It's May, the sun is creeping out (and then back in, and then out again), and it's time to introduce our third Photographer of the Month!
Our FocalPros are located across the UK, from London to Edinburgh. Together, they make up a talented and invaluable pool of professionals who capture thousands of properties every week.
Some approach FocalAgent work as a way to build up their portfolios; while others view it as their primary source of income. To give you an insight into what being a FocalPro is like, we're shining the spotlight on a different photographer each month.
Our May photographer of the month is Michelle Pattison of Picture Perfect Images, who's been shooting with us for two years.
Shooting for FocalAgent since: February 2014
Location covered: Swinton, Salford, Manchester, Stockport, Cheshire, & Macclesfield
First camera: Canon 550D
Favourite photographer: Can't pick just one!
We'd love to know more about your background. What was the beginning of your photography career like?
I used to work as a civil servant, but photography was always my real passion. I would spend my evenings and weekends studying and practicing and then one day, I knew I was ready to go professional. I remember handing in my notice while stuck in traffic on my way home. It was a crazy feeling, and by the time I arrived back to my place, the fear had set in and I thought "stupid cow; what have you done?!" It's a standard part of quitting any job to pursue a dream but luckily, everything made sense right away. I began working for one of my hubby's IT clients in the oh-so-glamorous world of photographing nuts and bolts and spare parts, while covering weddings at the weekend.
We've been working together for well over two years now – what was it that attracted you to working with FocalAgent in the first place?
After taking my photography career into the architecture field, property photography seemed like an interesting route. The regularity of work with FocalAgent suddenly seemed very attractive! I was still doing a lot of corporate photography, so the flexibility was great for me. But really, it just came down to one question: why not?
What was it like in the beginning, and how have things changed as your FocalAgent career has grown?
I like to be in control of my diary (it's typical for my star sign) so getting used to the fact that some days were really busy and others weren't at all was difficult. I've been working on my time management though, and it's become a lot better – to the point where it's actually most of my business. I've noticed a huge change in the volume of work available to me as I've built my reputation among the key estate agent clients who I shoot for. Now, I shoot around 90 properties a month with FocalAgent, and it represents around 70% of my photography work.
What kind of time management practices helped you?
I always plan ahead so I know how long it'll take to travel between appointments. I also set myself a strict limit for how much I can work and always make sure I'm home for when my hubby has dinner on the table (he's fab, he cooks all the time though I get to clean up his mess... Still not sure why he has to use ALL the pans!).
What are your favourite parts of working with FocalAgent?
The team are great (in particular Jude, the Godsend!). Nothing phases them; even if I'm stressed they help me sort it out right away. This has helped me build a really good reputation with the estate agent branches I work with – to the point where two have asked me to photograph their own weddings!
But I'd say the best part is the autonomy I feel over my own career. Believe me, after a life being watched and monitored in the civil service, every part of being a freelance photographer has been incredible.
Thanks to Michelle for sharing her experiences as a FocalPro! If you're interested in how you can join the team and work as fruitfully and flexibly as she does, click here to sign up. Our team can't wait to hear from you.