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20 May 2010

Joining the Rest of the World

After many years of sticking my head in the sand, which has involved starting, stopping, starting again, then forgetting my username, AND my password, getting frustrated and giving up, I have FINALLY managed to create my Blog.

This has all come about because of a realisation that, if I am to be a success full time as a photographer, I need to get more serious about many things! Which, alas, also means keeping up with forms of communication I've previously put in my 'too hard' tray, or my 'I refuse to participate' tray (ie - Twitter).

So here goes...

I have previously only read other blogs, primarily that of my sister, and am under no illusions that this will be an instant success, or that I will be able to emulate her effortless writing, which is funny, poignant, and just good value. I also have absolutely no idea how to use everything, so will probably be gnashing my teeth, feeling unhappy with the finished product, but I guess I will improve with time.

For those who don't know me, I am a professional photographer. I have been full time, professional, since 2009. Prior to that, I was one of the many photographers, who as struggling artists, maintain a full time (proper) job that pays the bills (for me, it was working for CSIRO), and photographing professionally on a part time basis.

The decision to go full time as a photographer was made for me, when CSIRO made my job redundant in December 2008. Much to the angst of my father, who's made a very successful career working at CSIRO, I didn't fight the redundancy. I had several reasons.

First and foremost was that my heart just wasn't in it. CSIRO is a fine institution, and I believe in it's cause, but let's face it, it is a horseless desert.... Second, I didn't want to work full time, because my kids are too young, and while CSIRO says it's family friendly, my experience was that it was sadly lacking. All the good jobs are full time, and there is all sort of pressure put on you when part time if you kids get sick, which they inevitably do. My situation was slightly more complicated by our first child developing type 1 diabetes at only 18 months of age, so he would get sick quite a lot. And third, and finally, I didn't want to look back in later years, and think 'this was my big chance at greatness, and I didn't have the guts to go for it'. I am not like my father, who's somewhat of a legend at CSIRO, and would never have achieved greatness there, but as a photographer, I feel I have a fighting chance.

So I closed my eyes and dove in. I specialise in thoroughbreds and horse racing photography. The business has been going quite well, and expanding quite nicely, although it's difficult to become fully immersed in the industry when stuck in Canberra. I travel a lot, and this places all sorts of stresses and strains at home. And it is tiring, but it's part of my heart and soul, and at present, the racetrack is not an area of work I am ready to let go.

However I have been lucky enough to begin venturing into a more commercial world, where I have been working for some of the very large thoroughbred studs, such as Darley Australia, Vinery Australia, and Arrowfield Stud, and it is this work that is becoming my real passion and the core financial part of my business.

The editorial world, at least for a specialist racing photographer, has collapsed in the past 6 or so years. Many of the old magazines have folded as one by one their financial collapse became inevitable. The Internet has surged, but no one wants to pay for images. And as a photographer with significant capital investment and reasonably high travel costs, that's a problem! So the change in direction has saved my business, and kept me afloat. That said, you are only ever as good as your last shoot, and there is no such thing as a sure thing in this industry.

I am realistic enough to realise though, that I need to develop more business here in Canberra. So I'm putting feelers out in the equestrian industry, and doing some sports as well. I'm in the middle of a big website upgrade, which causes all sorts of headaches (I'm an artist, not a technical person!!!!), which is beginning to come together. And I've been taking my camera out with me more. Autumn in Canberra is lovely, and we are having such lovely weather at the moment. I walked out to pick up the kids yesterday afternoon in a hurry, and left the camera bag inside the door. Naturally, with my camera sitting feeling lonely at home, there were king parrots, rosellas, fabulous colours and the light was gorgeous. And all I could do was think of how I would have taken the images had I actually brought the bloody thing along!

I did keep myself busy, while the kids played in the playground (we went to the 'Drainpark' at Commonwealth Park), I began writing lists of all the things that I need to do to my website, the books I need to complete and publish (not to mention the dreaded bookwork thing, the end of the financial year gallops closer). I did also finally put to paper some of the ideas I have been throwing around in my head, for a class that I may begin teaching at our local Primary School. The principal wants me to think about teaching the 5/6s, which is both daunting and exciting, about photography.


  1. Hello sis, (I say in my effortless and poignant way xx) welcome to blog-land.

  2. Hi Sis!!! This comment seriously only just appeared (4 June!!!)! Ok, perhaps in my hopeless 'buggered if I can tell how to do all of this', state I missed it???