Thursday, September 12, 2013

What it means to be a freelance photographer

Commits alumnus PRATIDHANI TAMANG (Class of 2012), who works as a freelance photographer in Bangalore, explains what it takes to work on one’s own terms

I have no boss. And every day is the weekend; at the same time, every day is also a workday.

That’s because I have been “job-less” by choice since I graduated from Commits a little over a year ago.

But not having a job to go to does not mean not having to work.

So I do work, but on my own terms. You see, I am a freelance photographer and cinematographer.


The first thing I want to make clear here is that being a freelance photographer is not for everyone (as my senior, Nishal Lama, from the Class of 2008, will corroborate), so don’t splurge on that latest Canon or Nikon just yet.

The biggest problem when you work as a freelancer is that hundreds of people will appreciate your work and make business inquiries. But after you send them an estimate, they will just vanish into thin air. Out of hundreds of formal discussions, only five or so jobs will actually work out.

Also, sometimes, there is no work for long periods of time, which can be very frustrating. I think it is this fluctuation in work schedule that scares many freelancers into opting for a regular full-time job.

On the flip side, I am sometimes offered loads of work, but I feel too lazy to take it all on. There is no boss to scream at me, so why bother!

When I first started off I already had a few contacts, thanks to whom I was able to bag my initial assignments. I explored many new places and I made many new friends. That was amazing! As for making ends meet, the money is certainly coming in, though not as fast as I would like. The thing is, I have to make humongous investments in my gear: there’s always something I need to buy to upgrade my equipment, or so it seems.

But there is mostly satisfaction in being able to have a huge amount of control over the work I choose to do.

Bottom line: I love my life right now. Having said that, I know that sooner or later, like most freelancers, I will have to give up this gig and go in for a 9-to-5 (yikes!) or set up my own business (very different from hangin’ out solo). I see the latter happening, but I think there is time enough for that.

Till then, I am going to savour, and live by, Pink Floyd’s dictum: “Shine on, you crazy diamond.”


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