article is the fifth  and final in that series (although I may revisit it again soon and add part six and maybe seven…). I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you missed the previous four articles in the series, you can read them here: Portfolio and PersistencePeople Skills and GenerosityPassion and Vision and Style Development and Life Long Learning.

Leaving the security of a regular job to become a freelancer is stressful, so make sure that you surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Negative people will suck the energy out of you, killing the joy and excitement of starting a brave, new venture. Maybe they are jealous or maybe they’ve had a bad experience, but, either way, you are better off ignoring their negativity. Listen to those who know what they are talking about, folks who can speak from experience – learn from them and avoid their mistakes. Going pro is risky business and few pro photographers are able to make decent living from their craft.  But if you don’t try it, you will never know if you can make it!  Prepare yourself financially, have a back up plan and diversify your work as much as possible – shooting, teaching, assisting. The more your income streams are connected to photography, the better chance you have at steady income plus you’ll expand your network and skills – and be happier!

Chances are you will work out of your home. Sounds great? It is, but it also requires discipline. After years of working from home, I’ve learned to adjust a few things in order to be more efficient and productive. On client-free days, I will write, edit pictures or research online, so I could easily stay in my pajamas all day. Well, I’m not sick, and I wouldn’t be in my PJs all day if I worked in an office. I feel more business-like, more professional when I dress the part, even if it’s casual. Besides, I never know who might call me on Skype or invite me to a Google hang out or a last-minute in person meeting.

Function as you would in a “real” office. Create a schedule for yourself.  Avoid doing household chores when you should be invoicing clients. Hey, the laundry can wait! If you have a family, keeping work and family time separate whenever possible will help you keep a better balance. It is so easy to always be at work when your office is at home. Create phone/iPad-free zones in the house such as the family room or the kitchen. Your job is important, but not as important as your family’s well being, so the trick is to balance it all. You need them and their support to be successful.  Remember that while they are thrilled that you are making your dream come true, they have their own interests and activities to share with you, too. If you live and breathe in pixels like me, you and your camera are probably joined at the hip. It has become an extension of you. It’s your best friend. It makes you happy! Sounds familiar?  But it’s important to have some balance between the professional and the personal, so I do leave my camera behind for a few hours, and focus on my family and friends. These are the people I love without seeing life through my lens. Remember – savor the moment!  Some memories can just be kept in your heart instead of on a digital file to be saved and cherished.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with the dPS readers. Merci beaucoup!

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

Some Older Comments

  • Martina Tierney June 27, 2012 10:14 pm

    Loved all five of your articles, but particularly this last one. Thanks for all that and best wishes.

  • Lara White June 20, 2012 12:02 am

    I find that working from home is both the biggest blessing and biggest curse! It can be difficult to maintain a "work zone" when you've got a ringing doorbell, family coming and going, and even though they know you are "working" they still pop in the office for this or that (25 times!). But at the same time, I love my work and I love being able to create an environment that suits me. I typically prefer to work in the early mornings, and there is nothing better (in my mind) than getting out of bed, making tea and going straight to work. I find that mornings are the most productive time for me, as there are no interruptions via phone, email, family, etc. It's just me and the birds at 5:45am. And that way, if the day does start to get hectic later, at least I've gotten my best work in before noon!

  • EnergizedAV June 19, 2012 03:32 am

    I personally can't imagine NOT being in business for myself. It truly is the most stressful thing I can do. But my wife and kids have only known self employment also, and we have always worked together. It's the family farm thing and the cow HAS to be milked no matter what we feel like. To offset the boring side, as an example while testing a new stitching program, my daughter lined up 25 Barbies. we stitched four images together for a really big group pano. This will allow us to get better large group photos.
    Thanks again, Valerie

  • Erik Kerstenbeck June 19, 2012 12:59 am


    Taking this path as a career and working from home is tough and rewarding beyond words...I like to consult Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" from time to time, especially when in a rut. His chapter on "Sharpening the Saw" is awesome...after reading it, I took this shot:


  • Steve June 18, 2012 06:40 pm

    I do find it very difficult to leave my camera behind. If I do I often get very frustrated because I see something that i would dearly like to photograph.
    However Valerie is absolutely right you do need some time without the camera, even if you do not have a family, just to recharge and freshen the batteries ( Your own as well as the cameras :) )
    I was going to leave the camera behind and just enjoy this marvel but glad I did not: