How to manage your time better as a freelance photographer – Tin House Studio audits my business
Last year I read a book that alarmingly told me that if I lived to an average age of around 80 years, I probably only had around 2000 weeks left. Cue panic: 2000 weeks doesn’t sound like a lot to achieve my goals and live my best life. One of those goals, of course, is to have a thriving photography business and let’s say that it is anything but thriving at the moment.
Still, not all heroes wear capes, as they say. I was presented with a great opportunity to have my underachieving photography business audited by Scott Chouciño from Tin House Studio. Scott is a working commercial photographer based in the UK. He is fairly well known for his no-nonsense, somewhat blunt approach, but I was keen to see what he had to say. Have a watch of the video because it is full of gems that will be helpful for anybody struggling with their photography business.
One of the major issues I have is time management. Between child care and juggling several things at once, it’s always something I’ve struggled with. One of the major takeaways was Scott’s approach to his work. “You must treat it as a 9 to 5 job,” he admonishes me. “No slinking off for coffee during the day or even having client meetings, that is a major time-suck,” he adds.
That was surprising to me, honestly, because, especially in Spain, it is still very much of a face-to-face culture. Little gets done without an in-person meeting. Actually, scratch that, little gets done here, full stop, and I seem to have effortlessly absorbed that mañana mentality. But no more, this is 2023 now, and some things need to change. So, no client meetings unless they pay for my time.
The second takeaway was about a profit-first approach. I need to be much more in control of my finances, particularly because Spain is one of the most expensive countries to be self-employed in Europe. Each month I need to keep back 50% of my earnings to cover taxes, business expenses, and other related costs. Rather sobering when you look at the figures, but doable. Luckily the cost of living here is slightly lower than in other countries.
Finally, Scott had some hard-hitting advice in terms of personal projects and portfolio, particularly regarding marketing. Being a people-centric photographer, it can often take a lot more effort to organize personal shoots, however, that really mustn’t be a deterrent. Personal work is the cornerstone of our portfolios, or at least it should be, according to Scott.
Once again, this is where having a plan comes in. Every Sunday night now, you’ll find me organizing my week ahead, doing the work. This is the only way to move forward. A huge thank you to Scott for his advice. It’s not always easy to hear these things, but I hope that my example is useful to other struggling photographers and helps them to get unstuck. I’ll let you know how it goes! Now, where did I put my planner?
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe