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I've been living a double life...until now.

woman peeping through leaves of a plant
Photo by Emma Fletcher

It took me a while to pluck up the courage to write this.

I’ve been living a double life…

Well, a double career at least. Most of the people that know me, know that, for the last few years, I’ve been building a brand photography business in Rotterdam.

AND I have been working as a sustainability consultant for about a decade.

I have now faced my fears, and updated my LinkedIn profile to show both things (as you might have picked up in last month’s headlines).

Why has it taken me so long?

I was worried that:

  • People I know from my many years of working in sustainability would think I’d jacked it all in, and stop contacting me about work

  • People would think I am a jack of all trades, and master of none (and that not be a good thing)

  • My messaging would be confusing, my efforts spread too thinly, and I’d do badly at both professions.

So, in the spirit of working in the open, I thought I’d talk about this odd sort of shame / anxiety around doing more than one thing.

Let's talk about the money side of things. Lots of people see me banging on about photography (because marketing needs must) - thinking it’s my main earner.

Actually I earn more money doing sustainability consulting, but most of it is under NDA so I can’t talk about it and I get my work through networks outside social media.

And the photography work is a slow burn. It’s a new business, in a new country, in a pandemic.

The upside

But here are the good things about doing two things, that am beginning to discover:

  • I long neglected my creative side, thinking it wasn’t a realistic career prospect. But the niggle to take photos never went away. Being paid to make photos is something I get the biggest buzz out of and have endless reserves of energy for, even though it’s not making that much money yet.

  • Sustainability and climate justice work can be hard going at times. Things are getting pretty scary. Having something totally unrelated to focus on gives me the energy to keep going with my sustainability work.

  • All the skills I have learned through running projects, wrangling people, keeping morale going, are invaluable when it comes to running my business and helping people relax in front of the camera.

  • It turns out lots of my former colleagues want their photos taking, giving me a chance to hang out with them in a totally different way.

Let's see what happens

After a long chat with a dear old colleague (funnily enough, just after I took her photos), I realised that pursuing what you love and what you want to change, and just seeing what emerges is a valid way of going about things.

If we are to take on the challenges of the day, focusing on what we truly love doing is going to sustain us when the going gets tough.

I don’t know yet the many possible ways that the worlds of sustainability, climate justice and photography will come together, but I have a feeling they might just do that, one day.

Do you do different things? Tell me about them! Let's make this normal.


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