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Speed Magazine

Behind the legal lens

Behind the legal lens
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[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou’ve probably heard stories of corporate drones giving up their day jobs to chase after their dreams—in many cases, an artistic or entrepreneurial pursuit, or a type of career that deviates from the usual 9-to-5 office work. I’ve personally encountered a handful of people, who ditched their corporate jobs to do something they love.

When I discovered my passion for photography months into my first corporate work, I thought I’d be following the same off-beat career path. Years later, I find myself doing a balancing act as I pursue my passion while maintaining a regular office job.

I’ve been working simultaneously as a lawyer and an events/portrait photographer for more than four years now. As a corporate lawyer, I spend my weekdays sifting through paperwork, studying cases, drafting contracts and pleadings, and attending meetings. On weekends, I trade my corporate attire and heels for the most comfortable outfits in my closet, put on my friendliest “Ate” or “Tita” face, and do my best to make my subjects smile at the camera (and run after the little ones when needed). Occasionally, I get to travel for shoots.

Come Sunday night, I upload all the files from my CF card to my hard drive for editing. I store my cameras and lenses, which are to be used again the following weekend. I turn in early to make sure I’m at the office by 8 a.m. on Monday. And another week begins.

Juggling two jobs—especially those at the opposite ends of the career spectrum—may sound quite exhausting, but it’s the only lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to since I took photography seriously years ago.

My interest in photography began when my brother gave me my first DSLR camera while I was waiting for the bar exam results. I practiced shooting and took a shot at events photography by applying as a wedding photographer in Imagine Nation Studios, where I was eventually accepted. After covering an entire wedding, I knew I wanted to become a professional photographer. I felt conflicted then since I had an office job. While on the verge of quitting my legal career earlier on, I received a mild berating from an elder colleague in the profession, who told me that I was throwing away all my parents’ hard work in getting me through law school. It never derailed me from shooting, but it emphasized the seriousness of my decision to keep photography a non-negotiable part of my life.

At present, I feel blessed to have struck a healthy balance between my regular day job and my passion for photography. I must admit, there’s still the recurring pressure to focus all my attention and resources on just one career and let go of the other; but I don’t think I’d have as much appreciation for both if I let go of one of them.

After a week of being immersed in serious, brain-wracking work, I look forward to shooting during the weekend to de-stress. During the dry seasons in my photography career, I feel thankful that I have a steady job to sustain me.

It’s also interesting that I get to learn different sets of values from my two jobs. Being in an office setting gives me discipline and structure, and being a lawyer has trained me to be meticulous about everything and to ensure that my interests are protected.

Working as a photographer, on the other hand, has allowed me to make thorough use of my creative brain cells, learn about business practices, and deal with different sorts of people—from uncooperative toddlers to bridezillas).

Another thing I also appreciate about having two jobs is that my social circles have doubly expanded. It becomes especially interesting when my two circles overlap—professional contacts I’ve dealt with in the legal sphere suddenly tap me to shoot their portraits or events. I also have photography clients, who consult with me regarding legal issues like marriage licenses or the procedures for change of name. (Thankfully, I haven’t received annulment queries from clients, whose weddings I’ve covered weddings).

I’ve come to realize that there’s no one formula in achieving the kind of career path you want. I’ve always thought that I’d be happier with one career. But as things are at present, I find greater fulfillment in utilizing more skills and opportunities that I’ve been blessed with.

There’s no guarantee where I’ll be five years from now. But whatever happens in the future, I adhere to the principle that “whatever it is I do, I should work at it with all my heart.” (Colossians 3:23) I just hope that in the years to come, I get to use the resources that the Master has given me as intended.

Words Lianne Baccoro

First published in Speed July 2013

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