James - Adventure Photographer & Content Producer
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What are 3-5 things you love to do on your days off or 3-5 quirky things about you?
What's a day off? Just kidding, I actually value doing nothing - reading and catching up on movies. If I'm feeling motivated, I'll go for a joy ride on the motorbike, practice flying a drone or tinker on a non-work side project.
What are three creative tools you couldn't live without?
Laptop Camera ... that's it, just two - I can live without the rest.
What do you do?
Adventure photographer / Content producer
Is this your whole income or do you have other side hustles?
Lots of hussle - I bartend, truck drive and pick up odd jobs all over.
How did you get into photography and producing content?
I was already doing some out-there stuff for fun and I met a couple of like-minded individuals who were looking for out-there things to monetise. Together we created our first project and got it sponsored by some companies. That went really well and now it's my work.
Can you describe a working day for you?
Not really, it varies insanely. Most of my photography is field work and that means a lot of camping, but that's by no means the bulk of my time. Currently I'm up early, swimming and shooting in the water (surf photography), editing and doing behind the scenes stuff in the studio/workshop till midday. Then back home, sleep for a few hours because I can, before getting up for the evening and bartending to pay the bills. Maybe I can squeeze in a few hours work on the computer before bed at 1-3am. Rinse and repeat.
How does this impact your lifestyle?
I've never had a 9-5 'normal' job - I've always just worked my lifestyle around my work. So long as you find balance within that it doesn't really matter what you're doing - there's always a balance to be found between, work, social and personal pursuits. The time of day you allocate to each one doesn't really matter, just the quality of it.
What are the perks of your job?
I enjoy it. I get to travel doing it. It's the single most challenging thing I've done & I have complete creative and personal control to pursue any crazy idea I get.
What are some of the challenges you encounter?
Financing it all.
The ins and outs of making it actually work in the long run.
The stress of complete and utter uncertainty.
What are 3 of the pitfalls you often see artists making?
Being unable to work with other people.
Getting stuck on the overall artistic vision without thought to the less attractive things - ie. the business side, logistics, social media . These things will sustain your vision in the long run and are just as important. Ultimately, if you get stuck on the sexiness of a cool idea, but no one else gets to see it, you'll probably never achieve what you're setting out to do.
What tips do you have for creative artists out there?
1) Work with other people - like really work WITH them - collaboration will allow you to achieve so much more, but it requires that you swallow your ego and listen to other people
2) Learn to enjoy the process - It's a grind - no matter how cool the thing you do is, there will always be an element of repetition and hard work that you have to get through
3) You get what you put out - you never know when a bit of negativity might cost you an opportunity, or what a better attitude might bring
4) Do what you want, but hold yourself to a high standard and take satisfaction from the achievement of that standard
5) Take time - You can't push to make art every day of the year (doing nothing else) and expect it to be any good. Work out what you need in your life to get in the zone. Don't force it and it'll work out
What advice would you give to someone who says they're feeling overwhelmed trying to self-manage their creative career and that they want to find a simpler way to do business?
You're probably spread to thin. It's easy enough to do and there's so many ways to deal with it, but the first thing you need to recognise when you're at your limit.
Take time to process and get organised every now and then. This is never time wasted.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to cope with the on-again off-again seasonal flow of freelancer work and who is doubting whether any more creative work is going to come their way?
Welcome to the pain? There's no easy answer for this. Either don't quit your day job or else learn to really hustle. Whatever allows you to keep doing what you want, that's what you're going to have to do. And if that's too much to ask, just remember, you can always go back to the 9-5 and work for someone else - it's what I tell myself to get through the harder days.
Why do you work in the arts and why do you create?
It's not a choice - it's simply something that I have to have in my life.
How do you balance business and creativity in your life? What do you think about the concept of 'selling out'?
Balance? I work with a business partner who handles that. I just make sure I give him everything he needs to get us both enough money.
Selling out? I hate it and anyone who says it. Who are these people and when did they get to decide what does and does not constitute an artist selling out?
What do you think it means to live a creative life?
Simple; to create.
If you don't make anything, you simply talk about art or good ideas, you're not a creative, you're a dreamer. If you can't be realistic, patient or hard working enough to actually see your projects/ideas/art through to fruition, then you're not a creative - just someone with nice ideas.
You must always be mindful of what you're adding to the world and why. It's not good enough to make something for the sake of calling yourself creative. Ask yourself:
Is it inspired?
Are you inspired?
Is it original, authentic or new?
Does it achieve something positive?
Does it make you feel happy to make it?
Answers to all these questions will tell you truths about what being creative means to you - and that's not really something I'd pretend to dictate to you, because creativity, like the art it creates, comes in many forms. But in the end it all comes down to creating something.
Any last advice?
Don't screw people over - creative fields can be way too competitive and it makes people do silly things. But, what goes around comes around, if you work hard and do right by people eventually it'll come around.