Images: Arron Watson-McNab (@facesplaceslaces)
"Choose a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life." We've all heard that saying, right? Well, Confucius, it ain't always that easy. We may not have known what we love back when we were studying, sometimes you've gotta hella graft for ages before you can properly achieve what you love, and sometimes what we love might have changed.
More and more, people aren't just doing their nine-to-fives, but also have a passion project - a side hustle, if you will - that they maintain in the hope of it becoming their main job in the future, so they achieve this elusive notion.
Arron Watson-McNab, 26, works full-time as a therapy assistant at a prestigious London hospital, as well as freelancing as a writer and photographer. His side hustle is photography - Faces, Places & Laces - while Dwain Caulker-Johnson, 25, is a part-time retail worker, whose passion is making music, under the stage name DeeWain. Amy Deeprose, or amybakesuk, 26, is a design engineer who uses her design knowledge in the cakes she bakes on the side. In a three-part series, I have quizzed them on how they manage their day-to-day jobs and maintain their side hustle, and how they hope to develop it in the future.
How long have you been shooting images?
I got my first camera back in 2015, as a gift to capture my time spent working in America, but I would say it’s only been in the past year that I’ve started to take photography more seriously.
So, was that trip how you got into photography, then?
I've always been interested in photography, but never had the tools. While working in America, I found myself often going for strolls and taking photos of pretty much everything. This progressed to trying new angles, getting creative with my surroundings and learning about my camera to having a story or purpose behind some of my shots. From then, it just continued and I found a style, which my brand states neatly - Faces, Places & Laces. Alongside people I meet and places I go, my love for trainers found its way into my portfolio.
What motivates you to make time for your photography?
It’s like therapy for me. London is hectic at best of times and I have always searched for something to take me out of that madness. Holidays are great and I also meditate, but venturing out with headphones in and my camera in hand in my new favourite escape, especially as it speaks to the creative side of me.
How do you get your name out there?
Events, mostly. I am always looking out for cool events or attending galleries. I occasionally work in coffee shops, which has led me to meet some really fascinating people. Instagram is a great tool for photographers, as well, however, I much prefer connecting face to face. I will often stop people on the street for some of my projects and always meet really interesting people. Just this weekend, I met someone with their own brand looking for pictures, two club promoters who invited me down to shoot at their next event and an individual who was pretty well-connected in the sneaker scene. You never know where opportunities come from! Talk, share your stories and always have a business card on you.
What return do you see?
Personal satisfaction, mainly. I love the process of creating and seeing the outcome come out how I pictured it - it is always very pleasing. Financial gain is, of course, always a benefit, but the opportunities that have presented themselves outweigh that significantly. I am grateful to be in a company that has given me the chance to shoot individuals that I have been following for years, then, in addition, have them complement or use my work. That feeling is great!
What challenges have you faced juggling the photography with your full- and part-time jobs?
It’s not finding the time, or it’s being motivated to use the time efficiently. After a long day at work, finding that energy and mindset to go and do a photoshoot, write, blog or find new opportunities, as well as general life - cook, clean, go to the gym, see friends - is hard to maintain. Opportunities have been missed, friends let down and there have been countless late nights and early mornings, but love for the craft gets me through.
Do you invest any of your own money into your venture?
Yes, always investing in my development and photography is an expensive hobby. I am very fortunate to have the support of friends and family who all recently contributed towards a new camera for my birthday. I will forever be grateful and stunned by the amount of backing I receive!
Do you consider your photography a business?
I am beginning to. Previously, I just enjoyed the process and never believed my work was up to a standard to make a business out of…I still doubt it now. However, I have had some very kind words from individuals in a variety of industries that have provided me the confidence to see this as a business. People need photos, those photos make money, thus the creator of those photos needs compensation. Simples!
What is your long-term career goal?
Currently, I am pursuing two, it seems. Firstly, [I want to be] a photographer, although I’m not quite sure where exactly I picture myself as a photographer. I have a deep-lying love for music, so mixing my art with capturing the journey and progression of artists would be cool. Plus, I’m so fascinated by the process of art - how an idea is transformed into a song/drawing/[item of] clothing/building - so, that would be cool to capture.
Secondly, I've headed back to uni to do a masters in Physiotherapy this year. Long-term, I would love to work with elite athletes, possibly track their recovery from injury [to recovery] in a series of pictures… who knows.
What advice would you have for someone who wanted to turn their hobby into their job?
Enjoy the process of working hard on something you genuinely have a passion for and say yes to every opportunity available. Alongside this, depending on the hobby, there will be a stage where you’ll have to take a step back and study the business element of your craft. Just be prepared for it.