Is this Your Year for a New Career?

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Here we are in week 3 of our series of interviews with people who have successfully changed their career. I hope you’re feeling inspired! This week I have been talking to Jude, who is a freelance photographer and co-owner of EFC Photography.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Jude Middleton, freelance photographer specialising in weddings, mid forties, married with several children, not all mine.

2. What made you decide to become a wedding photographer – what were you doing before? Was it an epiphany or were you actively looking for a career change?
I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar… no that was somebody else. I was working in sales as I had done for years for no other reason than it paid the bills. I did not love my work by any stretch. I was also struggling with working full time and looking after my young son who seemed to spend more time in daycare than anywhere else, the bills for which were crippling. I was then struck down with a terrible episode of chronic fatigue syndrome and I knew something had to give. I thought that I might start getting my affairs in order so I could move back to Australia. I always liked the idea of being a shutterbug so I decided to get a qualification so I could work part time in Australia and not be so cold and tired all the time.

I completed a year of my qualification part time in the evenings and then I really turned my life upside down when I met a man, fell in love and got married all in the space of 4 months. I didn’t complete the second year straight away as my mind was filled with my new family life. We had a baby and I was made redundant when I was pregnant, so by the time she was born, I was itching to get out of the house, so I decided to go back and finish my qualification, which I did with baby in tow. I liked spending time with my kids so wasn’t keen on going back to work full-time and found the idea of freelancing as a photographer very appealing. I could run my business from home and go out to shoots on weekends when other family members could babysit. Purely through osmosis gravitated towards weddings as it is the biggest and most accessible freelance market and here I am today.
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3. What process did you go through re: courses, work experience, business advice, etc.
I studied an HNC in Photography through Thames Valley University, then just got out there and started taking pictures of anyone I could. I asked friends to dress in wedding gear and stood them in front of a church to start my portfolio.

4. How long did the process take from inspiration to calling yourself a professional?
About 2 1/2 years, but I did have a baby in that time as well.

5. What does a typical day involve for you?
All weekdays start with the school run, but after that it could be anything. Once or twice a week I will meet up with my business partner to do admin, other days I will take my laptop up to my bed and edit image after image for hours. During quiet periods, I just fold washing and do grocery shopping. On a wedding day, it’s 8-10 hours of walking around with two cameras and a multitude of lenses. I usually need a good lie in after that.
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6. What are the best bits about your job?
The weddings themselves are such joyous occasions – I love being a part of them. The thank you notes are always very satisfying. But the main thing is the flexibility it gives me to manage my family life and my energy reserves as chronic fatigue will always be a big part of my life.
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7. And the worst bits?
Worrying about whether the couple will like their pictures.

8. Has the change been a good one for you?
Absolutely. I love being a professional artist and having creativity as such a big part of my life. That is more amazing than anything. I also am no ‘stay-at-home’ mum, but my condition means I cannot commit to many regular jobs. Working my own hours is perfect for me.

9. What advice would you give to anyone considering something similar?
Do it! But write a business plan first. Things really got going for me once I figured out what it was I actually wanted.

EFC Photography is Jude Middleton and Bea Piekarska. To book them, or for further information, call 07946 425013, or 07969 845213. http://www.efcphotography.co.uk

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I hope you’re enjoying reading about people who have taken the steps to make their Mondays enjoyable! Please pass this article on if you know people would find it useful.

Next week it’s someone who know all about turning over a new leaf.

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