We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Mugglin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erika, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I cannot claim to have mastered the elusive work life balance. Quarantine has made me realize that especially when stressful situations arise, I can be a bit of a workaholic and instinctively pick up additional work to focus my mind on tasks I can do, rather than have time to stew on things I cannot control. But I offer you this perspective as someone who is in the process of balancing. I have come to realize that there are few things more important than your work life balance. When I first started working as a photographer it was very easy to balance my inconsistent freelance work with my part time job, as it fit seamlessly in the days I had off. However, as my work started to pick up this became much more of a challenge. For the past four years I have balanced having a full time job (currently in creative marketing) with consistent additional monthly photo/video freelance. I enjoy taking on the freelance work in part because working with multiple clients helps me think from many different angles and pursue different styles. But, what this looks like in reality is many late nights after hours at a computer, and much of your weekend being tied to location scouting, coordinating, planning, prop shopping, shooting, or editing. For the first two years I was grateful to be getting consistent work, (and of course still am). I picked up anything I was offered within my price range. I felt it was important to stay busy and creative, and it certainly was and can really help move the needle forward in your career and honing your creative process. Now, seven years into beginning my career as a photographer, I have come to realize a most important truth: the only true currency that you have in this world, is time. While it is important to be able to keep yourself afloat financially, to learn and refine new skills, it is equally as important to take breaks, to rest, to view other art and mediums, and most importantly to pursue completely profitless albeit enjoyable activities. I have come to find that the best ideas and inspiration come to me when my mind is not on the grind, but relaxed and rested. Even if you are just an individual who has financial goals over all others, it would be a disservice to yourself to not recognize the importance of leisure, rest, and balance in your life. Never forget that as a person working in a creative field, you are the commodity. If you do not purposefully schedule time off in between jobs to rest and reflect, you will find that you spend all of your time chasing something without ever taking time to measure just how far you have come.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am always learning new skills! In today’s creative job market a phrase we often see is we are looking for a person “who can wear many hats.” Working in a tech creative field like photography can seem as if you are always trying to play catch up with the field. Whether that is keeping up with the gear, the editing software, or the merging of fields such as photography with videography. Almost every client I have now asks for some kind of video content as well. And though these were completely separate majors, have separate editing programs, and totally different equipment, you are expected to know all of it. It can be intimidating. But if I could offer any advice it would be to not let these hurdles stop you. Communicate with your potential clients that you feel you can take on the project, and let them know what your experience level is, and that you’d like to work through the project and learn as you go. You learn best by doing something and in the long run growing your skill set is one of the most important things you can do to gain new clients. Growth by it’s nature is not always comfortable, but it is necessary. To make the process of growing easier I recommend the following: community, continued education, and when all else fails the internet is your friend. Having a community of friends that you can flush out ideas with, or ask technical questions is essential. If you have friends in the industry that you are trying to break into and have the means, you can even commission your friends to give you lessons on programs, or technical elements of equipment. Building these relationships helps make working in a creative field feel less like one person against the world, and more as if you just need to ask the right questions and you’ll have the answers you need. Continuing your education if you are able to is a great way to keep yourself skilled as the field shifts. There are many programs you can take that are crash courses, or through city colleges, that will help give you projects to teach you the skills you are looking to acquire. And when all else fails, the internet can be incredibly useful to answer late night questions on technical errors, or hot keys, or processing specs.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Moving from OH -> NYC -> LA has made it so that most people who come to visit (pre pandemic) have never been to California before! I always want to show off as much of the city and the landscape as possible. Some places are just a must even if they are very popular such taking the drive down the PCH to Malibu either to El Matador, or further to Point Mugu. We always spend some time on the east side at Echo Park Lake, grab a coffee at Stories, or dinner at Night Market Song, Tacos tu Madre, Chengdu Taste, Masa, or Commissary. If people are interested in a view of the city, hiking around Griffith, followed by The Last Bookstore and sunset drinks at Ace. Finally, we would go to a show at Echo/Echoplex, Zebulon, Moroccan Lounge, or a backyard comedy night. *There are so many more, but these are the first that came to mind*
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my wonderful partner Jake, who has helped me through many instances where I have put too much on my plate. And to my family for always encouraging me while I pursued my interests in the arts.
Linkedin: Erika Mugglin
Other: TikTok – @erikamugglin