Where I Work: Carla, a celebrity photographer teaching courses in lockdown

Our series Where I Work is exploring the reality of working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic – and looking at people’s working spaces, from the super pretty home offices to the laptops piled on stacks of books to create a makeshift standing desk.

Today we’re chatting with Carla Speight, 34, a celebrity and entertainment photographer from Manchester.

At this time of year Carla would usually be working backstage at festivals. But coronavirus has meant the majority of festivals have been cancelled and the photographer is now cooped up at home.

She’s changed up her work to fit this new normal by now teaching photography to businesses, PR and marketing experts, influencers, and content creators through online courses.

As a single mum, she’s doing all this from the home she shares with her two sons, aged eight and 12.

Hey, Carla! Where are you getting work done during lockdown?

I’m usually working on location, either on set or backstage at a concert, gig or festival, I also do a lot of studio work too.

Coronavirus has stopped all the festivals, comedy and music that I normally cover and shut the studio down, so now I’ve taken my photography courses online.

I have a small space in my bedroom. It’s got a desk and all the necessities I need.

I’ve made sure it’s clutter-free so I can focus on my work. The radio is usually on in the background as I’m used to working in noisy environments, it also helps keep me motivated and focused.

On my desk I have my ring light and phone stand for social media lives and Zoom calls, I have my planner, a notepad, some pens and a notice board that I clip all my notes to.

Talk us through a working day in lockdown

I spend the mornings doing school work with the boys, leaving their independent learning tasks for them to do in the afternoon. Then I’ve been spending the afternoons tweaking my new website, creating new content for my online photography courses, answering emails and various other tasks.

It’s certainly not the fast-paced twelve hour days in festivals that I’m used to at this time of the year. Or even close to a busy day in the studio with back to back clients.

The deadlines I usually work towards have changed a little – now it’s the teachers that set them rather than the celebrities or their management companies.

How have you found working from home?

It’s certainly a different pace to my usual working day. I’m used to tight deadlines, noisy environments and chatting to my clients.

Balancing work, the kid’s education and everyday life is definitely challenging at times, but I think everyone is in the same situation and there’s a feeling of ‘keep calm and carry on’ that everyone working from home is experiencing, and I’m just doing my best with it.

It has been lovely to have the boys at home though, I’ve been teaching them how to cook and they’ve even started their own podcast, which has given them an insight into what I do.

How do you stay focused and get stuff done?

I have an amazing planner by Hello Day and I spend most Sunday evenings planning my week out, then tick each job off my to do list. I try to keep my daily tasks manageable, it’s too easy to write a massive list of things to do then become overwhelmed by it.

I use my planner to set out my daily routine, even a lunch break. I plan all of my tasks to a schedule and try to stick to it.

With the kids at home it can be a challenge, but lockdown has taught me that I need to give myself a break. I can’t do as much as I could before the lockdown, so there’s definitely been a change of pace and if I don’t get everything done, that’s ok.

I make sure the daily tasks are prioritised, so I don’t add too much pressure on myself to do everything at once.

What advice do you have for other people newly working from home?

Get a decent planner, take some time each Sunday afternoon to plan your week and make each daily to-do list manageable. Go easy on yourself, I know there’s some people out there that seem to be achieving so much, but honestly even they’ll have days where focusing is difficult.

Take breaks away from your work. Sit in the garden with your lunch, go for a walk, do something that takes you away from your workspace to break up the day. It really helps and you’ll come back to your work feeling less overwhelmed and more able to focus.

Do you have an unusual working-from-home setup you fancy sharing? To get involved in Where I Work, email [email protected]

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