Creatives are Paid in Time. Plus Fun. Sometimes Money!

I’ve said it often that while photographers and other freelance creatives don’t get health benefits, paid vacations, or retirement accounts–we sometimes don’t even get paid all that much money (though if we’re passionate and good at what we do, we get what we need)–we do get paid in time: Time off, time to work on personal projects, time to meet and create interesting photographs for clients while not locked into a 9-5 schedule.

And time is quite valuable, something that folks who make big money rarely have. There have been many a yacht owner who couldn’t afford the time to take the boat out.

And then, every so often, we also get to photograph cool assignments. Like this one.

Cat and her ’71 Cuda.

Cat is the co-owner of the Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Beer restaurants in various cities throughout Colorado–Dave (of the Smokin’ moniker) is her husband. I’ve photographed Cat and her daughter Caity before, and today’s shoot was to photograph her with her Plymouth Barracuda before she turned 55. “It has to be done now,” she said. “Birthday’s closing in.”

Ok. I’m on it. I scouted locations. I had ideas. I wondered maybe she could sit on the car hood, that might make for a good photograph. You can’t do that on new cars, can you? It seems nobody does.

These are the results from a Nikon F100 with 24mm, Nikon D750 with 17-35mm, 105mm and 180mm, Rolleiflex 3.5F, and a Wista 4×5.

Tom Waits by Jay Blakesburg

I even had her do her best Tom Waits impersonation as a used car salesman. The results are silly fun.

All these photographs were created because she wanted to be photographed before her next birthday. Because photographs matter. When she’s 110, she’ll have these photos to show future generations of her family.

While there is no retirement from the artist life, seriously why would we want to? It’s a very generous, worthwhile, fulfilling life. You don’t see Mick Jagger or Willie Nelson applying for social security. The artist never stops creating.

We are gifted with the ability to have fun as we create our work, work that will last for many years to come. We do all right–the gift of time is quite the gift indeed.


There’s a recent article by The Guardian about Time Millionaires which addresses this same thought, and explains others are questioning why we value productivity above all else, and why we allow our bank balance to be the ultimate barometer of our worth.

I’ve often wondered how much do we work for things we don’t really need and don’t realize that’s what we’re working for? For example, if we have to work to pay for the car payment, what if we went without the car, could we afford to work part time? Have a four-day weekend every week? Is the cable TV bill costing us an extra day at the grind? Would we rather have that day off and cancel the TV?

There was a time I was working three days a week and had a four-day weekend every week. It was more difficult planning the days off than it would have been to just let work decide and go into the office. Free time is a great gift, but it takes planning. So much easier to be told where to be and be there. After the busy week, the weekend comes and sports will fill our time until it’s Monday morning and time to go back.

People used to travel with one suitcase without rollers because they didn’t own that many clothes and they could all fit in a small handheld case. It was easily luggable, hence the word luggage. Now we have huge walk-in closets for wardrobes and bring much of it with us when we travel, at great baggage costs and all these clothing expenses, what do they cost us in free time?

We’ve been conditioned to believe more is more, extra is better and it’s what we should strive for. It’s the American Dream. But is it, or is more just more to worry about? To house, to maintain, to keep us from being free to pick up and move somewhere when an opportunity arrives. What is the cost of a great number of possessions?

How many people rent apartments for their extra stuff–AKA storage lockers?

How many people know exactly how much money they need to earn and make a point of not working any more than that?

Years ago I met a couple who could fit everything they owned in one small RV vehicle. They said their goal was to never own more than could fit in one small space. I wonder if they were able to keep to that goal, or did the haves show them what they were missing, made them want to have more, too?

What do we really need? How worthless do we feel if we’re not being productive? People will call you a bum if you’re seen lying around napping in the sun. Can you handle that kind of judgment? Or if they see you driving an older car. Living in a small rental home. What kind of person are you?

Exactly. What kind are you? Probably the artistic kind who is paid in time, values it and knows how to use it well.

Want to support my shows? You can, just visit this link at Paypal, or go to to add your monthly contribution to keep the lights on!

Check out my YouTube Channel of Photography Talks: my 6×6 Portraits Blog (you’re here) and my Daily Photography Podcast. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: