Here is my 2016 in Summary.
It’s very difficult to write a blog post about your year without sounding too big headed but I’ll try and keep it light and, hopefully, you will take something away from reading this.
2016 has quite frankly been my best and most successful year as a freelance camera operator. Although I’m based in Manchester, UK I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with work all over the UK, going as far north as Inverness, Scotland and as far south as Plymouth, England. My work has also taken me to Spain and France this year.
I’ve met some incredible producers, fellow freelancers, production companies and brands along the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the likes of Google, Santander, DHL, Thorntons, Odeon and more.
I’ve also met some really cool celebrities and had experiences that any other job just wouldn’t offer – I’ve dangled off sky scrapers, climbed mountains and hung out of racing cars.
It’s not all work and pay cheques however. The beauty of being freelance is that I have the freedom to spend my time doing whatever I want. I try to keep this in mind and work on passion projects whenever I have opportunity. This year I wrote, directed and edited a short film titled ‘Demented’. Thanks to an amazing, hard working crew we successful produced a film festival worthy thriller currently residing on Youtube. This film also got a 3 page write up in Digital film-maker magazine (of which I bought 5 copies!).
Another passion project that I managed to achieve was hiking round Snowdonia, North Wales over the course of 2 months producing a time-lapse adventure film. This made me a more patient cameraman and showed me some amazing sites that are right on my doorstep. The video was shared by BBC Wales and Wales Online amassing 100k+ views in a couple of days. This patience, and waiting for the perfect light for a shot is something I have taken with me into my business and I feel has helped me increase the standard of my work. This is something it is important for you to do as a freelancer – make sure you are constantly trying to be better and keep on top of the game.
I’ve also worked on numerous charity films this year. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with people from various walks of life and give back to the community and something I plan to do more of next year
On the business side I’ve continued to grow and I set up a separate business called ‘CT Timelapse’ focusing on long term time-lapse installations for the construction industry. I’ve successfully captured projects over the year including 3 weeks at a whiskey distillery, 15 weeks at a new vets hospital and 3 weeks at Santa pod raceway.
Why has it been a great year?
I attribute my year down to hard work, good people and a bit of luck. I’ve found that as long as you surround yourself with the right people and are willing to put in the hours you will be successful. I spend a lot of my ‘down’ time networking and socialising with like minded creatives with the hope of working together in the future.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve made a lot of mistakes this year and have done my best to dust myself off and get back on the horse.
Some lessons I’ve learnt this year
– Never stop learning – Working in the creative tech industry it’s incredibly important to continue to grow and innovate.
– Buying new kit doesn’t make you a good camera operator – I already knew this but I wanted to stress it even more. There is a horrible trend at the moment that you’ve got to have the latest tech to be good at your job. Whilst I like new toys as much as the next person you’re probably better putting your money into something like property rather than a new camera and use the tools you currently have to their full capacity before trading in. I really do believe in ‘buy cheap buy twice’ so good quality kit should not need upgrading constantly.
– Work life balance – Whilst work is very important, and it’s ultimately what makes the world go round, It’s not the be all and end all. One week over summer I worked 83 hours in 6 days and was physically ruined. It’s not healthy or good for your clients as they aren’t getting the best out of you. I’ve realised the true value of sitting down to brunch with friends, holidays, new hobbies and time to reflect on oneself. Setting time aside away from work means you have the energy and passion to come back 100% and give it your all on your next job.
Overall I’m very thankful I get to do what I love day in day out and never have a problem waking up early on Monday morning. It’s a great feeling that two and half years in I still feel this way. Hopefully you can take some inspiration from this article and I hope your 2016 was as good as mine. Here’s to 2017!
Why not read about How I became a freelance camera operator