Monthly Highlights: May 2015

May was one hell of a ride with a multi-day music festival, film festival, political conference, and LOTS of food photos. It was also a highly nostalgic month, as it marked the end of my first car and third laptop, and entering into the last year of my twenties. That was pretty much how the whirlwind month of May went for this full-time freelancer. As part of my monthly highlights recap series, here’s a snapshot of what the month of May looked like, with some comparisons to April.

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1837.7

Miles driven.

1,334 miles more than April
*tracked by MileIQ

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223 hours, 39 min

Hours worked for the month

50 hours and 58 min more than April
*tracked by Toggl

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18

Photo shoots completed

2 More than April

*tracked by Sunrise Calendar

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149.90

Miles walked

22.64 miles less than May

*tracked by FitBit

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28.6

Miles ran

33.3 miles less than March

*tracked by Strava

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Seattle freelance lifestyle

What Went Well

+ Turning another year older

Birthdays and holidays are rarely a big deal anymore, but this year did end up feeling somewhat special. Not only does this year mark the beginning of the final year of my 20’s, but more importantly, I’m finally ok with the prospect of nearly turning 30. I always had this notion that leaving my 20’s meant I needed to have my life in order, and I finally feel like that’s beginning to happen. So…hooray for finally accepting the fact that I’m aging. Oh, and some friends got me a cake to celebrate this year! I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had a birthday cake.

Suzi Pratt birthday cake

+ Another year of covering favorite festivals

Even though I’m lucky enough to have paid opportunities to cover film and music events, I do my best to remind myself that it’s a privilege, not a right. This year I was again blessed with the opportunities to photograph the Seattle International Music Festival (SIFF) and Sasquatch Music Festival. While I didn’t have ANY time this year to enjoy a single SIFF film, I did have opportunities to photograph some celebrities including Kevin Bacon and Jason Schwartzman.

This year also marked my SIXTH year attending Sasquatch, and my fifth year attending as a credentialed media photographer. It blows my mind how quickly time has flown and how Sasquatch in particular illustrates the crazy growth of my creative career from attending as a fan (2009), writer (2010), amateur photographer (2011), and professional photographer (2012-present). Funny enough, Gogol Bordello played the main stage at this year’s Sasquatch at almost the exact time I initially saw them during my first year attending Sasquatch in 2009.

Gogol Bordello Sasquatch music festivalGogol Bordello at Sasquatch 2009, shot from the crowd with my Sony point and shoot.

Photographing music festivals is an enormous commitment, Sasquatch in particular. There’s typically at least 10 hours of shooting each day of the festival, followed by 3-5 hours of photo editing immediately afterward to make the 7am submittal deadline, leaving a mere 4-5 hours to sleep before doing it all over again. It’s intense, and this year I admit to hitting my wall and falling apart mentally a lot quicker than usual, due to the stress and chaos of photo shoots the week of Sasquatch. Still, it’s always a pleasure to photograph and attend, and I hope to continue doing so as much as I can. Although I still haven’t published all of my photos from the weekend, I have a partial gallery available here, a few shots that ended up in Fuse, and a photo of St. Vincent that got picked up in Us Weekly.

US Weekly St Vincent

+ A big boost in food photography opportunities

I don’t know at what point I became known as a food photographer, but the month of May seemed to solidify my professional presence in the scene. Despite the fact that I’ve been staff photographer at Eater Seattle for over 4 years now, very few realize that I don’t ever shoot food photos for Eater–only interiors of brand new restaurants. Thus, real estate and architectural photography have been natural progressions, but my confidence in food photography has only started to take form this year. Through word of mouth and past experience working with chefs and publicists, I landed a number of food photography jobs in May, having the privilege of photographing:

Seattle food and restaurant photography

+ Lots of multi-day conferences to photograph

The bread and butter of my photography business rests in architectural photography and corporate event photography. I have extremely high confidence when it comes to producing quality images in these fields, and now charge my highest prices for these services to the point where 3-4 of these gigs a month bring in enough income to cover my monthly expenses. Corporate event photography typically wanes in winter and spring, but luckily demand was up in May. I was fortune to work with a number of excellent clients both independently and through photography partners including The Heritage Foundation, Pacific Northwest Ballet, SAP/Concur, Nordstrom, and Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW).

+ Out with the old, in with the new

As someone who prefers a minimalist approach to life, I don’t like making huge purchases, especially if the original items don’t truly need to be replaced. However, the month of May brought me both a brand new car and a brand new laptop. The car is a 2015 Subaru Impreza Sport, purchased in full with funds raised by a business in Belize my boyfriend and I have been running since 2012. It replaces my very first car, a 2005 Nissan Sentra, which admittedly runs just fine, but the new car has been a boost in productivity in the sense that it is more fuel efficient and allows us to venture into new areas with its All Wheel Drive capabilities.

Laptop-wise, I had a big scare on day two of Sasquatch during which the video card of my MacBook Pro went completely haywire. Luckily, Apple covered the costs of repairing the MacBook, a late 2011 model, but in the meantime, I invested in a brand new 2015 MacBook Pro Retina laptop. While I wasn’t planning on buying one this early, the incredibly fast speed has already made my workflow much more efficient than before.

MacBook Pro

What Sucked Really Bad

Normally, this section is labeled “What Could Be Improved,” but there were some extreme disappointments that happened in the month of May.

– Big personal finance issues

You’re probably thinking these money woes are related to the new car and laptop, and you’d be partially correct. The car as I mentioned before, was paid in full using Gemini Connect company funds, so it miraculously didn’t cost my personal account a dime. However, the laptop purchase ended up being a bit too spur of the moment, as it coincided with my 2014 annual taxes being finalized. I’d had to file for a tax extension through my accountant, and he delivered the news that my quarterly tax commitment increased by nearly 50%. Thus, I owed payment not only for my brand new laptop, but also for my 2014 annual taxes and 2015 quarterly taxes at more or less the exact same time. As I frantically crunched numbers and realized that all of these debts were going to push my personal funds WAY out of my comfort zone, I also stumbled across the fact that there were a number of outstanding debts due to ME. Basically, I dropped the ball on enforcing collection payments for my own business, not to mention underestimated business tax payments, both of which are huge embarrassments.

To end on a happier note, this realization spurred an entire weekend dedicated to cleaning up my workflow and ensuring that tools like Todoist, Toggl, Sunrise Calendar, Google Docs, Evernote, and Gmail all work together to organize my finances. Also, if anyone wants to buy a MacBook Pro (15″, late 2011), please ping me as I’ve got one on the market.

– Faltering commitment to health

Confession: I’m running a half marathon in less than a week, and have never felt more unprepared. Running mileage in May was significantly less than the months before, and despite giving myself a 3-month window to train for the event, I’m resigned to the fact that Saturday’s race will hurt quite a bit. Still, I’m looking forward to it for some strange reason. I suppose there’s still an allure for pushing oneself past perceived limits, even while feeling incredibly underprepared.

Looking Ahead

After the crazy month of May, June is looking to be much calmer, which will be a nice break, considering July, August, and September are lining up to be heavy travel months, per the below timelines. If I’m heading to your neck of the woods, please let me know! I’d love any travel recommendations, and possibly even a meet-up if you’re around.

Early July: Portland, Oregon

Mid July: Los Angeles, California

Late July: Las Vegas, Nevada

Early August: The Gorge, Washington

Mid August: Walla Walla, Washington

Late August: Portland, Oregon

Mid to Late September: Eastern Europe

How did your month of May go?

What were some of the challenges and wins you faced on May? Are there any topics or resources you’d like to see added to this blog that would help you out on your own journey? Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email!

*Featured image by Alex Crick

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By | 2016-12-21T17:57:35+00:00 June 9th, 2015|1 Comment

About the Author:

Suzi Pratt is an event and food photographer based in Seattle. She is also a web designer and blogger who aims to inspire and teach others how to start a photography business. View her at photography portfolio, or her web design portfolio.

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