Before I was a photographer, life was simple: you go to work, 9-5 ish, go back home and go on with your life. And then you have your weekends too. This is, of course, generalising, but it’s probably like that for most people and most jobs.

Last tax time I had issues with my accountant because he was asking me questions that are hard to answer. When your work and personal life blur together, how to you explain to the tax man what is work and what is not?

If you know me well enough, you know I live and breath photography: I live (lived, you’ll understand that soon) in my studio; my decor is all about photography; most of my friends are from the photography/fashion/film industry… You also probably know by now that I overshare, when in person. In this article I will share a lot about my personal life but I will keep some things out, as I usually do in public online forums.

If you haven’t been following my “Becoming a Photographer” series, you may want to read all that before going through this one.

Right before COVID, the future looked bright, with 3 things I have been working towards finally happening. That all got cancelled, of course.

Cairns

Becoming a Photographer – Part 15 – The one about work-life balance
Marc

You might or might know, but I just moved to Cairns. It probably sounds a bit off for someone who is working towards being a commercial photographer to leave Brisbane for Cairns, instead of Sydney or Melbourne or any other commercial photography hub.

But when your personal and professional blur together, it takes a toll. And that’s what happened to me.

In the second half of 2020, I was blindsided – by my own doing – and my life took unexpected turns, one after the other. Although some of the things happening then were good, some were not, and I found myself lost in confusion. That’s when I came to Cairns to meet a friend I met online. Marc was already a good friend I made online two years before and I needed to get out of Brisbane, so it felt like the thing I needed.

I’m more of a cold weather person because I naturally run hot all the time and Cairns is hot and humid and sticky, but also beautiful. First time Marc took me to Kuranda, on the way back I actually told him: “I know what you’re trying to do, it’s not gonna happen“. I was talking about him showing me all these amazing places and people, trying to make me move to Cairns.

Feeling Better

Becoming a Photographer – Part 15 – The one about work-life balance
Dave

Coming to Cairns made such a difference in my life that from September 2020 to September 2021, I was here 5 times. Every opportunity I had, I would just come up. I even drove to Cairns on Christmas day 2020.

Marc is not only my adopted brother, but also an amazing artist surrounded by incredible people. The lifestyle and slower pace is both familiar – reminding me of my hometown – and scary, because I’m always on go mode. I never stop. Except when I’m in Cairns.

Some of the incredible people I met in Cairns, live in Cairns but don’t work in Cairns. So I thought to myself: I could do that. Like Dave, above, who is a cinematographer and live here but works everywhere.

My original plan was to build up my client base for the next two years in a way that I could travel back to Brisbane and other places for work, but be based in Cairns. A two years plan looked very achievable.

Loyalty Pays Off

Becoming a Photographer – Part 15 – The one about work-life balance
Annaliese & Joshua – Agency 888

As you know, my biggest client is Agency 888. It’s tricky to call them a “client” now as I am part of the family. The fashion and film industries are tough and people come and go a lot, but when you find loyal people who’ll stick with you even when things are difficult, it changes everything.

So when I mentioned to the agency my plans of being based out of Cairns in two years time, things started moving so fast that some decisions that I thought were hard, became easier. They helped me organise the work in a way that I can be based out of Cairns and come to Brisbane to do the work – and Sydney soon – as well as have my workshops and photowalks all at the same time.

And that’s why it’s so hard to call them “clients”: only family will do that for you.

What the Future Looks Like

Becoming a Photographer – Part 15 – The one about work-life balance
Kiara & Claire

Don’t turn away from possible futures before you’re certain you don’t have anything to learn from them.

Richard Back

Well, even though I try really hard to, I can’t predict the future.

I was about to turn 40 years old when, for the first time in my life, I found myself in deep depression. That was also when I found out I had extreme anxiety all my life. And I had no idea. The way my anxiety works is by trying to imagine every single possible outcome of every single action. My mind is always doing that, all the time, non-stop. I have dialogues in my mind.

And I know how useless that is.

Worrying about the future is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life will always be things that never crossed your worried mind.

A Baz Luhrmann quote, some say.

So my hope for the future is to be based in paradise, surrounded by amazing people.

What I know for now is that I’ll still be going to Brisbane and Sydney for work, keep the amazing community we’ve created together in Brisbane going, with the Photowalks and Workshops, and maybe start that in Cairns as well.

I’ll leave you with some of the photos I’ve taken of my Cairns family since September 2020. You can see more by browsing through the blog.