The Bigger Picture of Balance - Photographer Penny Wincer

Penny's always been freelance. First as a photographer's assistant, learning the ropes, making connections - and then as a photographer herself.

We chat about when working for free has made a difference (and still can) and how being freelance has actually made being a mum easier (not sure it's ever easy!).

As a single mum with two kids, one of whom is autistic, her family support on the other side of the world (she's an Aussie living in London) and a busy work schedule, it seems remarkable that Penny is one of the few guests ever on this podcast to say she feels balanced.

Maybe that's what happens when you're embracing work into your life.

Or maybe it's because instead of looking at work life balance on a daily or weekly basis, she's looking at the months, the years, the bigger picture.

More from Penny Wincer

Penny on Instagram

Penny's site

Penny's article on the Doing It For The Kids blog

Penny's blog Apples and Optimists

Who the hell is Steve Folland?

Steve's a freelancer helping businesses use and make video & audio content in much better ways. Find out more at, track him down on Twitter @sfolland or lay a trail of cake and he'll eventually catch you up.

In 2015 is decided to create the freelance podcast (well, there weren't any others doing this then) where freelancers could learn from each other via their stories.

Check out Steve's Being Freelance Vlog that documents his weekly wanderings and wonderings as a freelancer.

Transcript of Being Freelance podcast - conversation between Steve Folland and photographer Penny Wincer

Steve Folland:      How about, as ever, we get started hearing how you got started Being Freelance?

Penny Wincer:       I have almost always been freelance, actually. I have had one job. When I was at university I did a multidisciplinary arts degree because I just couldn't decide what I wanted to do and by the end of that I'd pretty much decided I was going to be a photographer. I did film, photography, creative writing, and theater, so I did that in Australia, where I'm from. At the end I just thought, "I think I'll be a photographer, I think I'll move to London and be a photographer's assistant because I'm pretty sure photographers must have assistants." I went to an art school, and nobody talked about business, or work, or commercial work, or anything, it was all about art. I didn't have any idea, I just got on a plane, and came here with no contacts, and very luckily I found the AOP, the Association of Photographers, and found my first job in a studio, work in a higher studio.

Penny Wincer:       I was here for a year doing that and then I decided to move to New York. Went to New York, I was there for two years working full-time for a fashion photographer. Then, I came back and I've been freelance ever since, so I spent three more years as a freelance assistant in London when I came back. Then, I've been shooting myself now for about 11 or 12 years.

Steve Folland:      Flippin' heck, wow. I love the fact that you just got on a plane and just came over, and thought, "Right." The fact that you hadn't even lined up a job.

Penny Wincer:       No, no job. Also, wasn't even 100% sure, I just assumed photographers must have assistants. It all worked out actually and actually working in a studio was a great place to start because although I was technically not employed full-time, but I was employed every day. I was given a day rate, like most assistants are, but they just gave me lots of work. It was brilliant because we had, I think, four studios in a small complex, and we had loads of different people come through, and I met so many people that year. When I decided I was going to move to New York I didn't know anyone in New York really, but I did have a bunch of contacts from photographers and assistants here in London because, especially in fashion, it's very common to go back and forth from London to New York. I did have a bunch of numbers and emails when I went to New York, but nothing much else.

Steve Folland:      Were you quite deliberate? That year in London where you consciously trying to learn what the photographers were doing to? I don't mean the skill of taking the photos necessarily, but ...

Penny Wincer:       Yes. The that was interesting was ... because I went to an art school, and in Australia that's more common to go to a more pure art school, I came here and I met loads of assistants and they'd all done these very technical degrees, and very commercial degrees, and they specialized in fashion photography, or commercial photography, or something, and it was really different. I had done gender and sexuality, and I did one class called Nymphs, Sluts, and Madonnas: A Representation of Women in Art and History, that's what I was doing when I was at university. I got here and everyone knew everything about the business, they'd done internships, and they felt quite far a head in a lot of ways, but as soon as I started working I just threw myself into it. I learned about the equipment everyone was using, I just observed, and I did a lot of production for the studio. Within six months, I would say, I'd caught up technically with people who had done more technical commercial focused degrees, so being an assistant it's almost a bit like being an apprentice. You just learn so much.

Steve Folland:      How about learning the business side of it? You said you had no business tuition either, so you've got these freelance photographers coming in each day.

Penny Wincer:       You just learn it as you go. In the beginning, I was taking phone calls, and booking lunches, and booking extra equipment. Then, I'd have freelance assistants coming in being like, "Oh, so-and-so needs this bit of equipment. Can you just order it and add it to the order, and get it delivered like now?" I'd be like, "Oh my God, what is that piece of equipment they've said," so writing it down, trying to understand what they're talking about. Very quickly you learn. I would just ask the assistants if I could help, so I would second assist other assistants that were in the studio when I had a bit of quiet time. By packing everybody else's equipment away you learn about all the equipment, and yeah so you just pick it up as you go.

Penny Wincer:       Then, I took all the bookings for the studio, so I learned how options worked, and how different photographers work, and the different elements that go into a team, and different job titles, and how different clients, and when there's an art team, and when it's in house, and so all the different elements of what goes to make a photo shoot. It was editorial, commercial, all different stuff, so that first year I learned a huge amount.

Penny Wincer:       Then, when I went to New York, again, I worked with quite a big fashion photographer, so it stepped up another level, and I was doing a huge amount of production for him as well as assisting on set. That was flying around the world, and doing really high-end clients, and learning to deal with quite tricky clients, and tricky agents, and all that kind of stuff.

Steve Folland:      When you came back to London you said you became a freelance photographer. Was it as simple as that?

Penny Wincer:       No. Actually, I was a freelance assistant, so most assistants are freelance, especially in the UK, in New York it's more common to have full-time assistants, but here it's not. I use freelance assistants myself. I worked with a number of different people for about three years before I was able to make that transition, and it is a really tricky transition.

Penny Wincer:       At first, I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to shoot, and how I was going to do it. I, now myself, shoot interiors and lifestyle, but I didn't work for any interiors and lifestyle photographers. I worked for fashion photographers, and also some documentary photographers. For ages, I thought I was going to work in fashion, but it just didn't feel right, it didn't feel like me. I did test shoots and I just couldn't really get that excited. I loved it as an assistant, and I worked from for some brilliantly, brilliantly clever people, but I just couldn't get that excited about it myself. The transition happened when a couple of random things came along and people asked me to do a little job for them just as a favor. One of them in particular was a really wonderful couple of stylists that set up a little side hustle and they wanted me to shoot it for them. They did a brilliant job styling it, and their pictures looked great, and I really enjoyed it.

Penny Wincer:       Then, chatting to people afterwards are like, other people I worked with, agents, photographers I worked with were just like, "Oh no, this is the more you this is much more you. This looks great." It just happened from there a little bit by little bit because photographers get paid more per day than on assistant it didn't take that many jobs per month to be able to stop assisting. I had a transition of about six months where I was doing both at the same time and I kept my expenses really, really low. Then, at some point I it I had to do that thing of telling photographers that I loved working with them I just can't do it anymore I have to stop. It gets to a point where you have to make a decision about which way you're going to go, and you have to give up the other work to make it work as a photographer.

Steve Folland:      Where were your first clients coming from?

Penny Wincer:       The first really big job I did, it a book for Thames & Hudson, and it was a first time author and she had hardly any money. She approached two different photographers who knew me, and she wanted them to shoot it, but they were really big photographers, and they just said, "No, there's just no way. It's way too much work for no money. I just can't possibly take it on as much as it sounds like a lovely project, but you need someone new. Try Penny," and two different people independently said that to her. She came to me and said, "I think we're supposed to work together." I did this book, it was 40 shoot days over about six months for almost no money, and at the end of it I had this amazing portfolio of places that I would never have gotten to otherwise. That, from there, really changed everything for me. Then, I was able to approach different clients, and then I think within six months of that I had an agent. Then, my agent was getting me a lot of work.

Steve Folland:      An agent? Did you approach an agent? Is having an agent as a photographer the thing to do, is it an obvious thing to do or ...?

Penny Wincer:       I would say it always was, but it's changing a lot. When I first started, 11, 12 years ago, yes, absolutely it was the done thing. I think it has changed. I was with my first agent for about five or six years, then we went our separate ways, and then I've been with my current agent for about three years now, two or three years now. My work is coming in different forms now, part of it's coming through my agent, and part of it's coming from me, and also just from long-term contacts. Now, even a bit from social media.

Penny Wincer:       It has changed a lot in the last 10 or 12 years, a lot of my clients, particularly in interiors, don't want to deal with a third party at all, they just want to deal direct with me, so even though a lot of my billing goes through my agent sometimes my clients have nothing to do at all with my agent. Other times, especially with commercial work, things like advertising it's almost essential really to have an agent because a big agency wants to have one place to deal with all the production and everything at the same time. It's a bit harder as a single person to be doing that.

Penny Wincer:       I absolutely love my agent, she's wonderful, and she gets me the kind of work I don't get on my own, but at the same time a lot of my work doesn't come from her as well, so it's quite mixed now. I'd say, 10, 12 years ago it was very, very different and all of my work was coming for my agent essentially.

Steve Folland:      Basically, being willing to almost for free on that first project was a huge thing for you?

Penny Wincer:       It was. It was the difference between a thin portfolio and a very established one in quite a short period of time. Also, interestingly, because it was a family interiors book I ended up shooting quite a lot of kids, and that's something I've ended up doing. That was a bit of an accident, I didn't know that I would enjoy shooting kids at all, and that's quite a big part of my work, so that all happened because of that book as well. I still do bits of free work now, but I'm very, very, very picky about what I do for free. I've been working for a while, I know when something is worth doing for free or for very little money, and I know when it's not.

Steve Folland:      What would be a marker that would make you do that?

Penny Wincer:       Collaborating with someone really, really interesting. It would just have to be something I don't get to do in a more commercial sphere, and it would have to be just working ... It's usually the person I want to work with, and so the project itself will be interesting because of who's behind it.

Steve Folland:      Suddenly, your freelance photography career is taking off, and you felt comfortable behind the lens. Did you feel comfortable from a business point of view?

Penny Wincer:       Yeah, I think because I had my agent quite early on that really helped me a lot. That gave me a lot of confidence really because the thing that's really wonderful about an agent, I think they do get a bit of a bad rap sometimes, but it's having someone to really bounce the business stuff off, and I would have chats with my booker about should I accept that job? Is that enough? Is that really worth it? Ooh, I didn't really didn't like doing that. Can we slightly go in this direction? Let's redo my portfolio, let's take that stuff out because I actually don't want to be doing more of that. Or they'd suggest you put this stuff in because then we can try and get you more of this work. Having someone that like that to talk to you about your career really gives you a lot more confidence. I think really that had a lot to do with the fact I was able to just get on with it at that point.

Steve Folland:      It almost sounds almost like a mentor relationship as well as a financial one.

Penny Wincer:       Yeah, it is definitely because I think the thing about Sue, my agent now, who she only represents photographers and we all work in the lifestyle, interiors, travel, portraiture world, there's no fashion at all or anything like that, so we all work in a similar world, and she knows much more about what's going on in the industry than I do. As a photographer, I work with certain teams, and certain styles, and certain clients, and she sees a much broader aspect.

Penny Wincer:       She knows what rates other people are getting, she knows that so and so art director's moved from this company to that company, she's got her eye on a bit more about going on in the industry than I do. I'm a bit more focused, and so she can see what's happening more broadly in trends, and things, and we can talk about that and talk about which direction to take things. Yeah, I've always really liked having an agent, it's a very important relationship. You have to trust them a lot, there's a lot of trust involved especially with money and things, and also they're speaking on your behalf when they're speaking to clients.

Penny Wincer:       I had some quite bad experiences as an assistant with some of the agents that I worked with because of some of them are not nice people. I was really adamant that I was only ever going to have an agent as long as I trusted them on a personal level, and I liked them as a person because you don't ever want your clients to be being put off from using you because they don't want to have to deal with the agent. I do hear that from some clients, they won't hire a certain photographer because they have so and so agent, and they just can't bear dealing with them. It's an important relationship and you really, really have to trust them.

Steve Folland:      That's 12 years ago, what was life like then? Were you working all the time, flying all over the place? What was it like?

Penny Wincer:       I did travel quite a lot, it was before I had kids, and so I traveled more. I traveled a lot as an assistant, a huge amount actually. I was away probably almost half the time when I was an assistant. When I start shooting I was quite relieved not to be travelling quite that much, and I was pretty busy I'd say from the get-go. I think, at the time when I started shooting lifestyle photography was really taking off, and so it just suited me quite a bit. Things were really busy.

Penny Wincer:       Of course, when the recession hit though budgets started being massively affected, and sometimes people just weren't shooting at all, or they would really cut down the days they were shooting, and things were a bit trickier then, and they did slow down for a bit. There's definitely been peaks and troughs in the last 12 years, that's for sure.

Steve Folland:      You mentioned kids. When did that-

Penny Wincer:       When did that happen?

Steve Folland:      When did that? When did they come along in this story?

Penny Wincer:       My kids are eight and six, so when I had my son I had been shooting for about four years. That actually felt quite good because I felt almost like I'd been shooting long enough that I had the confidence to take a tiny bit of a step back and not be 100% focused on work because that's something I had been nervous about, about how I would get treated shooting when I was pregnant and whether clients would be put off using me, and what assumptions they were going to make, which they did. They did make some assumptions. What I did initially was I didn't mention to any client that I was pregnant, and they only found out when I was shooting, when they turned up, and I had a belly. I told my agent not to tell anyone.

Penny Wincer:       Then, after he was born I just carried on almost as though nothing had happened. I did say no to quite a few things and I also didn't pursue a lot of work, but I just kept working, and I actually did a shoot when he was six weeks old, and he came on set with me. I had someone looking after him, and it was a client that I knew really well, and they were thrilled to have him there, so it was really fun. I actually had a really busy year that year he was born, a really, really good year actually.

Penny Wincer:       Then, things actually got much, much trickier when I had my second, and I think a lot of that was to do with people making assumptions about what I wanted, and what I could manage. I think there's this thing especially when women have their second child that they just disappear, that they're not around, that they're not going to be available. I don't even think people do it consciously, I think it's a societal assumption that people make.

Penny Wincer:       The slowest I'd ever been after I had my second child, and also to add complication my son, Arthur who's eight, is autistic and he was diagnosed around that time as well. Things were quite tricky at home, and I continued to work, but I just really, really slow down for a while. I was at home quite a lot, and I was shooting when things came along, but I wasn't really massively actively pursuing work. I wasn't working hard to get work, and it was also about that time that I left my agent, and that was really just because the booker that I'd been working with for five years had moved on, and other people in the agency didn't really suit me and suit what I did. That was a natural lull in things.

Penny Wincer:       Then, really it was when my daughter was three years old three and was in preschool when I was able to really spend a lot more time working again, and that's when I really ramped things up again and started pursuing work more not just taking things that came along.

Steve Folland:      Had you been saving up like a conscious buffer of money to take you through? Obviously, you carried on working because you wanted to. Was it because you wanted to or because you needed to, or ...?

Penny Wincer:       It was because I wanted to and because I needed to. I think, what I didn't want to do was feel like I had taken a whole year or two out, and then couldn't find my way back in again, and couldn't find that rhythm again. I wanted to slow down, but I didn't want to stop completely, especially after my first, I actually felt so lucky compared to a lot of my friends who had this all or nothing thing where they were on maternity leave, and none of them had had days off in their life essentially. I was really used to having random days here and there where I would go to an exhibition, or I'd just sit do my taxes for a couple hours, and then I'd go off into something else because I wasn't shooting for a few days.

Penny Wincer:       I actually really enjoyed that year because I would go and shoot for a day or two, and then I'd come back and I'd just really enjoy being with my baby. I loved mixing it all together, I've always enjoyed mixing. Life and work for me has always and blended together, so I felt really, really lucky that I could do it that way. Whereas a lot of my friends were doing that whole thing, "Oh, do I go back full time? If I don't go back full-time they're going to pay me less, and they're going to expect as much work for me," that much more restricted work environment.

Penny Wincer:       It was really after my second one there was just so much going on with my son, and then suddenly childcare for two when it was quite complicated with my son's needs. That was when I kept working and I wanted to work, and I've always loved working, but I just couldn't focus on getting the work, so it is naturally slow if you know what I mean. I get childcare when I knew I was getting paid to shoot, but I wouldn't pay for childcare just because I needed to work on my website, or go have coffee with different people, and different contacts, and do some networking. I slowed that stuff down, but still kept shooting when the right things came along.

Steve Folland:      Would that be ad hoc childcare that you would-

Penny Wincer:       For the first five years, I guess, I essentially did ad hoc childcare because I do quite long hours and I could be anywhere when I'm shooting, and I have to stay until the job is done. I was never going to use a nursery, and I was certainly never going to use a nursery and have them call me and say you have to pick them up because they've got a fever, I just can't do that with my work. I can't leave a shoot. I always needed to have a nanny or a babysitter, and in the first little while my children's dad did bits and pieces here and there.

Penny Wincer:       Then, also eventually I found a couple of babysitters who I would give them a minimum amount of hours per week, but I would switch the days around a bit so they would fit it in a round of the work, and I would call them a week and a half before and be like, "Can you do Tuesday and Wednesday for me next week," and they'll be like they'd be like, "Yeah sure, in my diary." A bit like the way I hire assistants, when I get jobs in I message my assistants that I like to use and I tell them the job, and the rate, and what days, and they put it in their diary if they can. If they've already got an option with another photographer, because all assistants work with a number of photographers, then they let me know as soon as that job's confirmed. I treated childcare exactly the same way as having an assistant.

Penny Wincer:       Then, it was when my daughter turned three that I started getting regular childcare and actually, ultimately, that was better for the kids in the long run, but I had to be back earning a certain amount of money before I could afford that.

Steve Folland:      When you say regular childcare, as in-

Penny Wincer:       I have a nanny who's on salary. She does Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Essentially, I worked that out because I went through my diary and all my clients hate shooting on Mondays and Fridays, they only do if they have to. A lot of that's to do with just, especially for the stylist, logistically prepping and stuff for shoots. It's a real pain to prep for a shoot on a Monday, it's much easier to start a shoot on a Tuesday. I've got three days a week of childcare covered before and after school, and then full days, and the holidays. If I do get a shoot on a Monday and a Friday and it just absolutely cannot be any other day, which obviously if it's a three or four day shoot that happens, then I have a couple of local babysitters that I use and I just paid them by the hour to come and do little ad hoc bits and pieces for me.

Steve Folland:      It sounds like, actually, work life balance sounds good.

Penny Wincer:       It is good. It might not look like balance to everybody, but it's balanced to me. A lot of that is because my work is seasonal, and I have really busy times of the year, and I have quiet times of the year. Probably unlike most of my friends, I don't really take off two, three weeks at a time for instance, to spend with the kids in the summer holidays, but what I can do is only work two or three days a week while they're on holidays. During term time, I can work five days a week, so I'll do three long days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Mondays and Fridays I'll do two short days, if possible unless I absolutely have to shoot I will always try, and do Mondays and Fridays just working school hours.

Penny Wincer:       I weight a bit more of the work that's nonessential into the term time, so that's when I do my VAT and when I'm doing accounting stuff, and websites, and also networking, and meeting up with people, which is really important with what I do is to be in touch with people. I, and weight all of that to the term time and I work a bit less in the holidays.

Steve Folland:      Also, it sounds like before you had kids you were okay with that time when you weren't working.

Penny Wincer:       I've always been quite good at it actually. I've always really enjoyed not really strictly seeing work as completely separate from life and vice versa. Part of that might've been the amount of travelling I did as an assistant because I traveled so much I was often away on weekends, and some of the shoots I did were two or three weeks long, and I'd be gone the whole time, and there wouldn't be a day off. You might have some travel days, but travel days and when you're an assistant is really hard work, and especially in days of film where I'd be going through airports with bags, and bags of film, and every single one had to be hand checked, and couldn't go through x-rays. I would come back from a two or three weeks shoot, and I would just take some time on lieu, I guess.

Penny Wincer:       Also, because I've really always enjoyed what I do it is a bit blurry sometimes between what's work and what's life. Sometimes things fit into both categories. Sometimes they don't, doing accounting is definitely work, and I definitely put it off as long as possible, but there are lots of things that fall into both categories.

Steve Folland:      Do you have any other help? Do you outsource anything else? Obviously, there's childcare and there's the assistants on the shoot.

Penny Wincer:       The only other thing I outsource is I do have an accountant. I do have to slightly collate my books, so that they know what it is that things are, but I do have somebody else doing my accounting, my bookkeeping. That's pretty much it. Every job is different. In things like post-production I do most of my post-production myself, and a lot of the commercial jobs, the really big commercial jobs I am often handing over raw files without any post-production at all because they're doing it in-house with their own teams. It depends. I'm not usually hiring anyone to do retouching myself, usually I'm either doing it myself, if it's a small amount, or whoever I'm working for has a team that's doing it for them.

Steve Folland:      You mentioned your son having autism. Has Being Freelance benefited that situation, if you see what I mean?

Penny Wincer:       I am 100% certain I could not have had a normal job, definitely not. There's a very, very small number of parents with children with special needs who work, mothers specifically with children with special needs, as high a needs as he is. For the first few years, just before school and after there's so much paperwork and meetings around his EHCP plan, which is a really, really complicated, long legal document about his education. There's lots of school visits, and different therapists, and there's a lot of logistical things that go along with having a child with additional needs. The NHS and the education system couldn't care less if you have a job. When you get a meeting with the local authority you have to turn up to that meeting no matter what. Most parents find that they can't manage all of that and work at the same time, so most mothers of children with special needs don't work with this high level of special needs.

Penny Wincer:       Then, there is the other thing, which is that most people don't have access to good enough childcare. The thing about the way I work, because I get paid by the day, I get paid quite well by the day, obviously I'm not getting paid by the day all the time I'm only getting paid when I'm shooting. I don't get paid for everything else. When I'm shooting I know I can afford to pay a person to be in the house and that's not the same for someone on a salary. It's really difficult to afford a nanny when you're on a salary yourself and you're paying for it after taxes, and after all your other experience expenses. It is a bit easier for someone like me, as a business owner, who's getting paid by the day to pay someone to be here.

Penny Wincer:       My son can't use any other form of childcare, he's now actually at a special school, and they do have a club, so he will hopefully be going to a few days at the club in the holidays, but there are school hours as well. That's very, very unusual. Most children with special needs have no access to any club or out of school club, or holiday club. A lot of them don't even go to regular nurseries. Actually, it's one thing where it gets more and more complicated as you get older rather than less complicated, and that's because my son's needs when he was three they were a bit higher than other kids who are three, but kids who are three have pretty high needs, so he wasn't that different.

Penny Wincer:       Now, at eight he's very different to other eight-year-olds, and so accessing things is really different, and the way we access things is really different. Then, the other thing is because I'm not stuck in an office all the time having to be there no matter what when I'm not flat out with work there's a lot of stuff that I can do in my weekday that I don't have to do with my son on the weekends because there's a lot of stuff that he can't cope with. I do a lot of errands and running around, and things during the week that I can't manage with him on the weekends because they just add too much stress. That and I buy everything as much as possible online, which makes life a lot easier. It makes it completely possible for me to earn a proper living and that's, unfortunately, really, really difficult usually for somebody in my position.

Steve Folland:      Awesome. I'm glad it worked out.

Steve Folland:      Now, if you could tell your younger self one thing about Being Freelance, what would that be?

Penny Wincer:       This is a tricky one. I was thinking about it because I don't think I ever questioned being freelance because my dad was freelance as well it was all I ever knew. I never really worried about it. It was not something that ever concerned me at all. I guess, I would say that you absolutely are right to go down this path.

Steve Folland:      Wow. I think you're the first person ever to not have a piece of advice as it were. What did your dad do?

Penny Wincer:       He's a film director.

Steve Folland:      You, basically, grew up with this view of self-employed life, if you see what I mean?

Penny Wincer:       Yeah. It's not that I ever thought I would never, ever have a job. It wasn't that I thought it was a bad thing to have a job, but I just always knew that I could live this way.

Penny Wincer:       When I went to art school, I think, my dad was like, "Well yeah, of course," and when I said I'm going to move to London and become an assistant, I think he went he just went, "Oh yeah, good idea." Then, when I moved to New York, same thing, "Oh, that's great. Okay, excellent." I think that confidence from him made me feel confident, but also he was confident because he's always been living that way in a slightly different industry, but the projects he worked on would be between one and two years at a time, so quite different in that sense. My jobs are really, really short. I don't think it occurred to him that I wouldn't succeed this way and therefore it never really occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to do it.

Penny Wincer:       Then, the other thing as well is that everybody I know who works in my industry we're all freelance, so you're not doing anything unusual. It's just it is what we do. I know one photographer who has a job, but he's a press photographer, it's quite a different thing. None of us have full time jobs, they don't exist, so it's what we do.

Steve Folland:      It's the norm and it's also you've all got each other.

Penny Wincer:       Yeah. As an assistant  the thing that's really interesting about it is because you work with different people and then you also make friends with other assistants because there are jobs where you have more than one assistant, and you've got a bit of a network. A lot of my friends are from my assisting days, and it's just what everybody does.

Steve Folland:      That's really nice. We actually met at the Doing It For The Kids meet up, and so when you shared, I don't know, maybe five minutes or so, and I just thought, "Ah, I really want to hear more," and I'm really glad that we have as well. Do you know what? You said something at that, had you done much speaking before?

Penny Wincer:       No, I haven't.

Steve Folland:      You said something when you were talking that day and you've touched upon it here, the idea of viewing how busy you are, or how successful you are, if you like, in whether your life is balanced across a bigger period than a day or week, but more looking at it as a year.

Penny Wincer:       Yeah, absolutely. I think it's really easy to, especially I think if you come from a traditional office background before you go freelance, you're probably expecting your life to look a bit more similar each week, or even each month, but what I tend to do is compare year on year. I compare my June this year to my June last year, and the June the year before, and that's how I look at it. I also look at the balance over the year.

Penny Wincer:       I think, for me, it's a lot healthier certainly the way my work is because there are just some months that I'm really busy with work and I do have to explain to my daughter particularly, who's six now, when I do go on trips, and when I go on trips I'm away more and I'm busier, and I'm not there quite as often she is like, "eurgh, you're away a lot - you're so busy at the moment!" I'm like, "Yeah, but you know, next month I won't be. Next month it will be school holidays and I'll be around a lot." I'll still work a couple of days a week, but I just have to remind her that it's not like this all the time. It ebbs and flows, and overall I have a really balanced life, and I really work the amount I want to work, and I have the time at home that I want to have at home as well.

Steve Folland:      Love it.