I grew up in eastern Washington and moved to Seattle in 2007 to finish my degree and finally live in the city I loved. My interest in photography started when I was very young, inspired by my grandfather’s ability to create and share a beautiful moment with brushes on canvas. However, I didn’t pursue photography seriously until after I had moved to Seattle, finally turning my passion into a profession in 2013, when social media began opening doors which allowed me to share my work with a much larger audience.
My business goals have changed a lot over the last few years. This year, my hope is to work on a handful of commercial projects with companies I believe in, and to carve out more time to work on personal projects. Both are important, but I believe growth and your creative voice is developed when you let your imagination run free without the constraints of it being “work.”
I created structure in my business, so I wasn’t spending all my down-time in front of a screen.
Over the years I also learned to be a checklist person: Not just someone who writes lists, but one who actually follows them. I block out times in my calendar for personal activities, just as religiously as I do for my work projects. If you don’t make time for something, it won’t happen.
I’m not always motivated to do the busy work that comes with being a freelancer, but I’ve realized that like any other job, there are the less-fun tasks that are still very important. I always try to do the more tedious work first, then reward myself with the things I love most. If I chip away at the tasks that actually feel like “work” (and remove all other distractions), I can make a lot of progress, freeing up more of my time to spend time with friends and family, and to be outside chasing the light.
Business admin isn’t the thing I’m most passionate about, so finding the right tools helps simplify my life and minimize the distractions. Some of my favorites are:
Because I work on a lot of different types of projects, my day-to-day can vary wildly. Instead, I have a workflow for each type of shoot — studio, travel, editorial, portrait, etc. — which allows me to stay organized and plan accordingly for any situation. This sort of system evolves over time, mostly by learning from mistakes and refining how I approach every type of project at every opportunity. Checklists play a big part, and I’m always adding or editing my lists during and after every shoot to make them better.
My favorite thing is having the freedom to create whenever I’m in the mood, or pausing “work” when an irresistible pocket of light appears. As a creative, there’s nothing more important than being able to practice your art whenever the inspiration hits you.
Freelance life is hard. If you’re considering working for yourself because you think it’ll be easier and carefree, don’t quit your job. It requires a lot of discipline and structure, and you will spend a lot more time running your business than you expect, not just running through fields of flowers with your camera. Is it worth carrying all the responsibility and stress? For me, yes — but it isn’t for everyone: You really have to want it.
Victoria Wright is a commercial photographer based in the Pacific Northwest, working with clients around the world. She specializes in portrait, lifestyle, and travel photography and wholeheartedly believes that the story is what matters most. Victoria helps global brands — including REI, AMEX, and The Wall Street Journal — tell compelling stories through photography. To see more of her work, visit veekster.com.