Matt Miller is a successful NFL Bleacher Report Columnist, one of our very own ZenMasters, and husband to the award winning photographer, Jessica Edwards. As a photographer, it may be hard to imagine what it is like to not be the one behind the camera. Others may wonder what it would be like to date or be married to a photographer. Your questions are answered today as Matt shares his experiences and thoughts, offers advice and tips, and sheds light on what it is like to be the spouse of a professional photographer.
The Hubby-Tographer, by Matt Miller
When I was asked some time ago to write a blog post talking about the experiences involved with being married to an award winning photographer, Jessica Edwards, I really wasn’t sure what direction to go with the post. I could use this outlet to subtly complain about the life as a husband to a photographer, or as a way to give advice to others in my position. After carefully reviewing the consequences of said posts, I’m going a different direction here.
My first title for this blog post was, “The Life of a Second Shooter, Reflector Holder, Secretary, Ice-Breaker, Conversationalist, Accountant, Builder, Gopher, Catch-All Husband.” That may be too long, but it’s the most accurate description of what my wife would like from a photographer’s husband. I’m probably somewhere around 10 percent complete.
The life of a photographer’s spouse should be broken down into categories, if only to offer a little organization in what is generally a very unorganized life. I say that with complete love and a good sense of humor. Call it “right-brain-ism”, if you will. My wife, as amazing as she is (going for brownie points here), is a smidge unorganized. I’m sure as a photographer the reader can relate.
Working from Home
My wife and I both work from home, which can be a great thing at times. Her studio is based out of our home, which means we are both in the same house all day. I listed this under the “good” for a reason. If either of us is having a bad day and needs to vent, or needs help with something, the other is just two flights of stairs away. Some people will tell you working together can kill a marriage—but for us it’s really made life easier. At least I think so…(she may chime in the comments differently)
Awards, Accolades and Accomplishments
People married to accountants or mechanics may never know the feeling of seeing their spouse called on stage to win an award. For those who won’t experience this, let me tell you, it’s awesome. As a photographer’s husband (or wife) you see first-hand the amount of blood, sweat and tears they put into their work. That validation at the end of the day is worth every canceled plan or last minute photo shoot.
I am fortunate to be married to a very successful photographer, and as such I get to reap the benefits of that. Being a business owner means control (to some extent) over what your income will be. For us, that’s been a great thing. The rewards are more than financial with the photography industry, but those who do well tend to do very well.
Trips (usually free)
In the last year I’ve been able to travel all over the country, with most of the trips being some form of tax deduction, if not free entirely. Destination photo shoots are a great way to take a vacation and make money at the same time—usually covering the cost of the trip and then some.
In any given week our plans can change five times. We’ve learned over the last year to share a Google Calendar to keep both of our schedules straight, but even then you have the craziness of canceled shoots, changed plans and reschedules. As a very detailed, organized person this was hard to learn. In fact, my wife would tell you I’m still learning how to handle the last-minute nature of the business.
My office is on the second-story of our home, with the bottom floor being an area used for living space and a studio. This means that I will randomly answer the door in sweat pants and my favorite “Beer Olympics” t-shirt to see a family anxious to view their images. This has happened more than once in the last month alone.
Keeping a copy of the schedule helps, but there are still times when I walk downstairs to find a living room full of people I’ve never met.
Our living room doubles as a viewing space for clients placing orders, which means a coffee table loaded with sample products and book shelves stuffed with awards and ribbons from Merit prints. Since our home doubles as a studio, every square inch outside the bedrooms is devoted to the clientele. There’s no saving the dirty dishes for tomorrow, since tomorrow brings new faces in the door. I will say…this is great motivation to keep a clean house!
While I mentioned money as a positive, it’s also potentially a negative. A slow month, or season, puts a major strain not just on the finances, but on morale. Learning to manage the stress of the workload and the roller coaster of busy versus slow days is something we both are mindful of (her better than me).
Learn on the Job
Learning as much about what your spouse does for a living, and learning how to be helpful in their routine, is the best thing I can recommend. I joked about my “catch-all” position, but to make owning a small business work it really does take all hands on deck. That’s the attitude I try to convey, even when a late photo shoot means I miss the beginning of Monday Night Football.
Even when I would rather be in a ball cap and sweater with a good book, I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m representing a business that pays half the bills (usually more) around the house. Keeping that in mind makes surprise photo shoots and last minute changes all the more bearable.
Reflectors look light, but try holding one over your head while the wind is blowing 30 mph. It’s not easy! Camera bags are also made with a hidden 20 lb weight stuffed somewhere in the bottom of them, or at least it seems that way. And if you’ve never held a 70-200mm lens on a camera for 20 minutes, I dare you to try without stretching. Actually, I’m getting tired thinking about it…
Hopefully you’ll find that while most of this post was written in good humor, there are some tips here that have helped in my three years as the boyfriend/fiancé/husband to a professional photographer.