A very busy weekend doing commercial work (hence no blog on Saturday and Sunday) has brought into focus the importance of retaining a balance between photography I do as a business and photos I take for my own pleasure. Of course there is an overlap, which is why, having spoken to creative people who also try to achieve a balance between the two, it makes it even more difficult to have the discipline to set aside time for projects one initiates oneself.

The portraits I took over the weekend, each presenting their own lighting challenges, and the need to find new environments in which to photograph a variety of people smoking cigars so that they each one had his/her own individual identity, have been very enjoyable. Furthermore, with each session, and this is especially true ofphotoshoots on location, I learn something new, sharpen my eye, explore the camera's capabilities further, work with or around the weather. And, of course, they bring in an income whilst making new, invaluable contacts. Which is why it is easy, if one is fortunate enough to generate regular work, to go days, then weeks without doing one's own work.

Reading back this could sound like a petulant or spoilt moan. It is not meant that way at all. I know I am lucky to have this work. All I wish to make clear is that my own work is what has made me experiment and diversify in the past. Helped me to become a photographer that doesn't do just one style but thrives on exploring very different types of photography. In doing so I have created new projects that stretch not only my skills but which are also, if you want, the soul of my work. And I use the word 'soul' rather than passion there because I put passion into all my photographs for I know that is essential if I am to give every client my best shot.

By 'soul' I mean something that captures why I took up photography in the first place, a sense that it is a vital part of my creative being, just as in earlier times directjng a play fulfilled the same role. So it is something that goes beyond photography. The whole process, from having the first idea to putting it into practice, to finalising how it will be 'displayed', stimulates the imagination in a very fundamental way. Since I think imagination is possibly the most important factor that determines every human being's unique personality, I believe that working on one's own projects enriches the soul, and thus lifts the spirit. And, to bring things full circle, hopefully makes one a better photographer for the next client.