Creative Professional Lifestyle | An Emotional Ride

creative professional

I was a creative professional, out on the road with my team, searching for the next location. The client had given me the GPS and the Address. We were there, but … This was the wrong place! They had given me the wrong address and we only had 1-hour to get this job done. This wasn’t a very good start!

Being A Creative Professional

If you are a creative professional, in any way – writer, photographer, video editor, content creator, graphic designer, etc – you will know this. If you are interested in becoming a creative professional, then prepare yourself to learn a hard truth.

Before I became a full-time blogger and Instagrammer (still trying to break through BTW) I ran a corporate film and photography company. I would:

  1. find clients
  2. design concepts
  3. pitch them ideas
  4. negotiate contracts
  5. plan work in
  6. book the team to help me
  7. source and book locations
  8. film
  9. interview
  10. be the driver
  11. be the fixer
  12. backup
  13. edit
  14. deliver
  15. receive feedback
  16. re-edit
  17. get sign off
  18. invoice
  19. chase invoices
  20. repeat.

I was a literal “Jack of All Trades”

And, do you know which of these steps is the hardest? As a creative professional, the hardest part is number 15. “Receive Feedback”.

This is all part of the emotional journey we take on as creative professionals. I’m not saying you have to do all of these steps yourself, even if your full-time focus is on capturing and editing photos, you still have a journey to go on.

The Emotional Creative Journey

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The New Brief

This is the most exciting part of every project for me. When you get that new brief for a project. It’s such an exciting time. It took me a while to realise why!

The excitement comes from the fact that, at this point in the project, anything and everything is possible! We have the blank page and need to craft something that solves a problem. It’s one of the reasons I applied for this brand work gig!

I still love the project design phase. Starting to impose limits and narrow the concept down to something that we can achieve. It’s why I do this, it’s the most creative part of the whole project and I love it!

Submit Concepts and gain feedback

Once you have a “treatment” – how you are going to treat the brief and solve the challenges – you have to submit it to the client (assuming there is one and it’s not a personal project).

The main emotion at this stage is fear!

Having someone judge your work is horrible. I hate it with a passion. But, it is necessary if you are collaborating.

A few things can happen here:

  1. They say “Great, love it. Let’s do this” – A great feeling
  2. They say “I don’t think this part is appropriate, can we change this?” – Not great, but not too bad
  3. They say “This isn’t what we wanted at all, we just want you to do X” – This is the worst!

Number 3 is the worst for someone in a creative field. You come to realise that they don’t want your creative input at all.

I called these jobs, “Shutter Monkey” jobs.

They only want you to press the shutter button.

Shooting

Here’s a behind the scenes vlog from the old days of client work. Read this to know more about Why I Stopped Vlogging (and why I’m starting again):

I love shooting. It was great when I had a team and we would go on the road trip. Great friendships and an exciting time, travelling around from location to location.

Our “thing” was being flexible. We were a small team on purpose. It kept us agile and able to react to changing situations. This gave us a very documentary-style approach to filming.

On the emotional ride, this is a high point. Unless …

Personal Story:

creative professional

On a filming trip with 5 locations that needed shooting in 3 days, we arrived at location one for that day. We went to the GPS location we were given and looked around. We looked and looked (and looked).

Unable to find the office, I phoned my contact with the client. I told them that I think we’ve been given the wrong address.

Now this wouldn’t be a problem on a single location shoot, but we had booked times for interviews at each location. If it took us too long in one place, we would be late for the next one.

The address we were given was a depot, and not the head office. We were on the 180-degree wrong side of Manchester. Our next location was in Oxford that afternoon!

I explained to the client that they had to choose between the two interviews, because, simply, we would be missing one of them and it wasn’t our fault.

Now, here’s the twist!

My contact then burst into tears! This seemed to be a final straw kinda thing. She explained to me that she had just resigned and it seemed as though it was a tough, emotional time for her too.

So, there we were, on the “wrong” side of Manchester, facing a drive down to Oxford, with the prospect of delivering a project “Not To Spec” and my contact with the client had already quit.

I never found out why she resigned, but she had obviously had enough.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh and move on.

Editing and Delivery

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After the emotional highs of location shooting, you then have to settle into the edit. In the documentary-style world, you have to sift through and piece all your content together. You might not have a pre-decided story to edit to.

This is where the skill lies. Finding what the story is and piecing it together.

I quite like editing as a creative process. (If you’re an on the go creative, here are some Online Photo Editors that keep you mobile, and don’t cost the earth!)

Then, the FEAR!

You have to submit your draft. There is a fine line, I’ve found. If you put too much work into the draft, you risk wasting time – clients always want changes. I think it’s like haggling to them. They won’t accept the first price you give them.

I used placeholders for graphics, applied an overall colour grade and look (for films) and rendered out 720p drafts.


QUICK TIP!:

Be sure to add a watermark across the middle of your draft videos. Something like: “PROJECT NUMBER, JACKEDCONTENT.COM – DRAFT_01 {DO NOT PUBLISH}”

Just in case a client decides to publish (which has happened to me, even with this type of watermark clearly visible).

This kept me covered when I was using placeholder music or images that I hadn’t yet purchased the proper licenses for. 


Waiting for feedback is always a terrible thing. As a creative professional, I’m not sure it ever gets easier. Someone is looking through your work and judging it. Either way, a few things will happen:

  • Great, love it (never had this! Always needs changes)
  • We need you to change these {LIST}
  • This wasn’t what we were expecting (Can be good or really bad)

Would You Be A Creative Professional?

vlog

Knowing what I know now, after 5/6 years of experience doing that kind of work (and doing what I do now) I think I could still make it work. There will always be this emotional ride when it comes to being a creative professional. It’s the nature of the beast.

But, it isn’t something that I want to get back in to.

Maybe, one day, I’ll write about why I left that world behind.

What do you think? Do you find the creative professional lifestyle like a rollercoaster? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below or drop me a message on Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks for reading this far, I hope I haven’t put you off becoming a creative professional. If you are a creative person, then getting work that allows you to do this is really great. As with any profession, you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth.

Thanks again, have a great day, watch less, create more,

Ta Raa!

#J

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