Jonas William Abbotts 27 years Stylist and Creative Consultant Copenhagen, Denmark
8.8 – 7.9.2023
Jonas William Abbotts 27 years Stylist and Creative Consultant Copenhagen, Denmark

Freelancing sucks. Sure, you get to work when and if you want. But there is the constant fear of “What if this is the last of it?!” I remember when I booked my first big Tom Ford campaign. I was sitting in a taxi in Seoul, heading to Incheon for a flight. I was so excited and immediately though “Holy SHIT, you’ve made it!” And then almost instantaneously after the “What if this is the last of it?!” flooded in.

Freelancing sucks. Sure, you get to ride your bike and sit in the sun when and if you want. But there is the constant knowledge of emails piling up. A vacation is always just a postponement of responsibility. A silenced phone could mean a missed paycheck. A missed alarm clock could mean a lost client. It’s a life of freedom with a lot of invisible chains.

Freelancing sucks. Sure, you get to make friends with tons of other freelancers who also get to live weird schedules, where a weekend is probably a shoot date, and a bank holiday could be a day on set. Your freelancer friends, if in the same field, are also your competition. Your friend might book the job you were optioned for. It can cause rifts.

Most of my friends are freelancers. Many of them are my competitors as well as my peers. It’s a bizarre place to be. But I also think that only a freelancer can understand the life of another. So here I am with Jonas.

I photographed Jonas over the span of a month. Three meetings. He has a weird schedule like I do. But in the third meeting very much summed up our way of life(s). I arrived to the set of Jonas’ job as he prepped for a shoot. I came with my suitcases as I was off to the airport to head to New York for Fashion Week. I photographed him pulling looks for a shoot in the coming days. The conversation was funny. Jonas mentioned how many stylists there are in Denmark, and how few clients there were to hire them all. He spoke of how happy he was to have the good repeat clients that he has.

In my seven years living in Copenhagen, I have had a very hard time getting Danish clients. However even abroad, where I do 99% of my work, it has become increasingly difficult to secure great loyal clients. Don’t get me wrong, I am super grateful for the brands and people I work with, however, as time passes and more and more new (and talented) photographers arrive on the scene, the more difficult it becomes and the harder I must work.

I grab my bags and head off to the airport. I leave Jonas to do his work, and I head off to do mine. Both of us live very similar but still so different lives. We exist in the same industry, fulfilling different roles in the ecosystem. We probably must work on the weekend of a friend’s birthday. Or be on set when everyone is off work and sitting in the park. I can only speak for myself, but I think we are lucky to have the lives that we do. Regardless of the lack of security (and paid holidays), it’s nice to not be anchored to a desk on a sunny day. But as I touch down at Newark Airport and head to the fashion shows to be treated like a criminal by PR people, I am reminded that…freelancing sucks.