Freelance is the only career I’ve ever truly known. Since I left University, I’ve been wrestling my creative skills into an income, there were the years I was flat broke, there were the years I sold vintage online and did engagement after engagement shoot at the Eiffel Tower for next to no money. And then there was the 8 month period when it all went wrong, I left Paris and moved home. I saved all my money, ate from my mother’s fridge and dedicated every waking moment to moving out. That was only three years ago. Since then, I think I’ve become a woman and a fairly established one. That’s not to say I’m rich but I don’t think I’ll starve or find myself penniless again. To be frank, my income comes from two angles, I am Frassy, as you know me but I also live another not-so-secret professional life and that is of commercial photographer, primarily for fashion and alcohol brands. It was tough convincing brands to hire me on a basis other than an ‘influence’ and its still a struggle, but every month this year I’ve signed new freelance projects which have me blissfully behind the camera instead of in front of it, being my real self, hair a la mess and elasticated waisted pants, ofcourse. Fees for commercial freelance photography are significantly lower than those of influencer based work, but I decided to divide my focus because ultimately, while I will likely never stop sharing here, I don’t want to be 40 and hoping my instagram interactions increase. Some days I am convinced that the internet absolutely has enough photos of Audrey Leighton, because, while it may be hard to believe, I am a little tired of seeing so many damn photos of my face. And when I’m behind the camera? It’s absolute creative bliss. There’s no hand gesturing and struggling to convey visuals to my amazing assistant, it’s just me and the camera. There is such a fluidity. I realize that sounds obnoixous, and more than once I’ve been called out as falsely claiming myself as a photographer, this always embarrasses me because I was never technically trained to be one, and sometimes, stupidly that makes me feel insecure and unworthy of the work I do get. But then I think, I’ve been photographing both myself, clothes and other people for a decade, if I can’t call myself a photographer now than when the hell can I? Which leads me to some humble advice, confidence and saving money are the key ingredients to a successful freelance career, because you’ll have to prove your worth and no one will pay you on time, ever. And while you might make more than your salary friends, there will definitely be a weekend dinner or three you might have to skip out on because a) freelancers work around the clock and b) because there will absolutely be times you’ll have little money, and I don’t think social plans are worthy of dipping into the savings account. I have withstanding payments from all the way back to last summer, meanwhile I currently hire two people, one of whom just went full-time – so I pay them out of pocket and then have nothing left to show for my own work until months later. It can be incredibly frustrating and there are undoubtedly days when I almost lose it. There are also the days I sit and dream of a 9-5 with a predictable pay-check, especially in the slow months which are always January and August. This January I made less than my monthly expenses, which would be a nightmare if it weren’t for my savings. And then, after a few weeks of almost no work, suddenly every single client has a project, I’m losing sleep, surrending weekends and wondering, why couldn’t some of these projects come when I had so little work? It’s very much a feast or famine situation and because nothing is guaranteed, the famine periods can be a little worrying. I’ve certainly had the panicked thought in bed ‘wait, will anyone ever hire me again?!’. They always do but the ebbs and flows of freelance life aren’t exactly tranquil. And yet, I wouldn’t have my life any other way. I can live wherever the hell I want, I can skip out from work to the gym at 11 am should I please and I love that everyday there is a new, unexpected project in my inbox. I’m very bossy so being my own boss works seamlessly for me. I’ll take the late payments and the unpredictability, perhaps because this is all I’ve ever known but I also quite like the thrill. And looking ahead in 2018, there is so much work, so many late payments, countless sleepless nights, hundreds of emails begging brands to hire me not as a blogger, but as a photographer, trips to Paris, Italy, Ibiza and who knows else where – and when I think of all of this, I feel blessed. I feel lucky. I feel happy to have what I have. That’s not to say I don’t struggle or work hard for it, I do. And that my friends makes whatever luck I have, all the much sweeter.