I work with various domestic + international publications and in my salaried position I report to the Chief Brand Officer.
The most important thing I ever did was find a reliable accountant who has plenty of experience with creatives that do both salaried and freelance work. He has given me so much valuable financial advice over the years especially with taxes—all the important things we should’ve learned in school. I’m an LLC business elected as an S-corp, a move we made once my freelance income reached a certain point a few years ago (when I freelanced more than I do now). If you’re making over $30k in freelance income and you haven’t looked into converted to s-corp yet, I would highly recommend it.
I have a 401k with company match, and have about $100k. I also have a separate Roth IRA that I started this year and it has about $20k. I didn’t know what to do with my personal finances until very recently, unfortunately. THEY NEED TO TEACH THIS STUFF IN SCHOOL.
I work between 160-180 days a year. I work in an awesome company that has unlimited paid vacation and encourages everyone to take as much time off as possible. It’s been a weird transition for me to just be able to take time for myself as I please because I used to get cold sweats just thinking of the most polite and gentle way to ask for time off in my previous jobs. If I was sick, I had to act REALLY sick just so my boss would believe that I really needed a break. Now, I just peace out when I need to.
I doubled my income in taking this position. I used to be a photo editor in an international news organization that didn’t pay very well and gave very insignificant raises.
I still do freelance work on the side, but in the past couple years, I’ve finally given myself permission to say no to projects that I don’t necessarily feel excited about. I’m in an extremely privileged position to not have to take on shitty jobs for money.
I used to say yes to everything because I was living paycheck to paycheck. My mental and physical health suffered a lot in the beginning of my career. The weird thing is, looking back now, I had so much pride in my “hustle”. I was so proud of the fact that I worked almost all year long, even during holidays sometimes, as if I was doing world-changing work. I wasn’t. I was doing $450 assignments. And I would say my peers at the time felt the same too. And we were ALL quietly suffering, but none of us admitted it to each other.
I spend a lot of time working on art direction for future shoots, brainstorming with my team, and pitching projects. If I’m actively working on a project, I’m usually planning for shoots with my producers. We have a pool of freelancers we like to hire from, but I also spend a lot of time looking at Instagram accounts and websites. My team is made up of incredibly nice + high performing people, and we prefer the same when hiring freelancers.
If you want to get into my line of work be nice. You don’t have to be a saint, but just be a decent, nice person. I’ve unfortunately met a good amount of talented but not very nice folks. Because I’m a woman, I’ve had my fair share of mistreatment. I’ve been mansplained to by someone I’ve hired. I’ve been sent rude emails. And I always say, that’s totally fine. I’m just never hiring you again and if someone asks me about you, I will definitely share my experience.
This industry can be very stressful, but it doesn’t make it okay for anyone to be shitty to people they’re working with especially because photo editors + producers talk to each other. We all move around to different companies, but we stay in touch. If someone gave you an opportunity, at least try not to be a dick. Is it obvious I’ve had a lot of experience with this?
Best advice: set aside money for taxes!
Worst advice: go back to school and get a master’s degree.
I prefer photographers reach out via emails or Instagram DMs. I don’t really like LinkedIn messages. I use Instagram and emails to find photographers, and I like to look at people’s websites.
Please make sure your portfolio’s tightly edited. I always look at the cold emails I get and I’m often shocked at how poorly edited the websites are. First impressions are very important. Let your website reflect the kind of jobs you’re aiming for and learn to kill your favorite images. Some images you’re attached to won’t look the same to a stranger who doesn’t know the back story. Edit and re-edit, see how all the images blend together. Find an editor you can work with to look at your site and give you brutally honest feedback.
Depending on the scope of work, our photography rates start at $1500 plus expenses.