The modern visual freelancer is more like a juggler in the dark
I’ve wanted to write this blog piece for quite some time. Yet slightly ironically it seems I never have enough of just that, time. So now that I am halfway through a 14-hour flight from Sydney to Dubai and in desperate need of a break from captioning, this is the perfect time to write.
I want to share a few thoughts of what it is like to be a young freelance visual storyteller and at the same time dispel the easily romanticized idea of the freelance photojournalist. The later part is important as I too have fallen victim of seeing photojournalism or international photography more broadly through rose tinted glasses. I know how easy this is, there is a feast of solid work everywhere you turn on the internet. A perfect example is Russian photographer Yuri Kozyrev, his work has blown me away year after year. This portfolio on Time’s Lightbox highlights his 14 years of work in Iraq, just amazing. I am regularly left feeling so inspired and invigorated after looking at such solid stories online but the difficulty is what I can practically take away. Too often I feel frustrated that I don’t have the time, emotional/intellectual patience or financial foundation to undertake the substantial long-term work I want to make.
I find myself in an interesting position where I am able to undertake a range of assignments and commissioned projects that challenge me intellectually and creatively while also ethically/morally resonate with me. These gigs theoretically provide me with a meager financial base to work on personal projects which in time might develop into significant bodies of work. The greater challenge however is committing the time for these projects. Being able to allocate a day a week, or a month a year is much easier said than done, especially when wanting to be available as a freelancer. I can’t speak for others but personally this feels like a juggling act in the dark. It is part trusting in the unknown and part becoming familiar with juggling many projects at the same time.
This morning/evening depending on your timezone, I am heading home to Glasgow. I will be with my beloved for a few hours before flying out for an assignment in France for another 5 days. After those final 5 days in France I will be back home in Glasgow for some much needed downtime and in honesty I can’t wait. I have just counted that over the past two months I have had 24 flights (sorry planet earth I am definitely a carbon criminal), to quote a colleague yesterday “dude, you live in airports”. I think he is right, I almost do.