Making Time

Young photographers talk about their ideal balance of making art and making a living. Originally published as a series in 2011 on I Heart Photograph.



Adam Bernales Alana Celii Carson Fisk-Vittori Elo Vázquez
Eric Marth Jennilee Marigomen Jinjoo Hwang Michael Vahrenwald
Paul Paper Pia Howell Satu Palander Sol Hashemi












Adam Bernales







Do you have a day job? What is it?

Yes, I help run a small book shop in East LA and typically work other small jobs, waiter, cashier, census enumerator.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

I don't think anyone has ever known aside from the book store.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Yes, though I wouldn't know how.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I'm not sure there is an ideal balance, it might be interesting if they were the same. If I could rearrange my time I would try to do more work of any kind.

Images: Adam Bernales

Top to bottom: goodnight.htm (2008), Untitled (2007), (708) 387-9677 (2007-2009)











Alana Celii







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I am the registrar at an online art auction company that specializes mainly in Chinese art. I also photograph their ads and during big sales, and am the cataloger for the fine art and prints we receive.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Yes, it's one of the main reasons I got this job, but I'm not sure if they actually know what my work is like. We don't really talk about it, they just know I can teach people.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Yes, it's slightly bittersweet. I've become way less interested in contemporary photography and the work I see online, and as a result, I haven't really been able to "seriously" shoot. I've been working, but it's just been slowly piling up into who knows what. A friend recently asked me if I was going to update my website anytime soon, and the thought kind of grossed me out. I like making work for myself right now without the pressure of having to appeal to a constant audience.

On the other hand, I never thought I would have the knowledge or interest in the works we received on consignment. In terms of painting, we mostly receive Hudson River School paintings, but lately I've been cataloging works by Duchamp, Pollock, Masaji Yoshida, and Helen Frankenthaler. Currently one of Louise Nevelson's 'Plant' sculptures is sitting on my desk. I'm just happy that every day I get to go to a day job where I'm surrounded by art, and am still challenging myself to learn and grow with this opportunity.

I feel like we fall into things that really change our perspective on what we want and need in terms of a career.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

More vacation time, or the flexibility to do residencies because I could have a job that I allowed me to telecommute. A day job that operates on summer hours year round so that I could get out at four instead of six, and still feel like making work. Being able to not have to work a forty hour week, but still be able to support myself financially. My issue right now is that for almost two years now I've been struggling between work vs art vs social life, and how do I facilitate that balance? It's hard because I feel like I'm being split in three directions, and up until recently, the making work part of my life was being put to the back burner.

Images: Alana Celii

Note: Alana sent in photos taken at her workplace.











Carson Fisk-Vittori







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I recently started working at a commercial art gallery in Chicago. I am also an artist assistant, and I co-manage an artist studio building.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Since all of my jobs are art related many of my co-workers are aware that I am a photographer. I also take photos as part of my job. Most of my time is consumed with art in one way or another.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

I used to babysit a lot to make ends meet. Working with kids definitely inspired me, you can really see their creative minds at work, and they make the most unbelievable things out of whatever is around them, like it's nothing. As far as my art related jobs, I am glad to be in a supportive community, and I meet a lot of artists and mentors.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

Ideally I would like to work professionally somewhere where I am learning skills for my own practice, which is currently true in terms of administrative experience. It is also important to me to have a job that allows me the flexibility to travel, go to residencies, and is overall supportive of my art practice. I would also love to have more money and time to spend on developing design related projects to eventually support myself from.

Images: Carson Fisk-Vittori

Top to bottom: Star shower (2011), Fundies (2010), Composition with Dandelions (2010)











Elo Vázquez







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I started working as a Spanish teacher four months ago, but right now I don't have any students and I'm very sad. And tomorrow I start an internship in a small translation company.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

It's a very big school and I haven't been there for long and only a few know about it. But I think I haven't told anyone.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Actually, I have an ongoing series called Spanish class. I take a picture of each of my students and I ask them for a handwritten paper where they can tell me anything they want - their names, where they're from, what they like and dislike, what is their motivation to study Spanish. It's hard meeting so many interesting people and knowing that you're never going to see them again, so I guess this is a nice way of never forgetting them and also of merging my work as a teacher and as a photographer.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I would work two days in my personal work, two days in my professional work. And then three days in my personal work, three days in my professional work. It's a very nice system I had when I used to work in a pizza place in Reykjavík. I really enjoyed that new whole concept of time.

Images: Elo Vázquez, from Spanish class (2008)











Eric Marth







Do you have a day job? What is it?

For the past few years I've worked as a clerk and bibliographer at a small used bookstore called Riverby Books. It's a bright and busy store in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The shop is owned by a lovely family, and I'm one of a few employees. We stock the shelves (and the stairs) with good books, reading copies of interesting and classic titles. We're interested in rare and unusual books as well, examples of fine printing and binding. Paul, the owner of the shop, is a bookbinder and keeps busy with making and repairing books for our customers, and putting things together for projects of his own. It's been a very good place to be and a great place to work.

In the growing months of 2010 I worked on a produce farm in Westmoreland County, Virginia called Blenheim, the ancestral home of the Latane family, who farm there today. Blenheim is part of a series of farms on Potomac River once owned by the Washington family. Their place was first the home of William Augustine Washington, the nephew of President George Washington. The farm is very near to Wakefield, President Washington's birthplace.

Blenheim is about four hundred acres, with something like a dozen acres in produce. Much of the farm is woods, and a wonderful place for bird hunting. There's a lot of delicious stuff growing out there, strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, elephant garlic, apples, peppers and a lot more. This summer we wrapped up work on a big hoop house and the Latanes grew lettuces and tomatoes during the winter. The family sells at a few markets here in Virginia, and offers weekly shares of produce for about ninety families close by.

Work at the farm slowed as the growing season wound down. This winter I've had a handful of small jobs: sorting cattle for a livestock auction, working some odds and ends for a friend of mine who is a builder, and I'm doing some studio modeling for a life drawing class at the University of Mary Washington.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Yes, I'm lucky to be close to a lot of the people I work with. My friends at Riverby, at Blenheim, and my friend Jason the builder have known me for a long time! The students at UMW know that I photograph, too.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Working at Riverby has put me in contact with a lot of great photography books. And tracking books down for customers has made it easier for me to find the work of photographers I'm interested in. Most of what I've learned about photography has come through books, by studying the work of other photographers.

My recent work has been made on farms in Orange, Franklin and Westmoreland Counties here in Virginia. Working with the Latanes at Blenheim I've had the occasion to make a lot of photographs of their farm and of the family at work.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I'm looking forward to the coming of Spring and to working again at Blenheim. Being with people who make a living from caring for their place has been a pleasure, and the work itself has yielded some good photographs.

Images: Eric Marth

See Also: New Twine











Jennilee Marigomen







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I work in the art department at a clothing distribution and marketing office.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Yes! My boss was actually a big part of how I got into photography. We sponsor a lot of music shows, and in exchange for passes, I would take photos for him using a little camera that I borrowed from the office. When I upgraded my equipment, I took photography classes, and I eventually made the shift from event to art photography. Everyone here has always nurtured my love for photography, and some of my work is hung up in our showroom and printed as wallpaper in our director's offices. I'm very grateful.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

A little bit, but not too much.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

It would be nice to have my mornings free so that I could be taking photos when the sun is out.

Images: Jennilee Marigomen

See Also: Happy Accident











Jinjoo Hwang







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I do, I work as a dietetic technician at a private hospital in Los Angeles. I mostly work with renal/diabetic patients along with patients with complicated diet prescriptions or allergies.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

I don't think they do. Or at least there's just very little conversation about photography or art in general in the hospital. I do dress differently from everyone else though, apart from the lab coat.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Working as a diet tech and being a photographer demands different skill sets but for me they're somehow processed in the same stream of thinking. I feel like at the end of the day when I sleep, the ideas and impressions in my head homogenize so I don't really consider my job and my personal work mutually exclusive. Recently though, I've been told that if you don't devote your life solely to art or attend a proper art school, it deprives you of your right to call yourself an artist. I thought about that a lot, but now it just sounds obnoxious.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I work at the hospital only part-time at the moment, so having time isn't really an issue. It's funny though, there are so many moments at work where I wish it were either appropriate to take a photo and/or I had a decent camera with me. So many interesting, weird, scary, gross, and happy things happen pretty often.

Images: Jinjoo Hwang











Michael Vahrenwald







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I'm an adjunct college professor, I've been teaching at 3 different schools for about 5 years.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Yes but the funny thing is, as an adjunct, you hardly ever see the other people you work with.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Often I'll use class as an excuse to research an artist more thoroughly than I would on my own, I often like to "theme" classes in the direction of what I'm interested in. However, Teaching art is not at all like making art. A day of critiques can be draining, I'll often just go home and watch bad sci-fi movies.

When I was an artist assistant making architectural models, I would leave the studio dying to make something of my own... it was a perfect mix of precise, repetitive labor and viewing another persons success that made me want work. I'd say that teaching makes me more reflective as to what I make and why I make it.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I love teaching, and I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to do it. A 50/50 split would be just about right.

Images: Michael Vahrenwald, from Plant Drawings (Methods and Receiver Part 2)











Paul Paper







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I don't have a regular day job. I'm studying and have few side jobs: dog walking, private photography teaching and rather exciting gardening. Dog walking is regular twice per week while others are more random.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

The woman I am giving photography lessons to knows I'm a photographer. Others don't.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Since those works are not taking too much time they are nice little break from my normal activities. I shot few times the dog I am walking and also gardening can be pretty inspiring, it is something I don't normally do.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I'm too much of a mood and idea driven to talk about time arrangements. Maybe seemingly merging one into the other would be ideal.

Images: Paul Paper

See Also: I Like This Blog











Pia Howell







Do you have a day job? What is it?

Yes! I work full time for BAGGU. I'm in charge of our wholesale department and work with almost all of our international distributors. I also give aesthetic input and just designed a pattern for a bag that will come out this summer. BAGGU usually feels less like a day job, actually, and more like something I've helped to grow over the past few years.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

The people I work with are all creative themselves and know that I'm an artist. Since I don't use a camera for my main photo work anymore and really just make contact prints, I don't usually call myself a photographer. I just say that I make photographs, among other things. Anyway, I think a lot of people who have only seen my images online can't tell that they are photographs made in the darkroom.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Sometimes; I do appreciate working for a company that cares so much about color and simplicity. Mainly, though, I feel like I've learned so many valuable lessons about how a small creative business works. My mind has really been opened up to the possibilities for art and design crossover lately.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

Ultimately I'd love for personal and professional to become one and the same. But for now, I fantasize about working full time in 4 days and having 3 left over to make my own things. Sometimes I find it hard to switch back and forth, to slip away from analytical thinking and into visual reverie.

Images: Pia Howell

Top to bottom: After Max Bill (2009), Framed Trio (2010), Silver Marlboros (2009)











Satu Palander







Do you have a day job? What is it?

Currently I'm freelancing, mostly working as a photographer but I have also been doing some portfolio websites and occasionally some random jobs for couple of days/weeks at a time.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Obviously yes if I have photo shoots but otherwise usually not. If I mention about it it's almost always about my personal work.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Of course it leaves you less time to focus on your own projects. Past few years I have done most of my personal work in Korea. It has been great to have a chance to spend 2-3 months of the year in a country that inspires me endlessly and where I can focus on photographing.

Even though I enjoy freelancing, to be honest my dream has never been to work as a photographer full time. I wish in the future my day job will be photography related but not necessarily photographing from day to another. It can easily wear you out and make you forget your own projects and why you loved photography in the first place.




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

At the moment my monthly income varies a lot. The ideal right now would be having a part time job which would leave me time to do some freelancing/own projects. Or the other option would be to work a lot for 9 months and then stay in Korea or travel for 3 months yearly and that way have more time to focus on my personal work.

Images: Satu Palander, from 82 Days (2009)

See Also: Wow San











Sol Hashemi







Do you have a day job? What is it?

I work part-time as an assistant photographic technician at the University of Washington. Basically I help keep the photography program running; troubleshooting equipment, sending prints, checking out gear to students. I'm lucky to have been working here since graduating in 2009.

Do the people you work with know you are a photographer?

Yup.

Does the work you do during the day affect your personal work?

Definitely. All the experience I've had printing has really helped when it comes time to get one of my photographs onto paper. I used to go through a ton of proofs but now I can get really close on the first try. I've learned to spend more time on the prepping. Also, to only print when I've slept the night before!




If you could rearrange your time, what would be the ideal balance between your personal and professional work?

I really like the balance right now; I have time to get my own projects done yet have access to so much equipment. My schedule is flexible too so exhibition or grant deadlines are never a problem.

Images: Sol Hashemi

Top to bottom: Plant (2009), Liquids (2010), Bouquet of Flowers (After Pissarro) (2010)