Earth, Air, Fire and Water all conspire against you and me at times. We look distantly through the fisheye lens of our lives at the greenery others dance on without a care. Is the cliche true? Who and where are these people who are so better off?
My life as a staff photographer/videographer/editor/etc.
First a little about what I do. I work for a medium-sized health care company (7000 employees) which consists of three hospitals, a dozen or so standalone clinics, and a starfield of smaller clinics and associations. “The Corporation” (yes, they call themselves that by choice) publishes three or four magazines, a newsletter, three or four annual reports, a few hundred brochures and a fairly large website. I’m the only photographer/videographer on staff. This all translates into a strangled calendar of appointments and when it gets busy, it gets busy. But life was not always thus.
As with all things, you get out of it what you put into it. And coming from a very industrious family, I can safely say that I have poured a lot of effort and energy into improving my job from when I first joined. I’ve modernized the video department into something that can handle 30-60 minute video productions with only a few chokes, I’ve modernized still cameras and constructed a photo archive (72,000 photos and counting) and digital asset management workflow, and more importantly, I’ve created close relationships between myself, the A/V department, the PR department, the web team, administration and many of the major hospital clinical areas. This translates into increased communication and improved communication which, good or bad, has conspired to inundate me with unending work. I guess if anything happens to me and I quit or get killed, a lot of this will fall apart since I’m the only one doing what I’m doing. Not sure how I feel about that.
So what’s it like? Busy, very corporate, and filled with good days and bad. The bad days can be dangerous, where you think you might be on the street if you say the wrong thing. That’s the corporate part. The good days have been some of my best ever. Creatively, I’ve found a spot here where if I’m careful, I can have almost total freedom on a project. The result of that is that I have poured blood, sweat and tears into some projects, and those projects have been shown to crowds of people who felt the effort. That’s rare. And that I could do forever. It’s not often that you get a chance to move people deeply with your art.
What’s the other side of the fence for me? Starving? I’ve done that and it’s not as fun as being busy. I’ve tried wondering where my rent check will come from, but worrying about corporate politics is a short term unpleasantness I’d rather deal with. Why not freelance? I could probably do that since I know so much more now than I did the last time I freelanced, but being a staffer is just so much easier. I get paid like a normal person (though far less than I could be earning), I don’t have to keep track of my hours or taxes, I have health and dental insurance, blah blah blah.
Overall, the grass is greener over here on my side of the fence. Or at least it’s green. I have to do a lot of things that I don’t want to do. But I have a lot of freedom and a reasonable boss. I’ve met some amazing people through work, and made an enemy or two. It’s a rare job that’s difficult to find and get. And I see myself in the past looking longingly at this future. And I don’t want to disappoint that person.