FreeWheelin’ #2 – Broken and Healed

September 22, 2021| Freewheelin'|16 Minutes|By Mike Tesselaar

Since the last FreeWheelin’ blog two months ago, a lot has happened! From breaking my foot and being unable to walk for 6 weeks, to earning my first international awards, selling NFT’s and much more!

Bad News

Last two months have been marked by me breaking my foot whilst running on the beach. I was not allowed to walk for 6 weeks up until two days ago. Things are alright to say at best, I have to get back to walking and my muscles are pretty soar. But I’m glad to be back on my own feet again.

Luckily, family and friends have been so keen to help me out and bring me to places when I was unable to get there myself. The months July and August have been slow in regards to work but September is speeding up the amount of work again. I’m still a bit disappointed I couldn’t go on vacation during the summer… But maybe in a few weeks or so I will be mobile again. I still have a

Besides the slight setback caused by my foot, a whole lot of good things happened too! I’m summing everything up below.

International prices

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m trying to get my name out there. Especially on an international level as I’m chasing after travel photo-/videography work.

To get credits to my name, I decided to jump into the world of photography contests. Before, I only submitted to free contests without to much credibility. Lately I submitted photos to bigger and paid contests. I’ve gathered some good material throughout the years to submit!

And, faster than anticipated, it payed off! I claimed two awards at the MUSE Photography Awards and a Commended Award at the SIENA Drone Photography Awards. Check out all my awards on the Awards & Contests page. Especially the latter award is big, as it pulled interest from international press. One share on Instagram gave me an instant +100 followers in a day, and people asking for prints on my LinkedIn.

Currently, I’m about even on submission costs versus prize money and other returns. Hopefully this can go positive in the future too as I learn more about contest requirements and international awards.

Right now, I enrolled in about five other contests, including subjects like fine art, travel photography, panorama photography and National Geographic. In two to three months I hope to know more about these!

Publications

I also managed to land two publications!

  1. Photo and interview in Zoom.nl’s Photo Recipe Book (Biggest Dutch photography platform) with a 360 camera. Check the photo here.
  2. Windmill photo’s in a magazine (Green Energy section – De Hypotheek Shop)

I’ve received both in hardcopy which I love to collect!

Merch by Mite

As I was sitting at home a lot, I’ve started making some photography inspired designs. With these designs I started a RedBubble store, as well as additional Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

RedBubble is a print-on-demand (pod) service. This allows me to upload my design to clothing, cups, towels and so on, without having to buy the product in advance. Only when a customer orders the product, I’ll pay for the product and printing cost. I try to attract some extra passive income this way, without the stress of delivery. I design whenever I feel like it.

So far, I’ve not sold anything. But hey, only one month passed and good things take time they say right? 😉

Mite Visuals Redbubble Store

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT)

NFTs! If you’ve watch the news you probably heard from them at least once. These tokens are a way of selling ownership, registered on a blockchain (like Bitcoin and Ethereum), of a digital piece like photos and other artworks. Photography NFTs have been rising in popularity the last months, with some selling for thousands of dollars.

Owning a token gives you basic usage rights of the photo, but most important: verifiable ownership of the piece for everyone to see. Compare it with art collectors who buy art and put it into a safe afterwards. Only with NFTs everyone can see who owns it and no one can steal it away unless it is sold publicly. And, if resold, the original artist receives a cut too! (finally, a good system for secondary markets!)

For artist / photographers like myself, this offers a great opportunity to sell your best work, and for buyers to support the artist. The NFT space is getting more crowded already, but you need to be active on socials like Twitter and Discord trying to reach out to others and building a network.

So far, I’ve created two collections, Delineations (lightpainting) and Dutch Flavours (best 50 Dutch photos), which I’m currently promoting. And I might add another (video) collection in collaboration with a local drone operator.

Like Merch by Mite, I’ve not sold a NFT yet, but the potential is enormous. I expect to be in this space for a while before something sells though. Time investments.

NFT News Article

With the NFT’s from my “Dutch Flavours” collection on OpenSea, I created a virtual museum. This caught the attention of a local news paper, and they asked me for an interview. So, last week it published my story about NFTs and photography featured across 1,5 pages in the newspaper. Love it.

Collaboration DJI

The succes from last blog (becoming Skypixel creator) lead to my first collaboration with Skypixel / DJI! They introduced a new product last week: OSMO Mobile 5. A small mobile gimbal that stabilizes your videos. Read my blog about it here: Hands-on | DJI OSMO Mobile 5

In exchange for the product, I was given the task to make a video of choice and shoot some product photos. Even though the product is “only” $150 (which is the payment of the collaboration), it was a great way of displaying my work to a enormous audience. I’m hoping for a repost to boost my name even more. At the end of the day I hope to get my name recognized by DJI for future campaigns.

With the help of my friends I was able to create a video last week. I created a script that included myself still plastered at home. Check it here:

Local Collab

Months ago I got in touch with a local video producer (Chris van Vleuten – All Video Solutions) and exchanged some contact details and so on. A few weeks ago, he got in touch asking if I wanted to collaborate on a video project. Of course! Chris picked me up and we got to talk about everything video and business related along the project.

He wants to expand his content delivery in the upcoming years and needs freelancers to do more fieldwork as he wants to specialize in organizing. Some of the parties he deals with are quite big (like tourism boards), so a lot of opportunity here. This way, I can get into many different filming situations while expanding my own network as well; and still have room to build my own name. This collaboration couldn’t have come on a more perfect moment!

The first jobs went smoothly and I’m sure more will follow. See one of the finished projects down below.

Travel Photography Course

As there is must to learn still, I enrolled in the Travel Photography course of Jord Hammond a while back. This course covers both the social (media) as business side of travel photography. Currently I’m halfway through and finished the social media part.

In advice of the course, I’ll be posting daily for a month, as well as commenting more and sharing about three stories a day (on Instagram). I’ll be doing this from the start of October 2021 for 31 days. I’m curious what the results will be and I’ll share it once I know more!

Social

Since last year, I’m present on more and more social media platforms. All with a purpose of course; getting my name out there! Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Skypixel and 500px are successful so far.

Others are only used for specific goals. Twitter only for NFTs, YouTube for video content, Zoom.nl for contests and community, Columbus Travel for future travel photography, Pinterest to share pins about blogs and so on. I’ll likely add more to the list in the future as new opportunities arise.

Keep an eye on these platforms and I hope to see you there!

Overview

The last two months have been surprising. Breaking my foot did hold me back; I didn’t contact any new clients, couldn’t travel and felt a bit isolated. The last week was absolute troublesome mental wise… But things are better now the plaster has been removed!

But damn, what a two months it has been nonetheless. Going from winning international prices and publications, to NFTs, Merch design, a DJI video and a local collaboration. Looking back, the amount of things that happened is actually outrageous. I’m glad I’m writing this blog to remind myself, cause things seem to slip my mind sometimes.

And I’m still getting doing other jobs too. I did my first corporate portrait shoot a few weeks ago (portfolio item), as well as an music event. Interesting to say the least. My portfolio is getting there!

Successes:

Obviously, the collaboration with DJI was the biggest success! It has a lot of potential and could help me as a convincing factor to get other projects.

I’m happy I didn’t come to a full stop during my recovery, which is a success in my opinion. I was able to create new things and expand others.

The awards I’ve won, as well as the publications, should give me some credits to my name. Once I’ve extended this a bit more, I’ll work on a specific page and homepage section to show it for everyone to see it.

And the image showcase just rocks right now! I’m getting compliments left and right about the showcase. It really is an eye-catcher, and more so a convincing factor.

Roadblocks:

We all understand my foot was a roadblock last period… I was not mobile to take photos, and I postponed contacting companies for jobs. This will hopefully be over in a week or two when I’m recovered (if I recover, that is).

Mentally, I’ve had a hard time accepting things are moving slow. I jumped into the freelance world expecting things would go faster. Like with NFTs and Merch; I had high expectations. The roadblock being that I have to manage my own standards and expectations better. Don’t let myself be beaten down to much. I’m my own worst critic, which is okay sometimes but a curse too..

I should also take care I don’t start too many things just to let it water down moments after. There are so much you can do but only a limited amount of time available.

Last is finance. As I’m living at home, things are rather easy. I have savings and try to pay myself a bit every month. However, my income is far from steady and there are many things I’d like to invest in still. I’m hoping my collaborations and some passive income can form some sort of foundation in the upcoming months.

Upcoming:

I’ll be attending the Rotary next month (group of local business owners) to pitch myself as a photo-/videographer. Not to get a project immediately, but to plant a some seeds for the future. It’s all about who knows who, and this is a great way of getting my name out there locally.

Upcoming months will be trying to extend my network and grabbing new opportunities. Contacting bigger parties and set myself up for long-lasting collaborations to secure a more stable income.

Moreover, I hope to grab some more awards in the upcoming months as well as extending my social presence and follower counts.

Until next time!

Cheers,
Mike