The past few weeks were exhausting (to put it mildly). I was traveling on photo shoots for five days, got to then go home for two days – which was enough time to wash clothes, play with the dog, post some galleries up for clients and then it was back on the road for another five days of shooting.

That week looked like the following… Sunday and Monday were 8 hour shoots, followed by a 15 hour shoot on Tuesday and a 9 hour shoot on Wednesday. When my eyes opened on Thursday I forgot where I was momentarily.

I slugged through the room I was staying in to get dressed and look presentable. I made my way to a store to pick up some coffee which I tried to get into my body as quick as I could. Then it was back on the road to do another day of shooting.

This final shoot was a 3-mile-long construction project in 100 degree weather. As you can imagine – not the number one place I would want to be at concluding two work trips.

So I had two options. I could slog through the project – make the pictures that I felt needed to be made and finally go home and sleep for the first time in about two weeks.

But how would that client feel? When they hired me – they didn’t request to get me after two weeks of traveling when I was burnt out and dead to the world. They hired me based off the best work they saw me do. Should I provide less than that service – it would be noticed.

The other option would be to give the project as much energy as I gave my best projects.

Any solopreneur (photographer, model, makeup artist, etc) will be faced with a similar situation. You’ve been working so much lately – when you get to yet another project you are so tired and worn out that you want and are tempted to half-effort your way through it.

However – every job you do is your interview for the next job. If I mailed in that construction photo shoot, I might never be hired again by that company. Then I need to do a lot of work to try to find a new client to replace them.

Imagine as a model that you gave a lazy effort on a shoot with a photographer and it turns out that photographer actually has an entire backlog of work they need to hire models for. Do you think they would call you back?

It is a balance we all must practice. How much work can be engage in before our energy level starts to dip? How can we ensure that we give the best effort on the first shoot of the week – as well as the last shoot? If you were to evaluate the time you put into the projects and how much energy each gets – is it equally distributed?

The solution could be taking on less work, or being more aware of how your brand is in play for every job you take on. But regardless – it is something to consider for each project you take on.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto