The last quarter of 2015 brought about big changes as far as my career is concerned, and not just me, plenty of other friends and colleagues connected with photography and the newspaper industry. Although rounds of redundancies and cutbacks are nothing new in the 14 years I have worked as a press photographer, it is always a shock when it happens, and especially when it happens to you! Having been part of an organisation for so long, I was accustomed to the routine of being paid a salary each month and acquiring the majority of my workload and the assignments I was sent on from other people at the paper - indeed, although newspapers are on the decline, members of the public still regularly contact their local paper to inform them of points of interest and things that are going on which makes for an excellent base of knowledge on which to build in order to fill the pages and the website each day. Now, unless I work a shift on a newspaper, generation of news is entirely down to me.
I would be very naive if I hadn't thought that this day would eventually come, but it was still a shock when it happened. Company car, laptop and phone were all taken away and although redundancy payment allowed purchase of these items, it was still a frightening situation. Crazy as it may sound, I had never bought a car in my life before and associated insurance, etc. Public liability insurance, advise on tax matters as a newly-working sole trader and coming to terms with no longer having holidays, sickness pay and company pension were also factors I had to come to terms with.
In the three months that have followed I have learnt that 'who you know' is extremely important. Former colleagues who now work in PR, press office roles and education have been extremely kind and helpful in enabling me to move forward in my new role. Although I still do shifts for my previous employers, I could not survive on this alone. I have also leant that turning down work for any reason is extremely hard to do, no matter where or when the job materialises.
Building a website has been a steep learning curve made much easier by the help of former colleague Mike Atkinson. Although computer literate to a degree, I had never envisaged myself being obsessed with Google listings and SEOs until now - criteria which I still know very little about, but given time, I am hopefully becoming more aware of in terms of their functionality and importance.
I hope that this post is of interest to someone, especially if in a similar situation to myself. What may initially seem to be a huge scary world out there can become less fearful through the help of friends and family, and having a good plan or objective for how you are going to adapt and move forward.