Who says a crisis has to lead to catastrophe? Sometimes it can open new doors into a brighter future. That’s Lee Garland’s story. The Nottingham-based photographer was working as a staffer at an interiors and architecture magazine, a role he chose over a better-paid, but less rewarding corporate job, when the financial crisis struck in 2008.
“I just felt a staff photography job was too good and rare an opportunity to refuse. But when the financial crisis came along, it quickly became apparent in the ensuing property crash that interiors was not going to be a steady place to be any longer, so I broadened out into weddings,” he says. “I’ve never looked back.”
Growing up, Lee didn’t have any burning desire to run his own enterprise and be his own boss until he started working for actual bosses. “Then the incentive was certainly there. I don’t like being tied to an arbitrary schedule set by someone else, it’s such an unproductive way to work,” he says.
Having the courage to go it alone
Something that gave him the confidence to take the leap and start his own business was building up good contacts within the industry. “There are so many photographers nowadays, so having a good range of solid contacts that I felt I could rely on for freelance work was key. Having to pay the bills off the back of having to pitch for work from scratch would have been, frankly, rather terrifying,” he says.
For Lee, one of the biggest challenges is competition. However, he accepts that this also forces all photographers to make sure they remain relevant. “The barriers to entry in photography have lowered in the digital age, and that brings challenges both positive and negative to the profession,” he says.