From Child Psychologist to Food Photographer
A year of change, discovery, flow and finding my inner creative
Well, what a year it's been! There's nothing like a forced break in the form of maternity leave to get you questioning things and reflecting on life and how you want to spend your time. What really makes me happy? How do I find that elusive work life balance and flexibility to work and care for my family? What's my passion, what do I love to do, what am I really good at?
Up until recently, my career was all about being a Psychologist. It was a career I thoroughly enjoyed, and felt right, for the past 10-12 years. I've always had a thing for understanding the world and why people are the way they are. I've always felt privileged to hear people's stories and connect with them on a deeper level and help in some way. I have a deep curiosity and empathy for others that meant that being a Psychologist always felt very right to me.
In saying that, being a Psychologist also carries a lot of responsibility. And that responsibility can feel like a heavy burden at times. Trying to help people who are very unwell can create a lot of negative energy and stress, and I think this negativity was starting to wear me down.
I've also been aware, for as long as I can remember, of an inner desire to do something a little different, of there being something creative inside of me, of wanting to find a real hobby and passion, something that could be turned into a career - that elusive thing that would mean that work would never really feel like work!
Although I've always enjoyed taking photos and always been drawn to beautiful things, it was only recently that I decided to take the leap and buy a proper DSLR. I had already been getting more seriously into my cooking and baking over the past 5 or 6 years, since having kids and moving to the country with that idyllic country lifestyle. And had been taking photos of my food at times with my smart phone. But then I started feeling a little limited with what I could do with my phone, which is what led me to buying a proper camera. At the same time, I started becoming more involved with the world of Instagram, which led me to discovering a whole world of fellow foodies and photographers and creatives, and it kinda made me feel like I'd found my tribe - this is where I belonged, this is where I could explore my own inner creative that I didn't even realise was there.
After completing my first Instagram challenge, I was a little hooked, and I immediately enrolled in an online guided course that was completely focused on all things food styling and photography. This led to courses in understanding Lightroom and the editing process, as well as exploring the world of YouTube and all the helpful resources on there. After having all these experiences, I actually found myself feeling a lot more confident and like I was kinda getting good at this whole food photography thing. I was getting positive feedback from my peers and finding myself just wanting to take photos of food in all my (limited!) spare time. I had food businesses start seeking me out through Instagram and I too began reaching out to local businesses to gain experience and start building a portfolio. It felt exciting having real world projects, having a real focus and creating images for others, and it made me want it even more.
“my love of cooking and baking + my love of beautiful things + my inner creative = wanting to become a food photographer!”
At the same time, I was very aware that I had a job as a School Psychologist that was waiting for me to return and I had a decision to make. Although the food photography had just flowed and felt so right and like I didn't even need to question it (which is very unlike me!), my maternity leave ending was forcing me to analyse the situation and have to make a decision. This is where the doubts started to creep in - can I really do this food photography thing? Freelancing and being a creative can be really lonely and challenging. Am I good enough? Will I actually get any work? And ultimately it also came down to - how do you go from being a Psychologist for 10+ years and investing so much of yourself in that, to doing something completely different like Food Photography?? How do I justify that?
Which got me thinking about Psychology and Food Photography and how they're maybe not that different after all. For me, it's all about the connection. And I get to connect with others no matter which of the jobs I'm doing. With food photography I get to really listen and hear about people's products and services and brands and try and understand everything about it so I can then tell a story through beautiful photography and images. And through taking those images I help people bring their product to life and hopefully help them reach more customers. The main difference I've found, and it's a real positive one, is that in doing food photography I am surrounded by creative, positive energy, rather than the more stressful, negative energy that can come with dealing with people's problems.
Ultimately food photography is my happy place and I just love everything about it. But I am realistic and realise that it can take time to build a new business. So I'm taking things slowly and, for now, as well as focusing on my little family and continuing to grow and cook wholesome food, I'm going to be returning to 1 day a week of Psychology and doing my photography business as well, and I'll just see where things take me! Hopefully it will all start to become a little clearer in a year's time and I will know either way what the right path for me will be.