August’s Photographer of the Month is Scotland-based Ewan Cannon.
He’s been shooting with us for two years now, from his first site visit in 2014 (photographing his neighbour’s house!) to racking up an average of 50 jobs per month in 2016.
Read on to find out how to avoid the paperwork and focus on photography.
Shooting for FocalAgent since: August 2014
Location covered: South-west Scotland and North Cumbria
First camera: Zenit 12 (when I was 11 years old!)
Hi Ewan! We’ve known each other for a few years now but your photography career started long before that. How did you get into photography in general, and how did you decide to originally specialise in your niches?
I was a police officer for 19 years, and ran my photography business on a part-time basis alongside for the past decade. Gradually, I became busier and busier which led to me making the decision to leave my regular job and concentrate on expanding the business. I hate book-keeping, so I was looking for a way to run my own freelance business while focusing on my real passion, photography. A lot of the work I was doing was wedding and portrait work, which is seasonal. During the leaner months, it’s essential to think creatively about your subject matter, so property photography seemed like the perfect in-road for me.
What were your first thoughts of working with FocalAgent? How’s that changed?
Initially I was only providing photography, but when the opportunity arose to draw floor plans and earn extra revenue, I thought it made perfect sense. Since then my FocalAgent workload has rocketed and is a core element of my business.
By pure coincidence, my first assignment with FocalAgent was to photograph the house next door to where I used to live!! My former neighbour was slightly confused when I turned up! That was a long time ago though. I’ve shot hundreds of FocalAgent jobs this year alone.
Right now, I’d estimate my balance is about 60% FocalAgent work, and 40% other work. FocalAgent jobs are great as they can be fitted in around my other commitments, and provides work for during weekdays (not many people get married on a Tuesday!).
Your area of the country certainly has its busy periods. How do you cope with workload?
Sometimes it means early starts or late finishes, but when a list of jobs come in I try as best as I can to co-ordinate them with other work in the locality. I also have an excellent relationship with the staff at my agency branches, which is a huge help (never underestimate the power of customer service!) If an urgent job comes in they let me know as soon as possible and I can usually make an appointment to suit everyone.
How do you promote your business as a FocalAgent photographer, and also as a freelancer in other fields?
It’s now essential to have a social media presence to promote a photography business, and keeping a good website with up to date work is extremely important too. And of course, nothing beats the good old fashioned face-to-face meetings or word-of-mouth advertising.
As a FocalAgent photographer, what’s daily life like?
The self-billing invoice is brilliant and means less paperwork for me. The FocalAgent app, too, has improved significantly recently and is much more user friendly (although getting mobile signal in some rural locations where I work can be difficult!) Perhaps most importantly though, is that FocalAgent pays on time, every time. In any small business, cashflow is absolutely essential, and to know revenue is coming in when promised is a massive help.
What are your equipment essentials for a FocalAgent job?
Remote triggers, or a TTL cable to get your flashgun off-camera. This is especially important when photographing bathrooms which, by their very nature, always have mirrors/tiles/chrome that give horrible reflections and glare if the flashgun is fixed on top. Oh, and loyalty cards for your favourite coffee shops!
If you could give other photographers one piece of advice for working with FocalAgent, what would it be?
That’s easy – What’s stopping you? Working with FocalAgent gave me the confidence to leave a secure, salaried job and help fulfil my dream of becoming a full-time photographer. It’s simple. Do what you love, and what you do. Be happy and enthusiastic with clients, and this will reflect in the work you do.
All photography is attributed to Ewan Cannon. You can see more of his work on his website.