It’s been just over 6 months since I stopped working as a forensic scientist to take on the double challenges of being a stay at home dad and relaunching Lenscurve Photography. I am still adjusting to these new roles. Going from spending my week days being overworked and dealing with urgent deadlines and stressed out, often angry colleagues, legal professionals and cops to playing with and looking after a (mostly) happy toddler has been a massive culture-shock. I do know that I am very lucky that I had Mrs B to push me to make this change.
I quit my full-time permanent job to ‘go pro’ as a photographer with only a couple of paying jobs booked. This may not seem to have been the best financial strategy but I worked on about 400 forensic DNA and biology cases in my last year and had to be available to attend court as an expert witness, usually with little advance notice. Weekday photography jobs were essentially out of the question. Explaining that I was leaving to appear in court or the alternative of being arrested for contempt of court might not play too well during a wedding shoot! Even 6 months on police officers are still regularly hand delivering court citations to me at home. I am also still taking calls from prosecutors when I’m on holiday. The upside is that at least now I can invoice them.
I Call This One ‘The Life of A Forensic Biologist’
I’d been a working scientist in some form or other for over 20 years but now I am a ‘business man’ and have a huge amount to learn about the business side of photography. I have now completed courses in SEO (search engine optimisation) run by https://www.kevinmullinsphotography.co.uk/wedding-photography-training/ and in creating websites in WordPress run by pootlepress.com. I have now rebuilt lenscurve.co.uk after attending Jamie’s course with a number of changes made to bring it inline with the content of Kevin’s SEO course. Both courses were very well delivered and useful. It was very satisfying to be able to rebuild a website almost from scratch. I will be refining and tweaking the site as time goes on to get it looking as good as possible while still being fast to load and easy to navigate.
One of the hardest aspects to business I have found is working out an effective marketing strategy, especially online and in social media. Choosing where to advertise and what type of advert isn’t straightforward as there is so much contradictory information on the web that I ended up unable to commit to any of it for a few months for fear of wasting hundreds of pounds on no results. Even getting in to exhibit at wedding fairs has been problematic. There’s almost a closed shop aspect to many of these events, you phone up to book a place to find out that it’s for ‘approved suppliers only’ or you have to have photographed weddings/events there previously. Even for those that aren’t ‘closed shops’ there is also a tendency for events managers to simply invite previous exhibitors back, again making it hard to break in to wedding shows and venue open days. So far the wedding fairs that we have managed to exhibit at have all produced bookings, must be our winning personalities!
Getting the right balance between work and childcare also took a few months to get right. I’d had essentially a trial run of 3 months of shared parental leave at the end of 2015 which taught me 2 main things: to avoid major stress as a full-time parent I had to forget about what I wanted to do and concentrate on what BB needed/wanted and also that I really wanted to be self employed. Being self-employed and working from home provides a great degree of flexibility as a parent but I have very disciplined when it is time for me to work. I have also had to train my family to respect what it means for me to be ‘working from home’. No more calls for lifts or meeting for coffee or leaving BB to play with me (i.e. pressing all the keys on my laptop) while I am working at my desk.
As well as all the personal benefits of being able to concentrate on my family I also found a great opportunity to hone my skills as a photographer. Essentially I have a live in lifestyle photography project with BB and in photographing my local area when we go for walks to the park or local river. I can’t overstate how much I prefer this to photographing weapons and clothing stained with blood (and other body fluids) on a daily basis in the lab. CSI and Dexter never show the number of stained underpants a scientist will have to examine up close and personal during their career!
Anyway, I’ve included a few shots from my new found ‘lifestyle’ as dad and photographer.
BB Starting Urban Exploration at the 2nd World War anti-aircraft gun emplacement at Red Lees, Blantyre
Thanks for reading, feel free to share, until next time, KB