The support act Photographers often talk about being behind the lens, but what about the people behind the photographer? TanyaWrycraft is one of those ‘behind the photographer’, attempting to keep family life and her career going
Not only was the house suddenly full of two of everything as we combined our lives into one home, we suddenly had a ‘to do’ list longer than all our arms put together. I quickly picked up a thousand new roles – assistant, secretary, diary-keeper, gopher, coffee maker, biscuit barrel filler, marketing manager, salesperson, support team… you get the picture. Anyone who has relaunched a business will know what this takes. We had many months of very late nights: rebranding, building the website, ordering sample work, framing, developing a network and finally just getting the word out there. Thousands of leaflets were dropped – all of us traipsing the streets in the rain for several weekends – and endless hours spent on social media making sure everyone knew we had arrived. You would also think this was the end of Photoshop pizza – instead it went to a whole new level. Just as it is for every family, the build-up to Christmas was an incredibly busy time. In the final run-up to the start of the festivities I asked him to take one of my many Christmas cakes out of the oven when the beeper went. It had 20 minutes to go. I was out for just over an hour. Yes, you guessed it – Photoshop Christmas cake. And a smoky kitchen served with a side order of grovelling apology. Juggling family life and a photographer’s life is no easy feat, but despite the odd cremated cake and Christmas cards undelivered, we did it and came through it all smiling.
Words by Tanya Wrycraft
I quicklypickedup a thousandnewroles – assistant, secretary, diary-keeper, gopher, coffeemaker, biscuit barrel filler, marketingmanager, salesperson
The perception of a photographer’s life is that they wander about taking pictures and selling them – just like that. But as anyone who is a photographer or who lives with one knows, the reality is very different. I was also guilty of assuming that stereotypical scenario. Then one day it all changed when I was introduced to a photographer. Things went swimmingly, and as I also have more than a passing interest in photography, we got on well. Several dates later and I’m starting to notice a few random patterns in his behaviour. It starts with responses to Facebook statuses and so on at 4am, hours with absolutely no response from phone or email – and by hours, I mean maybe 12-15 – and silence starting halfway through a conversation. Hmmm – all very odd! Again, at 4am there would be statuses posted about Photoshop, the fact it was getting light and that he hadn’t been to bed yet. By this time I’m seriously wondering what on earth is going on, and does this person actually have a life. A typical post would be: ‘Photoshop pizza for dinner again – whoops!’ It turns out that this was a regular occurrence: he would put a pizza in the oven for dinner, and then not hear the buzzer. In fact, he would often end up with the smoke alarms going off and his flat full of black smoke. ‘Dinner’ was black (again!) and the rest of the flats in his block were now awake… oops. Not to mention the hastily downed cold coffee and bags of M&Ms rather than break off from Photoshop to find real food to silence the grumbling tummy! So I’m starting to spot a pattern here. He’d often be out taking pictures or doing shoots, and then also be running workshops for people. It slowly started to make sense. I’d arrive to visit for a weekend and wouldn’t be able to sit down for kitbags, tripods and backdrops cluttering up the sofa/lounge/bedroom – hazard of a small flat with a bulky hobby! Full-time Fast-forward eight months, and life suddenly throws a few spanners in the works. What was a professional hobby is now a full-time career, complete with giving it everything we had between us. It also coincided with all that camera kit (and him, I hasten to add) moving in with me and my two children. Everything I’d experienced so far was just the warm-up.
They say behind every talented man, there’s a very talented woman. Is that the case in your experience? Maybe your support act is a guy, or are you out there alone with no support act… we want to know. Tell us about your personal experiences at opinion@ photography-news.co.uk. WHATDOYOUTHINK? π Tanya Wrycraft’s partner is Steve Jane. In addition to being a pro shooter he recently set up Warwick Camera Club. To find out more about the club, go to www.strobixphotography.co.uk. One of these days I might just find the time to go out with my camera on my own and quietly get the hang of it – but until that day, it’s business as usual and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am now used to the fact that a meal may be nearly cold before he appears to eat it, or that I can have a whole conversation with him and he won’t hear a word. But I also know how much this means to him. For all the sales we don’t win, I’m there with another coffee, quiet encouragement and dinner on the table. When he is exhausted and has got a deadline looming, I am there, bringing coffee, cake and moral support until the wee small hours. OK, I admit I may occasionally have to admit defeat and go to bed, but I know the children will be up in five hours and the whole thing starts all over again. Rewarding role And then he gets a win; all the hard graft, late night tears, stress and general grumpiness melt away when I see that passion ignited in him. For those brief moments we’re walking on air… until we suddenly realise we’ve got kit to assemble, memory cards to format and batteries to charge. Once he is dispatched to wherever the work has taken him, I breathe a sigh of relief and roll my sleeves up and get back to updating the website, cooking dinner, following up potential leads, sorting the kids… At least I am ahead of the game on Christmas card writing for this year – they’re already written – well, for the neighbours anyway. Yes, it’s hard work being a photographer’s support act, and I doubt I will ever get the photography tuition he promised me a year ago, but watching someone get excited about a genuine passion and natural talent is incredibly rewarding.
BELOW Photographer’s special menu item: Photoshop pizza. Hmm, tasty!
I’d arrive to visit for theweekend andwouldn’t be able to sit down for kitbags, tripods &backdrops
Photography News | Issue 7
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